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sbpark

Anyone else prefer the AJ over the J45?

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Tried to like J45's for a few years, and owned two Standards and have played many, many other incarnations of J45's from vintage examples, to current production V, TV and every other J45 incarnation, Southern Jumbos, J15's, and also owned a J35. Took a 2012 Advanced Jumbo in a trade last year and this seems to be the best of both worlds for my tastes and preferences. (Also owned an SJ200 that I foolishly sold, but still think the AJ is a better all-arounder.)

 

Short scale Gibsons just feel spongy to me and compressed when strummed hard, although I will admit they sound great when played lightly. Long scale necks feels much better to me and allows for faster playing, more accurate fretting and a bigger sound compared to short scale. "So why not just play a Martin?", you might ask. Tone. I have an HD28 and it's a gorgeous guitar, but the AJ is just more pleasing and articulate to my ear and because of that it's the guitar I reach for 99% of the time and love how small embellishments and accents jump out more, with Gibsons, while they tend to get buried with the scooped mids of Martins.(I considered selling the HD28, but keep it around for when friends come over, and it's my back up!) Once I got the AJ I never reached for the J45's anymore, so they were sold. And even though the AJ has rosewood back and sides, it surprises me at how defined and articulate the low end is (no mud), and this guitar can go from a whisper to a roar depending on how you play it, giving it much more dynamic range. Unlike it's shorter scale brothers and sisters, the harder you hit this thing, the more it gives back. And it not only growls, it snarls, but still can also purr like a kitten.

 

Of course it's all about personal preference and playing style, genre, etc. But for me the AJ just seems to be the perfect guitar. It's look is super classy and dignified while still appearing humble and far from gaudy or overdone. And even though I've never bonded sonically with the J45, I think it's still is one of the more gorgeous guitars ever made.

 

Anyone else out there never able to bond with the short-scale Gibsons but still love the Gibson sound and prefer an AJ?

 

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I got the Gibson bug renewed when I fell into the J-55. I was looking for a vintage J-45 and was consulting with a friend who had a big collection and had the J-55. So no J-45 that time. Then I decided I'd buy a new J-45. Went to a 5 Star dealer and played a few. I came home with a new AJ! Still never owned a J-45 but I did have a SCSJ for a while. I liked that too, thought it was different than the AJ though. I like mine. I put a Trance Amulet in it and use it the few times I play out.

 

Rich

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I got the Gibson bug renewed when I fell into the J-55. I was looking for a vintage J-45 and was consulting with a friend who had a big collection and had the J-55. So no J-45 that time. Then I decided I'd buy a new J-45. Went to a 5 Star dealer and played a few. I came home with a new AJ! Still never owned a J-45 but I did have a SCSJ for a while. I liked that too, thought it was different than the AJ though. I like mine. I put a Trance Amulet in it and use it the few times I play out.

 

Rich

 

I've thought about putting an Amulet in mine, but still hesitant about having a pickup that's glued in and can't really be removed. I've tried sound hole pickups and not a fan, and also not a fan of UST's, but at least those options are removable. UST's aren't really the best choice for the AJ with the slot saddle. The trance seems the best way to go, but haven't built up the confidence to take the plunge!

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Long scale Gibsons will definitely give a response that differs from the short scale variety. My preference includes both, and the choice at a given time is influenced by my frame of mind as much as by what I'm doing musically. There's been a lot said about comfort levels between long and short scale guitars, but I don't feel qualified to comment about that because - with a good setup - I don't perceive much difference. The mahogany/maple/rosewood differences strike me as being greatly influential in terms of tone and volume, where maple can be more crisp and defined - rosewood is potentially very loud and robust - and mahogany often offers a more mellow response in degrees that vary somewhat from one guitar to the next. This topic interests me a lot because the stable is currently maple and mahogany, and I'd like to add one rosewood guitar while I'm still around to enjoy it. The HD-28 isn't a consideration because, in my hands, every example I've played comes off as the Queen of Mud. Between the AJ (current incarnation, of course, 'cause vintage is for them what are rich) and the standard D-28 (1970- current) is where I'm stalled. Does anybody have ideas that would help an old country boy make a good choice?

