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Old Neil

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  1. Thank you everyone for your kind words and wishes. Secondly for the nerdier members of guitar minutia among us (I'm one of course ) is a comparison of the Gibson logo on the headstock between a standard J-45 and the Hummingbird Vintage. To my eye (not sure if this translates as well through a camera phone) the 'bird logo is slightly yellower/golder than the silver pearl of the standard J-45. Probably something to do with the oil finish I suspect. See if you can tell: Standard J-45 headstock logo: (yes, those are nickel Waverly butterbean tuners replacing the original one. I had my reasons. So sue me... ) And now the Hummingbird Vintage logo: ">
  2. I don't think the Hummingbird Vintage will be to everyone's taste either. No guitar is after all. In this case it is probably because it does not immediately sound like a modern Hummingbird. It is more brash and projective (when shop new) with better note separation than any modern, new 'bird I have played. So no, it doesn't surprise me at all that it will not be to everyone's taste - particularly an owner of a (slightly) played-in modern variation. For me, it fills a tonal gap on the high, pretty, jangly end of the spectrum (although it also has deep bass, it is another kind of bass to my other guitars).
  3. Thanks Nick, The phone cam with flash doesn't do it justice of course but you get the general idea. A nice touch with the aged patina is how it makes the 'Gibson' headstock logo look slightly gold/yellow. Very cool. I will try and get a pic of that tomorrow in some daylight.
  4. Took this baby home today... It was a choice between this and a very nice 12 fret AJ. I took my wife along as a spare pair of ears as well as my trusty Martin HD-28V as a reference guitar. Besides myself I got three other people (including a visiting Fender Custom Shop demonstrator) to play both of them so I could listen from the front. My wife described the AJ "as old and deep as the sea"; my Martin "as rich as the earth" and the Hummingbird Vintage "as airy and sweet as a young girl" - not the kind of guitar tone descriptions one usually hears around these parts... I chose the 'bird as it will be the brightest and open sounding of my collection - EQ ready for rock/pop/commercial country. My J-45, Martin HD-28V and Larson Bros. Jumbo are either darker and/or more powerful with a little more headroom when pushed. The Hummingbird has a beautiful 'sweet spot' however when played moderately that just sounds radio friendly out of the box. It bodes well for recording. I referred to the Hummingbird in another thread as being the 'major scale' as opposed to the darker, 'minor scale' of the J-45. They make a great pair. The hummingbird has a happy, pretty, airy sound. I have other guitars for darker or harder edged moods. The 12 fret AJ will haunt me for sure. It had that Nick Drake 'Pink Moon' vibe and sound (even if he never used a Gibson to record that) - but entirely different to the Hummingbird. 

So there you have it. Now I have to get back, put some flowers in my hair and get a strummin' and a pickin'…
  5. Interesting. I will be taking my HD-28V with me to the guitar shop to play alongside a Hummingbird Vintage and a 12 fret AJ (see relevant thread). I have more or less decided to buy the 'bird as I have played it on several occasions already in comparison to a standard Hummingbird and some Martin dreads (including a HD-28 like yours). In my case it is more for comparison with the AJ as that is probably a little more like for like(ish). The AJ is easier to play than the Martin, has great attack, projection and 'vibe' - if that is quantifiable. My definition is that it feels that I could write a lot of songs with it. The Hummingbird Vintage feels like a very melodic sing and strum guitar to while away the hours....
  6. Interestingly, Thanks for the demo. The new Hummingbird Vintage is unlike any new Hummingbird I have played. That may be a good/bad thing depending upon expectations I suppose. It is louder, brighter and a touch brasher than its standard brothers and sisters. In my opinion, that is not a bad beginning point for a guitar who's signature tone you are sure of - as opposed to some makers who just make bright sounding guitars. It usually indicates that as the guitar ages some of that bite/brashness will be trimmed off and the treble 'fattens up' a touch while the bass end swells and grows a little more. The strummed notes will then blend more and become more of a velvety carpet strummed accompaniment sound we associate with Hummingbirds instead of the slightly spiky note separation a grand-spanking new one exhibits. It will mature in other words. While I am in broad generalizations mode I notice this phenomenon happens more in dovetail, glued neck joints than bolt-on designs. Whether that is desirable or not depends on what you expect from a guitar. Personally I like that slight mellowing that comes from a beginning with a good, new, slightly bright example. In the past I have bought exclusive luthier designed bolt-on guitars that I could never quite bond with despite their detailed, clear sound. If I played in a very precise finger style soloist mode then perhaps I would still own them. Somehow though, the very precision that impressed me to buy those models in the first place just began to sound sterile and inflexible with time. There is no 'Holy Grail' guitar but fortunately for us all there are some wonderful ones being made in our life time. The Hummingbird Vintage is one of them.
