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mgrasso

Masterbilt AJ-45ME - VSS

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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.

 

Laminate sides are far more structurally stable than solid sides because of how they don't seem to be as negatively effected by large changes in humidity or temperature in the same way a solid piece of wood would. I can't say I've read any material where a luthier claimed laminate sides to be far superior than solid sides, but let's face it those in the trade that are making those laminate guitars tend to live in the "Pacific Rim" and might not be readily available to publish articles based on the tonal improvements of laminate vs solid. Nor would I expect budget builders to be taken as seriously as the likes of Wayne Henderson, Dana Bourgeois, Bill Collings...

 

 

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.

 

GuitarLight I have to disagree on one point, I love my J45 but I think a Gibson Hummingbird like the one you own is the best model for the purpose you describe. [thumbup]

 

 

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?

 

#-o

Volume does not equal tone... [-( I own a Gibson Advanced Jumbo and it's by far the loudest acoustic I own, but that doesn't mean it's the best sounding one of the bunch as much as I do love it. My favorite is probably my J45 and that's far from what people would call a "cannon". It's the sound, the tone... not just the volume. I thought you knew this already Cliff? Haven't you been preaching on and on about the woody tones that come out of your IB64? Aren't you supposed to be some kind of soundman or sound engineer or something, I would have figured being an expert in that field you would have learned this on day one of the job. :-k

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GuitarLight I have to disagree on one point, I love my J45 but I think a Gibson Hummingbird like the one you own is the best model for the purpose you describe. [thumbup]

 

Morkolo...Yes I definately agree with you that the Gibson Hummingbird is definately the best for vocals and singing....being greedy, I would also like a J-45 like yours which is just a bit louder, not a cannon, but still great for every king of music and has a one of a kind tone like the Hummingbird. What a nice set that would make wouldn't it?!msp_thumbup.gif

 

...tho I know that I will not likely find this in an AJ45ME..that would likely require buying an authentic Gibson J-45 which costs big smackaroos!

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GuitarLight I have to disagree on one point, I love my J45 but I think a Gibson Hummingbird like the one you own is the best model for the purpose you describe. [thumbup]

 

Morkolo...Yes I definately agree with you that the Gibson Hummingbird is definately the best for vocals and singing....being greedy, I would also like a J-45 like yours which is just a bit louder, not a cannon, but still great for every king of music and has a one of a kind tone like the Hummingbird. What a nice set that would make wouldn't it?!msp_thumbup.gif

 

...tho I know that I will not likely find this in an AJ45ME..that would likely require buying an authentic Gibson J-45 which costs big smackaroos!

 

That's what I was looking to do but with the Canadian dollar in the dumpster I'm afraid my Hummingbird plans are on hold at the moment unless one comes up in the used market. As for the AJ45ME, I wouldn't count that one out yet. I'd be lying if I said I'd trade my J45 for my old AJ500M, but that Masterbilt was a great guitar and I would imagine the new one to be very similar. I'm not sold on all of the specs on the AJ45ME just yet but I've learned before that spec sheets don't mean a thing when the guitar is in your hands.

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That's what I was looking to do but with the Canadian dollar in the dumpster I'm afraid my Hummingbird plans are on hold at the moment unless one comes up in the used market. As for the AJ45ME, I wouldn't count that one out yet. I'd be lying if I said I'd trade my J45 for my old AJ500M, but that Masterbilt was a great guitar and I would imagine the new one to be very similar. I'm not sold on all of the specs on the AJ45ME just yet but I've learned before that spec sheets don't mean a thing when the guitar is in your hands.

 

I completely agree...plus, as far as appearance goes, the AJ-45ME can be buffed to a shine by a competent professional which would make the finish look like a J-45 True Vintage.

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That's what I was looking to do but with the Canadian dollar in the dumpster I'm afraid my Hummingbird plans are on hold at the moment unless one comes up in the used market. As for the AJ45ME, I wouldn't count that one out yet. I'd be lying if I said I'd trade my J45 for my old AJ500M, but that Masterbilt was a great guitar and I would imagine the new one to be very similar. I'm not sold on all of the specs on the AJ45ME just yet but I've learned before that spec sheets don't mean a thing when the guitar is in your hands.

