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How Many Stinkers?

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Suppose you bought 10 used J-45 Standards from ten different online resources.

All appointments being equal, how many guitars do you believe you would find to sound poorly?

Granted, there might be a clear rating of all ten, best to worst. But how many of these do you believe would make you say, “yuck...i’d never want this J-45.”

(and, yes, please keep your “i’d never buy without playing it,”  responses, and pizz off.)

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None, if I had the chance to change strings and do a set-up. Bozeman-built guitars are consistently good, if not always equally good.

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No idea.

I'm new to the world of Gibson guitars, but from numerous conversations  with Luthiers and sales people in music stores (including stores that are authorized Gibson dealers) and what I've read, it appears that their Quality Control has been less than stellar for a number of years. So depending on the production dates of these on-line purchases, one could have between 0 and 10 that sounded poorly. 

RBSinTo

 

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They'd probably all be good. But people have different ears, taste and preferences, , , that's what makes the world, , , and 45s go round.  . 

If following your Q my take is that series of 3 or 4 would have special appeal to me, , ,  or you or mister Henderson, , , and out them 2 would end in the difficult finale. 

Also 3 or 4 would probably be very alike and hard to tell from each other. 

This only if we set a range within 3-4 years - goin' up above that the unfathomable Bozeman spirit would play in. 

 

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I’m a firm believer in the bell-curve when it comes to guitars.

Of any given model, most will be average, a few will be sub-par, and a few will be stellar in exhibiting the best qualities of that instrument’s signature sound.

So probability-wise:  two below average, six good, and two very good (out of ten).  Of course we’re talking probabilities, not exact science!

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4 hours ago, j45nick said:

None, if I had the chance to change strings and do a set-up. Bozeman-built guitars are consistently good, if not always equally good.

Yeah, totally correct.  Change the strings and a setup and you’ll be fine.....  How good a guitar is depends on who is doing the listening and their opinion on how playable the guitar is.  I’ve bought most of my Gibsons sight-unseen and they’re all sweet guitars.  Of my current seven, my Hummingbird is the only one I played before I bought it.  All the others I just ordered.  I think that with Gibson (as well as with their two primary competitors——Martin and Taylor) there is a strong consistency of quality that trends through all of their guitars. .........A new set of strings and a setup can make a mediocre guitar a real butt-kicker, because it will not only sound good, but will also be easy-on-the-fingers and very comfortable to play——and that will lead to the owner wanting to pick it up and play.  Not just for practice, but because the guitar is fun to play.  Speaking for myself, I haven’t owned any bad Gibsons.  No bad Martins or Taylor’s either.

Edited by MissouriPicker
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12 minutes ago, MissouriPicker said:

Yeah, totally correct.  Change the strings and a setup and you’ll be fine.....  How good a guitar is depends on who is doing the listening and their opinion on how playable the guitar is.  I’ve bought most of my Gibsons sight-unseen and they’re all sweet guitars.  Of my current seven, my Hummingbird is the only one I played before I bought it.  All the others I just ordered.  I think that with Gibson (as well as with their two primary competitors——Martin and Taylor) there is a strong consistency of quality that trends through all of their guitars. .........A new set of strings and a setup can make a mediocre guitar a real butt-kicker, because it will not only sound good, but will also be easy-on-the-fingers and very comfortable to play——and that will lead to the owner wanting to pick it up and play.  Not just for practice, but because the guitar is fun to play.  Speaking for myself, I haven’t owned any bad Gibsons.  No bad Martins or Taylor’s either.

I have 5 Gibson’s, all bought sight unseen. The nearest decent guitar store  for me is 2 hr away. Mine are all outstanding. Have changed out one saddle, & have only needed to have one setup. My J-45rw was a gigging guitar, & was absolutely filthy . Had my doubts it would ever clean up, but it did, & is an amazing guitar.

 

Edited by Paul14
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One man's trash is another man's treasure. 10 of the exact same model guitar built in a row,  I would hope by now most big manufacturing guitar companies that all should sound good. No 2 are ever going to be the same.

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I've had 4  Gibson acoustics - still have 3.  All were stellar. Two purchased sight unseen.   Not sure what the intent of your question is, but most of the criticism of Gibson quality pre-dated the set-up of the Bozeman facility and the implementation of quality manufacturing techniques by Ren Ferguson.   So - since it sounds like you're interested in the quality of NEW guitars -  I'd guess many criticisms you've heard are based on ancient history.  Some folks  sometimes even dredge up complaints based on experience with a guitar built in the 70s, when even Martin had quality issues - coming off the the high of the Folk Boom.   And, then there's always the guy who blames Gibson, when he buys a guitar owned by 2 or 3 people before him, one of which kept it on a screened in porch all summer in Key West.  Good Luck. 

