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Dilettante

2018 Advanced Jumbo or 2018 Hummingbird

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Hello all,

 

Long time lurker, first time poster. The info I’ve gained from this forum has been invaluable in the past; but I am in a bit of a decision-making dilemma and was hoping for feedback/advice/opinion. 
 

I recently purchased a 2018 Advanced Jumbo RI and a 2018 Hummingbird from the same dealer. He was nice enough to tell me to try both and return one. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to keep both. Therein lies my dilemma! I love them both, they’re just different.
 

The AJ is powerful, loud,  raw and has endless sustain. It also finger picks well. It is a beautiful vintage sunburst. I like the look of it better than the Bird. 
 

The Bird is more mellow, softer, but its voice is richer and more enchanting (to me). It is short scale so a little easier to play. The Bird also has a LL Baggs VtC pickup which I don’t see myself using. It is colored in a heritage cherry burst which isn’t my favorite. 
 

By way of background, I am no pro or performer. I will not quit my day job LoL. I just jam (and record) in my studio with some buddies, one of which is a very light handed drummer. A lot of times I will simply play and sing to/with my children. I play lots of Beatles, Johnny Cash, CCR, John Denver, Neil Young, Stones, Zeppelin, Simon and Garfunkel and some modern rock. 
 

Also by way of background, I have (and still love) a 2015 Martin D18 (pictured) which has been my go-to acoustic since 2015. I recently got the itch for a Gibson sounding acoustic and therefore the purchase of the AJ and Bird. I also have a Fender Strat and a Godin 5th Avenue arch top (both of those are not pictured). 


So...I love both the AJ and the Bird for different reasons listed above. I cannot decide which to keep, and unfortunately cannot keep both. I know that the guitar has to speak to me, but the problem is that they both do! Which would you keep?
 

Thanks in advance  

 

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I’ve owned both. And I’ve owned more Birds than you can shake a stick at. I keep trying to come back to them... heck I can’t explain so I’ll stop there.

 

logically speaking you already have a hog back and sides dread with a spruce top. The punchy nasally rosewood AJ is definitely a different tone that will complement your D-18. I’m itching to advise that direction.

 

ps resale of AJs is slower than Birds. That’s a negative for the AJ.

Edited by Salfromchatham

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From the type of music that you list, it seems to me the Hummingbird is a better fit.  But Sal has a good point, the AJ would give you something different to play when you feel like it.  Your post doesn't say where you are, but in the US, there are always plenty of AJs for sale on Reverb for very good prices, you can always change your mind and pick one up some other time.  

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32 minutes ago, fortyearspickn said:

 

More sage than  Take the cannoli, leave the gun." 

It's not quite as stark a choice, but I agree with the sentiment. Why waste cannoli?

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Having owned both, I sold the AJ which was indeed great!...LOUD too! But LOUD is not always the best fit especially for a singer who likes to sing and be heard while playing, particularly when playing unplugged.  I preferred the delicious subtle tone of the bird. Your words were "softer, richer, more enchanting" on the Hummingbird. I found that to be the deciding point for me. So I sold the AJ, and kept the precious enchanting Hummingbird. There was simply no contest for me. The Hummingbird seemed to play obediently "behind my voice." The AJ seemed to play more aggressively "in front of my voice" unless I continually maintained control of my strike attack. Evaluate what is most important to your playing style and singing along with it, and choose the one that works best for you. A/B them both back to back on any song you love, and see which guitar allows your voice to shine through the most effortlessly if you sing along a lot. If you do not sing, the AJ and its wonderful roar may be most gratifying. If your point of playing is to deliver lyrics and message, the Hummingbird is probably best. Both are wonderful guitars. But the best one for you, is the one that fits your style effortlessly for what you do with it. Good luck. Its a hard decision. I loved my AJ dearly, but it just did not fit the ticket for my playing style. 

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I've had a slew of J45's, a couple J200's and an AJ. Currently all I own is a D-18, and it's my favorite acoustic. Funny thing about D-18's, they're kind of "generic" sounding, but at the same time have no shortcomings or negatives that all the other guitars I mentioned have had in one way or another. The D-18 does everything those others guitar do all rolled up into one guitar. I play everything from old school country, singer/songwriter stuff, to picking fiddle tunes and going to the occasional Bluegrass jam, and the D-18 does it all.

