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SJ-200 owner. Do I need a J-45 rosewood?

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I love the looks and aura of my SJ-200 and like its tight bass, but I also find it a bit cold sterile, compared to a Taylor for example. I know a lot of it is due to the maple sides and back and the snappy, quick notes decay, so I was wondering if a rosewood J-45 would give me a more lush and deep sound, with more overtones.  

My style is 50% strumming with a soft pick and a 50% finger picking with bare fingers. I very rarely play lead lines in terms of flat picking. 

Would a J-45 be a good addition or does the SJ-200 cover those sonic bases?

Unfortunately I do not have an opportunity to try one...

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Yes, you do.

But seriously, guitars & players are all so different that it’s hard to say what someone else needs.  I can only tell you that I have a 2002 J-45 Rosewood, and it offers up an incredibly dry & woody tone that’s unlike anything else I own - including a maple jumbo similar to yours.

Bottom line - In this individual case, that unique tone has led to some music that may not have otherwise occurred.

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10 minutes ago, bobouz said:

I can only tell you that I have a 2002 J-45 Rosewood, and it offers up an incredibly dry & woody tone that’s unlike anything else I own - including a maple jumbo similar to yours.

 

When you say "dry" tone, are you able to elaborate on that? 

I am looking for a response with is resonant and lush, with overtones

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This particular J-45R has a tone more like a vintage ‘50s or ‘60s rounshoulder.  It has a sharp percussive bark to it with depth & resonance, minus the “lush & overtones.”

I fingerpick with nails+flesh, and for me this is a tone that’s very appealing.  For you, perhaps not - but I primarily wanted to point out that’s it’s vastly different from a J-200 (also short vs long scale), and in that sense might open new creative doors.

I know this is easier said than done, but play a few if at all possible, or have a sure-fire return policy if you purchase online!

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It is most curious that OP uses the diction that was probably first termed by guitar marketing and is now so closely associated with rosewood back and sides. Have a listen below where Andertons test out the J-45 Deluxe (your J-45 rosewood stand-in) as well to decide for yourself.

 

Edited by Leonard McCoy

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In the world of guitars, generalizations are made to be broken - and often with the very next example of the same model.

Any time I’ve been fortunate enough to sample two or more of the same model (three or more is ideal - but how often does that happen anymore?), there have been significant differences, and typically one will clearly prevail tonally.

It’s just part of what makes this all so darn addictive!

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“I love the looks and aura of my SJ-200 and like its tight bass, but I also find it a bit cold sterile, compared to a Taylor for example“

I own both, a 2000 J-200, & a 2008 J-45RW.  I’ve never played a Taylor that could compare to either. That’s just my opinion of course. You didn’t say which Taylor? I guess that’s ok, since they all sound the same. Just kidding......sort of. I’ve always referred to the J-45 as lush. (Whatever that means).

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Tremolo -   before you buy a J-45RW sight unseen - given you think your Taylor makes your SJ-200 sound cold and sterile,  I would consider changing your strings and saddle - but most of all - get a medium or thicker, stiffer pick.  Graph Tech makes picks of varying shapes and thicknesses -  in 3 materials, Bright, Deep and  Warm.  Possibly that will help a bit.   Regardless - not knowing what model. tone wood, scale or shape your Taylor is - if it sounds more lush and woody compared to a typical SJ-200,  Id' say you REALLY  need to play before you buy -  even though you said you can't.  And, you might consider mahogany as well as Rose Wood.  G'Luck. 

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7 minutes ago, fortyearspickn said:

Tremolo -   before you buy a J-45RW sight unseen - given you think your Taylor makes your SJ-200 sound cold and sterile,  I would consider changing your strings and saddle - but most of all - get a medium or thicker, stiffer pick.  Graph Tech makes picks of varying shapes and thicknesses -  in 3 materials, Bright, Deep and  Warm.  Possibly that will help a bit.   Regardless - not knowing what model. tone wood, scale or shape your Taylor is - if it sounds more lush and woody compared to a typical SJ-200,  Id' say you REALLY  need to play before you buy -  even though you said you can't.  And, you might consider mahogany as well as Rose Wood.  G'Luck. 

Thanks for your input. 

For the record I do not own a Taylor. I was considering the new all Koa K26CE with the sound port. 

I have actually changed three set of strings on the SJ-200. First I tried D'Addario NYXL PB, then DR Sunbeams and currently it is strung with John Pearse 80/20. 

I like the way it sounds when strummed with the pick in the lower registers but I don't get a sense of lushness when I play songs like Drive (Incubus) for example, which is played up the neck. 

