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shuvalkin

Getting a new Hummingbird Pro - Advice?

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So I've ordered a new Hummingbird Pro cutaway at the local Guitar center. Should be in today, as a matter of fact (it took just as long to get cleared for the forum as to have the guitar shipped!).

 

Here's why I settled on the HP-EC:

(1) Been playing for a few years now (in my midlife crisis, I suppose), and ready to trade up from my Seagull mini-Jumbo Entourage to a guitar with better intonation for fingerstyle blues/folk.

(2) Wanted the mahogany sound coupled with the kind of sweetness that I fell in love with on my friend's vintage Hummingbird, but...

(3) Was looking for a cutaway

 

The HP-ECs I've played in the local Guitar Centers have generally been the closest I could get to #1 above and still end up with #2.

 

But, having settled on this guitar, I'm looking for a bit of advice about what to do going forward.

 

Caveats up front:

* I've been reading the forum for months leading up to this decision to put down the $$ on the guitar, so I know from the forum that some of you don't cotton to Gibson naming a Songwriter a Hummingbird just because it's got mahogany instead of rosewood back and sides (or, just a truthfully but a bit more bitingly, just because they can sell more mahogany songwriters at Guitar Center by calling them Hummingbirds). I understand why those who hold that position feel that way about it, and I'd still welcome your advice if you can set aside the irritation about the name.

 

* I'm not wild about getting the guitar at Guitar Center. The display guitar that my local GC has had in the store over the past few months (I've visited it fairly frequently) *was* a real pretty instrument with great sound. It's taken a beating over the months, though. It definitely needs new strings at the very least to know how it really sounds. But even if the damage to the guitar is mostly cosmetic damage and the impairment in sound is mostly from the dull and dirty strings, I just didn't want to lay down good money for a new guitar that's been roughly handled for at least four months (maybe longer). In any case, it's either Guitar Center, where I can at least play it before I walk out of the store with it (having already purchased it) and return within 30 days if the guitar just isn't living up to the potential for the model, or Amazon, where, if the guitar is a dud, a return will be a considerable hassle.

 

* One of my questions is about strings. I know that string preference is personal and also has a lot to do with individual guitars (not just models). I'm going to ask the question anyway, mostly because some feedback about where to start in thinking about a sequence of strings to try would be appreciated.

 

 

So here are my questions (and if you can think of any that I haven't asked but ought to have, please go ahead and address those, too).

 

(1) When I'm in the store today looking at the new Gibson, what are some things that I should really keep my eye out for in terms of likely problems. The tech who will be there today is a Gibson guy, so I'll be able to ask him for his thoughts about the guitar, too. But it would be good to have a list of questions to help me kick the tires on the guitar (so to speak).

 

(2) About those strings... According to Gibson's own site, the stock strings are PB 11s. I usually play Martin or D'Addario Bluegrass strings on the Seagull mini-Jumbo (cherry laminate back and sides, so a kind of neutral sound from the wood). I've gotten used to the medium gauge on the bottoms, and when I do play a guitar with light bottoms, it takes some time to adjust to the sensation. But I certainly wouldn't mind going lighter for a guitar that is going to have rich tone and projection without resorting to the heavier bottoms (my Seagull just doesn't have much clarity higher up the fretboard on the bottom three strings no matter what strings I've tried). I've also been thinking (based on reading in the forums) of trying John Pearse pure nickels, probably the 960L (0.012 - 0.054) rather than the 980M (0.013 - 0.056). I've been given to understand that the nickel strings couple well with mahogany in particular. I know I'd be loosing a lot of brightness/crispness (which is fine by me, or else I wouldn't be looking for mahogany in the first place), but how much of the sweetness do you expect I'd lose from this?

 

So on the string question, at the risk of redundancy, keep in mind that I do plan to try out a variety of strings over the next few weeks. But as since there's more than one variable to consider here (i.e., the guitar will be opening up as I'm also trying to decide on strings), I thought I'd see if ya'll have any advice on an order that I might try. Probably should start on the light side so that I don't have to meddle with the truss rod too much at the outset? But assuming I stay with the stock strings for a week or two, what would y'all recommend next? I'm inclined to try the pure nickel since that seems like something I'll be able to decide whether I like right away or not.