Morkolo...I don't know if you have Guitar Centers near you in Canada...but there are some very good values to be had on newer Gibson hummingbirds there. Below is th used GC HB link.

I'll still keep an open mind about the Masterbilt AJ45ME. As well as consider the used J-45 market should I stumble upon a gem. But I know that gems on the used market can be hard to find. Good luck in your hunt!

 

http://www.guitarcen...n%20Hummingbird

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Another video appearance of the AJ45ME

Don't know if it's my 50 year old eyes or the dirty screen on my iPad but that looks like a plain black pick guard to me.

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You know, thinking back to when we first heard about the new Masterbilt model, how exicited we all were. I think of what it could have been...I really believe Epiphone dropped the ball on this one.

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You know, thinking back to when we first heard about the new Masterbilt model, how exicited we all were. I think of what it could have been...I really believe Epiphone dropped the ball on this one.

Although I do have an AJ45 I do share your disappointment and your view of Gibson/Epiphone

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You know, thinking back to when we first heard about the new Masterbilt model, how exicited we all were. I think of what it could have been...I really believe Epiphone dropped the ball on this one.

 

Yep, those were heady days indeed. I was so excited I started saving my money to be first in line. Then it came out and...well...I gave that money to Recording King instead.

 

I stand by my decision.

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Oh that wonderful Masterbilt AJ45ME!!! ...It does seem like we've all been had doesn't it?! ...I have called 12 different Guitar Centers today to see if any of them has the Aj45ME on the floor for customers to try out. None did, except for one in SanFrancisco, ...lot of good that does me in Pennsylvania! I would have to assume that Guitar Center either refused to put them on the floor, or they were ordered by Epiphone not to put them out!

 

It would seem that time has probably run out for the mysterous mongrel breed, this J-45/Advanced Jumbo, scrubby looking unpolished little Epiphone AJ45ME. Every forum from AGF, to Martin, to Gibson, to this Epi forum, as well as the Epiphone web site, have threads on the Masterbilt AJ45ME. ...And most of the peoples reviews and comments ain't too pretty. Perhaps it's time to move on. There's always Recording King, like Cliff was smart enough to buy instead of this AJ45ME thing.. Yamaha makes good guitars too in that price range and so do many other guitar makers including Martin. People are tired of waiting and wondering about this beast. And that is usually a bad sign. Once momentum is lost, it is seldom regained.

 

I would have to say that the Epiphone marketing for this guitar has been atrocious, with many still waiting to recieve them from their delaers, only to be dissapointed. Not even a decent quality Epiphone sales video has been put out. It's almost like Epiphone wants to commit suicide on this one. ... they're sure doing a pretty bang up job on that!

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It would seem that time has probably run out for the mysterous mongrel breed, this J-45/Advanced Jumbo, scrubby looking unpolished little Epiphone AJ45ME.

 

Boy, GL, that's a pretty harsh review, lol. I know - the satin was a letdown. But I've got several satin Masterbilts, and their gorgeous grain is not exactly obscured. Gloss would really bring it out, but even with satin, it's there. I haven't been in the market for the new AJ45, so I don't know the reviews (except from here, which are good, right?) or how well its distribution has been, but if nice ones start showing up used at half price like that cherryburst texan I just picked up, I'd probably be entering that market. [wink]

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Boy, GL, that's a pretty harsh review, lol. I know - the satin was a letdown. But I've got several satin Masterbilts, and their gorgeous grain is not exactly obscured. Gloss would really bring it out, but even with satin, it's there. I haven't been in the market for the new AJ45, so I don't know the reviews (except from here, which are good, right?) or how well its distribution has been, but if nice ones start showing up used at half price like that cherryburst texan I just picked up, I'd probably be entering that market. [wink]

 

Sorry, perhaps I was a bit harsh.... I should just forget about this guitar and look elsewhere.

