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Gibson CJ 165

Rick Garrett

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I have played a bunch of acoustic guitars over the last 30 years. High end Martins, Taylors, Lowden's and Gibsons. Recently I played and purchased what is most likely the best acoustic guitar I have ever heard. It's a 2007 model Gibson CJ165. Right off the wall it sounds just incredible both unplugged or plugged in. I don't know what makes this guitar so special but trust me it is. Maybe it's the AAA premium grade tone woods or the 1930's style bracing but this truly is one very special intrument. If you have a chance to try one out go for it. It doesn't have a tight sound to it like other new high end guitars. I cannot imagine how good this guitar will sound in time as she opens up. Just incredible.




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I don't know what strings you're playing, but after a couple changes I'm hooked on the elixer lights. This guitar sounds boomy even with lights and the picking is A+ with them. I bought mine online after alot of research and sent the first one back, but the second one I received is perfect. I as well have the rosewood model and whenever I pull it out on stage I the musicians in the crowd eyes nearly fall out of their heads, then they hear how big and crisp it sounds. I no doubt see why you fell in love with it. It is fantastic to look at and to play. I added a strap button to it, that was one hole I wasn't looking forward to making, but it made it one hell of a player. It's compact size is great for close quarters too. Good luck and keep it humidified!!

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  • 2 years later...

I know this is an old thread but I thought as a recent purchaser of a CJ 165 (Maple, Sunburst), I really need to comment. I found this guitar in a Gibson shop a month ago, asked a pro guitarist friend of mine to check it out, and bought is (for about US$1800 on sale).

I have a Taylor 810 CE and I think this knocks the socks off it!

I love the size, which doesn't look silly with my 6'2" frame, and the sound is just awesome! I have owned many great guitars in my life (including a 1962 Telecaster, and a 1972 Jumbo Guild).

I haven't made up my mind what strings to settle on yet. I use John Pearse Lights on my Taylor and really am addicted to them, so will probably go that way.

Any suggestions or comments would be appreciated.

Oh..and I will add a strap button!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I would think it is fine tho I haven't played this model.

I took mine to my friendly Luthier (has looked after all of my guitars for many years) who straighten the neck and installed a strap pin, adjusted the action for John Pearse Lights. It is now really fun to play. He said Gibsons are great as long as you get a good one but you may well get one with manufacturing faults, so it is wise to get someone who knows what they are doing to look at it or take it to someone after you buy it, and make sure the shop knows you are going to do this and if it is found to be faulty you will return it! If there is a fault with the neck install (most common problem), you have an expensive guitar worth zip!

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Hello again,


I found out that stores near me only have the maple version of the J-165 EC (they also have the maple CJ-165 EC), does anyone knows the difference between maple and rosewood for back and sides?


I also wonder what are the differences between the J-165 EC and CJ-165 EC models. I only know that the CJ's are previous to the J's and that they no longer appear on the gibson website, though some dealers are still selling them.


Thank you very much for any information you can give me, I'm just beginning in the guitar world,


Best regards.

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I have Rosewood Taylor 810 CE and a Maple Guild jumbo (1972). I have to say the maple Gibson sounds better than the Taylor. The Guild has a superb overall sound. My gut feeling is the "acoustic" sound is better with Maple vs Rosewood, tho amplified may be different. There are heaps of other factors (string etc.) which contribute to the overall sound quality.


My luthier friend thinks Maple is a good choice, but Gibson's QC isn't as good as it should be, and some Gibbys are way overpriced for what you get. The luthier who got me my Taylor said he would not contemplate a Gibson as a first choice because of their manufacturing faults. Both of them thought Taylor had the best QC in their top end guitars.


The 165 has a 24 3/4" neck, which makes for it much easier to play, especially for barre chords. (the 15" fret board radius helps too).


Rosewood is supposedly more dense than maple, and results in a stronger base (just how strong depends on strings etc. as well). A few of the forums remark on this.


You will probably find a Maple Gibson easier to find, and the price a little cheaper than the Rosewood, though they both have the same RRP here in Australia.


My Gibby just begs to be played, and it is an education to play it.


I would have no problems with a Maple 165CE.

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Thanks astir,


I think that the maple version should be alright. Now that I'm aware of possible quality issues with gibsons, I'm afraid I don't get what I want when buyng the J-165 EC. The problem is that I don't know any luthier, and additionally, I'll have to travel to another city (from Zargoza to Barcelona) to buy the guitar, since I prefer to prove it and play it before the purchase (although I don't play very much). May be I can buy it if I like it and then take it to an experienced guitarist to check it.


Nevertheless, I'm starting to think about other brands, such as Martin or Taylor. The thing is I really like the look of Gibson's Vintage Surnburst and though that such high end guitars were really hihg quality instruments without exception. I would like a small bodied guitar. I have a Yamaha dreadnought and it is a bit big for me. I really like the shape of jumbos, and that's why I was thinking of a small jumbo.


Thanks again for your comments, it is very rewarding and useful to find someone with experience to share ideas with,


Best regards.

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Hi again pessoaca,


Had a yarn with my Friend who is a professional blues guitarist and loves my 165, which he was doing magic things with at the time (which I can only aspire to). He and I both feel that if you bought a dud Gibby in Australia, and found out after purchase, that the shop would be obliged to replace it.


I don't know what warranties are like in Spain, but here the only obligation is for the first 12 months, but that is very well enforced. Good guitars are made to last forever, so any faults that haven't shown up in the first year probably would probably be very few. if any.


I don't want to put you off buying the Gibson, as a good model is superb and will hold it's value. I certainly am glad I bought mine, and am just lucky I have access to people who really know guitars to help me.


Re Martins, my luthier friend told me with current models 2 out of 4 are duds (high end ones too)! As I never considered a Martin, it wasn't an issue with me. Everyone in the business I have talked to tells me Taylor have the best QC, tho a good Gibson is probably a better instrument. In my case, owning both, I have to agree with therm.


If you can get to a dealer play the guitar before you buy it. Take a pick and a capo. First look at where the end of the fretboard joins the body, looking over the sound hole down the neck. Everything should look straight and even. across the end of the neck.


Look at the action, which should be about 4.0 mm or less at the top fret. Mine was 4 when I got it but with light gauge strings and neck adjustment is now about 2.


Play some open chords and check for string rattle. (indicating a bowed neck). Put a capo on the 5th and 9th fret and do the same.


Play something you know and like. it should be easy to play and sound good to you.


Check around all adjoining surfaces for finish.


Check the serial number and the one on the factory sign off list in the case (if it does not have a sign off list, don't buy it, and ask why).


The serial number should be stamped into the head of the neck, above the top two machine heads. If the S/Ns match, don't be alarmed if there is no label inside the sound hole (there isn't in my Gibby).


I hope you get the 165, you will only love it more with time.


Any other comments appreciated.



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  • 3 weeks later...

Interesting, I always wanted a CJ-165ec but all the ones i played sounded really tinny and brittle, big disappointment. (both plugged in and acoustically)


Next to the Songwriter Deluxe it was a joke and the SWD came home with me.


Maybe i just didnt come across the right one.

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