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SJ-200 quieter than a Martin J-40?


tremolo arm
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I just acquired two fabulous guitars from a gentleman who unfortunately severed a tendon on his fretting hand and could play no longer. 

The guitars are a Martin J-40 (2017) and a Gibson SJ-200 Standard (2016)

Whilst both guitars are on the larger side, they are very different from each other sound wise - the Martin has a very pronounced mid range (almost nasal, but in a good way), whereas the Gibson has a very neutral EQ. I find the Martin great to as a lead instrument, whereas the SJ-200 is a perfect accompanying instrument for a vocalist, thanks to its more balanced EQ, with chords sounding lush. 

Due to their big size, I expected plenty of volume from both. Whilst the Martin delivers in spades, I find the SJ-200 noticeably quieter volume wise, almost as if it has a virtual volume control toned down to 6-7.  Both are strung with light strings (the Martin is strung with Santa Cruz Parabolic and the Gibson with D'Addario XT), so I am wondering if the Gibson is tamed by the choice of strings. I still love its sound, but it feels strange that it is so much quieter for such a big guitar. 

Any tips / wisdom on this?

 

 

Edited by tremolo arm
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Two totally different guitars.   Also does the J200 have a under saddle pickup?   
 
Martin - Rosewood

Gibson - Maple.   
 

you will find the bracing patterns are different as well.  
 

 

Edited by slimt
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A common misconception of large body maple guitars is that they are loud .

That is not the case .Maple has two qualities that are apparent :

a) A very rapid decay .Almost no overtones

b) a bright sound.

 

Rosewood  has qualities like:

a) Overtones 

b) Dark sounding

 

There is really no comparison between a SJ 200 maple and a Rosewood large body  J 40.Apples vs Oranges.

 

Gibson made only a handful of Rosewood  guitars back in the 30’s and 40’s :

The pre war SJ 200’s .

A few Nick Lucas models.

A few Southern Jumbos.

The Advanced Jumbo.

and a few one offs out there.


They say advanced jumbos are the loudest Gibsons ... but I have played some fairly loud Hummingbirds (Mahogany).Some owners of Doves and SJ 200’s swear that their guitar is a rumble though.So there is always an exception to the rule but as a Maple lover I don’t consider maple a loud tone wood in general.Your SJ 200 probably falls in line with the general qualities of a Super Jumbo made of maple.

 

 

JC

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4 hours ago, JuanCarlosVejar said:

A common misconception of large body maple guitars is that they are loud .

That is not the case .Maple has two qualities that are apparent :

a) A very rapid decay .Almost no overtones

b) a bright sound.

 

Rosewood  has qualities like:

a) Overtones 

b) Dark sounding

 

There is really no comparison between a SJ 200 maple and a Rosewood large body  J 40.Apples vs Oranges.

 

Gibson made only a handful of Rosewood  guitars back in the 30’s and 40’s :

The pre war SJ 200’s .

A few Nick Lucas models.

A few Southern Jumbos.

The Advanced Jumbo.

and a few one offs out there.


They say advanced jumbos are the loudest Gibsons ... but I have played some fairly loud Hummingbirds (Mahogany).Some owners of Doves and SJ 200’s swear that their guitar is a rumble though.So there is always an exception to the rule but as a Maple lover I don’t consider maple a loud tone wood in general.Your SJ 200 probably falls in line with the general qualities of a Super Jumbo made of maple.

 

 

JC

Thank you. Yes, I was aware of the difference in materials, just thought it strange that such a big guitar would not be very loud (regardless what other guitar it is compared to). 

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The SJ-200 is my first choice and almost an exclusive choice of guitars to use in my very small home project hobby studio due to it's reduced overtones. If I am downstairs playing my D-41 or Hummingbird and go upstairs to play my SJ in the deadened space, it sounds like I stuffed a pillow in there. Takes a minute to get used to. 

These two videos are two years apart. Not apples to apples as far as the room and processing go. They are close enough for some generalizations, though. Same concepts with post production gating and the very active mic. Close enough to give one a general idea of possible differences from the standard SJ to a Rosewood SJ.

 

 

 

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27 minutes ago, PatriotsBiker said:

The SJ-200 is my first choice and almost an exclusive choice of guitars to use in my very small home project hobby studio due to it's reduced overtones. If I am downstairs playing my D-41 or Hummingbird and go upstairs to play my SJ in the deadened space, it sounds like I stuffed a pillow in there. Takes a minute to get used to. 

