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Donovan J45 Signature Model


mojoworking

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It's not easy being a Gibson buyer in Australia. Unlike Fender who have a splendid Aussie-dedicated website and seem to stock most (but not all) items available in the US, there is no Australian website for Gibson and as far as I can gather the franchise is operated down under by people who have little or no direct connection with the company.

 

I recently asked my local guitar store to enquire about getting in a Donovan signature model Gibson J45 for me. After several attempts/reminders over a couple of months, I drew a complete blank. Not only had the guitar store never heard of Donovan or his signature J45 (no surprise there), but the message came back that neither had Gibson's Australian agents! This is despite the fact that the Donovan J45 is the very first item which comes up on the acoustic section of the Gibson US website.

 

My local guitar store has several tobacco sunburst J45s in stock, of course, but for those of us of a certain age, the cherry sunburst model as played by Donovan is the ultimate J45.

 

In the end I gave up and I spent the $3,000 on something else

 

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A bit of a shame (for me as a Donovan fan ,-) and as a loooong time admirerer of his lost mid-60's 45. (which I always thought was a 1964'er)

 

Would have liked to hear a good solid close-up report, but guess I'll have to wait.

 

Will meet the model sooner or later.

 

If you ever get one, don't forget the sound we know and appreciate from those records was generated through a ceramic saddle, , , in fact with silk'n'steel strings.

 

Hail Australia -

 

wonder what you got. . .

 

 

 

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I played 2 very well kept 1964 cherryburst J-45's within the last year - both adjustable ceramic saddled and terrific.

 

The one on the your picture looks as if it has the plastic bridge, which is again a whole other ballgame.

 

Long live window-shopping. Did a little myself this evening, , , , , and far through the glass spotted a Norlin J-50 ,-)

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Donovan was on Howard Stern a while back and as a gift gave Howard the first signature model that was made. He was also playing one that day, and thankfully (I think) it seemed there was some problem (dead battery?) with the guitar so they had to mic it instead. sounded great. Stern still mentions the guitar time to time and how nice it is. you can hear the full interview here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOR-ITO6jqg. Audio quality sucks, but it's still a great interview. He gives him the guitar about a half hour in.

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Funny you bring this topic up today. I was just in my local shop talking about trading in my 60s reissue J45 (mellow yellow) for a used Hummingbird they recently got in. I've had my J45 for just over 10 years, but have sorta grown apart from it. Still a great guitar, too bad you don't live closer.

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Thanks guys. The round-shouldered Gibson jumbos are my favourite acoustics of all but it seems I'm doomed when it comes to owning a J45. Back in 1969 I actually ordered a new one from Selmer's via my local music store in London (retail price around £170 as I recall - UK guitars were priced in guineas back then to make them appear more classy). Although the round-shouldered jumbos still appeared in the Selmer catalogue, unknown to me (or the store) Gibson had stopped making them and switched to the Martin-style square-shouldered design and that's what arrived.

 

Not only did it look nothing like the beautiful Donovan J45 model above, but the colour was dreadful too, kind of a muddy, reddish brown sunburst. Luckily(!) for me one of the bracing struts was cracked, so the shop was able to return it to Selmer's.

 

The 70s was a bad time to buy a new Gibson acoustic.

 

A couple of years later came another bad buy. I decided to replace the small Epi-style pick-ups in my Les Paul Deluxe with a set of full-size humbuckers. It was supreme bad timing because although they didn't appear in the UK catalogues at that time, Gibson had started shipping humbuckers with the embossed "Gibson" covers. Most people hated them at the time and removed the covers. I remember they didn't last long.

 

I recently saw a picture of Joe Bonamassa's 1972 Gibson ES-355 with the embossed pick-up covers and the memories came flooding back (most of them bad).

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Yes, from 1968/69 the fantastic 45's went square and from then on were more and more heavily built (1970 and 15 years ahead double-X-braced - the so called Norlin era).

 

I'm almost sure the same thing happened to the Southern Jumbo.

 

But seriously, mojoworking, , , if you been gassing for a slope J-45 since Donovan released Atlantis, it's time for you to move.

