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mgrasso

Masterbilt AJ-45ME - VSS

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I did a bit of measuring on my Recording King RAJ-122:

 

Nut width: listed as 1 11/16", but mine measures at 1 3/4"

Spacing at the saddle: 2 1/4"

 

The RAJ-122 is an incredible, INCREDIBLE guitar that I'd just like to recommend again to all of you on here.

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Today I stopped by my local Guitar Center and they had an AJ45me on display. Of course I played it and it was wonderful, that deep belly growl is what I love about the AJ guitars. Mostly strumming some single note riffs, very cool, sustain lasts for days. I think it sounded better than my 09 AJ500m, How is that possible? As far as the cloudy finish and all the discussion on this forum, yes I prefer a gloss finish. I like the vss look of the guitar, the grain really is visible, cool pickguard shape, unbound fretboard, it all adds up to a fine vintage looking guitar. It plays and feels great, didn't get to plug in, so I can't speak to that point. I will buy it when it goes on sale or I can get a deal used. As a rule I don't buy new guitars. I can wait. Great Epiphone Masterbilt.

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I did a bit of measuring on my Recording King RAJ-122:

 

Nut width: listed as 1 11/16", but mine measures at 1 3/4"

Spacing at the saddle: 2 1/4"

 

The RAJ-122 is an incredible, INCREDIBLE guitar that I'd just like to recommend again to all of you on here.

 

Cliff I had a Recording King OM (I think it was OM-10) anyway that had a huge neck on it - it was supposed to be 1.75" but felt bigger than that although it measured 1.75"

 

Wish I could even try a Recording King RAJ-122 - they just don't seem to get to this side of the pond

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Today I stopped by my local Guitar Center and they had an AJ45me on display. Of course I played it and it was wonderful, that deep belly growl is what I love about the AJ guitars. Mostly strumming some single note riffs, very cool, sustain lasts for days. I think it sounded better than my 09 AJ500m, How is that possible? As far as the cloudy finish and all the discussion on this forum, yes I prefer a gloss finish. I like the vss look of the guitar, the grain really is visible, cool pickguard shape, unbound fretboard, it all adds up to a fine vintage looking guitar. It plays and feels great, didn't get to plug in, so I can't speak to that point. I will buy it when it goes on sale or I can get a deal used. As a rule I don't buy new guitars. I can wait. Great Epiphone Masterbilt.

 

Nice to see a plus for the AJ-45ME [thumbup] My AJ-45 is very much as you describe but seems more suited to picking than strumming to me (that's definitely a Texan's role) And I've just bought a 2009 AJ500m - but not due to get it for 2 or 3 weeks

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As to the AJ-45ME's satin finish. Had I chosen to buy it instead of the Recording King, I would have no qualms whatsoever about taking it in to my luthier to have it properly buffed. It's not an overly expensive thing to get done.

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The AJ-45-MEs are finally at the Sam Ash and GC by me and played them at both.

 

They are much shallower than a real Gibson J-XX by at least 1/4" or more, and still have the wrong shape to the bottom lower bout still kind of rounded like the old AJ-500s instead of flat across the bottom like a real J-45. Still have that strange Masterbuilt side/rim bracing from the bottom to the top like nothing I have ever seen in any Gibson I own, have owned or ever played. ( I think I might have seen that top bottom bracing in the old Gibson/Garrison acoustic line?)

 

They are voiced nothing like a real J-45 and to me this model sounds voiced more in the Taylor tone range.

 

Not a bad guitar but nothing to be billed or labeled with the J-45 name = apples and oranges.

 

Oh well figured they would not really put out a J-45 for this price..........that would be the role Gibson has for the J-35 (affordable acoustic line that or the J-15 in walnut) Being at GC I was able to play multiple guitars right after the Epiphone AJ-45 so grabbed a real Gibson J-45, J-35, and grabbed some Taylors also.

 

I also grabbed an IB Texan and the Masterbuilt has it over that one in pure acoustic guitar tone in it being all solid wood though IMO the Texan is voiced more along the lines of a Gibson with the strong Midrange honk and not the shiny high and low end thing.

 

So a nice guitar for the money and I'm sure the finish most here say they don't like can be buffed to a nice shine as I had done on my AJ-500-ME burst that came out well.