 

Also, anyone care to summarize the common wisdom on Elixr? I haven't bothered to try them myself with the Seagull since I've been perfectly satisfied changing the bluegrass strings every month or so. But since I'm now going to be courting a new love, maybe I should think about some new duds.

 

(3) It's hard to tell from the forum, but how many of you out there own and regularly play a Hummingbird-Pro? What have you noticed about your guitar over the past few months or years of playing that you'd be willing to share with me?

 

Thanks in advance for your input! I'm looking forward to getting to know y'all through the forum.

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Honestly, I see where you are comming from but at the price you are paying for that guitar, you should really look at a Martin D-18. A much better built Mahogany/Sitka guitar..and a classic icon for more decades than many can count. It is also built 100% better. And the new bracing, and low modified neck, and PERFECT woods, top, back and sides, make almost any Gibson pale by comparison. You can even order them in burst color.

 

Gibson are hit or miss. Martins are solid as a rock. I own a Gibson HB...and it was like pulling teeth to find it. And Haven't found a decent J-45 yet. The hummingbird Pro's I tried were aweful, just aweful.

 

Try the Martin D-18 ( 2012 model or later)....stunning build...much better sound and tone, with quality built in. You don't need to look far to find a good Martin or Taylor. You need to be a magician to find a good Gibson.

 

Best of luck to you.

The Martin D-18 is just killer, and on sale, under $2000

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Honestly, I see where your comming fromm but at the price you are paying for that guitar, you should really look at a Martin D-18. A much better built Mahogany/Sitka guitar..and a classic icon for more decades than many can count. It is also built 100% better. And the new bracing, and low modified neck, and PERFECT woods, top, back and sides, make almost any Gibson pale by comparison. You can even order them in burst color. Good luck. Gibson are hit or miss. Martins are solid as a rock.

 

Thanks for the response. I like the Martin D-18, but (correct me if I'm wrong) the D-18 only comes in a cutaway in a custom model. Hard to find one, so I've never played one. Probably can't quite afford it either. And no electronic option, as far as I'm aware.

 

Still, what advice would you give on the question about the strings for a Mahogany/Sitka?

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Thanks for the response. I like the Martin D-18, but (correct me if I'm wrong) the D-18 only comes in a cutaway in a custom model. Hard to find one, so I've never played one. Probably can't quite afford it either. And no electronic option, as far as I'm aware.

 

Still, what advice would you give on the question about the strings for a Mahogany/Sitka?

 

The Martin D-18 is a classic full bodied standard square shouldered dread ....non-cut away, it comes with electronic options by ordering it I believe. I played one yesterday and was blown away. The woods on it were just beautiful. It even smelled good! So nice, clear and clean, crisp and sweet mahogany sound. I couldn't put it down.

 

All of my guitars are Mahogany and sitka, and I use only Elixir 80/20 nanoweb lights (.12-.53) on all of them for years and years, including my Gibson Hummingbird. ..tho I am sure there are other good strings..

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SHUVALKIN: "I am buying an H'Bird Pro today that I ordered after several months of research and trying out different guitars. What questions should I ask the tech about the guitar and, for those of you who own this model, which strings do you prefer? "

GUITARLITE: "Buy a Martin."

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Advice? Buy the guitar you like for your own reasons. String it with different strings until you find the set you like.

 

Earlier this year I traded my '07 Dodge Magnum SRT 8 for a '15 Fiat 500 Abarth and I have not heard the end of it from associates. Do I care? Not a bit. I bought the car I wanted for my own reasons...........no one else's matter. Take all advise, from friend and foe alike, with a grain of salt. Please yourself.

 

ps............I don't play guitar, so it certainly doesn't matter to me

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Thanks for the replies. I got the HBPro home a couple hours ago. In the shop I was happy with the quality of the instrument, but the stock 80/20s made it sound way to light for my tastes. I thought stock was supposed to be PBs, but these were clearly 80/20s. Still, the tone was right, and the build is almost impeccable (except one slightly rough spot in the fingerboard at the 16th freat that will probably buff out from playing, and that's really looking for a problem when there's nothing that affects the tone).

