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tpbiii

Some Banner Demos

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SaWeeeet!!!   As impressed I am with the Banners I am really impressed that you were able to fit them all on one page and make navigation so easy.   I like them all.

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Yes, thank you for making the effort, tpbiii.  Those were nice!

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47 minutes ago, uncle fester said:

If I had to pick a favorite, I'd go for the 44... subtle differences, i appreciate the comparison.

Well that is the one I have used the most.  It is a Memphis bar guitars with scars.😎  Here are a couple of examples from my archives of how my late wife and I liked to use it.

The SJ RW is used mostly for bluegrass rhythm -- like the old AJs, a bit of a "bone crusher."

 

 

 

 

Best,

-Tom

 

 

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They all sound very nice, and I would have a hard time picking a favorite. I have been playing my 2012 Sheryl Crow Southern Jumbo a lot recently. I think it's a very good mahogany J-45/SJ type guitar, but compared to my 78 year old Banner J-45, everything is a little bit less. Less volume, less bass, less shine, less clarity and so on. Is that how you would describe the difference between old snd modern too?

Lars

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Many Thanks JT.   That was fun.  The time you have spent placing these guitars in an historical perspective is greatly appreciated.  Looking at my '42 J50, what really sets it apart remains the  low end.   The second generation luthier who restored it for me described it as being able to make a pre-War Martin D28 Herringbone run for cover.   

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9 hours ago, Lars68 said:

They all sound very nice, and I would have a hard time picking a favorite. I have been playing my 2012 Sheryl Crow Southern Jumbo a lot recently. I think it's a very good mahogany J-45/SJ type guitar, but compared to my 78 year old Banner J-45, everything is a little bit less. Less volume, less bass, less shine, less clarity and so on. Is that how you would describe the difference between old snd modern too?

Lars

Hi Lars,

I don't really don't know in a nuanced way how they compare to new.  My whole thing was maybe 1900-1970.  I started after graduation for the last time in 1970 and bought a new J-40 -- and quickly discovered no one was making good guitars any more.  My family had always been a Gibson family -- Gibson, Ford, Evinrude, Remington.  When we got serious about investing in guitars -- in the early 80s -- we quickly learned 70s Gibsons were bad.  We did like early 60s guitars -- that is what my wife and I had played and we were bonded to those sounds in the folk revival.

We really bonded to vintage when we went into our 10 year submersion in bluegrass in the Georgia mountains -- 1970-1980.  They were decades ahead of everyone else we knew -- vintage was no big thing in the folk revival except old guitars were cheap -- but in bluegrass it was all about old Martins.  On any kind of music, it takes a lot exposure up close to develop your ear to hear the details.  Early on, I heard the parking lot claims about the incredible clarity of old guitars -- I set out to disprove it.  After about 20 years of carefully comparing old guitars to new, I gave up and became a believer.  Partly it just took that long to develop my ear -- but mostly it was just seriously collected crowd knowledge.  Even with my Ph.D. in signal processing and acoustics and with my background in folk revival music, all of them really did know more than me.😎😎

In the early 80s is when my wife and I decided to to make vintage instruments a retirement investment.  But we decided two other things.  (1) we would only invest in excellent sounding instruments and (2) we would sample the sound palette of 1900-1970 flattop guitars by acquiring one -- and only one -- of each.  The last was quite challenging -- because the overall requirement was it had to also be a good retirement investment -- but we can surprisingly close to pulling it off.  I now have close to 300 instruments -- many are junk and not guitars or banjos -- but 50 each of vintage Martins and vintage Gibsons.

Me being me -- a geek -- I have been studying studying these instruments intently for pretty near 40 years.  This was just for me -- as well equipped as I am for this endeavor, as a scientist I know my personal conclusions are biased  by only (mostly) studying my own set of instruments and by my own musical pursuits -- a lot of the "testing" (which no one knew I was doing) was playing them in as many places and with as many people as I could.

The reason I went into that long winded monologue is to put what I have to say in context.  First let me say my wife and I tried all our Gibsons in our folk revival and gospel pursuits and I guess it is fair to say that 44 J-45 was sort of the "winner."  But it was resoundingly not a winner in the bluegrass world -- although I tried seriously to make it work.  Banners just don't have the power and tonal properties to work in bluegrass -- although I did often take it onstage and stuff it in a mic for an occasional gospel song.  I did eventually end up with four Gibsons that did work for bluegrass -- 35 RSRG, 35 Jumbo, 36 AJ, 40 J-55 RW and 43 SJ RW -- but that was after the turn of the century when it was no longer retirement investing.  The big issue is power -- the story of Gibson slopes is primarily a story of diminishing power -- 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s.  Each less powerful than the previous.

Now you don't need power for everything -- and bluegrass instrumental and vocal power is hard to achieve unless you are born to it.  The folk revival was really mild -- power was rare.  But of course power is not the only tonal property of import.  So the whole picture is more complex.

When I started working with the iconic luthier Randy Woods in the early 2000s -- home base for traditional bluegrass players -- his rest room was full of old cases full of old (many banner) Gibsons he had picked up over the years.  He said "that is just a bunch of old Gibsons" -- that  will give you a sense of what the hard core traditional players thought of those guitars in the late 1990s.

So here are my Gibson Js.

p9nzszk.jpg

All of the 30s stuff -- RSRG, JUMBO, AJ, TROJAN, RSSD, J-55 (not shown) -- are very powerful.  I use all the RW stuff for bluegrass -- I am sort of teaching at least the local bluegrass world.

Martin and Gibson both lost power in the early 1940s -- but Gibson lost more than Martin.  John Arnold says it is because of how Gibson tapered their braces (they are scalloped as well).  Of the Banners, only the RW SJ has serious power -- the others (43 J-45, 43 SJ, 44 J-45, 45 J-45) do not.  But compared to later years, they as still quite powerful.

Th early 50s stuff was milder yet -- 53 J-45, 54 SJ -- but once again stronger than the late 50s.  The early 60s were much milder -- but we really loved their tone and power, because it was such a perfect match to the folk revival music of our youth.  Here is one of my favorite videos of Aina Jo and I using the 62 HB on a KT song -- shades of the 60s.  My favorite current statement is all vintage guitars are perfect -- just not for the same things.

Best,

-Tom

 

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Thanks, Tom, for sharing this and for all you and your wife have given to the acoustic music community. We in this community will forever be in debt to you.

I love that the tune played on most of the demos is "Big Sciota," a tune from the stellar album, "Skip, Hop, and Wobble," in which Russ Barenberg plays all of the guitar parts on a laminated maple back and sides Banner J-45. It's one of the best albums of acoustic music ever released. If you don't have it, you all know what to do.

Anyway ... I love, Tom, how you contextualize, with beautifully gentle suggestions, in your suggestions of which guitars serve the music in which circumstances. So often we of lesser knowledge and experience (and I put myself front and center among the musically naive) ask for the perfect guitar. You always educate us by asking, "What type of music and in what context."

Thank you, again, for sharing your knowledge, experience, and instruments.

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Tom,
All fine guitars !!

 

My favorite was the 43 Rosewood Southern Jumbo ... Which is surprising because I hate RW. Gibson is doing a reissue of the RW SJ and I was able to play one at NAMM.I noticed your RW Southern Jumbo  isn’t muddy like a lot of the Martins.

Yours was strong yet absolutely clear.The reissue I played  back in January exhibited these same characteristics .So Gibson is paying some attention to the tone of the older guitars.

 

Thanks and keep picking.

 

 

JC

 

 

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