 

Anyway just my opinion/review for those who do not live in or near big cities and don't have a place to compare the named guitars one after another in the same place and have to rely on on-line ordering unseen or played.

 

Again a nice guitar for what it is and a good value, but do not expect in any way for it to sound like or resemble in construction the Gibson J-45 it is named after.

 

If you are in the market for a nice guitar and don't care about the Gibson voicing and trying to decide between the Texan or new MB I think it is worth the added $ over the Texan in pure acoustic guitar tone. Plus it is the correct Gibson scale and feels it over the Texan = not as stiff and lower string tension.

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The AJ-45-MEs are finally at the Sam Ash and GC by me and played them at both.

 

 

Oh well figured they would not really put out a J-45 for this price..........

I also grabbed an IB Texan and the Masterbuilt has it over that one in pure acoustic guitar tone in it being all solid wood though IMO the Texan is voiced more along the lines of a Gibson with the strong Midrange honk and not the shiny high and low end thing.

 

 

If you are in the market for a nice guitar and don't care about the Gibson voicing and trying to decide between the Texan or new MB I think it is worth the added $ over the Texan in pure acoustic guitar tone. Plus it is the correct Gibson scale and feels it over the Texan = not as stiff and lower string tension.

 

My observation on the lower string tension as well. IMO enhanced feel and playability, Different than the IB Texan.

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My observation on the lower string tension as well. IMO enhanced feel and playability, Different than the IB Texan.

 

My old J-50 is the only short scale acoustic I have ever owned. I've played plenty of new short scale Gibsons in various music stores. I have yet to feel any real difference between short and long scale guitars. I read about it all the time, but every time I read people referencing it I just kinda glaze over, because my own experience hasn't shown it to have merit.

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My old J-50 is the only short scale acoustic I have ever owned. I've played plenty of new short scale Gibsons in various music stores. I have yet to feel any real difference between short and long scale guitars. I read about it all the time, but every time I read people referencing it I just kinda glaze over, because my own experience hasn't shown it to have merit.

 

 

You get used to it right away when you play. Like going between my Strats and Gibsons it is there and they feel different. One is not better than the other. The string tension for the same gauge strings on both will be less on a shorter scale just the laws of physics.

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You get used to it right away when you play. Like going between my Strats and Gibsons it is there and they feel different. One is not better than the other. The string tension for the same gauge strings on both will be less on a shorter scale just the laws of physics.

 

I was a strat player for many many years. Then I got in a different style band and got a Gibson Les Paul as it fit the style and vibe of the band more. The adjustment for me was more about the difference in bridge position and muting, but I got it down quickly. Playing between the two is an effortless transition for me now.

 

When it comes to acoustics, I literally notice no difference whatsoever at all.

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My observation on the lower string tension as well. IMO enhanced feel and playability, Different than the IB Texan.

 

 

I own an IB Texan and am still happy with that.

 

If I was in the market for this price range acoustic again and the new MB was available at the time I had bought my Texan would pay the extra $ for the MB over the Texan. More lively and can feel the body and the wood vibrate like a solid wood acoustic should. Plus the same feel or tension as my Gibsons.

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I was a strat player for many many years. Then I got in a different style band and got a Gibson Les Paul as it fit the style and vibe of the band more. The adjustment for me was more about the difference in bridge position and muting, but I got it down quickly. Playing between the two is an effortless transition for me now.

 

When it comes to acoustics, I literally notice no difference whatsoever at all.

 

I still do when I go from my Gibson acoustics to the Texan or my old AJ-500 but get used to it right away. I have all the same string gauges on my acoustics 12-53s.

 

My electrics I have to think more about when first changing as palm damping on the strat is different because of the bridge and have to move my hand up a bit not to knock the volume knob and turn myself down.

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My electrics I have to think more about when first changing as palm damping on the strat is different because of the bridge and have to move my hand up a bit not to knock the volume knob and turn myself down.

 

Yep...that's why I actually get the electronics on strats changed every time I get one. I only use the bridge position pickup so that's the only one connected. I have the first knob removed and the second connected to volume and the third to tone. I would be completely lost if ever had to play a standard Strat setup.

