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Recent J45 Standard questions

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What is the general consensus on the standard J45s of the last couple years. I need a J45. Have had a pure voice and a TV loved the sound of both but ended selling them when times were tight or I was after the next tone ghost. As it stands nothing sounds as good to me as a good J45. Granted the TV and the pure voice had adi tops, but my main question other than the tops and some different trim isnt a J45 a J45. I’m very intrigued by the new Vintage J45s there seem to be some great reviews on these but they are a bit pricier than the standards. It seems like standards get lots of love and with some minor mods like removing the under saddle and getting a bone nut and saddle you can really get a huge improvement. Ultimately it is all about what I am willing to pay and the tone I like, but it’s hard to find anywhere that you can try several samples of standards and different variants of J45s in the same place. So basically tell me all about your standard , why is it great, and why did you choose it over a more expensive higher end model. Also what is the bridge string spacing these days, it seems like the market is trending toward Taylor with everything being thin and skinny, which hurts my long fingers. I want a neck I can feel and room in between the strings so I can fingerpick.

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Some are good, some are bad and some are great sounding. You just have to get out there and find one you like, or roll the dice if you order one online that has a good return policy, but know that many online vendors will not only charge you return shipping, but also charge you what it cost to send you the guitar if you decide to send it back simply because you don't like it and there's nothing wrong with it structurally.

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A couple years ago I was checking out guitars-just tire kicking and you know how it goes when you get into an acoustic room full of Martins, Taylors and-oh yeah-Gibsons.At that time I had an Epi DR500mce and was quite satisfied.Back in the acoustic room I had tried a slew of guitars and,as I was getting ready to head out noticed a used J-45('14) next to 2 newer ones.I took it down and strummed a bit and was impressed enough to A-B-C them and was amazed at how much better it felt and sounded.It turns out that the "used" one had been a demo and a rental!I had bad thoughts relative to where it had been and who had been smacking it around but it kept on winning out as far as the rest of the axes I had tried. Short story-I did some haggling and didn't like what they wanted so I left it.I returned to the store a few times after that and it was still there buckle rash and all.So I made a low-ball offer and they took it.It turned out to be a great buy and I've compared it to newer models and it still makes me feel darn good about selling the Epi and "moving up". The moral is that as so many others have stated, you've got to try a bunch out and be patient.There's a keeper out there if you look hard enough.

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I've had a few over the years and like you sold them off for other things but a few months ago bought a used '16 locally. Sounded like most good J-45s sound. Action was low and the guitar had no "issues".

I feel it plays and sounds just fine. I was never a fan of adi nor baked tops so a Standard was what I was looking for.

Swapped out the Grovers for Klusons and replaced the flubber guard with one from Taylor Mullins and I'm good to go. Haven't done anything with the internal pickup, doesn't bother me. Same for the nut and saddle.

In general I think most modern J-45s are consistent. As folks say, better to play before purchase but if that opportunity doesn't present itself I'd feel confident with just about any J-45 these days.

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Like Cameleye above, I’ve had many varieties of Bozeman J-45 (and other slope hogs) at one time or another. The best of the bunch that I’ve had is a 2001 (which was likely what would have been considered “standard” then. I like it because it is light and pretty airy. The current standard versions I find to be a little heavier, but many I’ve played have sounded great, even when a/b’d with a TV or a vintage.

 

You mention the neck size being important. You may want to use that as a primary consideration. I think my 2001 j-45 would be perfect for me but for it’s pretty shallow neck in first position. It’s comparable even to an early 60’s J-45 I had the opportunity to a/b it with last week.

 

Tonight I take delivery of a 2018 J-50 with a “‘59 neck profile.” I’m hoping it’s meatier and will be the J-45/50 porridge that’s just right.

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You mention the neck size being important. You may want to use that as a primary consideration. I think my 2001 j-45 would be perfect for me but for it’s pretty shallow neck in first position. It’s comparable even to an early 60’s J-45 I had the opportunity to a/b it with last week.

 

Tonight I take delivery of a 2018 J-50 with a “‘59 neck profile.” I’m hoping it’s meatier and will be the J-45/50 porridge that’s just right.

