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Gibson J15 - Review


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I consider myself fortunate to live where I do as I have access to much in the way of music of varying styles.

 

Late last year I attended a recital arranged by a music teacher for his students. It was a fabulous time with the teacher grabbing his guitar and joining in, encouraging his charges with "A first time public performance by [name] and wasn't it splendid!" It was a fun two hours.

 

I know the guitars used by the performers varied from $300 gits to $9,000 gits. In the after-performance gathering not once was mention made of the guitars. It was all about playing.

 

And, in my view, that's how it should be. The guitar is secondary. It matters not whether it is a Yamaha FG720S, a J-15, a J-45 or a custom made by Graham Caldersmith.

 

You buy guitars you can afford (hopefully) and which you love to play.

 

 

Amen, Ghost. You nailed it......I can't stand the direction some people took this thread. What started-out as a thoughtful review of what I think is a great guitar was twisted into "my guitar is better than yours because it cost more." What a bunch of crap dished-out by crappy people.........BTW, I've never heard of a Caldersmith guitar, but I bet it burns too...lol...........Play the guitars you love and don't let the elites rain on your parade.

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Nope.....that fancy sawed-wood on the J45 froze solid and when one of the kids pissed on it, it shattered into thousands of little pieces.

Hey thanks for pointing out that J-15 owners have questionable judgement! I now see the error of my ways and am quickly donating my scrap wood guitar to my local High schools wood shop so they can tur

If a player loves a certain instrument such as a J-15 and feels it's their favourite, then to that person the guitar is equally as good as a J-45 if not better.   Some cheap guitars play and sound

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"my guitar is better than yours because it cost more." What a bunch of crap dished-out by crappy people.........

 

Reminds me of when I was studying music 10 years ago. I used to use a Fender Squier Affinity Strat all the time and people used to say 'why the heck are you using that piece of rubbish?! I used to say 'hey, it's a guitar, it works, doesn't sound too bad and I like it!', they used to think it was stupid. Arthur Lee from the band Love used a white Squier Strat at the Albert Hall DVD concerts btw. These days there aren't many really bad guitars anyway. The quality of lower end instruments has improved greatly over the years. I remember seeing a band using Encore Strat copy guitars many years ago and they sounded fantastic. This all applies to acoustics too. Yamaha FG's sound great too btw. I have an old one my parents bought me when I was a kid. It has a lovely tone and feel to it.

 

Anyway, in conclusion J-15's are fantastic & like many others here I love mine.

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Ghost, those are really nice-looking guitars. I don't doubt the craftsmanship that goes into building one. Just not for me. Too pretty for me. Nothing to do with what they sell for. To some people they are undoubtedly worth it and I wish them well with their choice. It's more about that kind of guitar not being "me." It's just a real personal thing. If I can't identify with the guitar, then I don't want it. I can easily identify with most Gibsons, Martin dreads like the D28, D35 and their immediate families. And I definitely identify with the J15.

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Ghost, those are really nice-looking guitars. I don't doubt the craftsmanship that goes into building one. Just not for me. Too pretty for me. Nothing to do with what they sell for. To some people they are undoubtedly worth it and I wish them well with their choice. It's more about that kind of guitar not being "me." It's just a real personal thing. If I can't identify with the guitar, then I don't want it. I can easily identify with most Gibsons, Martin dreads like the D28, D35 and their immediate families. And I definitely identify with the J15.

 

I certainly appreciate your comments, sir. I wouldn't buy one either but, as an owner of a guitar shop said to me once, "Apart from music itself, it's an aesthetically pleasing place to work."

 

I've picked up many guitars, including a J-15, with a thought of possibly buying but I haven't pulled the trigger. Not because there was anything wrong with the instrument, we simply didn't fit. Odd. However, as with most other people I assume, I buy for myself not for others. They can do what they like with their money.

 

The only guitar I am looking out for is a Gibson J-45 TV. I do so like them. Hard to get around here but I have played a couple. I think I may have one spotted but I have to travel interstate before I part with the readies. Fortunately, the store has agreed to a holding deposit and will refund, less 5%, if I don't go through with it. Reasonable to me plus it fits in with some business I have to do so all's not lost.

 

Now to pluck off for some playing as it's rather awful weather outside. Love those excuses. No one can accuse me of slacking off!! Well, they could but I don't give a toss.

