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robatsu

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About robatsu

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  1. Firmly left handed in everything except guitar playing (and the trumpet years ago). The friend who was teaching me the basics on guitar (it was my teen years) recommended that I learn to play right-handed. I didn't give it much thought, as I had played a "right handed" trumpet (I never heard of a left-handed one), and just ran with that. IMO, both hands are doing unnatural motions, so while left-handed guitars are ok, I think that maybe it doesn't make a big difference which way one starts to learn to play. Lots of instruments only come one way (pianos, etc) and actually guitars are probably the instrument with one of the greatest incidence of left-handed models. Not slagging on playing left handed, though, please don't take it that way. Maybe it does make a difference for some people, although there is really no way to test the proposition, other than having the same person learn it both ways?
  2. I've had 3 AJ's. The first two were standard issue ones. First one I bought in the 90's, second one in 2003, kept both of them for about eight years, played the tar out of them, gigs, jams, busking, bluegrass, old time, celtic/irish, swing, etc. Loved both of them, but sold both, just super, all rounder guitars. IMO, the only reason they aren't more popular w/conventional flatpickers is residual animus against Gibson, even though all the boutiques copy the design. About 3 years ago, shortly after selling (and regretting selling) the 2d one, I picked up my 3rd, a 2006 Luthier's Choice model w/Adirondack top, Madagascar back/sides. Yowza, this thing rocks. I don't know if it is just normal variation between individual AJ's or the materials and Luthier's Choice pixie dust, but this is one unique axe (and I've had tons and played tons more). Never have had anything quite like it, although previous AJ's came pretty darn close. While it can be all soft and sweet, when you lean into it, it has the most incredibly clear, commanding voice. And it isn't my imagination. How do I know that? I play with fiddlers all the time and usually it is impossible to get them to notice/pay attention to flatpicking, it just doesn't penetrate. But with this one, I can always get their attention, lead off tunes, even to the point of getting them to follow and learn a new one. I've never had a guitar before that I could that consistently with on unsuspecting fiddlers. Anyhow, AJ's, IMO, are one of the great sleeper guitars of all time. And I'm not a Gibson fanboy/purist, I've had all sorts of other brands. But this, in the decades of guitar ownership, is really the first true keeper I've run across, again, have never played anything quite like it. Fair warning. This variation has a very wide nut, bigger than 1-3/4 (I think it is 1.77). It took me a while to get used to that and as loud as it was, I almost sold it because, well, it was taking me a while to get used to it. When I first started playing it, my fingers looked like little miniature ones on the fretboard and it can take some extra effort to make some various reaches. But I'm glad now I committed to getting used to it... FWIW, my luthier believes the extra mass in the neck is one of the things that gives it a little extra edge. But anyhow, enough raving about my AJ (and I'd happily own a standard model one again, maybe one day I'll pick up one of blond curly maple ones from the 90's. Congratulations on your new guitar, I'm certain it is really great if my experiences are any indication.
  3. Having had a 1994 J-200 for 18 years, here is my opinion. FIrst, all the other stuff looks legit, although I'm wondering about the J-200 Special on the interior label. What is so special about it other than the weird bridge. Second, the hot pink case is a little earlier in the 90's. More like 92/93 or earlier. By 94 the case interior is more purple, has a logo on the dust cover, and the dust cover is not terrycloth, but smooth satiny material. So that is a little curious. Something is a little fishy overall, again, the hot pink case w/94 serial number, the 4 bar bridge unlike anyone I've ever seen before, but the rest being very true to Gibson of the era. Me, I'm with others that this is an aftermarket repair. Get thee to a two bar bridge. But it still doesn't explain the hot pink case on a 1994 J-200 or what the "Special" on the label means.
  4. I'll agree with the J200 recommendation. I've had a couple of 17" archtops, the J200 has sort of the same shape, the narrow waist etc, so a lot of similarities there. As for neck playability, I don't really see much difference between the flattop and the archtop when same strings, same/similar setup. You might get some perception of playability differences because of the sonic differences - the quick decay/strong fundamentals of an archtop might leave a dedicated flattopper sort of flailing around if he is trying to coax out the warm resonance of a typical flattop. Similarly, the punchiness you can get on a maple archtop is can be harder to achieve on a flattop. So, again, if you are really used to one or the other, at first it may seem like playability issues, but it isn't. Same strings at same tension on same scale lengths gives pretty much the same experience, assuming the rest of the setup is similar & fretboard width, etc, is as well. One reason I like the J200 is that it can sound more archtoppy than a typical mahogany/rosewood dreadnaught, especially comping on closed form chords.
  5. I had a 1994 J-200 I bought new in 1994. My main axe for many, many years. Just lovely. I did sell it in 2012, but as soon as I let it go, I realized that I liked having a J200. So I did a lot of homework, looked around. I ended up with a 2008 SJ-200 VOS True Vintage, from a limited edition run of 167. Apparently, these were the first production SJ-200s to get Adirondack tops, at least from Bozeman years. It is a better guitar than my 1994, and I think most players would agree with me. It has more power/volume on tap than the 1994, especially on the treble strings, while still having the tonal characteristics I associate with J-200s (strong fundamentals, etc). Basically, it sounds like my 1994 except that I can get more volume out of it when I want to. And the 1994 wasn't any slouch, there was a reason I kept it for 18 years. However, this is only one data point - I just had one 90's J-200 and one 2008 SJ-200 TV, so you can't compare the whole lineup by these two examples.
