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Old Neil

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Posts posted by Old Neil

  1. I'm in a similar position to the OP. Have had the pleasure of owning many fine Martins over the years including several custom orders and 40's series. However, today my three acoustics are all Gibsons: A particularly great J-45 standard with a few changes made by my favorite luthier; A custom shop, 12 fret AJ; A Hummingbird Vintage (the one with the 'cooked' top). They all have a tonal function and dovetail really well on recordings where the Martins were harder to tame.


    Each have their own character to sit and play with to and different song inspirations seem to come out of each of them.


    In any case, love what you play, play what you love. It's all good.

  2. For me it comes back to the old adage: “A good guitar is a good guitar” - and, in the reverse, a mediocre guitar is a mediocre guitar.


    The above is of course always in relationship to the subjective criteria of the individual. After owning a boatload of great guitars from all the usual main and boutique makers I am no longer impressed by specs/woods/bling or reputation.


    I’ve played holy grail vintage guitars that sounded just OK and squeaky new guitars that sounded incredible from the get go - and of course, the reverse.


    I went looking for a J-45 Legend a while back but wound up with a great standard. I played an AJ 12fret with dead strings but heard something in it that was unique. Sure enough, with new strings it sounded incredible so it came home.


    There are no guarantees, just the particular, individual guitar and the personal relationship you as an individual have with it. Forget what makes and models ‘should’ sound like, close your eyes, listen and feel. That’s the only reliable parameter.

  3. SB Park: ”The AJ is super direct and in your face. Not the best strummer, but a killer flat picker, cross picker and finger picker, and little phrasings and embellishments really pop out. ”


    100% agree with that assessment. That is exactly the niche my AJ fills between my J-45 and Hummingbird Vintage

  4. They're OK. Having one stock and one rebraced has given me a bit more perspective on what to expect from that model. Personally, I like the sound of the original, ladder bracing and all. When I was younger and Harmony was still making instruments in the USA, we called them the 'poor man's D-18'. And they do have a run-of-the-mill D-18 kind of sound. As for the bass, it's fair. You don't get the boom that a healthy Martin can deliver, but it's clear and balances nicely with the volume of the eadsinstrument. My rebraced example has a hint of a scalloped brace sound, although the braces are by no means scalloped. To me, it's more 'mushy' than the standard model, but that's just one man's opinion. At any rate, they tend to be very affordable and are a lot of fun to play☺


    Well I can only speak for the particular example I own but I have alao owned many a fine Martin dread (GE’s, 40 series, customs) and my 12 fret AJ is the only rosewood dread I kept. It’s bass is very deep in a ‘vertical’ sense in that it is not as boomy/flabby or overpowering of the other string/note frequencies like on some Martin rosewood dreads. Capoing up the neck helps a Martin in that regard but the AJ is great either way. In double drop D (both E strings tuned down to D) it is a deep cathedral of haunting power and richness - without the definition robbing bass flab.m

  5. RhythmDr.:

    I have played a fair selection of 14 fret AJs and of course own a 12 fret version. Differences from the standard model:

    Adirondack (red spruce) top

    Due to the 12 fret neck:

    The soundhole appears closer to the neck but not sure if this is actually the case)

    It’s listed as long scale but feels like a short scale guitar, especially compared to the 14 fret AJ

    Subjectively more comfortable to play than the 14 fret AJ


    Great deep, rich sound with pretty, articulate highs. IMO a wonderful guitar.

  6. I still have my 2016, so obviously not one of those forum members who let theirs go. The ‘toasted’ top gives it greater note clarity than any standard Hummingbird I have played - which is, for some, a plus, for others a minus depending on strumming/ picking preferences.

    Regardless of these new-fangled vintage aging processes it still sounds like new (ish) guitar, albeit a very good one. The velvety part is usually a factor of aging, assuming the guitar was a good’un to begin with - and this most certainly is a good guitar.