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Long scale Gibsons will definitely give a response that differs from the short scale variety. My preference includes both, and the choice at a given time is influenced by my frame of mind as much as by what I'm doing musically. There's been a lot said about comfort levels between long and short scale guitars, but I don't feel qualified to comment about that because - with a good setup - I don't perceive much difference. The mahogany/maple/rosewood differences strike me as being greatly influential in terms of tone and volume, where maple can be more crisp and defined - rosewood is potentially very loud and robust - and mahogany often offers a more mellow response in degrees that vary somewhat from one guitar to the next. This topic interests me a lot because the stable is currently maple and mahogany, and I'd like to add one rosewood guitar while I'm still around to enjoy it. The HD-28 isn't a consideration because, in my hands, every example I've played comes off as the Queen of Mud. Between the AJ (current incarnation, of course, 'cause vintage is for them what are rich) and the standard D-28 (1970- current) is where I'm stalled. Does anybody have ideas that would help an old country boy make a good choice?

 

In addition to the HD28 and AJ I currently own, I have also had a D28. If it was a choice between the AJ and a D28 I'd personally go for the AJ. Others may go for the D28. It's all about personal preference, but I play a lot of Americana, old school country and a little Bluegrass, and the AJ makes me very happy playing all of those styles.

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So, why would you lean more toward the D-28?

 

Crap! Was a Typo, and I just corrected it. If I had to choose between the three for country stuff I'd pick the AJ simply because it has "that" sound I always hear in my head, while the Martins just sound more generic. I apologize, I had a vasectomy yesterday and just spending the day on the couch chilling and wasting time online!

 

Just add more of my opinion...I find it funny how many say the HD28 is a mud machine, yet the original D28 (which the current HD28 is kind of made to represent) is the holy grail of dreds for many. Mine has a very full low end for sure, but it's still clear and articulate. Guess it all depends on your ear and how you play. I wouldn't have bought one by choice. When I did a major thinning of the herd last year I had a 2013 SG Standard for sale that I bought brand new for under $900 cash out the door from a shop that was blowing them out to make room for the 2014's. I had it up for sale last year and some guy offered me the HD28 for it as a straight trade, so I couldn't pass that up. I've come to really like it. Compared to the D28, I'd almost say it's like comparing the J45 to the AJ. The HD28 is a bit more complex, not as in your face and just seems to add an added dimension to the sound compared to the D28. Not better or worse, just different. If you're a heavy strummer and a heavy hitter I'd go with the D28. If you are more articulate and detail oriented, fingerpick, hybrid pick, etc. I'd go HD28 (if you're looking for the classic Martin sound, that is!). I felt similar comparing the J45 to the AJ. AJ just had more of what the J45 had and is a more complex sounding guitar. As always this is ALL subjective and personal preference. There are no right or wrong answers!

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the aj is a different beast entirely, a higher end guitar. the materials are better, it has inlays, better tuners, better sound. no offense to j 45s, Im on my 4th in 25 years but thats how i see it. (had to sell my aj 10 years ago)

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AJ for me over a J45.. of coarse.. for one the AJ is just a better guitar.. and about the same money as a J45.. as for a D28.. Depends.. anything fairly New in a D28.. AJ has my vote..

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Felt an empathetic bit of pain when you mentioned your surgery😧 I understand about typos - make plenty of 'em, too. Yeah, my picking doesn't lend much to an HD-28, but in the right hands they can be magic. Still on the fence with the D-28 v. AJ business. Now that I'm old, retired, and less flush with cash, I imagine it'll eventually come down to whichever one comes along at a fairly good price. Have always preferred Gibsons and kind of hope it turns out being an AJ, but some of my favorites are guitars I hadn't expected to be 'keepers' and so it continues....

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Felt an empathetic bit of pain when you mentioned your surgery😧 I understand about typos - make plenty of 'em, too. Yeah, my picking doesn't lend much to an HD-28, but in the right hands they can be magic. Still on the fence with the D-28 v. AJ business. Now that I'm old, retired, and less flush with cash, I imagine it'll eventually come down to whichever one comes along at a fairly good price. Have always preferred Gibsons and kind of hope it turns out being an AJ, but some of my favorites are guitars I hadn't expected to be 'keepers' and so it continues....