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Mr Hogeye, even you have to admit this is some pretty attractive firewoodIMG_20160119_173837691.jpg

 

 

This is a great looking guitar. The wood is amazing and as I said it would make a wonderful coffee table.

 

Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a wood junky. I have over 20 pallets of scrap wood that I have purchased from Gibson rather than see it end up in the landfill. Most of it is flat sawn high figured wood. I got it because it's beautiful and Gibson threw it out because it would make bad guitars. I carve decoys out of it and make coffee tables as well as turn bowls with it.

 

I have no issue with the looks. I am just responding to all of the folks that think this is the way to build a guitar when it clearly is not. If you own a J-15 then you should defend your purchase. It is a reflection of your good or questionable judgment.

 

It's Ok for folks to attack me personally. I just think that the debate should be confined to the facts. Am I a jerk? Hell yes.... I just write the truth and those with opposing opinions have every right to express theirs.

 

I have no argument with the guy that wants to urinate on his guitar. He bought it and he knows best how it should serve him. Me? I would play it. But that's just me. So all you guys that have the urge to urinate have at it.

 

There is a guy posting here that thinks run-out is a problem. It isn't except to him. It's his opinion and even though it flies in the face of every luthiers opinion I respect his right to express his opinion. This has been debated here for many years and I will not attack him personally. It's simple he's just wrong.

 

We have all learned a bunch from this thread. I knew exactly what would happen when I wrote what I did. I was hoping that a few others here would share their opinions on flat sawn wood. Maybe I was expecting to much.

 

Not to be controversial but I would humidify my guitar and not by urinating on it. Maybe we could get some of your expert opinions on this unique way of taking care of your guitar. Just in case you didn't know....20% humidity is a sure way to destroy your purchase. Flat sawn or otherwise.

 

I guess you folks told me.I guess I am a troll but this troll speaks the truth.

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This is a great looking guitar. The wood is amazing and as I said it would make a wonderful coffee table.

 

Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a wood junky. I have over 20 pallets of scrap wood that I have purchased from Gibson rather than see it end up in the landfill. Most of it is flat sawn high figured wood. I got it because it's beautiful and Gibson threw it out because it would make bad guitars. I carve decoys out of it and make coffee tables as well as turn bowls with it.

 

I have no issue with the looks. I am just responding to all of the folks that think this is the way to build a guitar when it clearly is not. If you own a J-15 then you should defend your purchase. It is a reflection of your good or questionable judgment.

 

It's Ok for folks to attack me personally. I just think that the debate should be confined to the facts. Am I a jerk? Hell yes.... I just write the truth and those with opposing opinions have every right to express theirs.

 

I have no argument with the guy that wants to urinate on his guitar. He bought it and he knows best how it should serve him. Me? I would play it. But that's just me. So all you guys that have the urge to urinate have at it.

 

There is a guy posting here that thinks run-out is a problem. It isn't except to him. It's his opinion and even though it flies in the face of every luthiers opinion I respect his right to express his opinion. This has been debated here for many years and I will not attack him personally. It's simple he's just wrong.

 

We have all learned a bunch from this thread. I knew exactly what would happen when I wrote what I did. I was hoping that a few others here would share their opinions on flat sawn wood. Maybe I was expecting to much.

 

Not to be controversial but I would humidify my guitar and not by urinating on it. Maybe we could get some of your expert opinions on this unique way of taking care of your guitar. Just in case you didn't know....20% humidity is a sure way to destroy your purchase. Flat sawn or otherwise.

 

I guess you folks told me.I guess I am a troll but this troll speaks the truth.

Hey thanks for pointing out that J-15 owners have questionable judgement! I now see the error of my ways and am quickly donating my scrap wood guitar to my local High schools wood shop so they can turn it into a candy dish. Also my point regarding my lack of humidification was to show that these guitars won't self destruct any more or less than other guitars. Your opinions are just that.. But damn I'm just in awe of the superior guitars that you own. :)
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I've had My J-15 for almost two years. I haven't properly humidified it(I really should) The humidity in my house is 20%. It hasn't fallen apart and it shows absolutely no indication of not being properly humidified. A couple of times I banged it with my heavy brass belt buckle, Not a ding on it. The walnut used is fine quality. You mentioned the tuners? What's wrong with them? They're well made and do what they're supposed to do which is accurately tune the guitar. You seem hooked on "more expensive better" "less expensive bad, inferior" people tend to do that to make themselves feel about their own stuff. I bought the J-15 because it sounded better to me that the other guitars in the shop that I played, including other Gibson's. I once owned a Martin cherry SWD which was a fantastic guitar. Is cherry an "inferior wood"? Saying that a J15 is an entry level guitar is incorrect and getting caught up in "this is the only way to cut wood" seems silly. And the price point is due to to curent supply and sustainability.

