Gibson Guitar Board: Review: Gibson Advanced Jumbo vs Epiphone Masterbilt AJ-500RE - Gibson Guitar Board

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Review: Gibson Advanced Jumbo vs Epiphone Masterbilt AJ-500RE

#1 User is offline   maatty 

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 09:04 AM

I went to GC in Atlanta last weekend, and I was intrigued how better the Gibson AJ was over the Epi Masterbilt.

Owning an MB guitar, I had to try the Gibson AJ.


Price: $1999 vs $699 (Gibson was all acoustic, so I figure AJ-500R w/o the electronics costs $599)

Sound: Gibson wins hands down on clarity and tone. Epi sounds muddy compared to Gibson. Gibson AJ sounded a lot tighter, focused, and more fundamental. The lows were more accurate, tighter, and deeper. The highs were clearer and sounded a lot better. The mids were better on Gibson as well.

I think I have to start saving $$$ for a Gibson now [confused].

Whoever put reviews online saying that Epi Masterbilt is better than the Gibson AJ is wrong.

Overall, I liked '71 Martin D-35, Gibson AJ, and Taylor 710CE they had. Out of these, I think the Martin and Gibson had the best balance.

Of course, YMMV [biggrin]

#2 User is offline   dhanners623 

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 10:48 AM

The important footnote here is the "YMMV." As a guy who owns both a Gibson (a '98 J-45) and an Epiphone (one of the new IB'64 Texans) I think one makes blanket statements at their peril. There are things I like my J-45 better for, and there are things I think the Texan does really well. But, on average, I would expect the Gibson AJ to beat the Masterbilt AJ-500RE.

That said -- and this is just my opinion from years of playing -- Gibsons can be very idiosyncratic, for lack of a better word. You can pick up one and it'll sound like the best guitar you ever heard, and you can pick up the next one and you'll curse Gibson's name for having the gall to charge so much for what can loosely be described as "a guitar." Other people have different opinions, and I respect that. And I do believe that Gibson's quality (and quality control) has gotten orders of magnitude better in the past few years.

But, yes, save up for a Gibson. Play a bunch of them before laying your money down. When you find a good one, you'll know it.
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#3 User is online   zombywoof 

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 02:53 PM

When I hear someone saying they would put this or that $500 offshore guitar up against a pre-War Martin dread I pretty much assume the closest they have ever come to that Martin was in the pages of Vintage Guitar magazine.
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#4 User is offline   Red 333 

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 02:59 PM

Hi, Maaty. I've got both an AJ500R and an Advanced Jumbo, and I agree in general with your description of the AJ having stronger fundamentals. The Masterbilt is voiced to emphasize the overtones more. That's true of the AJ500M, as well, when compared to a J45. I've often described the Masterbilts as being Gibsons in a reverb tank. The Gibsons are drier and more immediate.

My take on it is that the Masterbilt is a heck of a guitar, and more impressive still when you consider the price. I find the playability of the Masterbilts is excellent, too--they beg to be played.

Red 333

#5 User is offline   Red 333 

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 03:03 PM

Quote

When I hear someone saying they would put this or that $500 offshore guitar up against a pre-War Martin dread I pretty much assume the closest they have ever come to that Martin was in the pages of Vintage Guitar magazine.



Then don't go reading the Recording King threads on the UMGF--your head will explode.

Red 333

#6 User is offline   maatty 

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 12:27 AM

Quote

Hi, Maaty. I've got both an AJ500R and an Advanced Jumbo, and I agree in general with your description of the AJ having stronger fundamentals. The Masterbilt is voiced to emphasize the overtones more. That's true of the AJ500M, as well, when compared to a J45. I've often described the Masterbilts as being Gibsons in a reverb tank. The Gibsons are drier and more immediate.

My take on it is that the Masterbilt is a heck of a guitar, and more impressive still when you consider the price. I find the playability of the Masterbilts is excellent, too--they beg to be played.

Red 333


Thanks Red, I think I prefer the drier sound of a good Gibson.

Maybe the 500M mahogany model has less boom and bass reverberation than the rosewood box?

#7 User is offline   bloozeguy 

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 06:36 AM

Quote

Thanks Red, I think I prefer the drier sound of a good Gibson.

Maybe the 500M mahogany model has less boom and bass reverberation than the rosewood box?

I think the word "prefer" is rather key here. I cannot think of a Gibson dread I would prefer over my AJ500RC 12-fretter, both in terms of sound and playability; but I come to that after figuring I can't afford a Gibson CJ165(maple) and, for the money, I preferred the Epi to the Martin OM21 I was also considering.
But, you see, it's what I "prefer," though I do think (MVHO) the Masterbilts give the Gibbies and Martins a run for their money.

#8 User is offline   Red 333 

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 07:14 AM

Quote

I think the word "prefer" is rather key here. I cannot think of a Gibson dread I would prefer over my AJ500RC 12-fretter, both in terms of sound and playability; but I come to that after figuring I can't afford a Gibson CJ165(maple) and, for the money, I preferred the Epi to the Martin OM21 I was also considering.
But, you see, it's what I "prefer," though I do think (MVHO) the Masterbilts give the Gibbies and Martins a run for their money.


Bloozeguy, check out the "Steve Earle's Kid" thread. There's a link to some YouTube videos, and in some, he's playing an AJ500RC. You'll have to look through some of the suggested videos to find the right ones, but you'll see the AJ500RC's shape easily enough.

Red 333

#9 User is offline   TP 

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 03:02 AM

I have tried out the Masterbilts as well to see how they stack up against a good Gibson and have been impressed to a point, but still don't see the comparison other than the look of the guitar. My 2005 AJ has volume with balance and tone that rivals that of a grand piano when strumming chords. For fingerstyle, it excells. Fingerstyle is my preference for playing so if a guitar doesn't handle that well, I keep looking and unfortunatly, I have not been able to hear the notes as distinctly on the Masterbilts I played vs. my AJ.

Then there is the fact that nobody, and I really mean NOBODY.... does a burst like Gibson! [drool] (Here is my AJ for proof.)

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#10 User is offline   frenchie1281734003 

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 04:47 AM

Quote

I have tried out the Masterbilts as well to see how they stack up against a good Gibson and have been impressed to a point, but still don't see the comparison other than the look of the guitar. My 2005 AJ has volume with balance and tone that rivals that of a grand piano when strumming chords. For fingerstyle, it excells. Fingerstyle is my preference for playing so if a guitar doesn't handle that well, I keep looking and unfortunatly, I have not been able to hear the notes as distinctly on the Masterbilts I played vs. my AJ.

Then there is the fact that nobody, and I really mean NOBODY.... does a burst like Gibson! :-" (Here is my AJ for proof.)

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Very nice I must say. But I think my 62 Levin LM-26 is up there with it!

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Steve.
1980 Daion Heritage 78 acoustic.

1994 Gibson J-100 Xtra (Mahogany) acoustic.

1994 Guild JV-52 Super Jumbo, number 20 of 28 made.

2011 Fender U.S.A 52 Telecaster FSR (Thin skin), Lake placid blue.




"I started off with nothing,and I still have most of it left. "Seasick Steve".

#11 User is offline   Red 333 

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 06:04 AM

Quote

I have tried out the Masterbilts as well to see how they stack up against a good Gibson ...I have not been able to hear the notes as distinctly on the Masterbilts I played vs. my AJ.


Yeah, that's why I say they sound like a Gibson in a reverb tank. I think they are excellent guitars, though, and need to be evaluated on their own merits versus the sound you like.

Your AJ is a beauty!

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