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About rustystrings

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  • Birthday August 28

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    Greenwood SC
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    Acoustic guitars, songwriting, fixed-gear road cycling over dirt roads

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  1. Well, when I said "done right," I was thinking more in terms of sunburst and with the correct headstock shape, vs. the natural finish LG-2 American Eagle with the straight-sided headstock. And cosmetics shouldn't really matter all that much, but at first blush, I want one very very much. Waiting for the soundclips when they arrive ....
  2. I'm seeing these at Music Zoo and Sweetwater for pre-order .... any inside scoop? They look very, very tempting - natural finish and a pricier, toasted-Red-Spruce-Banner variant as well ...
  3. In a dozen years, if you play this guitar regularly all over the neck, you'll start getting those tiny places where the lacquer wears through, and it will all just be good honest player wear then.
  4. Guitars in general, and J-45s in particular - ignore the label. Ignore the finish. Ignore the specs. Play every one you can find until you figure out what your hands and ears like best. I played hundreds and hundreds of guitars on a long-running quest for Excalibur before stumbling onto the J-45 that has become my all-time favorite guitar ever.
  5. Also consider nickel-wound acoustic gauge strings. I've been using John Pearse .012-054s on my J-45 for five or six years now and love them. The nickel is less dense than bronze and they just feel lighter.
  6. It took a while for me, over years - I went from being a Gibson-hater to coming to love a battered '60 LG-2, having the way I hear acoustic guitars changed by exposure to a specific '62 J-50, then briefly owning a battered, rebuilt but fragile '50 J-45. Even the old Gibson archtops I had, despite their charms, didn't completely nail me. It was a chance thing, taking a guitar off the wall on my first visit to a Guitar Center while looking for something else, that finally hooked me for good. I stood there, lifting this brand new '05 J-45 Historic Collection with dead strings and bad action due to shallow nut slots, without ever having played a note on it, just holding it by the neck, with this feeling - "Why is MY guitar on the wall of this Guitar Center?" When I eventually listened to that voice, I bought it and dialed it in and played it. Somehow that guitar nailed the feeling of the old LG-2's neck with the things I loved about the old J-45 and J-50's sound, but with something else. This guitar just has a certain breathy, lively quality to it. It always makes me smile, and I always feel slightly sad when it is time to put it back in the case. This guitar is simply it, the one I've been looking for since I started playing. Now, I will admit, I would still love to score a 2013-15 LG-2 American Eagle - but to accompany and augment, never to replace ...
  7. If you're talking about the anti-feedback device, the flexible Feedback Buster works beautifully in Gibson flattops. I've used them for more than 20 years in LG-2s and J45s, as well as in Guilds and Taylors. Puzzled by how they would improve recording, though.
  8. John Pearse Pure Nickel 960L light gauge .012-.054 has been my choice for barehanded, no-plectrum playing for several years now, replacing John Pearse phosphor bronze in the same gauge. I am not convinced that bigger, heavier, thicker strings are the best choice - the lower tension nickel strings seem to vibrate better and the guitar just sounds fuller this way.
  9. I never encountered the "workhorse" designation for J-45s until c.2007, when I saw it in Gibson promotional material online. Certainly never heard it around music circles in Macon. Maybe a Nashville thing, though I really suspect Gibson's marketing people made it up out of whole cloth. Perhaps I am just cynical.
  10. My best friend's early 50s LG-1 imprinted the Gibson chordal blend in my ears; helped me to hear chords as a whole rather than separate notes; laid the foundations for what I would later desire in guitars. It was (and is) a great guitar. The 1960 LG-2 I bought in the mid 80s for $125 led to learning about inside chord voices. It was a chameleon of a guitar, able to delicately pick out atmospheric sounds, whirl through Celtic-inspired fingerpicking, thump through Piedmont blues and chunk out roots music, even pour out a shockingly loud sheet-metal roar when pushed hard. It remains the only guitar I really regret parting with. It taught me a lot. The early 30s roundhole L-4 that required multiple patches to repair holes created by a previous owner's electrification was a great guitar that was an unforgiving taskmistress. You heard every single note on that guitar, and when you played a clam it was obvious, but it rewarded with a surprisingly round and full tone, mids and lows that rivaled nice jumbos, and a focused power that carried to the back of the hall when used to accompany singers. It led me down a lot of musical roads and was a good teacher, and I hope whoever has it today appreciates it. My blues mentor's '62 J-50 taught me about the gut-punching whomp of the low E string and was used to teach me Piedmont blues and spilled out a swath of stories from the folk revival through Macon's music scene of the 60s and 70s. Specifically, it changed how I heard guitars, giving me a greater appreciation of richness, of depth, reducing the importance of top end to me. It helped me to really value the mids. The c.1950 J-45 I traded for had 24-count-'em-24 cracks in top and bottom because the neck block had popped loose from the treble side. It spent many months languishing in a shop in Atlanta before I finally paid off the repairs and took it home. It completed what my mentor's J-50 had started, and every time I hear the first recordings I did with that guitar I am struck by how wide open and rolling and strong it is, not like someone shouting to make himself heard, not the over-used "it's a cannon!" foolishness, just the normal conversational voice of a truly great singer. It's lived with my brother for more than 20 years