 

Humidity.... 44 plus percent.. at about 65 degrees. no Less...

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Summing up. The J15 is an inexpensive guitar in comparison to other Gibsons. Agreed? There has to be a way this was achieved. Agreed? We seem to agree that the wood was sourced in the USA, making it cheaper. The neck seems to be constructed well, three piece like many top end guitars with quarter sawn timber. The top is spruce, it seems to me that it is not the finest spruce out there but it is quarter sawn too. The bracing is reasonable but it does not look like quarter sawn timber to me, I'm open to opinions that differ here. The kerfing looks like mahogany. The back is not quarter sawn, it's just solid walnut. The finish on the guitar is minimal. No stains . No fancy inlays. No sunburst. The tuners are about the cheapest reasonable tuners on the market. Nut and saddle also cheapest reasonable. So we are left with a guitar hat is made at probably the lowest outlay possible. I don't know if it makes much profit for Gibson. It could be a loss leader to encourage players to use Gibsons and maybe move up to higher priced guitars. At this point I think I need to point out that a lot of Gibsons do seem to be very expensive for what you get above and beyond the ordinary. But then so are Martins. Anyway, as I was saying we end up with a guitar made from the cheapest components out there, well sort of. IMHO it sounds fine and plays well. Now that back! Well any guitar back for that matter. Backs, as I see it, do not take as much strain and stress as the rest of a guitar. They are braced generally more heavily than tops as they do not have to vibrate/flex like a top. Necks and tops take all the stress as does the bridge. Let's look at complaints regarding, "my guitar is breaking up, twisting, lifting, bowing", etc. How many times have we read in these pages, "the back of my guitar has collapsed". I can't think of an instance. So if Gibson were thinking of saving money all round on the J15 which bit would they take the greatest risk on? You got it in one!

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No stains . No fancy inlays. No sunburst.

 

I found your comments very interesting and valid Mick, however, to my knowledge sunburst finishes are usually cheaper than natural finish guitars because they don't need to use perfect (or near perfect) pieces of wood for the top, back or sides. Sunbursts can cover any imperfections in the wood and therefore is less costly.

 

Also, someone made a point earlier that the J-15 is called a 'J-15' because it's 1/3 of the guitar a J-45 is. I believe this to be totally incorrect as here in the UK when they came out they were price at £1099 with a J-45 at £1599. This is actually more like 2/3 in reality and in the US I think they were $1500 when they came out, hence the 15 reference.

 

Another point that I have to question is that a J-15 is only £500 cheaper than a J-45. This is not a great difference IMO. In some recent sales here you could pick up a J-45 for £1200 making the gap even less. While a J-45 is a fantastic guitar, it was only ever a 'players' guitar or 'workhorse' as it became known. It was not seen to be a top of the line instrument anymore than the J-15.

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I found your comments very interesting and valid Mick, however, to my knowledge sunburst finishes are usually cheaper than natural finish guitars because they don't need to use perfect (or near perfect) pieces of wood for the top, back or sides. Sunbursts can cover any imperfections in the wood and therefore is less costly.

 

My experience is the opposite with high-end guitars. They use the same hi-quality woods - because they are high-end PLUS the custom shop or extra work and expense of the sunburst. For example; my Custom Shop OM-28V was more expensive than a regularly expensive OM-28V.

 

Some of these commentaries baffle me and have moved in the direction of - if it costs less, it's less of a guitar. That is pure nonsense. I see guitar's costing 2-3 times what my Martins cost from smaller builders that do not rise to the league of a factory Martin. Price alone does not determine the quality or value of a guitar. Let's evaluate an instrument for what it is - bad, good, excellent, great or phenomenal. Most guitars cost much more than the sum of their parts + labor. IMO the J-15 is a great guitar that is priced much closer to what a great guitar should cost. It's not cheap and it's not exorbitantly expensive. It is far above the budget of most players worldwide and easily within the reach of others.

