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Joe M

Gibson J45 Vintage vs Martin HD28

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I own the two guitars in the title and am kinda stumped about the sound of each. I realize that they have completely different woods and body shapes. I have them both strung with the same brand and gauge string. Both made in 2019 and still being broken in, although the play time on each is about the same. I have a habit of sitting down to play with one and, after a song or two, switch to the other. It probably is my old ears, but I have a real hard time hearing much difference in the sound of each. They obviously play differently because of neck shape and size, but the sound of the two is remarkably similar. I finally asked my wife, who is not a player but has put up with my playing for a long, long time to sit and listen as I played each to see what she thought. Told her to turn her back so she wouldn't be influenced by the look of the guitar. After going back and forth several times, she admitted that she couldn't hear a lot of difference either.

So, any idea as to how so dis-similar guitars can sound so much the same, at least to the two of us?

I know, weird question, this lockdown is starting to make me look for things to think about......ūü§Į

EDIT TO ADD: I'm gonna post this same thread over on the Martin forum to see what they can come up with.

Edited by Joe M

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Two totally different guitars.  The  HD28 is  a great guitar.    Bright tone    And more of a finger pickers guitar  

The Vintage J45  More of a softer tone and a little darker.   Not as much clarity.  
 

Nothing negative Here to say about either one.  

both great guitars.  

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what are you playing joe? strumming? flatpick bluegrass? fingerstyle? 

i could never tame my HD28 to calm down enough for me to sing over. i got close by using nickel bronze lights... typically my hd28 was bass heavy, muddy, and just wrong for what i do. the J45 is much more balanced, as well as easier to play for me.

without a doubt two iconic guitars, by two great American companies.

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I too would classify them pretty far from each other. Still the sheer quality, scalloped depth and woody flavor of them both would make them appear like having similarities. 

Your wife, in all respect, may carry a fair set of ears - but perhaps ain't the best suited judge for the task. Which one, by the way, does she prefer lookwise ?   

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2 hours ago, Salfromchatham said:

what are you playing joe? strumming? flatpick bluegrass? fingerstyle? 

i could never tame my HD28 to calm down enough for me to sing over. i got close by using nickel bronze lights... typically my hd28 was bass heavy, muddy, and just wrong for what i do. the J45 is much more balanced, as well as easier to play for me.

without a doubt two iconic guitars, by two great American companies.

Sal, should have stated, I am a strummer 99% of the time, maybe 1% flat picking. And I have always heard about bass heavy sound of most Martin rosewood guitars. I never have felt that way. My J45 has huge bass, as I said comparable to the Martin. 

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2 hours ago, E-minor7 said:

I too would classify them pretty far from each other. Still the sheer quality, scalloped depth and woody flavor of them both would make them appear like having similarities. 

Your wife, in all respect, may carry a fair set of ears - but perhaps ain't the best suited judge for the task. Which one, by the way, does she prefer lookwise ?   

Em7, ¬†thought about that with my wife‚Äôs ears, they‚Äôre almost as old as mineūüėĀ¬†¬†I guess, after we can get out, I‚Äôll have to ask one of my guitar-playing buddies to give a listen and see what they think. Lookwise, how could anybody not prefer a sb Gibson over any plain top guitar?¬†ūüėČ

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Both absolutely top shelf, classic instruments...I think what you're hearing is similarities in terms of classic tonality. I've heard it said that in terms of instruments that typify the sound of an acoustic guitar to 99% of listeners' ears (ie the acoustic tone that we have all heard hundreds of times on classic records), the "big four" are the D28, D18, J45 and Hummingbird. 

Both of your gorgeous guitars fall into that category of classic acoustic tone, and whilst they DO have sonic differences, the two are both dreadnoughts, both flattops, both spruce topped, etc...if one of them was a honky, projecting archtop or a barky all-Mahogany parlour, they would have very distinct personalities. But, having said that, one would suit your playing more than the other, and the other would end up languishing in a case. 

I hear you about the bass extension on Martins...my Dove has more bass than any Martin I've owned. The only real bassmonster I've come across in Martins is the D35, and even then only certain D35s. 