 

 

For reference, the Wildwood Guitars website gives the neck depth at the first and ninth frets on all their acoustic guitars. When you combine that with the nut width, it will at least give you a rough idea of the heft of individual necks. As an example, the neck on my "new" 1950 J-45 is .92" at the first fret, .97" at the ninth fret. The typical new J-45 Standard is .82 at the first, .89 at the ninth. The typical new J-45 Vintage is .88" and .94".

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For reference, the Wildwood Guitars website gives the neck depth at the first and ninth frets on all their acoustic guitars. When you combine that with the nut width, it will at least give you a rough idea of the heft of individual necks. As an example, the neck on my "new" 1950 J-45 is .92" at the first fret, .97" at the ninth fret. The typical new J-45 Standard is .82 at the first, .89 at the ninth. The typical new J-45 Vintage is .88" and .94".

 

Thanks, that’s helpful info. I’m was told that the neck on my incoming new ‘59 J-50 is

 

1st fret = .90

10th fret = 1.01

 

We’ll see.

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Thanks, that’s helpful info. I’m was told that the neck on my incoming new ‘59 J-50 is

 

1st fret = .90

10th fret = 1.01

 

We’ll see.

 

 

For reference, the depth at the 10th fret on my 1950 is 1.02". Ninth fret is where most check this, just because there's a fret marker there.

 

Late 40's/early 50's Gibsons typically have very round necks, so that coupled with the depth, they're a nice handful for many folks.

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I found my 2018 J-45 at a local Guitar Center in September last year. I had been looking for a couple months and played several that didn't do it for me. This one sounded exactly the way I thought a good J-45 should. It had some light play marks in front of the pickguard but, compared to a Southern Jumbo and a used AJ I played along with it, this one sounded the best to me. It was marked down pretty well too, so I bought it. Been happy with it since it came home with me. The 1.725" nut width is about as thin as I'd comfortably go.

Edited by TomPhx
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I've owned a couple of Standards/Modern Classics and loved them. At one point we had three in the band I was in, and all were subtly different but lovely.

 

I worked as guitar tech for Billy Bragg for several years and he plays a Standard which is superb-it was a little tight when he bought it but loosened up fantastically.

 

Personally I've never got on with Adi tops, they sound good but I don't gel with the slightly tight, quick dynamic response.

 

A Sitka top on a J45 is warmer and more chocolatey to my ears, just how a J45 should be. A Standard J45 is one of very few Gibsons I would buy new, sight unseen. They tend to be the most consistently tonally excellent of the big G's acoustic line, in my experience.

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I've owned a couple of Standards/Modern Classics and loved them. At one point we had three in the band I was in, and all were subtly different but lovely.

 

I worked as guitar tech for Billy Bragg for several years and he plays a Standard which is superb-it was a little tight when he bought it but loosened up fantastically.

 

Personally I've never got on with Adi tops, they sound good but I don't gel with the slightly tight, quick dynamic response.

 

A Sitka top on a J45 is warmer and more chocolatey to my ears, just how a J45 should be. A Standard J45 is one of very few Gibsons I would buy new, sight unseen. They tend to be the most consistently tonally excellent of the big G's acoustic line, in my experience.

 

Did you work for Billy Bragg when he did the Tiny Desk concert when he was playing the J45 Standard?

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Lots of great info and stories. Looks like a Standard would suit me fine. Although I would like to sit in a room full of Gibson’s and hopefully there would be a new Vintage to compare and contrast with and pick the one I liked best. Gonna be a couple months before the cash is there, but it’s not too early to start window shopping.

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I lucked out when I bought my brand new J-45 standard. I could not find one anywhere near here and finally located one by calling around and it was at a Guitar Center five hours away. I actually made a deal on the phone, well, non-binding, just asked him to hold it and if I like it, I would buy it. I did buy it and then I went and 'tested' it against a couple of other Gibsons at another place. I figured if the j-45 didn't hold up, I could take it back. It sounded best, so, I was good to go. Over time, it's shown me it's a real nice J-45.

 

I recently ordered an Ebony J-45 (last guitar in my sig) because I always wanted a black/white guitar, lol. I took a chance and wow, I am blown away. These days, I much prefer to see before buying but I made an exception. This is among my top guitars. I just love it! They were on 'close-out' and I saw them online at more than one store.