  7. That was very well done.


    I agree - there are some useful high-mid and high-end tones with these Gibson's. I thought you put these to very good use throughout. Everything seemed well arranged and sonically designed. Never too much of anything. Maybe a couple things to push up here and there, but I have a habit to overdo such things. eg - maybe comp in and lift the those wonderful low-string riffs(?) in a few spots. Only in doing so, I would have done way too much and put the bright, happy sunshine emitting song at risk of being a bad-boy Country number. So yes, I admire what you've done. [thumbup]



    Your observations made me smile PB as I am naturally more in your school of thought. Un EQ’d, the AJ in particular has a growly, rich, deep majesty that I would have preferred be left untouched, particularly in the exposed sections but there are swings and roundabouts to every choice and time and budget tend to force decisions be made sooner rather than later.


    If it were a more ‘Vox and guitar unplugged ‘ piece I certainly would be following your sonic sensibilities. :-)



  8. The recent AJ thread piqued my interest as I have just recorded my first proper track with it and my J-45. An original composition and arrangement. Just a love song for my sweetheart finished in time for an anniversary. (phew!)


    Although the AJ and J-45 play together out front in the intro, they spend most of their time as the comp underlay to some minimalist electric guitar and electric bass. Live drumming and percussion round it out with some mixed in keyboard brass and string lines - which I sang in and had a friend later record the melody on a keyboard. Some lovely female vocals (obviously not me :-) ) under the later chorus and breadown sections give it some loving, pop sweetness.


    The process was fun from laying down the rythm guitar on the J-45, to apeggiating the same chords on the AJ. The (male) vocals and backing vocals, like the guitars, are all done in single takes through a few song cycles and comped. Not a lot of editing needed either as I wanted to keep a looser, human feel.


    Some have commented that they hear a mandolin in the mix. Nope, just the arpeggiating AJ EQ'd a tad to cut through a pop/rock mix. Thought that might be instructive to some of you who record with your Gibsons.

    Anyway, here is the compressed Soundcloud version under my usual non de plume of 'RayDeeyay'. Questions, thoughts and feedback all welcome. :-)



  9. I have a 12 fret, Adirondack topped AJ that I love (and wrote a thread about an eternity ago somewhere here).

    I have had plenty of Martins in my time, including customs and 40 series but I cannot honestly say the AJ is ‘Martinesque’. The AJ has better note separation than most large body Martins and the AJ bass, while powerful, is more focused, with greater ‘vertical depth’ than the boomier, lateral spread of a typical Martin dread bass end.

    Application I find best suited to my AJ/playing style are arpeggiated picking to support a strummed rythmn track on another guitar (like a J-45/Hummingbird).

    In fact this is exactly what I did on a recent track I recorded. I will make a separate post about this but here is a quick Soundcloud link:


  10. Rambler wrote: "Less boom and overtones than an HD28v. Loud, clear and punchy. Its a good sound..."

    Yep. Completely agree. Had a Martin HD-28V and AJ side by side in my collection every day for many months. The Martin left (and it was a great guitar) but the AJ stayed. OK, it's a little unique in that it is a 12 fret to the neck, Adirondack over Indian rosewood but it sounds (and records) wonderfully.


    Oh, and I also have a great J-45 and a Hummingbird Vintage at home for comparison and agree they are also very different beasts tonally and 'vibe' wise. Both worth their place alongside the AJ.

  11. Usually this style of playing works better on something like a Rainsong guitar where the clarity (almost to the point of sterility for other styles with those guitars) work to best advantage. My .02 of course.


    One example:







    No criticism of this man's playing either. He obviously has skills and while an AJ is a fine guitar (I own one so obviously I love 'em), it would not be my first choice to showcase this playing style.

  12. I have never been sentimental over guitars. Have sold many 'lifetime' guitars and moved on. For me at least, its the experience of them more than having them.


    All material things will be separated from us sooner or later, one way or the other anyway. So, enjoy the experience - or not and move them on.


    Unless you have bills to pay I wouldn't justify it economically, particularly if you boughtt new. With guitar players it is rarely about sensible economics (although we may tell ourselves that) and more about interest in a new flavor of guitar experience.

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