 

Just to reassure myself that I'm not a lunatic, I pulled down the Martin D-28 (square shoulder, mahogany [oops, edit: rosewood for D-28]). A real beauty, and a lot meatier than the HB Pro. But (a) the tech told me he'd recently restrung it with PB 13s, and that's just not a fair comparison tonally to guitar strung with 80/20s (11 or 12s... I'm not entirely sure, website says stock is 11s, and that's what these felt like. But included with the guitar was a set of 12s [80/20s], and maybe that's what they are). But, in any case, the D-28 is more than $3000, and, as with the D-18s, cutaways seem hard to come by and even more pricey.

 

Anyway, once home, I took off the 80/20s right away and got the two bottom strings of John Pearse 960Ls (nickel wound) on and was certain right away that these weren't what I was looking for (though I do love nickels on my Epiphone Dot). They just sound kind of dead to me, especially fingerstyle. So I've put on a set of Elixir PB 12s. And the guitar does exactly what it's supposed to do as far as I'm concerned. So responsive to whatever I'm doing and so versatile in terms of the kind of tone that I can produce from various techniques. No muddieness whatsoever anywhere up and down the neck. I still haven't decided whether I like the Elixirs themselves, but tonally, I'm in exactly the right ballpark for what I had hoped for. And I've still got a bunch of sets of Martin and D'Addario bluegrass strings ready to go if I can't get past how strange the Elixirs feel.

 

So now that I've simply diddled a bit trying to find problems, I guess its time to simply start playing and enjoying the thing.

 

That said, I'm still interested in hearing from any other HB Pro owners out there about their experiences with the instrument over a period of months and years.

 

Oh... also, just thought I'd share, but this is the first time I've had the pleasure of spending some time with a guitar that has the legendary new Gibson smell. I thought all of the odes to this that I've heard must have been exaggerations, but evidently not. I could find this guitar in the dark just by following my nose.

Edited by shuvalkin

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SHUVALKIN: "I am buying an H'Bird Pro today that I ordered after several months of research and trying out different guitars. What questions should I ask the tech about the guitar and, for those of you who own this model, which strings do you prefer? "

GUITARLITE: "Buy a Martin."

I already have owned seven thanks. All were perfect out of the box with no flaws or run out.. ....Martin HD-28, ....Martin J-40....00028-EC.....two all hog models, ...and a cheaper Martin D-1....and a hog Martin 12 string... Not a flaw in one of them, inside or out. The necks on those Martins never got sticky like the Gibsons do. So the D-18 is on my short list,It has a matte poly non stick finish, but a laquer nitro body... it will go well with the Gibson Hummingbird which sounds great as well, but the neck does get sticky in summer months.

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Well, GuitarLight, if you have an extra D-18 or D-28 lying around not getting any love, I'll be happy to let you donate it to me (even if it's not a cutaway). If you do, I'll jump right on your bandwagon.

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Congrats! You're right - now it's time to play and enjoy. You've earned it !! Enjoy the bouquet while it lasts! You could make a lot of money if you could figure out how to bottle it!

FWIW - I like the Elixirs, but mostly after a week or so once they've gotten a little broken in. And then - keep them on for months. G'Luck!

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Well, GuitarLight, if you have an extra D-18 or D-28 lying around not getting any love, I'll be happy to let you donate it to me (even if it's not a cutaway). If you do, I'll jump right on your bandwagon.

 

Which one would you prefer?

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Which one would you prefer?

 

You decide! Besides, beggars can't be choosers!

 

In all seriousness, D-18s have the slightly more delicate sound and responsiveness that I'm interested in (and that I feel like I'm getting from the HB Pro). I'm guessing (don't know first hand) that this is especially true in the models from 2012 to present, when the bracing got moved forward.

 

I really doubt that I'll ever have occasion to justify to myself (let alone my wife and kids) getting another guitar anytime soon. But, should a genie grant my wish to be able to play in such a manner that would justify laying down a lot more money than I just spent on the HB Pro, I'd probably be debating between OMs and 000s and Gibson's L-00s.

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Change the pickguard ($12.99 off ebay). Mine is a short sale 24.5" older version (Hummingbird artist).Look fantastic and with the thinner pickguard.It will improve the sound.

 

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I like the pick guard change!

 

I had an HB Pro a few years ago.

 

I was really impressed with the quality, materials, looks and sound.

 

After a year or so, I decided I did not care for the narrow nut, neck shape and long scale combination and sold it. But it was a real nice guitar.

 

In my younger days I wouldn't had even noticed these things. Getting picky in my old age.

