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Huley

Advice Needed: Buying a new Guitar

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I know variations of this exact question have been asked a million times and that there is no “right” answer, but I need some help. I’m in the market for a new Gibson and live in a small town where I am unable to try high-end guitars. I’m strictly a strummer (no picking ever) and I play alternative rock music with mostly open chords. 

I was originally leaning toward the J-45, but I’ve seen many people say it’s a better tool for flat pickers. So, then I looked at the Bird thinking it may fit my play style better, but opinions seems fairly uneven. I can’t afford a SJ-200, so I looked at the J-185... and the southern jumbo... and the advanced jumbo... I’ve essentially made ZERO progress. 

Let’s remove cost from the conversation. If you were in my shoes, which path would you take? Which Gibson is the best match for a strumming singer-songwriter who plays mostly in small clubs and coffee houses?

Thank you!!

Edited by Huley

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You can't go wrong with a J45. There are numerous versions on the market, new and used. A late model used one is like to be a very good value, whether you go for a standard or one of the more expensive variants, which will be determined by your budget.

Edited by j45nick
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How badly do you want to make the right decision? What's it worth to you? Since you're removing cost from the conversation, the return policy of Guitar Center would most likely allow you to purchase both a used J-45 and a used Hummingbird, put them on the same strings for a good month, and allow you time to decide for yourself. But as each guitar is an individual, whose set up determines such a big part of how the guitar plays & sounds, the same test might give different results, depending on that, or even strings, for that matter. You can't go wrong with either guitar.

In having multiple iterations of both the J-45 and the Hummingbird, the J-45 will most likely give better percussive sounds, but the HBird will have a bit deeper set of lungs, in terms of low end resonance. They're close, though. Close enough that whichever you feel most comfortable with should get the nod.

Welcome to the forum.

ps- and that decision might be different two years from now.

 

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Start of with a affordable J45. As everyone here has said.  Its a good start and could lead you in the future to upgrade if you want.  

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4 hours ago, Huley said:

 

Let’s remove cost from the conversation. If you were in my shoes, which path would you take? Which Gibson is the best match for a strumming singer-songwriter who plays mostly in small clubs and coffee houses?

 

 

Take a bus, train, plane, walk, bike, hitch....find the nearest guitar shop with a few of these and get there to look/try a few.

You could luck it with one sent to you but it is easier and probably fairer to everyone involved to try them in person at a shop. A few minutes playing a guitar and I know exactly what I think of it...next..next.......next. I went to a shop to try 'A' but came home empty handed and went back another time for 'Z'! (And another time still for the 'Y') 😁

 

BluesKing777.

 

 

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Thank you guys very much! I really appreciate all your expert opinions, and I’m very excited to pick out my next guitar. 

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Sounds like a good excuse for a road trip to me.  But I agree a J45/50 is as good a place to start as any.  Everything you need ad nothing you do not.  My only advice would be to start off with one with a mahogany body.   While it s their company ad they can call their guitars whatever they want, somehow, anything other than mahogany is not a J45.

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I'm on the J4 bandwagon.  I do believe getting to play one first is best, but if that's not realistic I would order from a reputable dealer online w/ a good return policy.  Wildwood guitars out of Colorado and Fullers out of Texas are two dealers I'd look at.

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You see 10x more J45s than H'Birds in the application you described. Probably it's the most frequently seen model of all.  I'd guess for 3 reasons: 1) less expensive than H'Birds - with the corollary that road rash is less of a heartbreak;  2) different tone but undeniably as 'good'; and less of that pretentious bling (ie. it's 'the workhorse').  Southern Jumbo is basically a J45 with a little bling.  If I were me, and price were not a consideration, I'd go with an H'bird - for the reasons 62Burst noted above. 

Welcome Aboard and Good Luck.  Keep us posted. Many here live vicariously. 

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You guys have all been freakin' awesome, and more helpful than you know! I've found a couple of great looking options that are within my budget, so at least my selection pool has been significantly narrowed down. 😁

Option 1: 2016 J-45 Vintage (I absolutely LOVE the thermally aged spruce top!)

Option 2: 1999 Hummingbird 60's Reissue 

Both guitars are used, but in excellent condition, and are both under $2,500. At least it will be a fun way to go into debt, right? Ha!

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I bought a J-45 True Vintage and love the crap out it. Think I've had for 10 years and no regrets on spending the extra cash for it.

