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Gibson Advanced Jumbo (AJ)??


krbagman

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Hey gang,

 

I am looking and wondering about information regarding the Advanced Jumbo (aka: AJ).

 

Not the latest version with Red Spruce but what I refer to as the run of the mill standard AJ.

 

I have found a nice NOS 2006 at Guitar Center on clearance but I can't find any info on the Gibson website so I am assuming it was discontinued sometime back.

 

I appreciate any information and/or opinions. I know it is Spruce/Rosewood 25.5" scale but that is about all I know..........thanks!

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Hey gang,

 

I am looking and wondering about information regarding the Advanced Jumbo (aka: AJ).

 

Not the latest version with Red Spruce but what I refer to as the run of the mill standard AJ.

 

I have found a nice NOS 2006 at Guitar Center on clearance but I can't find any info on the Gibson website so I am assuming it was discontinued sometime back.

 

I appreciate any information and/or opinions. I know it is Spruce/Rosewood 25.5" scale but that is about all I know..........thanks!

 

The first slope-shouldered dread ever was the Jumbo, reissues of which are now referred to as Original Jumbo or 1934 Jumbo. Next they issued two - an entry-level jumbo priced at just $35 - the J35, and a fancy one called...the Advanced Jumbo. Other than the obvious differences in bling, and the scale which you know about, the difference was in the top bracing. The AJs bracing, as I understand it, is deeply scalloped, shifted forward about as far as it can go, and the X is wide -- all of this frees up more top, creates more vibrating surface between soundhole and bridge. This makes it, structurally, more akin to an early D28 than a Gibson J45.

 

I've played a lot of Gibsons, and there's a lot of variation in them. I've never played an AJ that wasn't a very good guitar, FWIW. They are loud and responsive, punchy. Some attribute that to the scale, but I have an '03 OJ here built with the 24.75 scale and AJ bracing, that is all that. I think it's the bracing.

 

P

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I strongly recommend the AJ. I've owned my '92 since '95 and have never been sorry. It got all my playing time until a couple of years ago when I started adding to the herd. Therefore, it has opened up wonderfully due to time passed and amount played. It is loud. Mine is quite bright but has that great low end one expects from a Gibson. It has great sustain .... ending notes ring forever. Heck, I can play a note or chord, go get a snack, eat it and come back and finish the song .... Ok not true but almost. Finally it has wonderful undertones. Be warned, these undertones take an ability to control them. Good luck on your search and let us know how the search ends (pictures required if purchased).

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I currently have my third AJ. The first two were OK but I never really felt they were exceptional, even though they were beautiful guitars. So I sold them. Two years ago, I found a natural topped AJ at a guitar show in Orlando. It was in near mint condition and I couldn't believe the sound it made, even in the din of a large guitar show. Bought it, got it home to Michigan (that's another story) and have thoroughly enjoyed it since then. I don't know if the fact that it was made in 2001 had anything to do with the sound, but it's definitely a keeper. It's almost as loud and deep as my HD28V, which I thought was the biggest and baddest guitar I had ever heard. Every time I play it I get a grin on my face.

 

If you like the guitar and the price is right, go for it.....

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I have mixed feelings about the AJ. I really enjoy fingerpicking and flatpicking on it but I find it too overpowering for strumming. I really need to change my technique when I strum it and almost 'guide' it rather than dig in like I do on my SJ for example.

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The first slope-shouldered dread ever was the Jumbo, reissues of which are now referred to as Original Jumbo or 1934 Jumbo. Next they issued two - an entry-level jumbo priced at just $35 - the J35, and a fancy one called...the Advanced Jumbo. Other than the obvious differences in bling, and the scale which you know about, the difference was in the top bracing. The AJs bracing, as I understand it, is deeply scalloped, shifted forward about as far as it can go, and the X is wide -- all of this frees up more top, creates more vibrating surface between soundhole and bridge. This makes it, structurally, more akin to an early D28 than a Gibson J45.

