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Let's Talk Jumbo's


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Yes, sound samples would be more useful than our descriptions, but especially in pinning down what you like.


In the end, while I think that it is generally easier to spot the difference between various models of electric guitar (Telecaster vs. Les Paul, say) than it is to spot the difference between various models of acoustic guitar (Martin D28 vs. Gibson J45), when you get used to listening to acoustics, it is easier to spot the difference between individual acoustic guitars (two Gibson J45s say), than it is to spot the difference between two individual electrics (two Teles, for example). There is a lot of variance within any given model, because every bit of wood is different and counts more for the tone when you take pickups out of the equation.


Of course once you get used to listening to acoustics it becomes easier to spot the differences between models as well, but the variance between individual guitars sort of disturbs any absolute boundaries on that front. The only significant difference that you will be sure to find between any of the models that you list will be between the Advanced Jumbo (rosewood back and sides, 'long' 25.5-inch scale length) and all of the others (mahogany back and sides, 'short' 24.75-inch scale length). The AJ should be louder due to its longer scale and higher string tension, perhaps also because of the rosewood. As a rosewood guitar it should have more 'overtones', but to my ears samples of AJs sound closer to the mahogany slopeshoulders you list than they do to samples of other rosewood guitars like Martin D28s. So while it should sound different from all the others as a group, it should also have quite a lot of similarities.


The others you list will vary according to bracing patterns (standard J45 and J50 have the same standard X-bracing pattern, while J35 apparently has a forward-shifted or 'advanced' X pattern like the AJ or J45 True Vintage), but also according to wood type (sitka spruce on standard 45/50 and some AJs, not sure what spruce on 35 - though sitka I guess, adirondack on J45TV and on some AJs), and individual bits of wood. I'm of the opinion that the last factor is the really crucial one. It is quite possible that you will find a J45, a J50 and a J35 that sound almost exactly the same. It is also quite possible that you will find two J45s that sound very different from each other. If you decide you like the mahogany slope sound in general, I would listen to as many samples across the range of models as you can, to determine which individual sample meets your personal tastes best. Then either shop around for an individual guitar which sounds as close as possible to that sample, or if you have to buy online, send the sellers a link to your preferred sample and tell them you want a guitar that sounds like that one. Of course, if you don't like the mahogany slope sound, the same advice applies - find a sample that you like the sound of, then try to find an actual guitar that sounds like it, and that you like the feel of.


In general though, things many of us typically look for in a J35/45/50/Southern Jumbo would be strong mids which are sweet or mellow when played gently, but which can be pushed to almost overdrive or growl when played hard, trebles which are definitely present and correct, but not especially cutting, sustaining or dominant, and a strong but not especially sustaining bass which yields a big thump and then decays quickly. Bass and trebles should be strong, but not drown out the mids. Mids should really be to the fore without totally eliminating the top or bottom. By contrast, a Martin Dreadnought should typically have more cutting trebles and dominant, sustaining bass, both of which mean that its mids will be rather less strong in the mix. The AJ should have more of everything that the hog slopes have, including sustain. That should mean that its bass is less thumpy, but stronger overall. Still the mids on AJs seem to be to the fore, so the extra bass and treble power doesn't seem to equate to their suppression.

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Euro and Majorule said it all really but, since I own or have owned the jumbos about which you asked, I'll add just a little. First, not only should you listen to sound clips but you are going to have to play some to make a rational decision. For instance the 94 J45 I owned (and still get to play occasionally) is warm and inviting. The 2012 J45 that I bought and sold last year was tight and bright. My J50 with the Addie top has a much different tone than of the 45s I have owned. On paper, all of these should sound similar but they is a considerable difference in tone. Playability in Gibsons really depends on so many factors (year made, set up, personal taste, specific model, and more) that it is difficult to duscuss. Thus another reason to put your hands on any particular guitar you are considering.


My opinion on the new J35s is still forming but generally I like it in the fact that it is a lot of guitar for the money. A little bright for my taste but that might change with playing and set up and string experimentation (thinking I'll try John Pearse strings next).


Now the AJ .... this would be my choice for a "rock" guitar. Although not considered the "workhorse" like the other jumbos, it expresses a rock additude when that's what you need. Can be played loud (and it is almost as loud naturally as my Martin dred) and can be toned down using a little technique. Majorule noted the overtones which are great for softer rock. Most are tight when new but all should open up over time. Play some used ones if you can find any. You don't see many on the used market. Folks that have them tend to love them and hold on.


Good luck in your search and keep us informed about your quest. And of course, a NGD announcement with pix is required. Happy hunting.

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I do not put a lot of stock in sound clips. Reason is you can take the same guitar and have three people play it and that guitar will sound different in each individual's hands. My guitars always seem to sound better when played by somebody else. Go figure.


Yea, mine too. However, I believe you can learn a lot from recordings if the environment is controlled and is designed for faithful acoustic sound reproduction -- not everything as woof says, but still some good stuff.


All of those guitars you have on your list are demoed in their vintage form in this vimeo album.





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