  6. I always thought the J200 17" jumbo flattop was a first for Gibson.
  7. Well, it kinda looks like all the other AJ's: The only real visible difference is the fade on the back of the neck:
  8. I think the price is in the zone. I'd try to get them down to 4-4.5k. I've never played one the Brazilian ones, but I do have a Madagascar Rosewood Luthier's Choice AJ from 2006 after they Gibson quit using Brazilian. It is like the description of the Brazilian one, "commanding", that is the perfect word for it. Now Gibson doesn't use Madagascar, so I'm wondering what they are using now for Luthier's Choice AJs?
  9. That is what is so cool about the AJ's. For $1500 or so, you get a killer axe made by a legendary company using traditional materials and techniques. And it looks great. But it didn't cost so much that you let it become a hangar queen. I've taken mine everywhere, sidewalk busking, etc. I don't abuse them, but I don't baby them either. About the only other model I think is comparable is HD-28, although new Martin D-18 seems like a winner. But the Gibsons have much more panache, Martins are so well-scrubbedly earnest. AJ's rock and your grandkids will really appreciate you passing down your Ferguson era AJ to them, it will pay for a year or two of college by then.
  10. What I don't understand is why Advanced Jumbos aren't more popular - Gibson keeps bringing them in and out of production as a regular model every few years, it seems like, so they must not sell enough to keep it as a regular standard model. But in the meantime, all the boutique guys like Collings, Bourgeois, H&D, Santa Cruz and all sorts of other luthiers all make AJ clones as a regular item. People obviously love the design. And they are such killer all purpose guitars, the Gibson equivalent of a D18 or D28. I'm on my third one. The first two were standard models, just really great all around guitars, not too expensive, and now my third is a 2006 Luthier's Choice that is really almost unbelievable that I bought used about 2 years ago. Anyone have a guess at why Gibson seems so ambivalent about AJs, why they start and stop making these?
  11. Easy question. I'd go boutique guitar and have Todd Stock, aka "The Most Amazing Luthier Ever", make me one of his Greenridge Guitars, probably a (late) J-35 interpretation in Carpathian Spruce and figured Anegre back and sides. Any more questions?
  12. Easy question. In 1994, I walked into a music shop in Birmingham, Alabama, and saw a brand new J-200 on the wall for $800. When I started on guitar in the 70's as a teenager, I had the typical opinion that Gibson acoustics were bad. FWIW, at that time I knew nothing about Gibson going independent again, Bozeman, etc, this was the dawning of the internet/web era, so you would have to be a lot more interested than I was to go through the drill of following this sort of info. Anyhow, I liked the looks of this one, I'm a sucker for what I call "tacky Americana" and played it for a bit. Sounded pretty good, much to my preconceived notions about Gibson acoustics. The shop owner actually didn't know a whole lot about it, he wasn't a Gibson dealer, just had it on consignment for some other shop up in Anniston, Al. Long story short, I bought it, screaming good deal, although I didn't realize it at the time, not for a few years later and to this date I don't know why I got it so cheap - again, brand new Gibson J-200 w/warranty (and I used it) for $800. That turned me on to Gibsons. I then read the Gibson Fabulous Flattops book, I liked the whole narrative of a feisty company, an American icon, coming back from a near death experience at the hands of soulless "scientific" management. Plus, Gibson obviously has a sense of humor, whimsy, just look at some of their guitars. Can you imagine a cherryburst Dove coming out of Martin? The Gibson stuff reminds me of my Appalachian grandparents, small town well to do folks, the sort of things they had around their house. So to me, it is this very American saga, with some tongue in cheek, a bit of swagger, a bit of sexiness, a lot of fun, because, hey, we are just playing tunes here, unlike the grim Cotton Mather seriousness of Martin guitars (I call them "Amish" guitars...). And now that they've decided, since late 1980's, to make them sound good again, you can have all that and be a serious musician with Gibsons, not just an image thing. I also have a 2006 Luthier's Choice AJ which is quite possibly one of the loudest guitars in the world. And other Gibsons I've owned since then have been first rate. The only thing that has been disappointing was a Star Acoustic/Electric, but acoustic/electrics more or less always blow (IMO). Gibson rocks. And I think that the guitars from the last 5 years or so of the Ferguson era are without peer and destined to become sought after classics, this is when they really were firing on all cylinders all the time, 24/7.
  13. I just bought a 2008 SJ-200, one of the limited edition run of True Vintage that were the first Adi topped J-200s. I did a big writeup of it here with some pictures. Very cool axe. I recently sold my 1994 J-200 which I had owned since new and almost immediately regretted it. However, now I don't, the new one is pretty much a new and improved J-200, not that the old one was bad, just this one is better. IMO, we live in a golden era of luthiery skills, these things are just getting better and better.
  14. I've owned a number of Gibsons since rediscovering the brand in 1994. Up until that time, I had the opinion of Gibson acoustics that had been formed in my teens in the 1970's - that they were lacking. Since then, I've owned a J200, a Star Studio, and am on my third AJ. I've had no issues at all with any of them. I think these days, there are a lot more issues w/Martins, if the people on UMGF are to be believed. IMO, Ren Ferguson got the Bozeman operation up and running right from the beginning. In their early years, they underwent a lot of nitpicking/naysaying by Gibson haters whose opinions were formed during the previous bleak decades of Gibson acoustics. IMO, the Bozeman Gibsons from any era are all pretty good guitars - this isn't to say that they didn't put out some dogs, but probably not at a significantly higher rate than any other respectable maker. Of course, this is all just one guy's opinion, I'm sure there are others.
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