For guitar this big, I was expecting a bit more ring. It is also very quiet compared to other acoustics I have (including a Martin J-40, a Martin 000-42 and a Yamaha Trans Acoustic) 

As for the pick, I do use heavier picks. Whilst they add warmth, they do not add ring and lushness. 

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There is a huge difference between "need" and "want".

Based on need, you probably don't, but based on "want" you'll undoubtedly be able to rationalize that you do.

RBSinTo

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10 minutes ago, RBSinTo said:

There is a huge difference between "need" and "want".

Based on need, you probably don't, but based on "want" you'll undoubtedly be able to rationalize that you do.

RBSinTo

That is very true. The question was - will I find a rosewood J-45 considerably different than the SJ-200. The idea being that if I buy (and like the J-45) I would sell the SJ-200...

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Tremolo arm, the SJ-200 power and loudness is a whole different ball of wax than the others. You know this already, I'm sure. It does sound like you want some more tone with the low-end and low-mids. Let's say 80Hz up towards 400Hz. The area below 200Hz can sound anywhere from thick for the sake of thickness to thick with nice, rich overtones that might make one think of as being "woody" or "warm". These ranges can also wash each other out, which is not always the guitar's fault.

Mine is very strong on the warmth after doing an intense set-up and replacing nut with bone, leveling frets, etc. While I can get brighter if I go back to a tusq nut and saddle, or even back-file the saddle a little bit to come close to stock, I am not. It's the prettiest, warmest guitar I have. It joined my Hummingbird and Martin D-41 was being wow-factor guitars. It's made my once beloved Taylor 614CE expendable. It's for sale, actually.

There is someone else on the forum who went through a very thorough set-up on his SJ-200 and raved about it after a fancy gig he did it all for. After my recent experience, I now wonder if this particular guitar is particularly susceptible to it's setup. 

There is also the factor of your playing space. Is it always in 8 foot ceilings and smallish rooms, are are you talking about bigger spaces, like on the deck or in a big bonus room type of space? The effects range from low-frequency cancellation (or bunching up) through the other guitars actually ringing too much. Even a position in the same room can make big differences. Move an arm length's away.

What do your fellow home residents think when you solicate honest opinions out of them? Do they hear like you do? Do you know anyone that plays who would play them for you so that you can hear their perspective?

Picks and strings - the thicker picks are great sometimes, but sometimes not. I've been known to go back to 75mm stiff, noisy picks when feeling like my tone is "dead" or quiet that particular day. Going to some of those Martin Strings can be bright, while I found the DRs to not be. I like the DRs because it's ringout is easier on the ears. Not tried on my SJ, though. I did put a set of Elixer Poly 80/20s on it and the packaging did not lie. It was WARM. It made my 614 sound warmer, too. I assume you're using .012s still. I think someone has claimed that the .013s awoke his SJ-200, but I would do the research to make sure it can handle it before even thinking of trying this. 

Lastly, the humidity management of a Maple is HUGE. It hates humidity. It's a good way to make if sound woofy, maybe muddy and lose all sorts of bright projection it may have had. If you live in a moderate area and put a humidifier in as standard practice all of the time, you might need to adjust the practice. If it's a humid area, perhaps counter-measures need to be taken.

Well, just some food for thought. I hope you sort it out. Personally, I really enjoy having a RW, a Hummingbird and a Maple SJ. Each one is a delight to play and sound nice in their own ways. If you really do like the SJ-200, complimenting it in the stable with a Rosewood sounds like a wonderful idea. 

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2 hours ago, tremolo arm said:

That is very true. The question was - will I find a rosewood J-45 considerably different than the SJ-200. The idea being that if I buy (and like the J-45) I would sell the SJ-200...

Yes, you would find the 2 very different! I sold my first J-200. It was a huge mistake. It took me 20 years to be able to get another one. Maybe you’re in a better financial situation than me, but that’s my story, & I’m sticking to it.

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Well, just some food for thought. I hope you sort it out. Personally, I really enjoy having a RW, a Hummingbird and a Maple SJ. Each one is a delight to play and sound nice in their own ways. If you really do like the SJ-200, complimenting it in the stable with a Rosewood sounds like a wonderful idea. 

My thoughts also. Well put.  Variety is the way to go. I don’t own a Hummingbird, but I do have a J-45 from 2005, & a 2001 J-50, & a couple 15 series Martins. It’s nice to be able to play whatever you’re in the mood for.