 

If you don't like it or think it is "less than" another guitar - bite your tongue. Otherwise all you are doing is berating something that is not only excellent but a keepsake that some here and "out there" will cherish and love for a lifetime. In other words your negativity and rudeness is not appreciated. I bought mine to see what all the excitement was - certainly not because i needed another guitar. I immediately found out what was driving the over-the-top reviews and I couldn't care less what the quarter-sawn or other-sawn wood is. In fact, I never care about the "specs" of a guitar just what it sounds like in the studio or on stage and how it makes me feel while playing it. Some herein would do better by playing more and commenting less. Thanks for the Friday rant. [unsure]

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My experience is the opposite with high-end guitars. They use the same hi-quality woods - because they are high-end PLUS the custom shop or extra of sunburst. For example; my Custom Shop OM-28V was much higher than a regular expensive OM-28V.

 

Not doubting you, but this is always the opposite in archtops. A natural L5 always cost more than a sunburst, likewise a natural ES-175 cost more than a sunburst too and it is well documented in many Gibson books. I assume this would have applied to acoustics too? I must go reference my Gibson flattop book! Although, most regular Gibson J-45's, J-200's and so on natural or sunburst are priced the same here. For example a pre 2016 J-45 £1,599 and a J-200 £2749 in either colour.

 

Also, denversteve, this does not make a sunburst any less of a guitar than a natural, it's just an observation from many Gibson books I've read over the years. I'm on the side of all the people who love their J-15's.

 

Not J-15 related but price related, I still believe a £100 guitar can be excellent, that you can play anything on any guitar (pretty much) and that price is insignificant if you find an instrument you love. As I mentioned earlier I have an old Yamaha FG which I still sometime play and it's sounds and feels great to me. I don't much care how it was made or if it's seen as an inferior instrument by some.

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... I still believe a £100 guitar can be excellent, that you can play anything on any guitar

 

Exactly I keep an Epiphone AJ-200SR/VS that was used on stage for over 10 years that plays and sounds fantastic. Plays like butter after proper set up (like most guitars need) and proper play. Solid top, laminate back & sides. It could probably be sold if necessary for $250-$300. Nonetheless a very nice guitar. It now lives in the closet at my mountain place for use when I'm there.

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I found your comments very interesting and valid Mick, however, to my knowledge sunburst finishes are usually cheaper than natural finish guitars because they don't need to use perfect (or near perfect) pieces of wood for the top, back or sides. Sunbursts can cover any imperfections in the wood and therefore is less costly.

 

Also, someone made a point earlier that the J-15 is called a 'J-15' because it's 1/3 of the guitar a J-45 is. I believe this to be totally incorrect as here in the UK when they came out they were price at £1099 with a J-45 at £1599. This is actually more like 2/3 in reality and in the US I think they were $1500 when they came out, hence the 15 reference.

 

Another point that I have to question is that a J-15 is only £500 cheaper than a J-45. This is not a great difference IMO. In some recent sales here you could pick up a J-45 for £1200 making the gap even less. While a J-45 is a fantastic guitar, it was only ever a 'players' guitar or 'workhorse' as it became known. It was not seen to be a top of the line instrument anymore than the J-15.

 

If you go to the major guitar makers, and I've been to the one in CA and the one in PA but not our hosts but I know they are similar in overall operations, you will see that a pile of blanks for anything is just that, a pile of blanks. If the supplier brings them a pallet of tops they are pretty much what Gibson agreed to buy. They can get right on up to the painting process before they even know what they are painting, and there can be an audible called as they are setting up to spray. The top on that sunburst guitar was easily one production meeting away from being on a natural guitar.

 

It also can't be that all top blemishes are out on the dark edges as most sunbursts leave a good amount of surface grain showing through the center, lightest color. Trees and blank makers don't work like that.

 

Both finishes are hand done, as they are at all of the big makers. While a sunburst requires a specific set of skills that I really wanted to watch but was not allowed to at Fedner, a clear coat requires the same attention. I did get to see some paint work at CFMartin, but that was 15 years ago and while it is still done by hand today the waterfall paint booths and stuff of the modern age are somewhat different and only add to the cost.

 

The real actual cost determinant will be the labor, not the top.

 

Guitar costs and guitar prices are about as far apart as they can get. Natural guitars cost more because quite frankly most guitar players in the price ranges you are talking about really don't want to plunk down 3 or 4k on another sunburst guitar. I know if I was buying a 175 or L-whatever I wouldn't settle for sunburst.

 

Just some observations, but mostly just want to say that in most consumer goods, and especially guitars, the correlation between what you pay for it and what it cost to make is not what you think it is.

