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How is a plain top j-45 not a j-50?


theflyingturtle

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A J-45 popped up on CL yesterday. It is suppose to be a 95' and has a plain top and a banner year headstock. The owner claims that it is a special model made to banner year standards. My understanding is that the ONLY difference between a 45 and a 50 is the sunburst vs. the plain top. So how can a J-45 be a plain top and not be a J-50?

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Yes, as SBPark says, Gibson just being Gibson. They laid down a lot of banner headstocks in the early 1990's.

 

Is it this one (we promise not to buy it on you): http://reno.craigslist.org/msg/5916499567.html ?

 

Very close to getting the whole J-45/with Gibson sunburst. A WM-45 in that era would be very similar in finish, absolutely no more that $1000, but with the morado fretboard & bridge. Strange Martin-style pickguard on the one in the CL link. For a squeak more, I'd rather have the burst.

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Was there ever a banner J-50? Don't think I've seen one. Now I know there are exceptions to this, but for me personally, a J-50 needs to have a batwing pickguard. [biggrin]

 

 

Zombywoof has one, from 1943 I think. Pretty rare. They were also re-introduced around 1947, which would have had the teardrop pickguard and 19-fret board, just like the J-45 from the same period.

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Zombywoof has one, from 1943 I think.

 

Ah, I remember that. IIRC it also has a burst finish which he said they added to hide some kind of issue with the wood. So that would lead to the question "how is a burst finish J-50 not a J-45"? ;)

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Though as with all things Gibson, which can vary from year to year or even batch to batch, the J-50 usually has a slightly higher degree of ornamentation than the J-45--double or triple binding, and sometimes extra rosette rings. Some J-50's have upgraded tuners, as well.

 

Red 333

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So, aside from ornamentation, is it safe to say that the standard J45 and J50 (and also the SJ) are primarily the same guitar? I know there are often a lot of comments on Gibson doing this kind of stuff, giving a model 2-3 names with just cosmetic differences. They've done it for years and I doubt they're going to stop now. These models all have rabid fans and they don't care if the models are similar, identical, etc. They simply love the instrument. Like others, I often find it confusing, but I have to admit it's good marketing and creates a lot of talk. Here we are talking about it again. I've even changed my way of thinking on this and I'm considering another kind of J45 or AJ. It kind of goes along with Gibson's reputation as being more old fashioned, slow to change, blingy, honky-tonkish, set in their ways, folksy, inconsistent, and likely a guitar with a human flaw somewhere on it. I've considered a J50 and a Southern Jumbo, even though I've got a J45 model. I know the guitars are extremely alike, if not literally identical as far as structure goes. It's just that because they are Gibsons (with that inherit possibility of each guitar having its own personality) I keep thinking that I might find one that I really need. There seems to be a reason to Gibson's quirky way of doing things. A method to the madness. To me, and I admit I'm a big Gibson fan, all the negative comments directed at Gibson on the internet gradually add to the mystique that surrounds the brand. The AGF is swamped with people who praise Taylor consistency and how each guitar is just like the one made before or after it. I'll probably never knock Taylor quality. Great instruments. But me, I don't want my Hummingbird to be identical to the one you have. That's one of the things about Gibsons that attracts me to Gibsons. ............And, if I find a J50 or SJ that calls my name, already having a J45 won't mean a thing. I can see where I've changed over the years more than Gibson has and that's probably a good thing. I'm not the "purist" I once was (and not that long ago) in regards to guitars. I can't answer the original question for this thread either. Perhaps with guitars like these it really doesn't matter how much they are alike. Besides, if the guitar becomes an extension of "you," that's about all you need.