  7. Hi Mack, Yes, in my opinion at least the J-45 and Hummingbird are different animals. What they have in common are the wood types (usually Sitka spruce top over mahogany back and sides) and a short scale length. Tonally however, while they reflect the greater note clarity and directness of mahogany guitars generally (compared to their rosewood brethren which usually fill out the sound with more harmonics - for better or worse depending on taste and application) they are different. This may be down to the body shape (square versus round shouldered) but to generalize for a moment (assuming you are playing a good example of each): J-45: Dark, deep, woody and serious - a finger/flat picker for your moody mind Hummingbird: light, broad and blending, sweet and pretty - a harmonious companion for your singing soul Like the minor and major scale of the same root key if you will. :-) I own an excellent J-45 and will probably be an owner of a Hummingbird Vintage in the next few days so I am putting my money where my typing skills are. :-)
  8. PS, Apparently the 12 fret AJ is still long scale. It plays like my short scale J-45 and feels, as I said, like a 000. Interesting.
  9. 62 Burst: Yes, the capo looks like it slipped a little, probably when I was holding both guitars by their necks to balance them against the couch for the photo. :-) Both sound wonderful in alternate tunings and/or capo'd up the neck - not something that can always be said about short scale guitars.
  10. Had fun at (one of) my local guitar shops with these two beauties today: Both had their own, unique tone signature and playability. The hummingbird Vintage was very open, clear and pretty sounding - none of the (sometimes) quiet, compressed sound new Hummingbirds can have. I compared it with a (good) standard model. As the sales attendant noted when I switched back to the Vintage: "It's like you turned the 'loudness' button on." - a fair description. And the brown, plush leather(ish) case with pink(!) lining looked stunning and was an extremely snug fit and colour complement with the deep vintage red of the 'bird. The 12 fret AJ was wonderful too. Rich but with clear note separation and shorter, less complex sustain characteristics than my Martin HD-28V, making it perhaps more suitable to sing over. Sounded great when doing those Neil Young like muted bass with ringing trebles, arpeggios or rocking out a bit with strummed chords. Fantastic playability too. Very comfortable. In that regard it felt more like a 000/OM in the hands. I have put them both on hold till Thursday when I will return with Martin for further comparison. One (or possibly both either now in the not so distant future) will probably be coming home with me. Wonderful guitars. Recommended.
  11. Yes that is true. Here is a pic of the closest original Larson (originally spelt 'Larsson' in the more correct Swedish style I believe) that supports your point: However, it matters little to me personally as the guitar sounds and plays wonderfully. Will replace the tuners with Waverly's though. They are the only sub-standard thing about the guitar.
  12. Thanks Nick. I would have to go back and check about the other guitars.
  13. A quick pic or two now that (I hope) I have the Photobucket thing sorted out.
  14. I have just been playing a modern Larson Bros. Prairie State SJ 13 Jumbo here in Stockholm, Sweden. Compared it side by side with a Gibson J-200 TV (Adi top) and a second hand Gibson Hummibgbird Custom Koa (with the engraved pickguard and all the abalone inlays). I'm picking up the Larson today. It's that good. Besides my own J-45 (ran a thread ages ago about how I selected that particular one from 6 other J-45 variants) the best new Gibson I have played is the 2016 Hummingbird Vintage. The Larson is a different application though. I had the privilege to play/compare it to the aforementioned J-200 TV, a J-200 Bob Dylan players edition, a J-200 Custom Shop 1964 reissue, a J-200 Custom (rosewood back and sides) and a J-200 standard. Still chose this particular Larson.