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I have a 2012 ‘68 reissue 45 and a ‘91 Banner reissue SJ. Same woods, essentially same construction and shape but totally different sounding. To me I like trying to find the 45s that look and sound vintage but with out the vintage issues or price. If that makes any sense haha.

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I have a 2012 ‘68 reissue 45 and a ‘91 Banner reissue SJ. Same woods, essentially same construction and shape but totally different sounding. To me I like trying to find the 45s that look and sound vintage but with out the vintage issues or price. If that makes any sense haha.

That sounds like exactly what I’m after!

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That sounds like exactly what I’m after!

 

Yea I always wanted and loved vintage but prices and issues kept me away. But I like vintage style tuners, no pickups and all that. They are out there. Look for the Gibson historic j45s. I think that’s what they were called. They were the true vintage before TV I believe, someone can correct me. Look up rainbow guitars in Arizona. That’s where I bought my ‘68 reissue. They had some of the wildest 45s I’ve seen. Gold top ones and all that haha.

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Did you work for Billy Bragg when he did the Tiny Desk concert when he was playing the J45 Standard?

 

Not when he did the solo TDC in 2013, but I was when be did it again with Joe Henry in 2016 around the Shine A Light LP. Comparing the two is a great way to hear how much the J45 came on during the first three years he owned it.

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Yea I always wanted and loved vintage but prices and issues kept me away. But I like vintage style tuners, no pickups and all that. They are out there. Look for the Gibson historic j45s. I think that’s what they were called. They were the true vintage before TV I believe, someone can correct me. Look up rainbow guitars in Arizona. That’s where I bought my ‘68 reissue. They had some of the wildest 45s I’ve seen. Gold top ones and all that haha.

 

My understanding is 670 J-45 Historic Collection guitars were made for Guitar Center c.2005-2006. They were essentially the standard J-45 with Sitka spruce top, EIRW bridge and fingerboard, Tusq nut and saddle, Gotoh Kluson-clone tuners, Fishman Matrix Natural pickup, 20-fret fingerboard that (alas!) covers part of the rosette, which in turn is (along with the soundhole) closer to the neck because of Ren Ferguson's change of the bracing angle to 98 from 103 degrees or so, and a badly-placed pickguard that covers another quarter of the rosette. Mine has a nut width that is 1.704-in according to my Harbor Freight digital calipers. They weren't a vintage recreation so much as being a sort of vintage-esque, old-ish, tradition-ortiented Gibson that referenced the past with subtle features and touches that reflect decades of refinement.

 

I think it was 2008 when Gibson split the J-45 into the Modern Classic and the True Vintage variants. The Modern Classic later evolved into the Standard, with more of an emphasis on being a good playing, working guitar with a nod towards the past, while the True Vintage (which was neither) raided the past for some aesthetic choices and tonewood selection and married them to a bracing pattern that had no historical connection to the model to create a fancier, more expensive guitar that had the appropriate buzzwords attached. I think the TV is also the start of this century's use of Adirondack red spruce by Gibson, something later expanded to things like the Legends guitars. It gets dizzying and confusing.

 

Heresy, but I'll say it. The overwhelming majority of the Gibson J-45s we grew up listening to either live or recorded were Sitka-topped postwar guitars with block logos. The Standard/Modern Classic/Historic Collection/Early J-45 and their ilk are much closer to producing the sound most of us heard growing up.

 

If you run up on a good price on a Historic Collection and you like it, grab it. I've been keeping tabs on them for years, and currently they sell used for a bit more than I paid for mine new in 2007.

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Lots of great info and stories. Looks like a Standard would suit me fine. Although I would like to sit in a room full of Gibson’s and hopefully there would be a new Vintage to compare and contrast with and pick the one I liked best. Gonna be a couple months before the cash is there, but it’s not too early to start window shopping.

 

Window shopping is a great time. The problem with sitting in a room full of Gibsons is staying focused on the mission. :D Have fun searching for your J45.

