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Sam Ash for Lunch

Phelonious Ponk

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My local Sam Ash has got an old guy managing the acoustic room, and that seems to mean a) great selection of Gibsons and B) Guitars and strings in good shape.


It's fun to visit and I spent my lunch hour there today. I played a rosewood J-45 Custom, a Hummingbird, a J-35 and an SJ-100.


First of all, whatever it was that was making Gibsons quiet, unresponsive, dead, inconsistent...choose your negative of choice...as recently as just a few years ago in my estimation, seems to have been addressed. I thought the very lively J-35 I played the other day might have just been a "good one," because that's been my experience in the past. Taste will vary, of course, but these were all "good ones." Every one of them was clear, responsive, resonant and plenty loud enough.


The winners?


For being objectively as good as the rest of them for a lot less money, the runner-up is the J-35


For having a HUGE bottom end that didn't require a heavy hand to get it going, better balance than it has a right to, and just an amazingly full, rich, LOUD voice in general, the blue ribbon goes to the SJ-100.


My God that is an awesome guitar. If you're still a believer in the good ones and the bad ones and you're looking for a good one - Sam Ash, directly off of I-77 in Charlotte, NC. I don't think it was $1400 better than the J-35, but for the same money, you can have the J-45 Rosewood custom, nice as it was. I'd take this simple SJ-100.



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I still have not forgiven Sam Ash for turning what was possibly the most legenadary guitar store on the planet - Manny's - into a homogonized, sterile, guitar supermarket. I would have rather seen the place close up its doors.


I'm offering neither an endorsement nor a dismissal of Sam Ash in general. But this particular one in NC has a gentleman in charge of the acoustic room who makes sure it has lots of nice Gibsons with fresh strings and good set ups. Today there were a couple of J-45 Standards, a J-45 TV, another J-45 I hadn't come across before, not a true vintage, but something like that, a J-45 rosewood, an L-00, 2 Hummingbirds, an SJ-200 and the SJ-100. Those are the ones I noticed, anyway. And the four I played all had good set-ups, fresh strings, and were in tune.


Today it might have been the best Gibson store in a couple of states. Not sure that has anything to do with Mannys.


I'm gonna have to go home and play the snot out of my OJ to drive that SJ-100 out of my mind, or I'll end up with some serious GAS I can't afford to have. $3k. Lot of money for a bling-free guitar, but it sounded like $3k.



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