 

I've played a lot of Gibsons, and there's a lot of variation in them. I've never played an AJ that wasn't a very good guitar, FWIW. They are loud and responsive, punchy. Some attribute that to the scale, but I have an '03 OJ here built with the 24.75 scale and AJ bracing, that is all that. I think it's the bracing.

 

P

 

Here they are -- plus a couple of extras. The front row is a 35 Jumbo, a 36 J35 (Trojan), and a 36 Advanced Jumbo. (The top row is a 35 Roy Smeck Radio Grande and a 36 Roy Smeck Stage Deluxe.)

 

Jumbo5s.jpg

 

The 1930s AJs were red spruce and EIRW.

 

Here is the bracing on the AJ.

ajograms.jpg

 

AJinside1.jpg

 

 

There is a bit of scalloping, but not as much as (say) this 1943 SJ.

 

43SJbraces.jpg

 

Here is the 36 J-35.

 

j35ograms.jpg

 

j35inside.jpg

 

These early J-35s were indeed not scalloped.

 

Let's pick,

 

-Tom

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The three tone bars....I've got a recent '95 J60 that has 3 tone bars, and they are scalloped, but not very deep. What is the reason for 3 tone bars? To stiffen up the top? I thought the early AJ bracing was supposed to be a looser top hence the power and freeing up the vibrations. Wouldn't 3 tone bars stiffen the top?

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I currently have my third AJ. The first two were OK but I never really felt they were exceptional, even though they were beautiful guitars. So I sold them. Two years ago, I found a natural topped AJ at a guitar show in Orlando. It was in near mint condition and I couldn't believe the sound it made, even in the din of a large guitar show. Bought it, got it home to Michigan (that's another story) and have thoroughly enjoyed it since then. I don't know if the fact that it was made in 2001 had anything to do with the sound, but it's definitely a keeper. It's almost as loud and deep as my HD28V, which I thought was the biggest and baddest guitar I had ever heard. Every time I play it I get a grin on my face.

 

If you like the guitar and the price is right, go for it.....

 

 

I can vouch for the fact that Joe's guitar is a great one, having played it myself. And I'm not normally a long-scale rosewood type of guy.

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The three tone bars....I've got a recent '95 J60 that has 3 tone bars, and they are scalloped, but not very deep. What is the reason for 3 tone bars? To stiffen up the top? I thought the early AJ bracing was supposed to be a looser top hence the power and freeing up the vibrations. Wouldn't 3 tone bars stiffen the top?

 

 

That analysis I think is looking back from the 21st century. In 1935 there was no bluegrass to demand the sound provided Martin D-28s -- that did not develop until a full decade later in 1945 when the Monroe, Scruggs, Flatt, Wise, Rainwater version of The Bluegrass Boys was formed. By then, Martin has given up scalloped braces.

 

In the mid 30s there was a depression and no well developed genres to demand them. But the kerosine circuit was the rule, and strong guitars were required if they were to have any effect with the fiddles, heavy ring banjos, and F5 class mandolins of the day. The bass fiddle was just coming in. People strung them up with Mapes heavy strings, which made them perfect until they pulled the tops off of the guitars -- thus leading to the demise of scalloped braces on D-28s.

 

What happened was the opposite -- the guitars were not built to match any existing genre -- rather the genres developed around the 30s instruments, and the rest is history.

 

The real Gibson innovation with the AJ was the RW -- mahogany had always been the top Gibson tone wood whereas Martin's was RW.

 

 

The three tone bar AJ is very rare, but there are some out there -- although ours is the only one I have ever held. It is incredibly powerful with the RW midrange roar required for power bluegrass rhythm. Here are our 35 D-28 and with our 36 AJ. I consider them pretty much functionally for bluegrass -- the reason the AJ was less well known was because it was just top rare.

spotandaj.jpg

 

Gibson fooled around with a number of brace configurations in the mid 30s

 

Both of the Smecks above has two unscalloped tone bars, the Jumbo and the Trojan have three unscalloped tone bars, and the AJ is scalloped.