 

Thanks! I figure a little bit of pain and discomfort now saves me a lifetime of pain later on in case of any "accidents"! Honestly though, I'm totally fine and been through much worse physical pain. I haven't used any ice or taken any pain meds, not even Tylenol. Just taking it easy for two days on the couch and playing guitar and wasting time online.

 

I agree with certain guitars not working for you, then you hand it off to a buddy and it sounds incredible. And regarding the AJ, it was something I always wanted, but never came across, and/or didnt want to shell out for. Ended up picking an old Fender P Bass for $250 several years ago, a 1976 that was original aside form the pickup. Loved the bass but never played it. Traded it for the AJ. The AJ perviously belonged to Joe Bonamassa and had a headstock repair, which never bothers me if done right. I play that AJ every single day, while that bass sat in it's case in a closet for years.

 

More about the D28. I put lights on both my AJ and HD28. They work for me and sound great. I tried lights on the D28 and it sounded weak. Sounded much better with mediums, but the thicker strings and higher tension didnt lend itself well to how I play. Im guessing that's the difference between the straight and scalloped bracing between the D28 and HD28. The scalloped bracing really does make the guitar more touch sensitive and more airy sounding, but it comes at the price of not really handling hard, heavy strumming well. The D28 on the other hand just kept giving back whatever you threw at it. You hit it harder, it just smiled and got louder!

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My AJ has been my main flattop since I bought it new in 2003. It is a great guitar in every way and in my experience, for every thing. It is one if the best sounding guitars I've ever come across. It's very powerful but throttles back at will.

 

But I've had some version of a J-45 or another short scale Gibson around for even longer, like since 1972. Have a very beat up '52 J-45 here now that I've owned for at least 15 years and that replaced a '51 J-50 player I owned for the previous 10 years, and that one followed a '65 C&W that came after several Hummingbirds and so-on back to, well, 1972.

 

I really like the feel & tone of the short scale Gibson dreads. The AJ has more 'oomph' but I do find it a bit tougher to play than a J-45 if I've not been playing much.

 

They are all really good.

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I wouldn't say that I prefer the AJ over the J45, but I am very happy to be blessed enough to enjoy owning both. I can't choose which I like best. They are different enough to have both around.

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When listening to these interesting comparisons formed from our collective experience of guiitars like the AJ, J-45 and D-28 the most obvious response is 'play and enjoy them all!'.

 

I have recently arrived in that very situation with great examples of those three models - a great standard J-45 example (with some custom modifications), a beautiful sounding Martin HD-28V (a prettier, more articulate sounding version of the standard series HD-28 while retaining the bass authority in a more controlled way) and a 12 fret AJ which gives me the feeling of a short scale guitar while still technically being long scale.

 

The J-45: clean, deep, woody with lovely trebles. Dylanish style singer-songwriter guitar that sounds great finger picked too.

 

The Martin HD-28V: rich, authorative, definative Martin dread sound our collective nervous systems reflexively recognise from thousands of recordings.

 

AJ: Loud, brash, raw, deep, dark, rich but with a mid range power and articulation Martin dreads don't have along with a quicker attack transient. A wild mustang of a guitar that teaches YOU how it should be played. I always play a different way on this guitar. Capoing up the neck tones down the mids a bit and gives it a great, dry, woody tone for articulate finger or flatpicking. I can see why Mark Knoppfler loves his.

 

So hey, life is short enough. Enjoy 'em all if you can and pass them on to someone who will love and appreciate them when you're gone.

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I own both and while I have a lot of respect for the AJ, I tend to gravitate to the warmer J-45, or in my case Southern Jumbo. In particular if the purpose is to be used as a rhythm guitar and support my vocals.

 

The AJ is a bit too brash or harsh for this need, and sometimes projects too much, i feel like im competing with it.

 

But it excels in fingerpicking and flatpicking due to its long scale and higher projection.