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Yep...that's why I actually get the electronics on strats changed every time I get one. I only use the bridge position pickup so that's the only one connected. I have the first knob removed and the second connected to volume and the third to tone. I would be completely lost if ever had to play a standard Strat setup.

 

I am a middle PU strat player or neck. Never thought of rewiring them just have to make a conscious effort when changing to my strats to pay attention to what my right hand is doing for a bit then all good. I am 85% a Gibson guy.........but still like my strats and use them for certain things.

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I was a strat player for many many years. Then I got in a different style band and got a Gibson Les Paul as it fit the style and vibe of the band more. The adjustment for me was more about the difference in bridge position and muting, but I got it down quickly. Playing between the two is an effortless transition for me now.

 

When it comes to acoustics, I literally notice no difference whatsoever at all.

 

 

Ya I'm not that fussed over scale length either, for me nut width is a bigger issue since I have huge Gorilla hands. I much prefer the wide nut of the EF series over the AJ or DR series. I wish the new AJ-45 had the short scale as the same nut width as a Gibson J-45 I'd have bought one. As it stands I've not felt the desire to do so. Of course I've also stayed out of guitar shops lately so that might help lol.

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The AJ-45-MEs are finally at the Sam Ash and GC by me and played them at both.

 

They are much shallower than a real Gibson J-XX by at least 1/4" or more, and still have the wrong shape to the bottom lower bout still kind of rounded like the old AJ-500s instead of flat across the bottom like a real J-45. Still have that strange Masterbuilt side/rim bracing from the bottom to the top like nothing I have ever seen in any Gibson I own, have owned or ever played. ( I think I might have seen that top bottom bracing in the old Gibson/Garrison acoustic line?)

 

They are voiced nothing like a real J-45 and to me this model sounds voiced more in the Taylor tone range.

 

Not a bad guitar but nothing to be billed or labeled with the J-45 name = apples and oranges.

 

Oh well figured they would not really put out a J-45 for this price..........that would be the role Gibson has for the J-35 (affordable acoustic line that or the J-15 in walnut) Being at GC I was able to play multiple guitars right after the Epiphone AJ-45 so grabbed a real Gibson J-45, J-35, and grabbed some Taylors also.

 

I also grabbed an IB Texan and the Masterbuilt has it over that one in pure acoustic guitar tone in it being all solid wood though IMO the Texan is voiced more along the lines of a Gibson with the strong Midrange honk and not the shiny high and low end thing.

 

So a nice guitar for the money and I'm sure the finish most here say they don't like can be buffed to a nice shine as I had done on my AJ-500-ME burst that came out well.

 

Anyway just my opinion/review for those who do not live in or near big cities and don't have a place to compare the named guitars one after another in the same place and have to rely on on-line ordering unseen or played.

 

Again a nice guitar for what it is and a good value, but do not expect in any way for it to sound like or resemble in construction the Gibson J-45 it is named after.

 

If you are in the market for a nice guitar and don't care about the Gibson voicing and trying to decide between the Texan or new MB I think it is worth the added $ over the Texan in pure acoustic guitar tone. Plus it is the correct Gibson scale and feels it over the Texan = not as stiff and lower string tension.

 

Interesting comparison Gibson J45 to Masterbilt AJ-45. It does not surprise me at all that the J45 comes out best all round - it's 4 or 5 times the price. Gibson are not going to let Epiphone build a guitar that is equal to a J45 - they would be nuts to do so and quickly go out of business. However, the AJ-45 does have a very nice acoustic tone and being short scale does feel less tight. Tune your Texan to Eb and you will know what I mean. I have a Texan and I can hear and feel the difference. The Texan has its own tone (unique tone) but it is not like the AJ-45. You cannot get woody without wood [biggrin]

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You cannot get woody without wood [biggrin]

 

OK then Cliff - You cannot get all woody without all wood!! The laminate side must make a difference or they would use them in all guitars - As I understand it, It is much harder to bend solid wood sides than it is to bend laminates. So why bother if laminate is just as good and easier (cheaper) to produce.

 

I'm not knocking the Texan at all - it's a fine guitar and worth at least half as much again. In fact over here I have noticed that used Texans are fetching really good prices on Ebay . You can buy them new for £299 (including delivery) - that's about $460 - less from Thomann, I paid £270 - and they are selling for around £280 including delivery and case. So knock off £30 (at most) for the used case and you are looking at £250. They are popular sought after guitars.