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My understanding is 670 J-45 Historic Collection guitars were made for Guitar Center c.2005-2006. They were essentially the standard J-45 with Sitka spruce top, EIRW bridge and fingerboard, Tusq nut and saddle, Gotoh Kluson-clone tuners, Fishman Matrix Natural pickup, 20-fret fingerboard that (alas!) covers part of the rosette, which in turn is (along with the soundhole) closer to the neck because of Ren Ferguson's change of the bracing angle to 98 from 103 degrees or so, and a badly-placed pickguard that covers another quarter of the rosette. Mine has a nut width that is 1.704-in according to my Harbor Freight digital calipers. They weren't a vintage recreation so much as being a sort of vintage-esque, old-ish, tradition-ortiented Gibson that referenced the past with subtle features and touches that reflect decades of refinement.

 

I think it was 2008 when Gibson split the J-45 into the Modern Classic and the True Vintage variants. The Modern Classic later evolved into the Standard, with more of an emphasis on being a good playing, working guitar with a nod towards the past, while the True Vintage (which was neither) raided the past for some aesthetic choices and tonewood selection and married them to a bracing pattern that had no historical connection to the model to create a fancier, more expensive guitar that had the appropriate buzzwords attached. I think the TV is also the start of this century's use of Adirondack red spruce by Gibson, something later expanded to things like the Legends guitars. It gets dizzying and confusing.

 

Heresy, but I'll say it. The overwhelming majority of the Gibson J-45s we grew up listening to either live or recorded were Sitka-topped postwar guitars with block logos. The Standard/Modern Classic/Historic Collection/Early J-45 and their ilk are much closer to producing the sound most of us heard growing up.

 

If you run up on a good price on a Historic Collection and you like it, grab it. I've been keeping tabs on them for years, and currently they sell used for a bit more than I paid for mine new in 2007.

 

Thank you for those notes! I have always thought the historics were a precursor to the TV but I guess it’s another variation. I was once looking at a historic and the prices seemed to be under the 2k range which I think is great for any 45 really. But I agree with you that the majority of popular music made using a Gibson was a late 50s or 60s era acoustic. Maybe Dylan is the exception...

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I agree with you that the majority of popular music made using a Gibson was a late 50s or 60s era acoustic. Maybe Dylan is the exception...

 

Uh, how about Woody Guthrie (banner SJ, L-OO)? And Buddy Holly (banner J-45)? I suspect there are plenty of other examples, as well.

 

Just because music was made in a specific period doesn't mean the guitar that made it was necessarily from the same period.

Edited by j45nick

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Uh, how about Woody Guthrie (banner SJ, L-OO)? And Buddy Holly (banner J-45)? I suspect there are plenty of other examples, as well.

 

Just because music was made in a specific period doesn't mean the guitar that made it was necessarily from the same period.

 

As I was typing I thought about woody and especially his sj. I guess one could say more “modern” popular music. 1960s onward. Just a general statement however and of course there will be notable exceptions.

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As I was typing I thought about woody and especially his sj. I guess one could say more “modern” popular music. 1960s onward. Just a general statement however and of course there will be notable exceptions.

 

 

Of course. I was just pulling your leg.

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Of course. I was just pulling your leg.

 

Haha it’s all good my friend. And not to get off topic too much but it does make you think about how for a certain period of time the newer “standard” was what we all view as vintage now. Will the standards of today be viewed like this in 50 years?

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Haha it’s all good my friend. And not to get off topic too much but it does make you think about how for a certain period of time the newer “standard” was what we all view as vintage now. Will the standards of today be viewed like this in 50 years?

 

 

That's a good question, indeed. Imagine some guys 50 years from now trying to sort out the meaning of the differences in J-45 labels or features on today's J-45 models.

 

I have two 1948-1950 J-45's. The only question is whether they are 1948, 1949, or 1950 J-45's. If we had access to the Gibson shipping ledger, we might know for sure. It doesn't really matter, since a J-45 was just a J-45 in those days.

 

Those guitars are no more than eight years away from the very first J-45, no matter which year they were built. Looking back at the first J-45 from 1950 was like looking "back" at a 2011 model today. I bet a lot of people, if they thought about it at all at the time, would rather have had a new 1950 J-45 than one of those crap guitars built during the war using whatever scraps of wood Gibson had lying around. Not to mention the fact that there were few skilled workers left in Kalamazoo, and they weren't supposed to be building guitars.

 

How our perspective changes over time!

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