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32 minutes ago, Huley said:

You guys have all been freakin' awesome, and more helpful than you know! I've found a couple of great looking options that are within my budget, so at least my selection pool has been significantly narrowed down. 😁

Option 1: 2016 J-45 Vintage (I absolutely LOVE the thermally aged spruce top!)

Option 2: 1999 Hummingbird 60's Reissue 

Both guitars are used, but in excellent condition, and are both under $2,500. At least it will be a fun way to go into debt, right? Ha!

 

I would buy the 2016 J-45 Vintage in a heartbeat at that price. I'm prejudiced towards Gibson mahogany slope J's--I have two 1950 J-45's plus an SJ--because of their versatility. 

If you can play them, make the choice after that. If you can't, I'd go for the J-45, but that's a personal preference. Others here view things differently.

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The 60's reissue 'bird probably has an adjustable saddle. Some people like that, but others don't.

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21 minutes ago, j45nick said:

The 60's reissue 'bird probably has an adjustable saddle. Some people like that, but others don't.

Yeah, that's what I was wondering. . . definitely an acquired taste, the adjustable ceramic saddle Hummingbird would be the one to have an interest in after you've had a conventionally saddled 'Bird. 

That would be a great price on the J-45 Vintage, and as you've mentioned singer-songwriterly-ness in your OP, the '45 would be a perfect match, something most any mahogany Gibson would be well suited to.

Edited by 62burst
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One other thing to be aware of with the J-45 Vintage as compared to a J-45 Standard is that it has a round profile neck.  It will be feel thicker and fuller in your fretting hand than the Standard's slim taper profile.  Some people like the vintage style round profiles and some prefer the more modern feel of slim tapers.  And some people don't have a preference at all.

I'm not sure about the 60's Reissue Hummingbird, but I would think it likely has a round profile too.

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On 2/3/2020 at 12:28 PM, j45nick said:

I would buy the 2016 J-45 Vintage in a heartbeat at that price. I'm prejudiced towards Gibson mahogany slope J's--I have two 1950 J-45's plus an SJ--because of their versatility. 

Completely agreed! I couldn't pass up that guitar at that price, so it's now on its way to me. Very excited!

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On 2/3/2020 at 12:31 PM, j45nick said:

The 60's reissue 'bird probably has an adjustable saddle. Some people like that, but others don't.

I confirmed with the seller that it's a fixed bone saddle.

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On 2/3/2020 at 12:52 PM, 62burst said:

That would be a great price on the J-45 Vintage, and as you've mentioned singer-songwriterly-ness in your OP, the '45 would be a perfect match, something most any mahogany Gibson would be well suited to.

Thank you! That's something I've really been wondering about. I see lots of J-45s in modern music, but not necessarily in my genre. For example, Halsey was recently the musical guest on SNL and she was rockin' a J-45 (as best I could tell). I also see them with folk revival bands like Mumford & Sons, etc, which is waaaaay outside my style of music. But I still think this will be a great guitar for me overall. I do love me some jangly, resonant tones! 

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23 hours ago, Bozz said:

One other thing to be aware of with the J-45 Vintage as compared to a J-45 Standard is that it has a round profile neck.  It will be feel thicker and fuller in your fretting hand than the Standard's slim taper profile.  Some people like the vintage style round profiles and some prefer the more modern feel of slim tapers.  And some people don't have a preference at all.

I'm not sure about the 60's Reissue Hummingbird, but I would think it likely has a round profile too.

Excellent point! I hadn't really thought about that. To best honest, I'm not sure I've ever used a guitar with a slim neck profile. I'll have to pay closer attention to that.

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If you're a singer/songwriter, you are probably already aware that all of James Taylor's early stuff was written and performed on a J-50, which is simply a J-45 with a natural top rather than sunburst. That's a pretty good recommendation.

Congratulations on the new guitar.

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JT with his J50 in 1971. Pickguard has been removed. I first saw him live in the spring of 1969, right after his first album came out. Sat about 10' away from him on the ground outdoors. He sat on a folding chair, with the J-50. Pretty sure it still had a pickguard at that  point, as I was looking at his guitar thinking it was just like mine, only with a natural top. I'm not sure I knew the J-50 even existed at that time in my life. I had just turned 22, and he had just turned 21.

That was a lifetime ago, but I still remember the guitar. And I still have that J-45.

Sweet Baby James

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Congrats, Huley.  I think you made a great choice in going with the J-45 Vintage.  I think you'll find it a great fit for what you are doing.  Be sure to post some pics when it arrives.

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