 

If Im doing an outdoor jamm wiht other guitrists the AJ would be the obvious choice as it projects so well and has such significant volume.

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I own both and while I have a lot of respect for the AJ, I tend to gravitate to the warmer J-45, or in my case Southern Jumbo. In particular if the purpose is to be used as a rhythm guitar and support my vocals.

 

The AJ is a bit too brash or harsh for this need, and sometimes projects too much, i feel like im competing with it.

 

But it excels in fingerpicking and flatpicking due to its long scale and higher projection.

 

If Im doing an outdoor jamm wiht other guitrists the AJ would be the obvious choice as it projects so well and has such significant volume.

 

 

 

I have to agree with that assessment. I perhaps wouldn't want the AJ as my only guitar - well maybe if I was a very accomplished player of many styles with great control and technique. The mahogany short scale offerings by Gibson make much more forgiving and adaptable all-rounders. They are sweeter. The AJ is whiskey, cigars and bar fights.laugh.gif

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I am searching for a guitar that is somewhere between the sound of two guitars I own. I have played my late 40's J-45 almost exclusively for the last 30 years or so.

A few years ago I broke down and finally bought a second guitar. It is a mid 2000 Collings D2ha. I love it, almost!

As I have gravitated over the years to more of a finger picking style, I love the neck and string spacing on the Collings a lot more than the J-45. The Gibson feels cramped after playing the Collings.

The clarity of the notes and sustain on the Collings is incredible, it rings like a piano, however that is the problem, It is almost to bright.

While the bass notes ring clear, they lack the authority and depth ( not sure what else to call it) of the J-45. I have been a bassist most of my life, so my guitar playing incorporates a lot of bass lines and walks in my picking.

I guess I am looking for something in between the Collings and J-45? Do folks who own an AJ think this might be a guitar I should look into for both sound and neck and string spacing feel?

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I am searching for a guitar that is somewhere between the sound of two guitars I own. I have played my late 40's J-45 almost exclusively for the last 30 years or so.

A few years ago I broke down and finally bought a second guitar. It is a mid 2000 Collings D2ha. I love it, almost!

As I have gravitated over the years to more of a finger picking style, I love the neck and string spacing on the Collings a lot more than the J-45. The Gibson feels cramped after playing the Collings.

The clarity of the notes and sustain on the Collings is incredible, it rings like a piano, however that is the problem, It is almost to bright.

While the bass notes ring clear, they lack the authority and depth ( not sure what else to call it) of the J-45. I have been a bassist most of my life, so my guitar playing incorporates a lot of bass lines and walks in my picking.

I guess I am looking for something in between the Collings and J-45? Do folks who own an AJ think this might be a guitar I should look into for both sound and neck and string spacing feel?

 

 

(Puts down AJ to write reply...msp_rolleyes.gif) In that case, try (if you can find one - try Wildwood) a 12 fret AJ. It is a long scale but feels like a short scale. Its 12 fret neck becomes wide quickly (especially if you capo of course as well) so it overcomes the two concerns you mentioned. I like and have owned Collings guitars in the past. I wanted to like them more than I ended up doing though. A tad too 'perfect' if you understand what I mean by that. AJ have punch and personality for days but are not for everyone - or at least not the only one for everyone...

 

Good luck!

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This is me playing my AJ with the Trance p/u with my jug band friends at a library gig a year or so ago. It was recorded by the library through their video camera in the audience, so not the best quality but at the beginning you can hear the guitar. I think it sounds pretty natural. Our music has been described as "Organic". I guess like compost😀

 

 

Rich

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This is me playing my AJ with the Trance p/u with my jug band friends at a library gig a year or so ago. It was recorded by the library through their video camera in the audience, so not the best quality but at the beginning you can hear the guitar. I think it sounds pretty natural. Our music has been described as "Organic". I guess like compost😀

 

 

Rich

 

Organic and Raw is what my take on the acoustic guitar and not patched or processed with electronics/digital.

A slight room/hall reverb/delay/echo is kool on certain tunaged I might add, else nekid!! [thumbup]

 

Peace!

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