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Southern Jumbo vs J-45?

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Ok, so i finally got to try both, store had a used j-45 and a new SJ, the jumbo from what i heard was a souped up 45. Being that, i figured maybe it has a bone nut or somethin that adds just a lil touch of sparkle to the top end highs or something. But, after playing the jumbo and then the 45, the jumbo seemed very dry, woody and almost muted? The 45 was a used 17 model, the jumbo a 18, maybe its because the 45 had a year to open? Or maybe its a dud?

 

I know that taste is subjective, but i generally dont mind a very woody, mellow git, they make the best strummers without drownin out friends at the campfire. This jumbo tho may have been the most dry, mellow guitar ive ever seen and i have to admit, i am totally confused. Shouldnt the jumbo be a tiny bit brighter or was it intended to be even more woody? I felt they both sounded good, but the jumbo seemed like either it needed a bone nut or some bone pins to bring it out a bit.

 

Any owners want to chime in on my experience their thoughts id love to hear them, i usually learn something everyday here and its much appreciated.

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Typically, they don't sound the same, but not in the way you describe. There are plenty of factors to consider as possibilities. A really good J-45/mediocre SJ? Playing time on one and not the other? Strings? Set up?

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Except for the bling, the SJ and J-45 are essentially the same instrument. There will be differences between individual SJ's and J-45's, and differences between guitars of slightly different specs: adi vs sitka, cooked top vs uncooked, hide glue top bracing vs Titebond, etc. You can find J-45's with higher spec than a "standard" SJ (if there is such a thing).

 

My SJ is quite different from my J-45, but which is "better" is a difficult question to answer.

 

The only rational way to compare two instruments like this is to change the strings on both of them, and play them for a couple of days. Strings make all the difference in the world.

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Considering two guitars for a potential purchase, you definitely want to hear them on the strings of the same type & age. Also, who was it here on the forum that pointed out that the Southern Jumbo bridge pins are set closer to the saddle, making for an increased break angle? And yes, acoustic guitars can vary, regardless of their specs.

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At one time, Gibson used better quality lumber on the SJs but other than that not much difference other than bling. While saddle material will make a difference the nut and pins not so much especially the nut as it is taken out of play once you fret a note. But you will hear differences based on string gauge, setup and how long a guitar has been sitting idle. Out of habit I give every guitar I am looking at the whack test. I give the side a good whack with my thumb and listen and feel.

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Out of habit I give every guitar I am looking at the whack test. I give the side a good whack with my thumb and listen and feel.

 

Glad to see you clarify how you do this. I was just on my way to the garage for a hammer.....

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Also, who was it here on the forum that pointed out that the Southern Jumbo bridge pins are set closer to the saddle, making for an increased break angle? And yes, acoustic guitars can vary, regardless of their specs.

 

That depends on the bridge type, as well. My 1943 SJ re-issue has a belly-down (Martin style) bridge, which has the pins much closer to the saddle than you typically see on a standard Gibson belly-up bridge.

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Interesting, when I bought my SJ I compared it to the J45 and it was the opposite; the J45 was muted compared to the SJ. There was some discussion earlier about the saddle being different with photos as proof, so they are different and that may affect the tone as well. I'd have the same new strings put on both and compare. I will say that I love my Southern Jumbo. It's a great guitar

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For me it comes back to the old adage: “A good guitar is a good guitar” - and, in the reverse, a mediocre guitar is a mediocre guitar.

 

The above is of course always in relationship to the subjective criteria of the individual. After owning a boatload of great guitars from all the usual main and boutique makers I am no longer impressed by specs/woods/bling or reputation.

 

I’ve played holy grail vintage guitars that sounded just OK and squeaky new guitars that sounded incredible from the get go - and of course, the reverse.

 

I went looking for a J-45 Legend a while back but wound up with a great standard. I played an AJ 12fret with dead strings but heard something in it that was unique. Sure enough, with new strings it sounded incredible so it came home.

 

There are no guarantees, just the particular, individual guitar and the personal relationship you as an individual have with it. Forget what makes and models ‘should’ sound like, close your eyes, listen and feel. That’s the only reliable parameter.

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A good guitar is a good guitar" - and, in the reverse, a mediocre guitar is a mediocre guitar.

 

That is correct for sure. It is important when you are collecting outstanding vintage sound, you must see with your ears and not hear with your eyes. If you do that with discipline you will end up with a collection of outstanding vintage sounds.

 

I can not speak to the J-45/SJ questions from after 1954 but we have several of each from before that.

l90jDkp.jpg

 

In this picture you can see our three SJs and and three J-45s. The SJs are a 1943 RW model (FON 910, back row on right), 1943 (front row, number two) and 1954 (front row number three). The J-45s are 1942 (front row on the left) 1944 ( 2nd row on the right) and 1953 (front row on the right).

 

Gibson's evolution through these years is well documented and it does show up in the average sound properties of the instruments. The RW 1943 SJs are very rare and are quite different from the others. It has that rosewood lushness and roar and ours is a good match to the old AJ -- none of the rest are anything like that.

 

Each of these guitars has it own voice, but they have some general similarities. I would say I can hear differences of course, but none I would attribute to being a J-45 or SJ -- the properties of these guitars from the same period are essentially the same except for decoration. But they do evolve with year -- the banners are generally more powerful guitars that those of the early 50s.

 

Youcan hear all of these guitars being demoed here -- they are ordered by year of manufacture.

 

Let's pick,

-Tom

Edited by tpbiii

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tpbiii, Great reply, unfortunately many will never be able to experience the tone and sound of a true vintage SJ or J45 Gibson Flat Top built between 1942 and 1954 and will have to satisfy themselves with copies. Many will continue to chase down modern so called great sounding Gibsons during their lifetimes and never be satisfied. Yes, modern Gibson Flat Tops are great, and have their place among the best. My suggestion to those souls would be, "save your money and invest in a true vintage Gibson Flat Top to keep along side your modern Gibson beauty. Clarity, tone, volume and experience come along with age". Didn't mean to offend anyone with the truth.

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Hard to answer such a question without playin them

One mans dud is another mans dream sound.

 

 

I like Rioja and my wife likes Shiraz .....

 

 

Yep, we all hear things differently. ....My opinion doesn't necessarily make me right and someone else wrong.

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Except for the bling, the SJ and J-45 are essentially the same instrument. There will be differences between individual SJ's and J-45's, and differences between guitars of slightly different specs: adi vs sitka, cooked top vs uncooked, hide glue top bracing vs Titebond, etc. You can find J-45's with higher spec than a "standard" SJ (if there is such a thing).

 

My SJ is quite different from my J-45, but which is "better" is a difficult question to answer.

 

The only rational way to compare two instruments like this is to change the strings on both of them, and play them for a couple of days. Strings make all the difference in the world.

 

Exactly, there are differences in guitars from one guitar to the next. From bird to bird, D28 to D28, J45-J45. Some guitars same/different models sound very similar. Who the hell knows why or why it even matters? There's no absolutely "best" guitar for everyone. There's only what each of us consider the "best" guitar.

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