and he still thanks me for it, so it's a great guitar in the form of giving me the opportunity to give something, too. I once briefly played a D'Angelico Excel, one of a pair commissioned in 1948. It was a big archtop, and I was playing it with bare fingers and it still pushed back against me, I could still feel the whole guitar vibrate in my arms and against my chest, and it had a singing quality I wish I had words for. The greatest of them, for me, is the one I have now, an '05 J-45 Historic Collection built for Guitar Center, discovered on a day when I wasn't looking for an acoustic guitar, discovered when I casually lifted it off the hook with my right hand and was struck immediately by the thought, "what is MY guitar doing hanging on the wall of this Guitar Center?" It touches on the legacy of every guitar I have ever played and loved, tone reminiscent of the vintage jumbos but with a breathy, voice-like quality I cannot truly describe or explain, the neck feel of the LG-2 but subtly better for my hand, just a sense of being utterly, absolutely right under my hands while playing it. It is the only guitar I have never had an instant of buyers' remorse about. It is the guitar that I have played for a dozen years while finally finding my own voice, finally consolidating what it is that I do with music, rolling every technique I have into what works for me, relearning from the basics of how to hold a guitar, how to listen to what the guitar says while playing it, how to go for that point where my voice and the guitar's voice complement each other and work together and stay out of each other's way, how to put everything musical into the service of the song and not me or the guitar. This guitar inspires me, I am always eager to play it, always saddened and reduced when it is time to gently lower it back into its case and close the lid. A good guitar is a fine musical instrument that plays well and sounds good and is a delight to the eyes. A great guitar is your partner.
  11. I am smitten, absolutely smitten by - and this particular performance, in particular. Sounds like they could be on the stage of Les Cousins in 1965, which will get me every time ... Oh, and Darrell Scott together with Tim O'Brien is not to be missed!
  12. My understanding is 670 J-45 Historic Collection guitars were made for Guitar Center c.2005-2006. They were essentially the standard J-45 with Sitka spruce top, EIRW bridge and fingerboard, Tusq nut and saddle, Gotoh Kluson-clone tuners, Fishman Matrix Natural pickup, 20-fret fingerboard that (alas!) covers part of the rosette, which in turn is (along with the soundhole) closer to the neck because of Ren Ferguson's change of the bracing angle to 98 from 103 degrees or so, and a badly-placed pickguard that covers another quarter of the rosette. Mine has a nut width that is 1.704-in according to my Harbor Freight digital calipers. They weren't a vintage recreation so much as being a sort of vintage-esque, old-ish, tradition-ortiented Gibson that referenced the past with subtle features and touches that reflect decades of refinement. I think it was 2008 when Gibson split the J-45 into the Modern Classic and the True Vintage variants. The Modern Classic later evolved into the Standard, with more of an emphasis on being a good playing, working guitar with a nod towards the past, while the True Vintage (which was neither) raided the past for some aesthetic choices and tonewood selection and married them to a bracing pattern that had no historical connection to the model to create a fancier, more expensive guitar that had the appropriate buzzwords attached. I think the TV is also the start of this century's use of Adirondack red spruce by Gibson, something later expanded to things like the Legends guitars. It gets dizzying and confusing. Heresy, but I'll say it. The overwhelming majority of the Gibson J-45s we grew up listening to either live or recorded were Sitka-topped postwar guitars with block logos. The Standard/Modern Classic/Historic Collection/Early J-45 and their ilk are much closer to producing the sound most of us heard growing up. If you run up on a good price on a Historic Collection and you like it, grab it. I've been keeping tabs on them for years, and currently they sell used for a bit more than I paid for mine new in 2007.
  13. My understanding is that the LG-2 c.1955-1961 and the B-25 c. 1962-64 were essentially the same guitar except for changes to the bridge and a cherry sunburst rather than the 3-tone 'burst. They have the same slightly wider, lower and unscalloped bracing that came in c.'55. The cognoscenti contend that the scalloped bracing that came earlier is superior, but I think it's more a matter of difference in tonal emphasis rather than difference in tonal quality. Years ago I read Mark at Folkway's description of the unscalloped post '53 guitars as more focused with more note separation, and I would go along with that. Not note separation to the extent that a Martin has - more like a noticeable but not extreme shift on the scale from blended to separate notes when playing chords. I know the '60 LG-2 I had was a shockingly flexible instrument, and it remains the only guitar I have parted with that I still miss. Depending on when the guitar was built in '65, you may have a headstock angle change from 17 to 14 degrees. Apart from that, the replacement rosewood bridge and bone saddle should handle all the serious issues you would have with this guitar. I strongly suspect you're really gonna like it.
  14. Have you played this guitar with a capo yet? Try it on the first fret to start with. Your J-45 would not be the first one sold with nut issues - mine had nut slots so shallow the guitar went out of tune when you played it. You might have the opposite issue, a nut with slots cut just a whisker too low and allowing the strings to rasp on the first fret.
  15. Before I went with Pearse's nickel wound strings, these Jp phosphor bronze 12s were my string of choice for more than a decade on a variety of acoustics. They were about the ONLY string I could get to work when I had a Taylor 815C, they worked well on my old Guild GF-25C, and they were near magical on the 1960 LG-2 that I still miss.
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