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Cougar,

How is that Texan treating you?

 

That is such a great guitar, especially plugged. Love it.

 

Yeah Dodger, I got the EJ160 workin'. It's a nice tight box. Its passive system is not as solid as the Texan's, and I'm still getting hum if I don't set the volume and tone knobs just right. The same cable works fine on the Texan. I might run it back to my tech and have him check the wiring a little closer and slap some new strings on her.

 

So I've got John and Paul; I've got to work on George and Ringo. :rolleyes:

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Morkolo...I don't know if you have Guitar Centers near you in Canada...but there are some very good values to be had on newer Gibson hummingbirds there. Below is th used GC HB link.

I'll still keep an open mind about the Masterbilt AJ45ME. As well as consider the used J-45 market should I stumble upon a gem. But I know that gems on the used market can be hard to find. Good luck in your hunt!

 

http://www.guitarcen...n%20Hummingbird

 

We have Long & McQuade up here, pretty similar to Guitar Center. The only thing is they don't like to knock off a lot of money when it comes to picking up used gear there. But I know from scouring the classifieds you can pick up a gem here and there, I did a couple of years ago with my Songwriter Deluxe Studio.

 

Sorry, perhaps I was a bit harsh.... I'll should just forget about this guitar and look elsewhere.

 

I'm not sure if I'd call it harsh, one could only hope that Epiphone would pay attention and up their game with these new Masterbilts. I know here in Canada the Epiphone is sitting right in the same price point as Yamaha's LL16 and in my opinion the Yamaha looks like a higher quality guitar simply because of the few extra steps in the spray booth.

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Well, since I started this thread, I only thought it fitting to return to the scene of the crime. msp_flapper.gif

One of the local GC's have one of the new masterbilts in and I got to play it yesterday.

While the fit and finish were great, it just did not speak to me.

It did not play any better than my other masterbilts, especially my AJ-500 MNS.

Damn.

I was so looking forward to it.

So I think i'm going to pass this time.

Last thing I need is another solid wood guitar to hydrate that I won't play regularly.

Hoping the decide to produce an Excellente or a Frontier.

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It did not play any better than my other masterbilts, especially my AJ-500 MNS.

 

I'm not sure it was intended to. I expect it was meant to be at about the same level.

 

BTW, how does your maple DR compare to your mahogany AJ?

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The AJ and the DR are very different in sound.

 

As you would expect the DR being solid maple is very bright.

 

Both ring well and hold sustain.

 

The AJ is a cannon though, with deeper bass.

 

Would not mind getting an AJ or EF in rosewood and electric.

 

 

 

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Since people are disguising the sound quality of this particular new Masterbilt J-45 video, I'll have to be honest and chime in with my own negative review based on what I saw and heard, and I would be forced to say that in my personal opinion, I was not impressed with the harsh and brash sound of this guitar one bit, which was hard to hear through the extreme overbearing screeching of this singers brash and grating voice. She may be pretty but she sure can't sing. How she ever made it famous is beyond me! How Epiphone ever let her do this video is beyond me also. It certainly will likely negatively affect their sales.Talk about hearing finger nails scratch on a black board! My ears actually ached, and I needed to turn down the volume to avoid a migraine!

 

This new Masterbilt J-45 guitar was poorly shown, with a poor mic job, with very little J-45 sound or tone, it sounded brash, hollow, and unrefined, and along with the questionable bridge factors, unknown bracing patterns which Gibson refused to put in their own specs, as well as a dull matte finish, my order would be cancelled.

 

The sunburst color itself looked very nice... but without a clean crystal clear thin poly finish, it looked like a red birdhouse....now you could hand polish and buff it if you will....but in many peoples view, that is a highly questionable practice that thins the even thinner protective satin finish right from the start, some claim that will even void the warranty, and it is something that should not need to be done by a paying customer. Finishing a guitar is the guitar companies business, not the paying customer. Any classic version of a J-45 would never come in a matte finish, which is generally reserved for lower end, more economical guitars.