  15. Fair enough, if those changes are what you want. Personally, I chose a particular (2013) J-45 standard from 6 other standards and two signature models. The first thing I did was take out all the electrics in the guitar. The second thing was to have a compensated, bone saddle professionally installed. The third was to replace the heavy, Grover tuners with better, lighter and prettier Waverly nickel, butterbean tuners. For me (and that is the caveat of course) It is now a great example of a J-45. Each to his own.
  16. Funny, I recently went the other way by having Waverly nickel butterbean style open back vintage tuners on my J-45. MUCH better weight balance and, weirdly, noticeably better tone. I first thought " Ahh, the luthier put new strings on" but the existing strings were still quite new and he put on exactly the same type again. Go figure...
  17. Here are some low rez shots of how it turned out.
  18. Exactly. When I had the guitar sitting in my lap it meant I was correcting the tip down of the headstock end shifting the guitar angle or position further to my right and/or gripping harder with the fretting hand - not good for technique. It is noticeably lighter at the headstock now and plays better so I'm happy. Maybe for those that use a guitar strap (either sitting or standing) it is no big deal as the strap provides that supportive lift to the headstock. I don't use one however. The fact that the Waverlys also look great doesn't hurt. Others may not think so because it is not 'traditional' for Gibson to use them, I also have a Martin J-40 with large, enclosed tuners that are probably as heavy as the Gibson/Grover ones but it is not noticeable as the big lower bout at the other end balances it out.
  19. Timely topic. I became frustrated with the headstock heavy imbalance with my J-45 standard. I had my luthier change them for nickel Waverly vintage open gear tuners. New bushings were required and the washers on the front were smaller so the mark the old, larger ones left were lightly buffed away. It plays much better now. I'm satisfied. Between the tuner swap out and removing the standard mic system, battery etc., it is a noticeably lighter guitar now too which I like.
  20. What a difference a few days make. It is quite hot and humid weather so perhaps not the best time to be testing acoustic guitars. Today, I went back with a guitarist friend to get an independant opinion and also hear them played from in front. Both teh SC SJ and the J-200 Koa sounded relatively lifeless and 'stringy' today. THe SJ could be coaxed with a heavier touch to elicit some growl but the airy clarity of the J-200 had mostly gone. I thought that this must be just humidity except for the fact that another guitar hanging nearby, a Taylor K24 ce (all koa cutaway grand auditorium size) but was crystal clear but with great mids and lows to go with it. Weirdly I also thought it sounded better direct into the Bose PA in direct comparison to the already impressive Trance Audio Amulet system on the SC SJ. Apperently Taylor ( a brand that has never done much for me in the past apart from having fairly playable necks) have both a new bracing system for the koa top to get it moving more and a Mark II version of their electronics. Very impressive today at least. Must go back to other store to test the double-oh Rasmussen guitar and get back again for a slightly delayed comparison.
  21. Great choice. A great knock on effect of the popularity of the TV series is that more new Gibson models are featuring the key features of it - prewar bracing, Adirondack tops etc. Bone nuts and saddles ( and preferably pins too) should be bone though I agree. Making a decision myself between a Sheryl Crow and a custom J-200 this Sunday so I know your excitement. Congratulations and of course pics are proof :-)
  22. [media]http://s1059.photobucket.com/user/jeremyhalpin/media/KoaBackJ200.jpg.html?sort=3&o=2[/mediia OK, that broke the rules of your question. It isn't (yet?) mine and only the back and sides are Koa but it's a fun excuse for a gratuitous koa pic.
  23. Interesting. I have owned both the D18 GE and D-28 Marquis (Madagascar) in the past. The SC SJ is the closest I have heard to a meeting of Gibson playability, 'vibe' and good treble/bass balance and that Martin growl when you dig in. Other observations. Adirondack tops can definitely handle a heavier picking/strumming hand without breaking up. The J-200 Koa Custom is 'prettier', with a wider sounding stereo field that moves more air but gets a bit too harsh/'stringy'/metallic ring/distorted if you lay into it too much. I have to caveat that though as it has near new Elixers on it which I have always found to have a bit of that quality by themselves on any guitar particularly when new. They may be useful to brighten up a 'dark' or even dull sounding guitar bit perhaps not the best match for a new, large-bodied koa guitar like this one.
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