 

 

 

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Hummingbird artist and Hummingbird pro are same size body.If you ever get one of this. I suggested you to do what I did.Here's the comparison between before and after.

 

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And here is my 2008 Hummingbird artist after new pickguard.

 

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Pickguard cost about $17 free shipping off from Ebay.Get the black one if you go with the Hummingbird pro.

 

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Change the pickguard ($12.99 off ebay). Mine is a short sale 24.5" older version (Hummingbird artist).Look fantastic and with the thinner pickguard.It will improve the sound.

 

I love the Hummingbird pickguard, and I guess it makes sense that it might improve tone a tiny bit. But I would bet that changing it voids the warranty.

 

And, in any case, the HB Pro isn't really a Hummingbird. So I think it's appropriate to replace the guard on an Artist (and yours is a beauty that way, no doubt), but I think that the same maneuver on my Pro might just eat away at my conscience... putting on airs, as my kinfolk might say... or maybe just the cognitive dissonance of having a guard that matches the GC name, but not the reality... I dunno.

 

But don't get me wrong on this... if I'd wanted a Hummingbird, that's what I would have done, even should it have required another six months or year of scrimping and scrounging for the pocket change.

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After a year or so, I decided I did not care for the narrow nut, neck shape and long scale combination and sold it. But it was a real nice guitar.

 

In my younger days I wouldn't had even noticed these things. Getting picky in my old age.

 

Thanks, Dave.

 

Interesting point, and thanks for the reassurance about the general quality.

 

Given your experience with the Pro, I'd love to hear more about your preferences on the scale length and nut width. As I mentioned in my original post, I do love the Hummingbird sound, but I knew I wasn't going to get a Hummingbird for a variety of reasons.

 

For me the nut width isn't that big of a deal. Maybe I'd prefer a wider nut in a custom build, but I'm used to switching between guitars of varying sizes. But... the scale length is a different matter. I think that, all things considered, I probably fell in love with the Pro in part because, without paying attention, the increased length did something for the mahogany that sounds noticeably different from the Bird.

 

Here, I'm guessing GuitarLite has a point about the Martin D-18... mahogany, but longer scale than a true Hummingbird. The sound on the HB Pro might be more like the D-18 than the Hummingbird, all things considered. It certainly isn't as twangy as a rosewood Songwriter (or anything Taylor makes). Then again, I think most Martins I've played (D-18 included) are a little less delicate in their sound than the HB Pro... but, aside from the Hummingbird, Martins are seem to be just a bit more stable than comparable Gibsons (if that makes sense; as a metaphor, I guess I might put it this way: the Martin is the kind of artist that pays the bill on time; the Gibson is the one that will do so, too, but might cut off its own ear and put it in the mail with the check just to make a point).

 

Anyway, maybe that's build quality, or maybe it's the ebony fingerboards [EDIT: on the Martins, I mean]... I don't know. But, in any case, the Pro has a shimmer (even in Mahogany) that a Hummingbird doesn't. That's not necessarily good or bad (and, if I'm right, I'm sure that there are circumstances where I'd have a clear preference for one as opposed to the other), but it's my impression after (only) a day of playing that the HB Pro is just a little hotter and (but) less full in its sound than any Hummingbird I've ever laid hands to.

 

Based on your comment, I would guess that a lot of that difference has to do with the scale length...

 

Just a thought.

 

So, what, for you, explains the preference for the shorter scale?

 

Also, love your comment about being more picky than when you were younger. For what it's worth, when I was younger, I played saxophone... I got pretty picky about that after a while. Now I don't know if I'm picky or not... probably picky about some things and willing to explore about others... generally easier for me to listen to other points of view, anyway, than when I was younger.

 

Again, thanks for the input, and please do feel free to share your story about preferences regarding scale length etc.

Edited by shuvalkin

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I haven't figured out my scale preferences down to a science but the nut width and neck shape play just as big a factor. At one time I thought I did, but I've proven myself wrong many times.

 

As I've gotten older, the fatty tissue on my fingers that used to push down the strings when using barre chords is no longer there. Has nothing to do with hand strength.

 

For some reason I'm not as sensitive to the Martin long scale as I am to the Gibson. Some of the Gibson's don't bother me at all.