 

rct

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Not J-15 related but price related, I still believe a £100 guitar can be excellent, that you can play anything on any guitar (pretty much) and that price is insignificant if you find an instrument you love. As I mentioned earlier I have an old Yamaha FG which I still sometime play and it's sounds and feels great to me. I don't much care how it was made or if it's seen as an inferior instrument by some.

 

Exactly. I have no interest in what kind of cutting technique was used on the wood. That's not even on the radar when I'm buying a guitar. Nor am I checking inside the guitar for a spot of glue under the bridge. I don't care what kind of bracing it has either. All I'm looking for is whether or not the guitar is what I want and worth the price. If I don't like the guitar, I don't care if God made it and cut the wood with an angelic saw, I still won't buy it. I think all of my better guitars are pretty much "top shelf" instruments to my ears, hands, and guts, but that in no way means they are better then another instrument considered "top shelf" by someone else. What guitars cost means nothing if you really like the guitar. I think all this "my guitar is better than yours, because" attitude is bullcrap and needs to be put where the sun don't shine. Perhaps I'm one of a "dying breed," but I don't consider my J45TV a better guitar than my J15, or my Koa AJ better than my Rosewood AJ, Hummingbird, etc. (actually the bird is pretty special). They all cost different amounts of money, but they're all "top shelf" instruments and the cost means nothing. They are all splendid guitars.

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Hehe, so true, MissouriPicker. Whenever I come across individuals who proclaim "this is better than that because.. and that is junk" and it can be anything from guitars to watches, whatever, my mind goes:

 

Deja Moo: I've heard all that bull before.

 

Just pic up a git and play youse dastards. Frig if it's made from the rarest timber on earth or if it is gilded on the binding or rosette. It's a guitar. So play the bloody thing.

 

One professional (a tutor at the ANU School of Music) once said to me said in regard to instruments, the major difference between an $800 student's flute and a $60,000 18kt gold plated flute is money and, while top musicians with a specific talent for picking out nuances in sound would know the variation in a blind test, for the rest, it's simply what they believe they want to hear.

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I mail-ordered one of the first J-15s produced, as I was curious about what walnut would render in a roundshoulder Gibson. The price paid was $1275. For a reason I've never uncovered, it arrived with a Custom Shop logo on the back of the neck/peghead, as well as a thin pickguard, those cute little mini-Grovers, a beautifully bookmatched top, a super sweet neck for my hands, and gobs of tone more in the realm of maple - which is often my preferred tonewood for the fingerpicking style I employ 99% of the time.

 

Before anyone had even played one of these, there was speculation on this board about how well walnut would hold up in use as a fingerboard/bridge material. Now two years down the road, we are being schooled to believe that the backs may implode if you don't monitor your humidity like a banshee.

 

Folks, in the end we all have our own criteria & make our final purchasing decision based on that unique criteria. A good chunk of my key criteria is based on build quality, but another huge chunk is based on playability, my style of play, what my ears hear, overall value, my exposure to different instruments over the past 45+ years, and some other purely emotional stuff. I've got some fairly expensive guitars, and I've also got a very sweet sounding little Epiphone EL-00 that would certainly be considered firewood by some.

 

After owning something in the neighborhood of 150+ instruments, my purchasing criteria has currently resulted in twenty-seven acoustic & electric guitars, and two mandolins, that I find truly satisfying. It so happens that the J-15 noted above has found a place in that group. Two years down the road with no humidity control (not much of an issue here on the north Oregon coast), it retains the qualities I initially found attractive.

 

Hopefully I'll still be around in ten years to see how she & the rest of the clan has held up, but for now I'll simply enjoy the privilege of playing them.

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If you go to the major guitar makers, and I've been to the one in CA and the one in PA but not our hosts but I know they are similar in overall operations, you will see that a pile of blanks for anything is just that, a pile of blanks. If the supplier brings them a pallet of tops they are pretty much what Gibson agreed to buy. They can get right on up to the painting process before they even know what they are painting, and there can be an audible called as they are setting up to spray. The top on that sunburst guitar was easily one production meeting away from being on a natural guitar.

 

It also can't be that all top blemishes are out on the dark edges as most sunbursts leave a good amount of surface grain showing through the center, lightest color. Trees and blank makers don't work like that.