With all that said, I don't really thing you could go wrong with keeping either the AJ or HB. AJ's are monsters, they roar and are LOUD, and they also do really well when fingerpicked, but when using a pick you have to be really aware of your attack and how you play because these are loud guitars. The AJ was a bit much for me when singing and playing at the same time because the AJ ca be a bit overpowering. Not a super complex sound, and ended up not being my first choice when I was also singing.. Id say if you go to a lot of jams or play Bluegrass I'd lean more toward the AJ, but OP doesn't seem to play that type of music, so in this case I'd probably be more inclined to keep the HB. He already has a D-18, so you have the regular-scale, dreadnought thing covered. The HB is a bit mellower, sweeter and shorter scale, so it seems like it would offer a little more variety. 

The AJ and D18 means you'd have two regular-scale, powerful dreads.

The HB and D-18 would mean you had one regular scale and one short scale guitar and one has more power while the other is a little sweeter. More variety.

Then, to make it even more complicated, someone suggested a J45. I'd still take the HB in this situation if my other guitar was a D18. Like I said in the beginning of this reply, I've had a slew of J45's and currently have a D18. Speaks for itself right there. 

Edited by sbpark

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It wouldn't be a difficult choice for me because the 'mellow' HB feature isn't my favorite response from a dread. You can always get all the mellow you can handle from any of the current 15 series Martins at a fraction of HB price. I'd stick with the rosewood as a nice companion for your D-18 with a good, albeit different, sound and response. 

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How long do you have to make the decision? I would take as long as you can to make the call. It's a tough decision. I recently had a D18 Golden Era, an AJ (albeit a Maple one) and a Hummingbird. I had to part with one as I needed the money for family stuff (I have seven kids!) and ultimately the Hummingbird was the one that went. Not because it wasn't great, but because for a Mahogany square shoulder dread I just felt the D18GE did everything I needed. The Hummingbird (a 1990, with Brazilian fretboard and bridge) was gorgeous, and I've owned four which I have enjoyed very much, but when pushed it was the AJ that stayed out of the two Gibsons. It's big, loud, a little brash but so versatile and useful. 

When we were cutting my new album, my producer and I kept coming back to the AJ for the chop and cut that it offered and how well it went down to tape. A big, 3-D sound which just couldn't be argued with. Huge dynamic range, too.

I think, ultimately, you need to listen with your ears, hands and heart. What feels better? What responds best? What captures your heart and inspires you? What do you see yourself playing when you're old and grey?

  • Like 1

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I've owned several Hummingbirds, including the Vintage model, I've only had one AJ. The Hummers are gone, as is the AJ. The only one I wish I had back is the AJ.

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AJ all the way! This coming from a guy who owns one of each. JMHO, that cherry finish on the Bird takes a bit of getting used to. My Bird has the Honeyburst finish, which looks more like a guitar whose finish has aged and mellowed over time.

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Can only add that the choice is too personal for others to chime in with any real weight.  See it as a challenge for your inner self.

And welcome aBoard.
 

On 12/16/2019 at 5:06 AM, EuroAussie said:

The question that comes to my mind, why have you  not connsidered a J-45 ?  It could be the right middle ground between the two.

Solomon said that. 
 

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On 12/17/2019 at 4:49 AM, Old Cowboy said:

It wouldn't be a difficult choice for me because the 'mellow' HB feature isn't my favorite response from a dread. 

Hey Cowboy - but don't you own an old Bird. . 

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If the bird was the same finish as the AJ, which would you like better?  I’m usually swayed by the looks of a guitar in addition to the sound.  
 

maybe your dealer could order a bird with a different finish???

 

rb

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Hello all, just wanted to update everybody. I decided to keep the Hummingbird (despite the bright heritage cherry color). I found that its lush mellowness complemented by D18 better than the AJ. Wish I could’ve afforded both, but oh well... Thanks to everybody for all your advice and feedback, much appreciated!

 

Dil

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3 hours ago, Dilettante said:

Wish I could’ve afforded both, but oh well... 

 

I don't think there's an 'oh well' about it, you just landed a sweet 'bird - enjoy!

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Very good move. That red bird is stunning beyond words. The color alone is enough to keep it, not to mention the velvet sweet sound that only a Hummingbird can produce. I have one of the  brown Hummingbirds. Best playing and sounding guitar I ever own in my entire life, and I've owned fourty guitars.  But I hate the dull brown washed out color on mine. I will be hunting for a red bird when I can find a good used one. Because to me a Hummingbird is not a Hummingbird unless it has the exquisite color yours has. It's how they were born in the 60's. 

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I'm glad you reached a resolution on this...I got the feeling you were more in love with the Bird than the AJ from the off. 

I have both, but in different formats...a Maple AJ and a Hummingbird 12 string. Both are gorgeous, stunning instruments that I would hate to be without, and I appreciate how difficult it would have been to make that call. I think you'll be very happy indeed with the Bird!

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