 

As far as the tone is concerned...I have played many, many J-45's ...both good and bad ones....and this guitar to my ear, and on this particular video, sounds like anything but a J-45. And the lack of finish and incorrectly mounted bridge mounting make it look like a $199 guitar.

 

I'm afraid Epiphone will have to better if they want to sell this guitar to me. There would be no reason to buy this model over a nice Epiphone 220S or a new Inspired By Texan...they both sound ....and look better than the drab looking Masterbilt J-45 I am presently seeing and hearing. ....I'll be the first to change my mind if better quality videos, and more accurate information come to light.

 

I hate to give this harsh review, and will be the first to change my view on it if things change, but I wanted to buy this guitar very badly to add to my present Masterbilt collection. As of this writing...that simply will not happen.

 

I purchased an AJ-220S last December. It is a very nice guitar. It plays well, and the sound—considering the price is very good. I recently gave the AJ-220S to my granddaughter, who out-grew her 3/4 scale guitar. I replaced it with a AJ-45ME last month. I have to say that the matte finish takes adjusting to—especially since my previous two guitars, purchased in 1964 and 1972 were a Martin D18 and Martin D28—both very traditional gloss finished guitars. What got me over the finish issue was the playability and sound of the AJ-45ME. I played it at my local GC, along side of Martins, Gibson, and other Epiphone Masterbilts. Even with semi-dead strings, it sounded great. Definitely not like any of the Gibson J-45, J-35, or J-15 models I tried, but very good in its own unique voice—and very different and much better than an AJ-220S—which I also played that day for comparison.

 

As to how the features of the AJ-45ME don't exactly match those of the Gibson J-45, I don't think Epiphone was trying to copy the Gibson J-45—that would not make good business sense. Instead, I think the AJ-45ME is inspired by the J-45, and in that regard, in my opinion, it succeeds beautifully. This guitar is a real winner, and there is a reason Epiphone has used a matte finish—it enhances the tone. I agree with other comments in this forum, that the quality of tone woods used in a guitar at this price is probably inferior to that used in a high-end instrument, so helping enhance the tone in any way is a good thing.

 

Bottom line, I couldn't find anything new that could match the AJ-45ME for playabilty or tone at its price. I'm sure with a lot of effort and considerable luck, one could search-out and find a superior used instrument for about this price. I didn't have the time or inclination to do so.

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I purchased an AJ-220S last December. It is a very nice guitar. It plays well, and the sound—considering the price is very good. I recently gave the AJ-220S to my granddaughter, who out-grew her 3/4 scale guitar. I replaced it with a AJ-45ME last month. I have to say that the matte finish takes adjusting to—especially since my previous two guitars, purchased in 1964 and 1972 were a Martin D18 and Martin D28—both very traditional gloss finished guitars. What got me over the finish issue was the playability and sound of the AJ-45ME. I played it at my local GC, along side of Martins, Gibson, and other Epiphone Masterbilts. Even with semi-dead strings, it sounded great. Definitely not like any of the Gibson J-45, J-35, or J-15 models I tried, but very good in its own unique voice—and very different and much better than an AJ-220S—which I also played that day for comparison.

 

As to how the features of the AJ-45ME don't exactly match those of the Gibson J-45, I don't think Epiphone was trying to copy the Gibson J-45—that would not make good business sense. Instead, I think the AJ-45ME is inspired by the J-45, and in that regard, in my opinion, it succeeds beautifully. This guitar is a real winner, and there is a reason Epiphone has used a matte finish—it enhances the tone. I agree with other comments in this forum, that the quality of tone woods used in a guitar at this price is probably inferior to that used in a high-end instrument, so helping enhance the tone in any way is a good thing.

 

Bottom line, I couldn't find anything new that could match the AJ-45ME for playabilty or tone at its price. I'm sure with a lot of effort and considerable luck, one could search-out and find a superior used instrument for about this price. I didn't have the time or inclination to do so.

 

Thanks for the comparison-review, epidano. Good to hear you're digging your AJ-45ME. [thumbup] And welcome to the boards!

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