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I only play with my fingers and the reason I have always been attracted to Gibsons is they  bloom right out of the starting  gate and then quickly get out of their own way while they tend to be a bit leaner when it comes to overtones/harmonics.   Just a nice fundamental sound.   That said, I would imagine a long scale Gibson with a rosewood body would likely get you closer to what you are looking for.

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56 minutes ago, zombywoof said:

I only play with my fingers and the reason I have always been attracted to Gibsons is they  bloom right out of the starting  gate and then quickly get out of their own way while they tend to be a bit leaner when it comes to overtones/harmonics.   Just a nice fundamental sound.

ZWF, thank you for doing a better job than I could (see post #4) in trying to describe a signature element of many Gibson’s.  I too play only with my fingers (nails & flesh striking the strings) in a three-finger Scruggs-style position, with my ring finger typically braced to the top.  Drop-thumb, forward & backward rolls, double-stops, to the point where a friend of mine commented that it’s a bit like someone playing banjo-style on the guitar.

So with my style of play, sustain & overtones are my enemies!  This doesn’t mean that the guitar should sacrifice resonance or depth.  It means that I don’t want the notes to linger around because I’m quickly moving on to the next note - and as you succinctly describe, many Gibsons tend to excell at this.

What the OP is after may not be at all within the wheelhouse of certain Gibsons.  In particular, the J-200 is notorious for tonally being all over the map.  It seems like every one I play sounds different.  Some are loud, some are not.  Some have a booming base that will rattle your gut, while others are much more balanced from high to low.  Some have notes that literally leap out of the soundhole, while the next one will produce a more muted tone.

I think the OP is in the process of a musical journey.  As long as he can afford to travel a bit guitarwise, it would be ideal to just sit back & enjoy the ride.

 

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I would recommend trying a Mahogany J45 first, then a RW. I don't find Rosewood a particularly lush or rich sounding wood in Gibson trim, as others have noted it's more dry, sometimes bordering on hard sounding. A former bandmate of mine had a J45RW which sounded nice in his hands, but I couldn't get it to work for me. Give me the big, bold SJ200 and I'm at home...the RW J45 was totally at the other end of the spectrum for me. 

I've owned several Mahogany J45s and I think that may be closer to what you're looking for. They have the big, broad midrange that is much more prominent than in the SJ200 (which is more mid scooped), and are very warm and full when hit with a pick. 

It's also worth considering a J185, these tend to be a little more focused and balanced than an SJ200. 

Having said that, my advice would be to work with the SJ200 and learn how to pull the best out of it. They're a mighty guitar, and a better instrument than most of us are a player. You can coax all manner of tones from them (I've owned several SJs and have used them as my primary touring guitar for 16yrs), if you figure out where to look. They're not a "does what it says on the tin" guitar and can make you work for what you're after, but the reward in finding it is a beautiful thing.

Owning and playing an SJ200 is rather like the best kind of relationship...it will challenge you, reward you, excite you, p*ss you off at times but ultimately make you better than you were before. You can't ask for much more than that.

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2 hours ago, Jinder said:

Owning and playing an SJ200 is rather like the best kind of relationship...it will challenge you, reward you, excite you, p*ss you off at times but ultimately make you better than you were before. You can't ask for much more than that.

Jinder's experiences and impressions of the J-45 Rosewood might not match mine, but hard to differ with what he says above- you already have one helluva guitar, Trem, but if you're still curious, I've always found Tony Polecastro's demo of the J-45 Std & Rosewood to show hearable differences between the two. . . (& I won't say what I'm hearing) especially in the video's last minute: (also- does one guitar have considerably more string break?):

 

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8 minutes ago, 62burst said:

Jinder's experiences and impressions of the J-45 Rosewood might not match mine, but hard to differ with what he says above- you already have one helluva guitar, Trem, but if you're still curious, I've always found Tony Polecastro's demo of the J-45 Std & Rosewood to show hearable differences between the two. . . (& I won't say what I'm hearing) especially in the video's last minute: (also- does one guitar have considerably more string break?):

 

Jinder's experiences and impressions of the J-45 RW don’t match mine, either, but I think he is spot on concerning the SJ-200. Never seen that video before. How did I miss that??

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The guitar is the constant - it's the ears that are the variable.  We all hear differently.  Based on Tony P's comparison video above - I think the 'hog was more 'lush'.    Wouldn't kick either one out of bed.  My J45 Custom is Koa.  So, I recuse myself. 