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Thanks for the replies, guys. As I said, it was just a rambling thought with nothing else to do in the recent weeks. And Jinder, your post is one of the most thought-out, easy to understand responses to anything I've ever read. Oh, and I really enjoy your music.....ūüėĀ

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If I were to compare Apples to Apples I would use a D-18 to J-45 although Im a student of Gibson,  Im here for the great players with Videos and to learn more about 

Gibson hollow bodies.  They all have a role in the music of my life. Thanks 

 

O.P. You have two wonderful guitars, IMHO All guitars have there place and for me its just being able to get the right voice for the right song and 

to be able to get what you want out of any guitar. 

 

Again IMHO

Edited by ratherbwalkn

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The reason is they were born the same year,

I have nothing I can compare as the only Martin in the house is a 2016 D12-28 and the only 12 string I own is a '61 Gibson B45-12.   Night and day difference relating to, if nothing else one guitar has a pin bridge and tailpiece equipped guitar. 

Guitars all have a characteristic family voice.  But  that has changed over time as those designing the things try to solve engineering problems.   There certainly was a time when no self respecting bluegrass picker would be seen with a Gibson J45.  They were for the strummers.  They were not particularly loud or bright (which gives the illusion  of volume) and, as already noted, not endowed with as much clarity as a Martin dread.   But I also think that Bozeman has narrowed that gap a bit.   But even with my ancient ears  I  can still pick out a D28 from a J45 in a blind fold test.   

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I have a 1974 D28, and a 2001 J-45 standard, and even to my untrained ear the Martin has a fuller, richer sound than the Gibson (which also has a wonderful voice).

I suppose mine isn't a fair comparison, as the Martin is Rosewood, and the Gibson is Mahogany, but I like them both. However, if forced to choose, I would take the Martin in a heartbeat every time.

RBSinTo

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I have an HD28 with the baked top, and a Southern Jumbo.  I think if I was just strumming them they would sound similar, but lately I haven't been doing that.  To me, the HD 28 sounds absolute gorgeous when I'm fingerpicking with alternate tunings etc and the Southern Jumbo sounds better when I want something that doesn't have the overtones, like blues.  

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I've played several variations of both over the years... There is a J45 model that is made with a Spruce Top & Rosewood Sides & Back.. Can't remember the model designation off the top of my head.. I could see how that one could sound similar to a D-28. 

But, in my experience a Traditional HD-28 & a Traditional J-45 sound very different..  You might want to double check the Specs of your J-45..

Back in the early '70's I played my Brothers 1960's vintage  D-28 & a few later I bought a D-35 which is an upgrade but very much lime a D-28. I still own it..  Solid Spruce Top with Indian Rosewood Back & Sides. Wonderful Guitar!

Our friend owned a 1960's era Gibson J-160E which I played often. And I've played several J-45's over the years. In 2001 Gibson produced a Bozeman Masterbilt J-160E with Solid Spruce Top with Mahogany Sides & Back.  In all other respects it was a J-160E. IMO a Top of the Line J-45 Style Guitar.. It too is a wonderful Guitar..

Both sound fantastic.. But, nothing alike. 

In any case, you are blessed to gave both! Enjoy on good health....

Larson

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Joe M - Do you keep them in the case when not in use? Do you always use a humidifier, such as a sound hole humidifier? Same playing space?

My stable is all newish. A 2015 Taylor d-41, two 2018 (hummingbird and SJ-200) and a 2019 Martin D-41. The 2015 took a couple years to open up, but I blindly followed my then favorite guitar store department manager's advice and did the sound-hole humidifier 100% the time and the tone went to crap because it was a humid year on a record-breaking scale. Took me all Summer to fix it, though I took small, deliberate steps. The first 2018 opened up this year, not two months ago. The second is solid, but easily susceptible to humidity changes. (This and the 2015 are Maples).

