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The Waiting....


thegreatgumbino
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...is the hardest part.

I've been searching for a maple SJ for the last month and half or so.  Played eight total (six SJ200's & two J150's) in that time.  One brand new SJ200 at GC was stellar (but out of my price range), the rest were good to great, sans one dud.  I hoped to purchase something I could get my hands on first, but pulled the trigger last Thursday on a 2018 SJ200 natural from Golden Age Fretted Instruments.  

I was hesitant to purchase without playing it first, but hope that going through a reputable dealer will eliminate some guesswork and potential problems.  I spoke with John, and he said everyone in the shop agrees it's a good one.  Hoping that's the case, as he made me a good deal on it.  Scheduled to deliver this Thursday, and then it has to acclimate for a day or two before I can try it out.  

I'm interested to check out the metal Grover Keystones.  I prefer the aesthetics of the Grover 135 or Gotoh Vintage keystones, so if it's a keeper, I may swap them out.  I find it interesting it has an uncompensated saddle, as I thought all recent SJ200's had them.  John assured me the neck angle is good and it wasn't swapped to fix an issue.

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That one is a looker.    Hope it works out for you.

I  remain unconvinced  though that the differences we perceive on our initial meeting with a Gibson are not as much a matter  of structure but of its current state in the store.  The days when a part was considered finished when it looked "close enough" are long-gone.   Not only will strings and such come into play but any guitar is going to need some time to shake the cobwebs off and wake up.   It takes a good playing to loosen up the grain which will settle right back in to its same old used to be after it goes back on the shelf. .  One of things I always do is give the guitar a good whack on the side with my thumb and see how much sound comes out of it and how far the vibration  travels through my chest down to my leg..    

But I would be far less hesitant to buy a new guitar sight unseen than nd older instrument especially if the place I scored it from has a liberal return policy.  . Because I only buy older instruments,  I have  only played the Gibson waiting game twice and one of those times was waiting on my  repair guy to make an end to fixing up my 1942 J50.  The other time was  my L1 which I bought from a friend in another state.  With this one the waiting game was more about the haggling over price  until we reached that point we knew we had a deal since neither of us was overjoyed with it.,

Regarding tuners, my wife's 1960 J200 has Grover Rotomatics.   While not a big fan of these on Gibsons I can live with them on the J200.  Plus it ain't my guitar, it his hers.  My favorite tuners on any SJ/J200, however,  were those on a certain 1958 model.   Apparently in a waste not want not frame of mind, Gibson slapped a set of let over Epiphone Kluson Sealfast tuners on the guitar, going as far as to do some etching to convert the Epi  Epsilon to a "G".   Problem is that although Epiphone is using repros on their Masterbilt Century line,  they are not available to the pubic.  And originals cost a small fortune.

Edited by zombywoof
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20 hours ago, Jim Wilson said:

There's nothing to worry about when you buy from a reputable dealer who allows you to return the guitar if it doesn't suit you.  I've bought two that way and have been lucky both times...but felt good, knowing I could have returned them if I wasn't satisfied.  Good luck!

 

Agreed!  Still hoping it will be staying here for a long while.

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4 hours ago, 62burst said:

maybe you just didn’t want a sunburst?

Congrats on the big maple... hopefully the great deal you got will allow you to avoid being part of the new castrati via the household CFO.

 

Not the case.  PM sent.  Luckily, my wife agreed after a brief conversation.  I had balanced the checkbook last week and knew what her spending had been. 😎

 

3 hours ago, Rev Roy said:

That’s a beauty! Congrats!

 

Thanks.

3 hours ago, billroy fineman said:

Congrats, very nice looking guitar - bet there's some magic in there!

 

Hoping for the same.

3 hours ago, zombywoof said:

That one is a looker.    Hope it works out for you.

I  remain unconvinced  though that the differences we perceive on our initial meeting with a Gibson are not as much a matter  of structure but of its current state in the store.  The days when a part was considered finished when it looked "close enough" are long-gone.   Not only will strings and such come into play but any guitar is going to need some time to shake the cobwebs off and wake up.   It takes a good playing to loosen up the grain which will settle right back in to its same old used to be after it goes back on the shelf. .  One of things I always do is give the guitar a good whack on the side with my thumb and see how much sound comes out of it and how far the vibration  travels through my chest down to my leg..    

But I would be far less hesitant to buy a new guitar sight unseen than nd older instrument especially if the place I scored it from has a liberal return policy.  . Because I only buy older instruments,  I have  only played the Gibson waiting game twice and one of those times was waiting on my  repair guy to make an end to fixing up my 1942 J50.  The other time was  my L1 which I bought from a friend in another state.  With this one the waiting game was more about the haggling over price  until we reached that point we knew we had a deal since neither of us was overjoyed with it.,

Regarding tuners, my wife's 1960 J200 has Grover Rotomatics.   While not a big fan of these on Gibsons I can live with them on the J200.  Plus it ain't my guitar, it his hers.  My favorite tuners on any SJ/J200, however,  were those on a certain 1958 model.   Apparently in a waste not want not frame of mind, Gibson slapped a set of let over Epiphone Kluson Sealfast tuners on the guitar, going as far as to do some etching to convert the Epi  Epsilon to a "G".   Problem is that although Epiphone is using repros on their Masterbilt Century line,  they are not available to the pubic.  And originals cost a small fortune.