 

Both finishes are hand done, as they are at all of the big makers. While a sunburst requires a specific set of skills that I really wanted to watch but was not allowed to at Fedner, a clear coat requires the same attention. I did get to see some paint work at CFMartin, but that was 15 years ago and while it is still done by hand today the waterfall paint booths and stuff of the modern age are somewhat different and only add to the cost.

 

The real actual cost determinant will be the labor, not the top.

 

Guitar costs and guitar prices are about as far apart as they can get. Natural guitars cost more because quite frankly most guitar players in the price ranges you are talking about really don't want to plunk down 3 or 4k on another sunburst guitar. I know if I was buying a 175 or L-whatever I wouldn't settle for sunburst.

 

Just some observations, but mostly just want to say that in most consumer goods, and especially guitars, the correlation between what you pay for it and what it cost to make is not what you think it is.

 

rct

 

That all makes sense rct. I read about the natural vs. sunburst cost differences in a book called 'Gibson Super 400: Art of the Fine Guitar by Thomas A.Van Hoose who is expert in the field and has a crazy collection of these guitars. Maybe he was mistaken? I'm no expert on buying blanks or manufacturing guitars so I take on board all these theories and come to my own (possibly wrong!) conclusion.

 

I realise that the actual cost of making an instrument is significanly lower than retail price it is sold for. It's a bit like the premium you pay just because a guitar is 'made in the USA'. Take the exact same materials used to make say a J-45, but have it made instead in China with cheap labour costs and the exact same guitar will drop in price by a fairly hefty amount. I do appreciate the craftmanship and skill of producing a superb guitar such as a Custom J-200 or Martin D45, but also appreciate the charm of cheap guitars too and sometimes the gap between them in terms of tone and playability really isn't so far apart as we are led to believe.

 

Now two years down the road, we are being schooled to believe that the backs may implode if you don't monitor your humidity like a banshee.

 

Surely it wouldn't make good business sense for a company to produce a guitar that will self-destruct down the line? I mean if all our J-15's implode in perhaps 5 years, then Gibson's reputation would sink lower than it was in the 70's Norlin period? They worked so hard to get out of that, that I believe it to be a very questionable idea that my J-15 will not last more than a few years.

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If you go to the major guitar makers, and I've been to the one in CA and the one in PA but not our hosts but I know they are similar in overall operations, you will see that a pile of blanks for anything is just that, a pile of blanks. If the supplier brings them a pallet of tops they are pretty much what Gibson agreed to buy. They can get right on up to the painting process before they even know what they are painting, and there can be an audible called as they are setting up to spray. The top on that sunburst guitar was easily one production meeting away from being on a natural guitar.

 

It also can't be that all top blemishes are out on the dark edges as most sunbursts leave a good amount of surface grain showing through the center, lightest color. Trees and blank makers don't work like that.

 

Both finishes are hand done, as they are at all of the big makers. While a sunburst requires a specific set of skills that I really wanted to watch but was not allowed to at Fedner, a clear coat requires the same attention. I did get to see some paint work at CFMartin, but that was 15 years ago and while it is still done by hand today the waterfall paint booths and stuff of the modern age are somewhat different and only add to the cost.

 

The real actual cost determinant will be the labor, not the top.

 

Guitar costs and guitar prices are about as far apart as they can get. Natural guitars cost more because quite frankly most guitar players in the price ranges you are talking about really don't want to plunk down 3 or 4k on another sunburst guitar. I know if I was buying a 175 or L-whatever I wouldn't settle for sunburst.

 

Just some observations, but mostly just want to say that in most consumer goods, and especially guitars, the correlation between what you pay for it and what it cost to make is not what you think it is.

 

rct

 

 

There is so much here that I don't know where to start. Your first paragraph. All guitar makers buy their wood in pallets. Yes. What you obviously don't know is that they buy the pallets according to grade. AAA-AA-A- and fire wood. The wood grade is priced accordingly. Gibson knows exactly what they are building before they start. They build to order. If a person wants a sunburst guitar they order it and then that is what Gibson builds. Nothing in the first paragraph is correct.

 

If you want to come to Bozeman for the Homecoming you can see the sunburst process. You can go into the spray booth and watch the guy spray and you can even try your hand at it. Several on this forum have tried their hand at spraying the Gibson sunburst. One of the guys was actually pretty good at it.

 

When you state that the cost of a guitar is the labor not the material couldn't be farther from the truth. The cost of the materials is everything. Just go the the Gibson spec pages and look at the difference between guitars with AAA tops as opposed to the guitars with A tops.