 

I once asked Randy Wood why Gibson went from three tone bars to two -- he said the figured out the could get away with it. Remember be for 34, there were not any 14 fret dread/Jumbos.

 

Let's pick,

 

-Tom

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Tom that was interesting on the Gibsons. What is your opinion on how the 2 vs. 3 tone bars sound, how do you hear it? More or less of open sound, and bass. I think you said the 3 tone bars is louder, but if the top is constricted by another brace, would not this make for a less loud response?

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Thanks for the fascinating view inside the vintage Gibsons. Based on what we've always been told about top construction and tone/volume, that SJ should be a monster!

 

P

 

Well for whatever combination of reasons, the banners have never been particularly strong. It is very strong compared to other banners, but not in the same class as the wartime Martins. That is why the people who went after the Martins pretty much ignored them.

 

Now I totally love banners -- but just not for the power acoustic genres that the 30 Gibsons excel at.

 

We do have one banner that is in the same class as the old AJ -- it is a 1943 RW SJ, and the made about 100 of them before they switched to mahogany. Its braces look about the same as its sister above.

 

It is the one in the center below.

 

40Gibs.jpg

 

Let's pick,

 

Tom

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As far as I know, the Advanced Jumbo was reissued in the 90s and I believe it didn't went through big spec changes since then.

I'm sure that in 2005/2006 it was a regular production model, cause I bought one at that time.

When gibson introduced the devision of standard and TV models, the aj stayed in production but disappeared from the website. When they introduced some fancier Models like the red spruce topped (2012?), the regular standard aj seem to have went out of production.

 

When it comes to the sound of the AJ I would back up, what EA said. In my case, though the AJ I had was a good guitar, it wasn't good for me. (Guess I's just to bad)

 

Trying to generalize, I would say the AJ does not deliver what one is usually looking for in a Gibson slope shoulder guitar, but in the end it is a slope shoulder and has a slope shoulder sound, just with a very special twist, due to the long scale, bracing and the rosewood b&s. Some say its a different animal than a j-45, but I don't agree, it sure ist different, but its the same family, if that makes any sense.

 

You can go wrong or you can't go wrong with an AJ, just like with any other guitar.

 

I think it would be interesting if someone with a AJ reissue will post pics of its internal bracing to compare it with Tom's pictures of the original.

 

Finally, here is someone who sure knew how to play that damn thing.

post-652-054913300 1383816864_thumb.jpg

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Wow.....great collections gang. I appreciate all the responses big-time. Since it is at Guitar Center I will probably go for it since I have 30 days to test drive.

 

One thing about it I notice now is it has what I would describe as a metallic sound to it when flat-picked. I will be experiment with strings & picks to see what happens. This booger is LOUD!! I love the finger-picking sound and especially running my thumb into it, great warmth and tone.

 

Any advice on taming the metallic sound?

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Well for whatever combination of reasons, the banners have never been particularly strong. It is very strong compared to other banners, but not in the same class as the wartime Martins. That is why the people who went after the Martins pretty much ignored them.

 

Now I totally love banners -- but just not for the power acoustic genres that the 30 Gibsons excel at.

 

We do have one banner that is in the same class as the old AJ -- it is a 1943 RW SJ, and the made about 100 of them before they switched to mahogany. Its braces look about the same as its sister above.

 

It is the one in the center below.

 

40Gibs.jpg

 

Let's pick,

 

Tom

 

Tom ,

 

that photo of the jumbos killed me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JC

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Am I right, that the aj and the j-35 have the same x-bracing pattern? When did another x-bracing configuration appear on Gibsons? Do the banner j-45 still have the advanced x-bracing (sorry if this was brought up before)

 

And Dave, does yours have a adi top? Grain looks wide in the pictures.

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