 

I current have about 40 guitars. My most comfortable - Dwight Yoakam Honky Tonk Duece. All around Favorite - Martin D41 Special.

 

Enjoy the HB Pro. They're great guitars.

 

 

 

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Now you folks re giving me ideas. As you all know by now, I prefer 1-11/16" nut. But I love the look of a Hummingbird. Looks like a Pro coupled with a new 'Bird guard gets me the look and the nut dimensions I crave. Interesting idea. Must think about this for awhile.

 

Do Guitar Centers still carry this model or do you need to luck out on a used one? I'd like to play the Pro first before I get too excited.

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Don't know about The Guitars Center but Musician's friend has one Brand new for $2099 shipped.

 

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/guitars/gibson-hummingbird-pro-cutaway-acoustic-electric-guitar

 

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If 1-11/16" and 25.5" scale is for you.Then this little bird is for you.

 

 

To me...I prefer wider nut with short scale (1.725"nut and 24.5" scale).So hummingbird artist suit me the most. I'm a Martin guy. The Hummingbird artist remind me of D-18ss but in Gibson version.If you ever want one. This model has been discontinued. Only used available and it's getting harder to find in mint condition.

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Buyer beware! The place selling the copy Hummingbird pick guards looks to be out of China. Probably won't be long before Gibson goes after them like they've done with people selling Gibson copy truss rod covers.

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Buyer beware! The place selling the copy Hummingbird pick guards looks to be out of China. Probably won't be long before Gibson goes after them like they've done with people selling Gibson copy truss rod covers.

 

And do you know where I can get an OEM gibson hummingbird pickguard?

Fake/counterfeit product is one thing,Custom made/cut that fit the original one is another.If Gibson have it available, that's great and I definitely want one.After I've been searching for years,I couldn't find any.If you have information please let me know.

 

Please don't give me wrong that I want to support counterfeit products but I feel like I have the right to do whatever I want on my guitar.I own my guitar, not Gibson. Same with people who put 22" aftermarket rims on their BMW.Tires shop doesn't sell BMW rims but they're selling "rims that fit BMW" and I think there's nothing wrong with that.Just my 2 cents.

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And do you know where I can get an OEM gibson hummingbird pickguard?

Fake/counterfeit product is one thing,Custom made/cut that fit the original one is another.If Gibson have it available, that's great and I definitely want one.After I've been searching for years,I couldn't find any.If you have information please let me know.

 

Please don't give me wrong that I want to support counterfeit products but I feel like I have the right to do whatever I want on my guitar.I own my guitar, not Gibson. Same with people who put 22" aftermarket rims on their BMW.Tires shop doesn't sell BMW rims but they're selling "rims that fit BMW" and I think there's nothing wrong with that.Just my 2 cents.

 

If you own a Gibson Hummingbird and are looking to replace the one that's on your guitar, you can purchase a replacement through an authorized Gibson dealer. They'll ask you for proof that you do own one and yes, they are expensive. That's the only way that Gibson can make sure that their pickguards made specifically for certain models of Gibson guitars (Hummingbirds. Doves, etc.) are only being placed on the Gibson models for which they were intended.

 

If you don't own a Gibson Hummingbird and are looking to add a Hummingbird pickguard to another model of guitar, then your only option is to purchase a counterfeit. But supporting counterfeit products opens up a lot of potential problems, such as: 1. You don't know if they'll fit, 2. You don't know about the quality or if the material they're made out of will damage your guitar. 3. If they come with adhesive, you don't know if that adhesive will damage your guitar, 4. If Gibson takes legal action against the seller, you may not get caught up in the middle.

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Now you folks re giving me ideas. As you all know by now, I prefer 1-11/16" nut. But I love the look of a Hummingbird. Looks like a Pro coupled with a new 'Bird guard gets me the look and the nut dimensions I crave. Interesting idea. Must think about this for awhile.

 

Do Guitar Centers still carry this model or do you need to luck out on a used one? I'd like to play the Pro first before I get too excited.

 

The Hummingbird Pro is supposedly a Guitar Center exclusive, and so most stores should have one in stock. But, in reality, you can get them at a few other places. Someone already posted a link to Musician's Friend. Amazon also sells them.

 

There's a sale at Guitar Center right now (until Aug. 5). Slight markdown to $2049.99. Probably can talk the price down to about that even after the sale expires.

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