The 2019 was new to me in October. It's a Martin, which followed suit with the whole "first day you own a new Martin is the worst it will ever sound" speech from the head Martin dude.  I did not see that interview until recently, though, but it did follow suit. Day-1 was scary at first, but two hours later the low end started to appear. Over two weeks of being played daily and sitting in a stand, it began to open up and come to life. The improvement was so much that I did not change the factory strings out until several months had passed.

I do a rotation of my 4 nice acoustics. One week on the stand, 3 weeks in the case. I do pull them out as desired, but back into the case they go when finished. Each Sunday night I change out guitars. That night, they sound as if they are holding a little but back. It never until the next day that the sound comes roaring out of them. I know tons of folks have theirs in cases when not in use and many more never put them in cases, choosing room humidifier controls and such. Perhaps at some point in a guitars life it will not matter anymore, but mine are all like this. The speculation I read that makes the most sense is that they like to be played and having them played and out of cases helps the wood breath better. Who knows? 

That said, each of them sound their most distinct when they are at their best. I've not even talked about guitar setup, strings, picks and all of that. That's well covered in the sticky thread about tone. Then there is the natural tendency of a player to adjust their playing subtleties and dynamics in real-time to match what they think they should be playing.  The room matters a TON. Reflections can be harsh and sibilant, ruining natural sweetness of guitars. In the end, though, and with all that considered, there was some sort of combination of guitar aging and natural ear development that did the trick for me. 

 

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On May 2, 2020 at 10:15 PM, Larsongs said:

I've played several variations of both over the years... There is a J45 model that is made with a Spruce Top & Rosewood Sides & Back.. Can't remember the model designation off the top of my head.. I could see how that one could sound similar to a D-28. 

But, in my experience a Traditional HD-28 & a Traditional J-45 sound very different..  You might want to double check the Specs of your J-45..

Back in the early '70's I played my Brothers 1960's vintage  D-28 & a few later I bought a D-35 which is an upgrade but very much lime a D-28. I still own it..  Solid Spruce Top with Indian Rosewood Back & Sides. Wonderful Guitar!

Our friend owned a 1960's era Gibson J-160E which I played often. And I've played several J-45's over the years. In 2001 Gibson produced a Bozeman Masterbilt J-160E with Solid Spruce Top with Mahogany Sides & Back.  In all other respects it was a J-160E. IMO a Top of the Line J-45 Style Guitar.. It too is a wonderful Guitar..

Both sound fantastic.. But, nothing alike. 

In any case, you are blessed to gave both! Enjoy on good health....

Larson

Did you check the Specs on your J-45? Is it Traditional Spruce & Mahogany? Or Spruce & Rosewood? 

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I own a CFM 41, and owned a 28 and 35. All are different. Tone wood is the same. The 41 gets premium wood, some abalone bling, more binding, different stripe down the back.  The 35 has a 3 piece back. Do you guys have J-45's that sound exactly the same? And if so why? I could see being a pro and a gigging musician having 2 guitars sound the same for a spare for live or recording proposes, but if I'M gonna get 2 guitars, to me there is no reason to have them sound the same.

41 Scalloped 5/16 bracing

35 Non-Scalloped 1/4 bracing

28 Non-Scalloped 5/16 bracing

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On 4/30/2020 at 1:17 PM, Joe M said:

Thanks for the replies, guys. As I said, it was just a rambling thought with nothing else to do in the recent weeks. And Jinder, your post is one of the most thought-out, easy to understand responses to anything I've ever read. Oh, and I really enjoy your music.....ūüėĀ

Thankyou, Joe! Much appreciated ūüėä

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21 hours ago, Sgt. Pepper said:

I own a CFM 41, and owned a 28 and 35. All are different. Tone wood is the same. The 41 gets premium wood, some abalone bling, more binding, different stripe down the back.  The 35 has a 3 piece back. Do you guys have J-45's that sound exactly the same? And if so why? I could see being a pro and a gigging musician having 2 guitars sound the same for a spare for live or recording proposes, but if I'M gonna get 2 guitars, to me there is no reason to have them sound the same.