These two videos are two years apart. Not apples to apples as far as the room and processing go. They are close enough for some generalizations, though. Same concepts with post production gating and the very active mic. Close enough to give one a general idea of possible differences from the standard SJ to a Rosewood SJ.

 

 

 

Thanks for this comparison.

So do I understand you correctly that you like your SJ-200 Standard precisely because of the reduced overtones and the feeling of the "stuffed pillow"? If so, aren't other guitars able to achieve this without the massive body?

I didn't even realise SJ-200s were available in rosewood. The bass on that Rosewood SJ comes through very prominently. It sounds almost overwhelming in some of the passages he plays. 

For my taste, I like the EQ of the maple SJ better - it just seems to  leave more frequency space for a vocal somehow. 

My original post was about volume (as opposed to EQ characteristics). Of course it is impossible to judge the volume difference between the two guitars from the videos. I just think mine sounds kind of subdued and lifeless compared to the Martin. 

 

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1 hour ago, tremolo arm said:

Thanks for this comparison.

So do I understand you correctly that you like your SJ-200 Standard precisely because of the reduced overtones and the feeling of the "stuffed pillow"? If so, aren't other guitars able to achieve this without the massive body?

I didn't even realise SJ-200s were available in rosewood. The bass on that Rosewood SJ comes through very prominently. It sounds almost overwhelming in some of the passages he plays. 

For my taste, I like the EQ of the maple SJ better - it just seems to  leave more frequency space for a vocal somehow. 

My original post was about volume (as opposed to EQ characteristics). Of course it is impossible to judge the volume difference between the two guitars from the videos. I just think mine sounds kind of subdued and lifeless compared to the Martin. 

 


Some Maple J200s do sound lifeless.  
 

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6 minutes ago, tremolo arm said:

Thanks for this comparison.

So do I understand you correctly that you like your SJ-200 Standard precisely because of the reduced overtones and the feeling of the "stuffed pillow"? If so, aren't other guitars able to achieve this without the massive body?

I didn't even realise SJ-200s were available in rosewood. The bass on that Rosewood SJ comes through very prominently. It sounds almost overwhelming in some of the passages he plays. 

For my taste, I like the EQ of the maple SJ better - it just seems to  leave more frequency space for a vocal somehow. 

My original post was about volume (as opposed to EQ characteristics). Of course it is impossible to judge the volume difference between the two guitars from the videos. I just think mine sounds kind of subdued and lifeless compared to the Martin. 

 

No, not because of the stuffed pillow thing. I was just illustrating that my ears needing to adjust going from a brighter guitar in an untreated living room to a somewhat calmer guitar in a room that has been quite heavily acoustically treated. I do like the reduced sustained overtones of the SJ for the purpose. In addition to that usage, I do enjoy it in the living room for just casual playing and singing. Like you said, it's easier to sing around. At least for me, anyhow.

I like the EQ of the Maple SJ better, too, but I have wondered if I would feel the same if limited to one guitar. Having options is nice. 🙂  

I've not figured a way to quantize this thought, but I suspect the Maples of having a bit more compression to them.

The topic of EQ characteristics does very much relate to your original post. For example, If the mid-range of one guitar is brighter than another guitar, it will be easily perceived as louder in an immediate sense. Add the room to the equation. The frequency range centered on 2.1kHz (the pain range) can sound very loud on it's own. Factor in a room's acoustics with their reflections and the brightness can start to compound (like comb filtering), which makes it all seem even more loud. The concept of "loudness" has a sustain element to it. I've seen an easy, quick definition of Loudness being a measurement of volume over time. 

All that said, though, does not mean that you are not making a valid observation. It just illustrates differences to be considered when comparing guitars of different makes. One thing I have found on my two maples is that humidity robs them of energy long before my RW and Hog guitars. Up and down the whole frequency range. I used the pillow analogy earlier. I think it's more like a blanket. I use silica gel packs in my cases when they have been out on the rack for humid stretches and/or rainy days. I'm sure others have their own methods that work just as well for them, or even better.

Silica Gel Packs on Amazon

I'm sure you know all the other factors, such as combinations of guitars, strings, pic, etc, etc. What works well for one may not for the other.   

 

 

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Why would I want to play a guitar that sounds like I stuffed a pillow in it?

My all hog D-15M sounds great and at that price for a USA made guitar its a steal, the 000-28 is a different beast and shorter scale, but when I pick up my D-41, its like entering another dimension, it just makes me smile. The 28 and 35 I owned were killer and would love to have both back, but a 41 is next level.