 

There are a lot of folk out there who agree with your name for the Texan - "The Mighty"

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Nice to see a plus for the AJ-45ME [thumbup] My AJ-45 is very much as you describe but seems more suited to picking than strumming to me (that's definitely a Texan's role) And I've just bought a 2009 AJ500m - but not due to get it for 2 or 3 weeks

 

Have AJ-45 already some weeks. Delivered from UK. Very happy with sound, feel. Plus also from me.

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OK then Cliff - You cannot get all woody without all wood!! The laminate side must make a difference or they would use them in all guitars - As I understand it, It is much harder to bend solid wood sides than it is to bend laminates. So why bother if laminate is just as good and easier (cheaper) to produce.

 

I'm not knocking the Texan at all - it's a fine guitar and worth at least half as much again. In fact over here I have noticed that used Texans are fetching really good prices on Ebay . You can buy them new for £299 (including delivery) - that's about $460 - less from Thomann, I paid £270 - and they are selling for around £280 including delivery and case. So knock off £30 (at most) for the used case and you are looking at £250. They are popular sought after guitars.

 

There are a lot of folk out there who agree with your name for the Texan - "The Mighty"

 

I've come to believe that tone and volume has more to do with the manufacturing process then it does the materials. I know that laminate sides are of great benefit to a guitar in that they help the guitar to not crack over time. I can, however, say that my new Recording King all-solid RAJ-122 soundly defeats my Texan and my AJ-220S in both tone and volume and I've yet to see even one video of the new AJ-45ME Masterbilt that even comes close to what my RAJ-122 can do. I do not think it's the sides as I've yet to read one luthier say that sides material impacts the sound or output of a guitar. This RAJ-122 is a 12 fretter instead of a 14 fretter so that may be the reason for the tone and volume enhancement. It's also a tone tapped guitar which I'm sure helps it as well.

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Nice to see it in a pro band. The guy has a

Gibson in another clip so he's either been bribed or he likes the AJ45.

Yes I am a bit more impressed with what I am hearing on this video of the AJ45ME ( I like the singers too!) ....Here we have a J-45 type model which is performing as designed, to compliment the singing members voice without over riding their vocal tone, or becoming overbearingly loud, yet keeping sweet clean chording and notes. When people sing, they need a guitar which will not upstage them with loud raucus volume, because that can be destructive to almost any singer in performance. The Gibson J-45 is a champion of this. And at least in THIS video, the AJ45 seems to be working well with the band. It is good to see.

 

...Although I must say that I will never be impressed with it's foggy sandpaper looking finish. I suspect that if Epiphone were to give this poor drab looking instrument a clear coat of crystal thin poly gloss, on front, back and sides.. ...there would waiting lines to buy it. Too bad. As it stands it appears to be a good guitar, but unfortunately, an ugly duckling as well.

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The reason for an acoustic that is voiced in a way that enables it to be loud is to give the player more options. A guitar that can be played loud can also be played quiet very easily. How is a guitar sounding quiet when strummed hard with a pick any kind of valid selling point?

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Yes I am a bit more impressed with what I am hearing on this video of the AJ45ME ( I like the singers too!) ....Here we have a J-45 type model which is performing as designed, to compliment the singing members voice without over riding their vocal tone, or becoming overbearingly loud, yet keeping sweet clean chording and notes. When people sing, they need a guitar which will not upstage them with loud raucus volume, because that can be destructive to almost any singer in performance. The Gibson J-45 is a champion of this. And at least in THIS video, the AJ45 seems to be working well with the band. It is good to see.

 

...Although I must say that I will never be impressed with it's foggy sandpaper looking finish. I suspect that if Epiphone were to give this poor drab looking instrument a clear coat of crystal thin poly gloss, on front, back and sides.. ...there would waiting lines to buy it. Too bad. As it stands it appears to be a good guitar, but unfortunately, an ugly duckling as well.

 

"When people sing, they need a guitar which will not upstage them with loud raucus volume" - I think that's all in the player; the guitar isn't making the sound by itself

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