 

You really get off the rails when you say that natural guitars cost more. Good grief. That is just not correct.

 

Here are the facts. Gibson has never charged more or less for sunburst guitars. Never. EVER. A sunburst Gibson J-15 costs the same as a natural J-15. Period. end of discussion.

 

The sunburst finish is amazingly labor intensive. It take two weeks longer to get thru a separate spray booth. The guitars have to be color sealed and then they have to mask off some areas of the guitar then they need to spray the color. Then they need to rest again and then skilled workers need to scrape the color off the binding and the inlays in the headstock. This is a very time consuming and labor intensive process then after all of that work they go into the lacquer booth and get finished just like a natural guitar. All of this work and Gibson/Montana doesn't have any upcharge for it. Never has. It begs the question. Have you ever looked at a price list?

 

You say these are just some of your observations but it's perfectly obvious that you have never observed the Gibson process.

 

There are any number of websites that show the Gibson process. You need to take a look at them before you try to tell us your observations. better yet you are always welcome to come to Bozeman and attend the Homecoming. Then your observations may be a little more accurate.

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There is so much here that I don't know where to start. Your first paragraph. All guitar makers buy their wood in pallets. Yes. What you obviously don't know is that they buy the pallets according to grade. AAA-AA-A- and fire wood. The wood grade is priced accordingly. Gibson knows exactly what they are building before they start. They build to order. If a person wants a sunburst guitar they order it and then that is what Gibson builds. Nothing in the first paragraph is correct.

 

If you want to come to Bozeman for the Homecoming you can see the sunburst process. You can go into the spray booth and watch the guy spray and you can even try your hand at it. Several on this forum have tried their hand at spraying the Gibson sunburst. One of the guys was actually pretty good at it.

 

When you state that the cost of a guitar is the labor not the material couldn't be farther from the truth. The cost of the materials is everything. Just go the the Gibson spec pages and look at the difference between guitars with AAA tops as opposed to the guitars with A tops.

 

You really get off the rails when you say that natural guitars cost more. Good grief. That is just not correct.

 

Here are the facts. Gibson has never charged more or less for sunburst guitars. Never. EVER. A sunburst Gibson J-15 costs the same as a natural J-15. Period. end of discussion.

 

The sunburst finish is amazingly labor intensive. It take two weeks longer to get thru a separate spray booth. The guitars have to be color sealed and then they have to mask off some areas of the guitar then they need to spray the color. Then they need to rest again and then skilled workers need to scrape the color off the binding and the inlays in the headstock. This is a very time consuming and labor intensive process then after all of that work they go into the lacquer booth and get finished just like a natural guitar. All of this work and Gibson/Montana doesn't have any upcharge for it. Never has. It begs the question. Have you ever looked at a price list?

 

You say these are just some of your observations but it's perfectly obvious that you have never observed the Gibson process.

 

There are any number of websites that show the Gibson process. You need to take a look at them before you try to tell us your observations. better yet you are always welcome to come to Bozeman and attend the Homecoming. Then your observations may be a little more accurate.

 

Hogeye, for once I agree with you on most points, BUT... I was discussing natural vs sunburst archtops in my earlier post as mickthemiller had stated a sunburst guitar costs more than a natural. Now, Gibson HAVE always charged more for natural archtops (electric or acoustic). It has been listed in loads of books that this is the case and also current price lists reflect this. Shipping totals in numerous books state that natural guitars generally didn't sell nearly as much as sunburst models too. Acoustic flat tops are different as natural or sunburst are the same price for some unknown reason to me. Peace.

 

Same guitar, but way different price as seen below...

 

http://www.richtonemusic.co.uk/products/gibson_l-5_ces_vintage_sunburst.asp?gclid=COvH0cfG0MoCFeISwwodcbAHDg

 

http://www.richtonemusic.co.uk/products/gibson_l5_ces_natural.asp?gclid=CJ3__uDG0MoCFSoUwwod4-sOzg