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The 2 small guitar shops close enough to drive to near me are way more cunning than to put out multiple guitars of any one brand! The current J45 sits on the wall, gets tried, played, sold - then they hunt up the next one from the storeroom! Not just Gibsons - the local stuff too.

 

BluesKing777.

 

 

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Im a student of Gibson acoustic so take my opinion with a grain of salt, but I would think all ten would be well constructed.

Although as I would any brand guitars I doubt out of  the ten that I would find MY perfect guitar, IMHO I think there is a difference 

however slight in all guitars tone and if history repeats itself it would take usually many more than ten guitars to find the sound 

that appeals totally to me. I really haven't bought a new guitar in more than 20 years,  but when I bought new guitars it took a lot 

of looking and trying them out before I came up with the tone that I wanted. 

 

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16 hours ago, j45nick said:

None, if I had the chance to change strings and do a set-up. Bozeman-built guitars are consistently good, if not always equally good.

I tend to agree as my experience is strings and set up can play a major role in getting a guitar to sound and play well.

QM aka “Jazzman” Jeff

 

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I like the way J45nickand E-minor7  put it.   I think the whole Gibson inconsistency thing is much overplayed.  Gibson has come a long way from the days when a  part was considered finished when it looked "close enough."     Not even Ted McCarty who retooled and reorganized Gibson in the early 1950s  could not imagine the precision Bozeman obtains  with their CNC machines.   But factors such as how stiff the particular wood that went into a top is and the final hand  work such as the sanding  guarantees there will be nuanced differences.  But I always figured  much of the differences  folks claim to hear is more likely due to what happened to the guitar after it left the factory - what conditions it was stored and displayed in, how long it has hung on the rack and so on.  It takes some guitars longer than others to shake the cobwebs off and wake up.   

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3 minutes ago, zombywoof said:

I like the way J45nickand E-minor7  put it.   I think the whole Gibson inconsistency thing is much overplayed.  Gibson has come a long way from the days when a  part was considered finished when it looked "close enough."     Not even Ted McCarty who retooled and reorganized Gibson in the early 1950s  could not imagine the precision Bozeman obtains  with their CNC machines.   But factors such as how stiff the particular wood that went into a top is and the final hand  work such as the sanding  guarantees there will be nuanced differences.  But I always figured  much of the differences  folks claim to hear is more likely due to what happened to the guitar after it left the factory - what conditions it was stored and displayed in, how long it has hung on the rack and so on.  It takes some guitars longer than others to shake the cobwebs off and wake up.   

So that being said, you would buy the older guitar, say, the 2009 over the 2017?

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I'm currently searching for the right one, but 4 out of 5 were all decent so far, with one being fairly dull (no matter the strings and saddle exchanges) and one being exactly what I was looking for (except for some optical flaws). In general I would say each one is unique (they're mostly handmade after all), and that surely makes it worth it to compare a few. The models I compared were all from 2019 and 2020.

Edited by PatDie

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1 hour ago, PatDie said:

I'm currently searching for the right one, but 4 out of 5 were all decent so far, with one being fairly dull (no matter the strings and saddle exchanges) and one being exactly what I was looking for (except for some optical flaws). In general I would say each one is unique (they're mostly handmade after all), and that surely makes it worth it to compare a few. The models I compared were all from 2019 and 2020.

Curious, who was willing to change out a saddle so you could try a guitar. That’s what I call service!

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Sorry, that wasn't 100% clear. Due to Corona lockdown I ordered these guitars from different shops. As this is supposed to be a guitar I will hopefully play for the rest of my life with I didn't mind the struggle. It's very easy to change the saddles on A J-45 and turns out it did make a noticeable difference in sound. Not everytime, but sometimes! But around 5 years ago when I decided between a Cole Clark and a Martin (both Grand Auditorium styles) a small shop I went to here in Germany changed strings as well as experiemented with different saddles for me to be able to figure out which one would be best.

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2 hours ago, tru said:

So that being said, you would buy the older guitar, say, the 2009 over the 2017?

 

I do not have a clue.  Although I have played more Bozeman-made Gibsons than I recall the only one I own is  2001 WM-00..  The other 6  stringers  in the house  rolled out of Kalamazoo  between 1932 and 1960 with one 12 string built in 1961,   

Edited by zombywoof

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2 hours ago, PatDie said:

I'm currently searching for the right one, but 4 out of 5 were all decent so far, with one being fairly dull (no matter the strings and saddle exchanges) and one being exactly what I was looking for (except for some optical flaws). In general I would say each one is unique (they're mostly handmade after all), and that surely makes it worth it to compare a few. The models I compared were all from 2019 and 2020.