41 Scalloped 5/16 bracing

35 Non-Scalloped 1/4 bracing

28 Non-Scalloped 5/16 bracing

I have 3 LP's, 3 Casino's & 2 Tele's. I need them as back up just in case.. They are my most used Guitars.. Even though, each of the 3 different types of Guitars are almost identical none of them sound exactly the same.. I have a Royal Tan USA Casino with Nickel Dogear Covers ordered...

None of my Acoustics are the same.. That said, I'm looking for the right D-28 as a backup for my D-35.

I'm also looking for a Gibson CF-100E to pair with my Gibson Bozeman Masterbilt J-160E Solid Top... 

Edited by Larsongs

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My 28 and 35 made me sad to sell and trade them for my 41, till I take it out of the case.  I would not hesitate to buy both of those guitars again.

Edited by Sgt. Pepper

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On 5/3/2020 at 9:01 AM, PatriotsBiker said:

My stable is all newish. A 2015 Taylor d-41, two 2018 (hummingbird and SJ-200) and a 2019 Martin D-41.

What is a Taylor D-41? I though they had three numbers in their numbering scheme? I searched the net and don't see any. I know what a Martin D-41 is.

Edited by Sgt. Pepper

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17 minutes ago, Sgt. Pepper said:

What is a Taylor D-41? I though they had three numbers in their numbering scheme? I searched the net and don't see any. I know what a Martin D-41 is.

ha! My bad. I got all cross-eyed and finger twisted. The Taylor is a 614CE.

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7 minutes ago, PatriotsBiker said:

ha! My bad. I got all cross-eyed and finger twisted. The Taylor is a 614CE.

OK I thought it was a typo.

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1 hour ago, Larsongs said:

I have 3 LP's, 3 Casino's & 2 Tele's. I need them as back up just in case.. They are my most used Guitars.. Even though, each of the 3 different types of Guitars are almost identical none of them sound exactly the same.. I have a Royal Tan USA Casino with Nickel Dogear Covers ordered...

None of my Acoustics are the same.. That said, I'm looking for the right D-28 as a backup for my D-35.

I'm also looking for a Gibson CF-100E to pair with my Gibson Bozeman Masterbilt J-160E Solid Top... 

Interesting that you'd consider a D28 as a back-up to a D-35.

My understanding is that the introduction of the D-35 was a business rather than a musical decision. After Brazilian Rosewood was no longer available, and Martin had exhausted their stocks, the introduction of the D-35, allowed them to use the smaller remnants in the three-piece backs in order not to waste them.

Again, to my tin ear, the D-35 isn't a musical improvement over the D-28.

RBSinTo

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1 hour ago, RBSinTo said:

Interesting that you'd consider a D28 as a back-up to a D-35.

My understanding is that the introduction of the D-35 was a business rather than a musical decision. After Brazilian Rosewood was no longer available, and Martin had exhausted their stocks, the introduction of the D-35, allowed them to use the smaller remnants in the three-piece backs in order not to waste them.

Again, to my tin ear, the D-35 isn't a musical improvement over the D-28.

RBSinTo

I don't think it was meant to be an huge and different tonal improvement, and it has a different thickness of bracing as compared to the 28, but since it has binging on the neck and even on the triangular piece where the body and neck meet it got a higher series number. It definitely was a way not to waste good wood. If you ever heard one, and I'm sure you have if you ever heard an Eagles or Avett Bros. album,  they don't suck.  A 3 piece back is really nice. The Seth Avett ones look really nice with one of the back pieces being Koa. I heard Seth gave his dad the one Martin SA D-35 they made for him cause his older D-35 Standard sounded better.

original.jpg

Edited by Sgt. Pepper

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Sgt. Pepper,

I've noodled on many D-35's in music stores, and again to me, they never sounded any different ( neither better nor worse) than the D-28's that were also available.

My D-28 is a 1974, and while I've never had the opportunity to make a direct comparison with a D-35, mine sounds wonderful, and is everything I could ever hope for in a dreadnought.

And besides, while I seem to be guitar-challenged by the standard of this site, as I only own four, I really have no desire, or more important, need, to obtain any more, even Martins.

RBSinTo

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