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Summing up. The J15 is an inexpensive guitar in comparison to other Gibsons. Agreed? There has to be a way this was achieved. Agreed? We seem to agree that the wood was sourced in the USA, making it cheaper. The neck seems to be constructed well, three piece like many top end guitars with quarter sawn timber. The top is spruce, it seems to me that it is not the finest spruce out there but it is quarter sawn too. The bracing is reasonable but it does not look like quarter sawn timber to me, I'm open to opinions that differ here. The kerfing looks like mahogany. The back is not quarter sawn, it's just solid walnut. The finish on the guitar is minimal. No stains . No fancy inlays. No sunburst. The tuners are about the cheapest reasonable tuners on the market. Nut and saddle also cheapest reasonable. So we are left with a guitar hat is made at probably the lowest outlay possible. I don't know if it makes much profit for Gibson. It could be a loss leader to encourage players to use Gibsons and maybe move up to higher priced guitars. At this point I think I need to point out that a lot of Gibsons do seem to be very expensive for what you get above and beyond the ordinary. But then so are Martins. Anyway, as I was saying we end up with a guitar made from the cheapest components out there, well sort of. IMHO it sounds fine and plays well. Now that back! Well any guitar back for that matter. Backs, as I see it, do not take as much strain and stress as the rest of a guitar. They are braced generally more heavily than tops as they do not have to vibrate/flex like a top. Necks and tops take all the stress as does the bridge. Let's look at complaints regarding, "my guitar is breaking up, twisting, lifting, bowing", etc. How many times have we read in these pages, "the back of my guitar has collapsed". I can't think of an instance. So if Gibson were thinking of saving money all round on the J15 which bit would they take the greatest risk on? You got it in one!

 

You have a well thought out case and made it well. Except for the part that you wrote about guitar backs. You obviously don't know what you don't know.

 

Lets take a guitar and stand it on its butt. The top of the peghead is North and the butt is South then the left and right sides are East and West. If you use Quarter sawn wood you will notice that the grain will travel North and South in the top,back and sides. There is a reason for this.

 

The back is one of the most important structural components of a guitar. The back takes the tension of the strings. That is the reason for the massive neck block and the tail block. The back uses huge braces to hold the back in place. It's important the grain run North and South in the back. That is the direction of the strain on the back. When the back is slab-cut some of the grain can run East and West. That will weaken the back and can cause it to stretch. When a back stretches it can be the end of the guitar. 70% of all neck resets are due to the back stretching. If you lose a back brace it needs to be replaced immediately.

 

There are several examples of stretched and failing backs on this forum.

 

One guy wants to know why his guitar is failing as the top has cracks on either side of the fretboard. He had pictures. The answer is simple. The back is stretching and it is pulling the neck block off the back causing the neck block to move forward into the sound hole. This is quite common. J.T. recognized it. No one else did.

 

There is a photo of a guy's guitar with a split rib. Same problem. The back is stretching. It is putting pressure on the rib and it is splitting. The old builders recognized this problem and solved it by placing wood stays across the ribs. This held them together. Then they changed the process to cloth stays to cut costs. Now they have eliminated the stays. All these cost cutting steps leave the guitar vulnerable to failure.

 

Most of the failure is associated with humidity problems and the stretching guitar back syndrome is a real guitar killer.

 

Your theory about the top and bridge taking all of the strain is not correct. Of course there is tension on them but the bulk of the strain is on the back. and any quick perusal of a guitar building book will tell you this. You can educate yourself and then maybe we will get some correct information on this forum. I have any number of good reference books that you can buy. Just PM me and I will be glad to send you a list.

 

I don't have any problem with the folks here that like J-15's but they need to be mindful that some folks looking to buy a guitar may be expecting a better construction for their money. They should be told the truth.

 

This post is from a troll. This troll tells the truth. Some of you can't handle the truth.

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I don't have any problem with the folks here that like J-15's but they need to be mindful that some folks looking to buy a guitar may be expecting a better construction for their money. They should be told the truth.

 

This post is from a troll. This troll tells the truth. Some of you can't handle the truth.

 

Btw, I apologise for my personal attack towards you the other day, it's just I feel some guys on this forum may have saved up for a guitar like a J-15 for a while. They may not be as well off money wise as some of the more fortunate members here (I'm pretty lucky these days financially, but I remember being broke a number of years ago and it sucked!) and telling these people their guitar is pretty much a piece of trash in such a demeaning way is both slightly arrogant and in bad taste in my opinion. I still think my J-15 is great and very well made despite your comments.

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There is nothing wrong with the J-15. I could've afforded a more expensive Gibson had I wanted too, I just didn't see the need. I can see the point Hogeye is making and that's fair enough he's entitled to his opinion. I guess time will tell if any of those scenarios come to fruition but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. I suspect if any issues do arise it would have more to do with owners neglecting to maintain their guitars properly rather than Gibsons materials and building techniques.

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