 

There is a lot truth in your post.  I just love the look of the white/green keystones on a SJ200.  They really do it for me.

Edited by thegreatgumbino
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Opened the guitar up this morning and it's in great shape and sounds wonderful.  Very little play wear.  The finish around the sound hole on the bass side is a little sloppy.  The strings feel like they might be .11's.  Looking forward to trying out some Martin Retro .12s on it.   The neck needs a little relief.

The only issue I'm struggling with right now is the saddle height, but maybe I'm being overly paranoid.  Great break angle, but check out the pics of this thing.  I don't think I've ever seen a saddle this tall, though I'm relatively new to SJ's.  Since the saddle has been swapped (not compensated) it makes me wonder if they adjusted the action at the nut too low for their liking and tried to fix it by putting a taller saddle?  Sighting from the headstock down the neck, the fretboard is almost perfectly aligned with the top of the bridge.  

 

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Try the straight edge test. With some sort of ruler long enough to lay down the fretboard to the bridge. If it is a overset neck, the straight edge might just shoot above the bridge, rather than touching it at it’s top.

As long as the saddle holds up, it’s better than an underset condition.

Try those 12’s on there, then see if you need to adjust the amount of relief.

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22 minutes ago, 62burst said:

Try the straight edge test. With some sort of ruler long enough to lay down the fretboard to the bridge. If it is a overset neck, the straight edge might just shoot above the bridge, rather than touching it at it’s top.

As long as the saddle holds up, it’s better than an underset condition.

Try those 12’s on there, then see if you need to adjust the amount of relief.

 

This is the longest straight edge I have that isn't too long to fit between the saddle and nut.  It's centered on the fretboard.

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That neck is probably a bit over-set, but the straightedge really needs to be full-length to properly evaluate. The shorter straight edge shows the impact of the amount of neck relief  on the height of the straight edge at the saddle, whereas a longer straightedge bridges the relief.

That is a tall saddle, just about as tall as the one on my L-OO Legend. In one photo, it looks like it might tilt forward a bit, as do the pins

You might loosen the strings to pull out the saddle and make sure it is sitting flat, full depth, and tightly  in the saddle slot. You don't want any slop in the fit with a saddle that tall, as the strings are exerting a lot of leverage on the saddle and bridge.

Check that the ball ends of the strings are properly seated on the bridgeplate at the same time.

As 62burst says, however, an overset neck is better than underset.

 

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1 hour ago, j45nick said:

That neck is probably a bit over-set, but the straightedge really needs to be full-length to properly evaluate. The shorter straight edge shows the impact of the amount of neck relief  on the height of the straight edge at the saddle, whereas a longer straightedge bridges the relief.

That is a tall saddle, just about as tall as the one on my L-OO Legend. In one photo, it looks like it might tilt forward a bit, as do the pins

You might loosen the strings to pull out the saddle and make sure it is sitting flat, full depth, and tightly  in the saddle slot. You don't want any slop in the fit with a saddle that tall, as the strings are exerting a lot of leverage on the saddle and bridge.

Check that the ball ends of the strings are properly seated on the bridgeplate at the same time.

As 62burst says, however, an overset neck is better than underset.

 

 

Alright, modified a straight edge to fit.  Reseated the saddle, ball ends and pins.  It definitely looks as though the saddle is tilting forward under the bass strings.  I hear you guys about it being better to have and overset than underset neck.  However, with that tall saddle and the tilt, I worry that the bridge may shear at some point.  What would you guys do?  Keep it or return it?

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The real questions are: how does it play, and how does it sound?

The action at the 12th is set exactly at the nominal factory recommendations. 

The high saddle doesn't bother me. The saddle has a small forward lean, which is not unusual, especially with a tall saddle.  

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11 minutes ago, duluthdan said:

Return it. That angle and saddle are way off.  I fear you’d be fighting a complex battle to get that action right. 

 

I have a 3 day return window, thus all my questions.

 

7 minutes ago, j45nick said:

The real questions are: how does it play, and how does it sound?

The action at the 12th is set exactly at the nominal factory recommendations. 

The high saddle doesn't bother me. The saddle has a small forward lean, which is not unusual, especially with a tall saddle.  

 

It plays and sounds great.  My concern is the tall saddle is going to nag at me in the long run. 

 

4 minutes ago, bobouz said:

Could the top be a bit sunken & the tall saddle is compensating for it?

 

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OK, I took it to the local authorized Gibson repair shop and had it checked out.  They recommended I contact Gibson Montana and ask some questions.  I spoke with Ben Broyles and sent him all the pics.  Everything checks out to Gibson specs.  Ben said the saddle was swapped to bone at the factory because the slot was too wide for the TUSQ saddle.  However, they sanded the bone saddle too much, which created the slight lean.  He's sending me a new bone saddle so it can be fit properly.  Again, Gibson customer service scores a win and further strengthened my brand loyalty.  The tone is excellent and it's in great shape.  The guitar is staying.   Thanks all for their insight.

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That makes all the sense in the world. The saddle isn't a tight enough fit in the slot. No big deal. that saddle looks wide enough that it can be compensated if you have any intonation issues.

They will probably send you a saddle that is slightly wider than the slot, so that the authorized shop can refine it for a tight fit. 

You should decide on the strings you want, and then have the shop adjust the relief and action to suit by adjusting the truss rod and the height of the saddle.

Kudos to Gibson on this. 

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