Edited by Sgt. Pepper
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2 minutes ago, Sgt. Pepper said:

Why would I want to play a guitar that sounds like I stuffed a pillow in it?

I could not imagine any reason at all.

Perhaps I over-illustrated my point. Then again, people do so love to take something out of context and blow it to smithereens. This is an internet forum with all of it's Inherent natures, etc.

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3 minutes ago, PatriotsBiker said:

I could not imagine any reason at all.

Perhaps I over-illustrated my point. Then again, people do so love to take something out of context and blow it to smithereens. This is an internet forum with all of it's Inherent natures, etc.

I'm not blowing anything out of context. The pillow comment was your statement not mine.

I played a SJ-200 in Carters Vintage and at the price they wanted for it, the guitar stayed right on the rack. I played a Thompson D-18 clone right before and at 5k it was the best guitar I ever heard in my life, and at 5k it also stayed right there.

Edited by Sgt. Pepper
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5 minutes ago, PatriotsBiker said:

Hokey Dokey, then!

Look I'm not trying to argue with you, just commenting on your statement. I think if I had a guitar that sounded like a pillow was it it. I would dump it.

I owned a big old Maple Guild, and it did nothing for me.

Edited by Sgt. Pepper
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To me it comes down to inspiration. Visually the SJ-200 surely lures you in and you just can't help but wanting to pick it up. 

And when you strum it it is surely a very pleasing sound. Had I only owned a SJ-200 I might have thought it's got the biggest voice in the world, but I guess I am lucky (or cursed in this case) in that I have the luxury to compare it to another high quality instrument. So when A/B- ing to the Martin J-40, the Gibson is hands down quieter and somehow subdued. This is less noticeable on the cowboy chords, but it sure becomes very evident when finger picked. The Martin emits volume and energy - it vibrates more and just feels "alive" under your fingers, whereas the Gibson feels "stiffer" for lack of a better word. 

The (S)J-200 seems to be (and has been) the weapon of choice for so many recording musicians, so it must do something right. I am just wondering if a set of medium strings might open it up some?

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2 minutes ago, jvi said:

dont judge all j 200s by one example....

Agreed.    
 

Martins are a hit and miss as well   As is anything else in the guitar world.  A&Bing one to another. Doesnt work for me.  
 

The money I spend gives me the opportunity to pick and choose whats hot and whats not.  

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2 minutes ago, slimt said:

Agreed.    
 

Martins are a hit and miss as well   As is anything else in the guitar world. 

Agreed.  No 2 are exactly the same. You could  make a guitar out of RW and from the same tree get a stunner or a dud.

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52 minutes ago, jvi said:

dont judge all j 200s by one example....

Exactly! I have a dozen guitars. If I could only have one, it would definitely be my J-200

I avoid tone discussions, because  I’ve Never been very good a describing that sort of thing. My J-200, rocks. Of course it’s 20 yr old.  My question is,,,,,,did you play the guitar before you bought it?  Personally, I don’t like loud guitars! I had an AJ for a period of time, but sold it because, to me, it was overpowering! It was a love, hate sort of thing. 

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6 minutes ago, Paul14 said:

Exactly! I have a dozen guitars. If I could only have one, it would definitely be my J-200

I avoid tone discussions, because  I’ve Never been very good a describing that sort of thing. My J-200, rocks. Of course it’s 20 yr old.  My question is,,,,,,did you play the guitar before you bought it?  Personally, I don’t like loud guitars! I had an AJ for a period of time, but sold it because, to me, it was overpowering! It was a love, hate sort of thing. 

Describing how a guitar sound is like describing how it fells to have sex.

I am gonna go on record and say all my guitars sound like guitars. I have 4 and none sound the same in any way. 2 have the same body shape but that's it.

Edited by Sgt. Pepper
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2 minutes ago, Sgt. Pepper said:

Describing how a guitar sound is like describing how it fells to have sex.

I am gonna go on record and say all my guitars sound like guitars. I have 4 and none are the same in any way. 2 have the same body shape but that's it.

I have 3 J-45’s different as day, night. Of course one is Rosewood. 

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I totally get the fact that guitars are different and there could be differences even with the same model - I was just trying to ascertain whether it is perceived as normal that the SJ-200 is not a very loud guitar. That's all. I don't think that is a subjective question and a Db meter would be able to explain this much better than I can.

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T“was just trying to ascertain whether it is perceived as normal that the SJ-200 is not a very loud guitar.”

i would say no , that’s not the perception of the SJ-200. While mine is not the loudest guitar I own, I would not refer to it as quiet!  

Edited by Paul14
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