 

Gibsons are not "mostly handmade" but factory-made, the difference having to do with the freedom of the use of tools to start to finish.   But as I said, where the differences come in is you can take two pieces of top wood which although having an identical thickness can still vary in density and longitudinal stiffness.  A custom builder who turns out  1,000 or so guitars a year will take this into account  when selecting  the top wood.  With a factory-made stock guitar it comes down to luck of the draw.  

Edited by zombywoof

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4 hours ago, QuestionMark said:

I tend to agree as my experience is strings and set up can play a major role in getting a guitar to sound and play well.

Everything affects how it sounds. Do you use a pick or not. Do you use fingerpicks. How heavy or light is your pick. What is your pick made of. Room size. String gauge and type. Saddle and nut type. Action. How hard or soft do you strum. Or how you just hear the guitar that day ect ect.

Edited by Sgt. Pepper

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I would say if someone keeps trying out J-45’s just can’t come to terms with any of them, perhaps the J-45 is not the guitar for you. I had it in my head once upon a time that I wanted a D18. After playing many of them, i finally came to that conclusion myself. It’s not that it’s a bad guitar, it’s just not for me!

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I haven't come across a "bad" sounding Bozeman built guitar. I've played hundreds, all have been good, but some have absolutely suited my hands, ears and musical soul more than others.

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Okay, I haven’t been to the Gibson plant, but from what I’ve heard from knowledgeable folks in here and plant tours of Gibson, Martin, and Taylor on YouTube, I’d venture to say that Gibsons have a little more “hands-on” work than the others.  And to me, this tends to add to the likelihood that each Gibson Hummingbird, etc. is a little bit different than the other guitars of that model.  Thus, we get comments about Gibson consistency.  For me, I don’t want my J100 to sound or look totally identical to someone else’s.  If I like the guitar, it’s good enough looking and sounding like mine.  Just my view.

Edited by MissouriPicker

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Another way to look at it ... If 100 people played all 10 guitars, how many of those 10 would be chosen by someone as a favorite? 

My guess would be 7.  Or more.

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On 5/6/2020 at 11:49 AM, tru said:

Suppose you bought 10 used J-45 Standards from ten different online resources.

All appointments being equal, how many guitars do you believe you would find to sound poorly?

I used to struggle with questions like this as my answer was typically something like 9 if I was lucky. But "poorly" would not be the proper choice of words. Instead I would say that the tone of most of the J-45's I've played, Bozeman-made or otherwise did not appeal to me. In your scenario if I was lucky I might find 1 out of 10 that did appeal to me, but not likely.  I passed on a lot more than just 10 before finding "My" J-45.

On 5/7/2020 at 9:07 AM, Paul14 said:

I would say if someone keeps trying out J-45’s just can’t come to terms with any of them, perhaps the J-45 is not the guitar for you. I had it in my head once upon a time that I wanted a D18. After playing many of them, i finally came to that conclusion myself. It’s not that it’s a bad guitar, it’s just not for me!

This line of reasoning is actually pretty sound unless you are dealing with someone like myself. What I finally figured out years ago here on the forum (after frustrating many here with my so called "dud rate") is this. I simply don't like the "Gibson thump". If there is one thing that people here are apt to say is that they love the "Gibson thump". Not me however. Here's the thing, I love so much about the Gibson tone, but I don't want my guitars to thump. Most J-45's that I've played had it to some degree. The thing is, I've heard a few Gibsons (and a few J-45's in particular) that didn't have it and those were some of the best sounding guitars that I know of. That was the Gibson tone that "I" was looking for. The bottom line is that I prefer a nice articulate low-E string, one that clearly allows me to hear the leading edge of the note when the string is picked. This might be in part due to the fact that I am a fingerpicker almost exclusively. I want the notes coming off of the low-E string to blend in tonally with the other five strings. The thump just doesn't work for me in this case. Putting on a brand new low-E string could mask this to a degree for a short while, but I didn't want to have to frequently keep changing out my strings all of the time as a workaround for something that I thought I could avoid if I kept looking. 

So that's what I did. I kept looking for years until I found exactly what I was after in a J-45 — as opposed to what everyone else seemed to be looking for. When I found it, I quickly new that I had found THE guitar (the guitar for me that is). I've owned my J-45TV for more than a decade now and it is the last guitar that I'll part with. Never say never.

Edited by Guth
left out a closing parenthesis, fixed typos

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