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There was a while when I was on a major rosewood jag- all about heavy listening to what rosewood brought to the table- 'had two J-45 rosewoods at the same time, and at the same time as other J-45's, and the deep-bodied Stage Deluxe rosewood, as well as another short scale rosewood slope from another builder. Then I was done. Done surfing on those rosewood overtones. Although the Hummingbird Rosewood is a special case, and isn't going anywhere, 'now just liking the honesty of mahogany, and the clean and raw simplicity of maple.

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I was also, into the whole Rosewood thing. I owned Guilds, Martins & Gibson’s. All kinds of different models. Back when I was buying Rosewood exclusively, I came to the conclusion that the D-55 Guild was the best. I found the Martin D-35 basey I thought the D-28 was kind of flat. We’re all different when it comes to this stuff. I also liked the Advanced Jumbo. Now, however I find both the AJ, & the D-55, way too overpowering for my taste.  We can describe “tone” all day long on this forum & you still aren’t going to know what a particular guitar does for you, until you play it.

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Thanks everyone for your replies... 

A lot of your suggest that I should persevere with my SJ-200.  A friend of mine (and fellow owner of an SJ-200) also advised the same. He also theorised that there might me something not quite right with my set up though I can't see any obvious technical culprits. Furthermore his saddle, nut and pins are all bone (he has a custom J-200 with the imperial tuners) and mine are all tusq - possibly because of the LR Baggs Anthem I have on mine as stock. Unfortunately due to the lockdown we have not been able to compare instruments in the flesh, but in his opinion the materials of those three components play a big role. 

My SJ-200 is relatively unplayed.  My friend advised that I accelerate the break-in in with a ToneRite. 

Going back to the rosewood vs. mahogany comparison - yes, I did watch the Policastro video and also the comparison, shown on Anderton's YouTube channel. I have to say I prefer the tone of mahogany on the Acoustic Letter video but prefer rosewood on Anderton's video. I was originally attracted to the RW model, because it looks prettier (to my eyes) and has a black (albeit re****e) fingerboard. One thing I am sure about is that I really dislike the light brown hue seen on most of the J-45 hog fingerboards (and other Gibson models, including electric - for that matter). 

But ultimately it is also about different specimen from the the same model.  Following your advice, I think I have now come to the conclusion that I will not be buying unseen and unplayed. It's just too big a risk. 

Someone asked me about what's the tone in my head is.  For strumming it's what I hear in Lyin' Eyes, Peaceful Easy Feeling, etc. by The Eagles. I know they mainly played Takamine and Martins - but there it is. 

For finger picking it's Blackbird (ironically again a Martin). I am not sure how many of you use your SJ-200  for finger picking but I just find it too quiet and uninspiring - possibly because of the big body, possibly because of maple. 

Speaking of Martin I have tried several - OM and Dreds - and they are just too focused and bassy for me. I'm also yet to find a Martin neck which I find comfortable, whereas the SJ-200 is just perfect. 

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There’s duds in every batch. If you can’t get the tone out of the SJ200, it could simply be that. I own Southern Jumbo’s in both mahogany and rosewood.  Both awesome guitars. The break angles are sharper than the J45.

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I think you'll find more you like about your SJ200 the more you play it.  I'm not saying they're an 'acquired taste'  but your ear does have to adjust to it a bit so you can 'hear' how different in a good way  it is compared a Koa Taylor.   Don't know how new yours is.  At least as much as any other acoustic - they  do need to be 'woke.  A ToneRite might work - but I'd do it the old fashioned way if I were me.  If playing time is an issue though - you can put a sound bar next to it, loop some music, check to feel the sympathetic vibrations on the face and leave it for a few hours every day for a week.       Another 'do it yourself-er',  you can get a bone saddle from Bob Colosi and that should help.  I'm guessing you have an Under the Saddle Transducer. That could be an issue if it is not seated perfectly or is wrinkly.  Consider removing it and make sure there isn't any sawdust, etc.  in there.   If you get a new saddle - you'll probably  have to sand a few millimeters off the bottom to fit it with decent action.  Don't sand it with out a using a guide channel. If you do it free hand, it will be rounded and wobble.   Also, make sure the saddle is not too thin.  If  it wobbles or leans, it will definitely rob tone and volume.  The entire bottom should rest snugly on the bottom of the bridge slot.  And make sure all the new (at least medium light) strings are seated correctly/tightly beneath the the bridge plate.  After all that - it's still not going to sound like a J45 !!    I've found my SJ200 is like a saxophone, and my J45 is like a trumpet.  You can't change their basic nature.   I've gone on way too much  here - I apologize if you've covered all these bases.  G'Luck. 

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