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So, aside from ornamentation, is it safe to say that the standard J45 and J50 (and also the SJ) are primarily the same guitar? I know there are often a lot of comments on Gibson doing this kind of stuff, giving a model 2-3 names with just cosmetic differences. They've done it for years and I doubt they're going to stop now. These models all have rabid fans and they don't care if the models are similar, identical, etc. They simply love the instrument. Like others, I often find it confusing, but I have to admit it's good marketing and creates a lot of talk. Here we are talking about it again. I've even changed my way of thinking on this and I'm considering another kind of J45 or AJ. It kind of goes along with Gibson's reputation as being more old fashioned, slow to change, blingy, honky-tonkish, set in their ways, folksy, inconsistent, and likely a guitar with a human flaw somewhere on it. I've considered a J50 and a Southern Jumbo, even though I've got a J45 model. I know the guitars are extremely alike, if not literally identical as far as structure goes. It's just that because they are Gibsons (with that inherit possibility of each guitar having its own personality) I keep thinking that I might find one that I really need. There seems to be a reason to Gibson's quirky way of doing things. A method to the madness. To me, and I admit I'm a big Gibson fan, all the negative comments directed at Gibson on the internet gradually add to the mystique that surrounds the brand. The AGF is swamped with people who praise Taylor consistency and how each guitar is just like the one made before or after it. I'll probably never knock Taylor quality. Great instruments. But me, I don't want my Hummingbird to be identical to the one you have. That's one of the things about Gibsons that attracts me to Gibsons. ............And, if I find a J50 or SJ that calls my name, already having a J45 won't mean a thing. I can see where I've changed over the years more than Gibson has and that's probably a good thing. I'm not the "purist" I once was (and not that long ago) in regards to guitars. I can't answer the original question for this thread either. Perhaps with guitars like these it really doesn't matter how much they are alike. Besides, if the guitar becomes an extension of "you," that's about all you need.

To me, the SJ is different - not 'better' but with a different feel and sound. It's all so subjective....

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So, aside from ornamentation, is it safe to say that the standard J45 and J50 (and also the SJ) are primarily the same guitar?

 

I'm not the "purist" I once was (and not that long ago) in regards to guitars. I can't answer the original question for this thread either. Perhaps with guitars like these it really doesn't matter how much they are alike. Besides, if the guitar becomes an extension of "you," that's about all you need.

 

Yep. I have both a J-45 and an SJ. Although both use the same woods and have the same shape, they sound and play quite differently from each other. Part of that's bracing, part of it's probably aging, part of it is.....who knows what?

 

I need both of them (or at least that's what I tell my wife).

 

It would be interesting to add an AJ into the mix here, so that might be my next guitar. I was looking into a D-28, especially since I'm playing some bluegrass these days, but maybe an AJ is a good alternative.

 

To the OP's question: my old J-45 lived as a J-50 for about 35 years before it regained its J-45 identity. Pretty much sounded and played the same either as a sunburst or a natural, as far as I can tell.

 

A few years ago, the J-45 was available either as a "J-45 Sunburst" or a "J-45 Natural". That struck me as pretty "unnatural".

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At this point, it's primarily marketing.

 

Gibson has been cultivating the J-45's image as "the workhorse" for many years. The J-45 is probably more recognizable & salable, so why not produce a bazillion variations of the J-45 (which is exactly what we now have).

 

I have an '02 J-45 Rosewood, with a natural top (which I prefer). Should it have been called a rosewood bodied J-50? Probably, but if I were to sell it, that J-45 moniker would most likely attract more attention.

 

Silly stuff, but then, that's marketing for you.

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Since guitars Bozeman cranks out that are 'on the surface' J45s, but are painted blue. Or brown. Or gray. Are deemed to be J45s. then why should a J45 without any coloring get a different model # ?

The only reason is because back a hundred years ago, someone decided

A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet.

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Since guitars Bozeman cranks out that are 'on the surface' J45s, but are painted blue. Or brown. Or gray. Are deemed to be J45s. then why should a J45 without any coloring get a different model # ?

The only reason is because back a hundred years ago, someone decided

A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet.

Yeah, but 100 years ago I was only 30 years from being born - change has a way of intimidating the elderly😧

I'll see your Shakespeare and raise you a Gertrude Stein...

"A rose is a rose is a rose..."

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Since guitars Bozeman cranks out that are 'on the surface' J45s, but are painted blue. Or brown. Or gray. Are deemed to be J45s. then why should a J45 without any coloring get a different model # ?

Well, here's the thing:

 

Back in the day, the J-45 cost $45. The J-50 cost $50. An upcharge was standard on many models for the natural finish version, because more visually appealing woods were to be utilized.

 

So if Gibson had put out a blue, brown, or gray version, they probably would have been called something like the J-45b, J-45br, and J-45g - but we'd still have a natural finish J-50 to periodically resurrect in all it's blondish glory!

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