 

Never too late and you could easily find one on the international market - new or vintage.

 

As stated in the post above, I can only recommend the real thing - something mid-60's or older. .

 

 

Good Luck

 

 

 

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Thanks. I have thought of importing a J45 direct, but it can be a minefield for a number of reasons - import duties etc. Not something you have to worry about in the US, but very punitive in Australia.

 

But my J45 obsession goes back way before Atlantis. I saw Donovan onstage with his cherry sunburst J45 in late 1966/early 1967

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Okay - on the airways since 66/67, , , only makes the situation worse/better. . . Was it around the easy listening tour we know from the Donovan in Concert-album.

A marvellous piece of innovative hippie-music.

 

I first saw him in 1974 - the later perhaps last chapter of his 'first book'.

And last in Royal Albert Hall 38 years later. By the way I live in Europe - and still plays his 60's-tunes, , , in fact just did.

 

They are like arms, legs and heart for me. .

 

 

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I know EM7 is a big adj saddle fan, but you would always want to hear a side by side comparison with a fixed bone saddle mounted to the slotted bridge before you sink that kind of cash into an acoustic. The $3,000 and up bracket has much to offer.

 

I would never go black or white on this topic. But the tendency to automatically slam the adjustables is just too simple in my opinion.

1 - There's a reason Gibson dared the return to adj's on the Don-model and fx the Hummingbird reissue (though they come in tusq).

2 - I know of a member here who is very close to rating a newly found Reissue over his own TV.

3 - I've played several original vintage adj-saddled Gibsons, that just 'had the thing', , , even with the saddle slightly lifted over direct top-contact. . .

(Yes, I know this was the controversial statement of the week)

4 - And last, let's not forget that the famous golden-age Stones-sound that makes everyone go wild was made via the adjustable ceramic saddle.

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Yeah...I actually heard that Stern interview live with Donovan and the sound of the one he gave as a gift was very nice and full, with a little jangly quality. Brand new out of the box, I think #1 or 2 of the batch, so surely it had some aging to do. The two adj's I owned, both B25s were very nice sounding small bods.

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1960s Gibsons were never about sound or even h ADJ bridges - they are either embraced or tossed aside based on the incredibly slim neck profile and from 1965 on the ridiculsouly narrow nut.

 

With regard to the bridges the problem is far more the rosewood or ceramic saddles and oversized plywood bridge plate that Gibson started installing. I am willing to bet with the RI'S you get the same bridge plate you do on any of Gibson's guitars.

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I am willing to bet with the RI'S you get the same bridge plate you do on any of Gibson's guitars.

 

 

Probably the same bracing, as well. It's not a bad combination: current construction details (including neck and nut), but with that 60's cherryburst (if it floats your boat). I suspect it might send Em7 over the ecstatic edge, when combined with the ceramic saddle........

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Especially one that has an uncontroolable urge to sing "Atlantis."

 

Haaahaaa ha ha heh, , , don't worry mojoworking, it's zomb's hate-tune. He turns into a Blue Meanie just by catching a glimpse of the 7 inch single cover.

 

Me at the other hand still get mezmerized by the cherryburst J-45's ceramic ring into those 5 chords, followed by the semi-dizzy voice and that almost childlike piano.

 

The outro of course is pure submaritime gold. . .

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Me at the other hand still get mezmerized by the cherryburst J-45's ceramic ring into those 4 chords, followed by the semi-dizzy voice and that almost childlike piano.

 

The outro of course is pure submaritime gold. . .

 

 

I'll have some of whatever Em7 was smoking when he first decided "Atlantis" was a great song.

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I followed Em7's link to the "Atlantis" performance, and listened all the way through. Donovan has written and recorded a lot of good stuff over the years, and like the best musicians, has re-invented his music a number of different times.

 

For some reason, that particular song has never appealed to me, although sort of semi-mystical, dream-time music fits well with my Aquarian nature.

 

Hey, nobody writes great songs every single time. Nobody.

 

And fortunately, we all have different musical tastes. I bet Em7 scratches his head over some of the music I love, as well.

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