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Help with A/B Comparison


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I'm officially in the market for my next acoustic and have found a way to try out two models.  My local shop is a great Gibson dealer but they've decided to keep their showroom closed during the pandemic.  After some conversations, they've agreed to let me try out two guitars (and only two) either in the parking lot or during a trial period at home.  I know it seems strange to limit me to two options but I'm very grateful to them for going above and beyond their normal operating procedures at this time.  I currently own a J-45 TV from 2014 that I love but have some questions about.  I hear some people complain of "dead" Gibsons...this one seems unnaturally bright in most circumstances.  I also have a Martin CEO-7.  So, two Adi tops with hog back and sides with sloped shoulders.  I'm ready to branch out.  

My shop has a number of great models in stock but I need help narrowing down my options.  Out of the options listed below, what would be the best two in your opinion to give me different flavors to consider?

-Custom Shop 1957 SJ-200 (Aged Sitka, Maple)

-2019 SJ-200 Vintage (Aged Adi, Maple)

-Custom Shop 1942 Banner Southern Jumbo (Aged Adi, Rosewood)

-Custom Shop 1942 Banner J-45 (Aged Adi, Mahogany) 

My heart is drawn to one of the SJ-200's but I'm also nervous as they seem to let some people down (duds, wrong expectations?).  I'm not always drawn to Rosewood but I've never owned a good Rosewood so what do I know?  Also, I know I already have a J-45 but I'm curious to hear how they might sound different...sue me, I might be a J-45 enthusiast.  

So.....which two would you choose if you were me?

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Just my situation.

Although I've always liked the SJ200, I've wittled my way down from four to one. I've had some nice ones but find I very seldom stand and play anymore and they are not comfortable for me when sitting.

I would try the two banners.

I have a j45 Legend and a '52 J45 that I like that I would compare to the '42 Banner J-45. I recently sold a vintage '42 J45 that I didn't like.

I have the 42 Banner Southern Jumbo on order. I don't have an apple to apple for this comparison. I have a few Martin RW (including a BRW) for comparison. Gibson RW-wise, I have a NL and Stage Deluxe. I've had a J45 Custom RW and a Honky Tonk Duece RW that I did not care for plus a few other body size rw's. I like rosewood for a tonewood but I'm picky.

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I would first try the 1957 SJ200 and 1942 Banner Southern Jumbo RW. Being you already have a J45TV I would look to expand on something different. A Historic J185  Vintage Sun Burst is another one to " consider". Don't be in a hurry. If your LGS will let you try them at home, go for it. Trying new guitars out in a parking lot ?? Just plain crazy.... Access You Tube and listen to the many videos on the Historic, Original and Modern models. There are some excellent, interesting options out there. The quality on the 2020 models I have seen so far is some of the best I have seen in a long time. Good luck on your quest.

Edited by freebyrd
adding a link. https://youtu.be/W1iTr_tbxdM
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13 minutes ago, 75 Hummingbird said:

Your shop has an incredible selection of guitars to chose from  .....where do you live ?

They really do.  Colorado.  I'd be patient if I thought they were opening back up soon but I'm not optimistic after talking to a few of their guys on the phone.  

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I had a similar decision to ponder recently. The specific model type doesn't matter in my description below. They could have been anything. That said, they sere both SJ-200.

I made my decision a month ago, and it was agonizing to some extent. All CS entries were in play, but I eventually narrowed it down to the J-55, 42 SJ Banner, Pre-War SJ-200 and the 50's J-185. The one I favored the most was based on the sounds I heard in two videos. I already had a different version of that model, though.  The back and side woods were different as well as the torrafied top instead of standard un-torrafied top. A 3rd video popped up confirming the sound I wanted was indeed in the favored one. I ordered mine right away. 

They were quite a bit different in the beginning, just as I had hoped. I wanted to track and compare the two. I changed strings and lost some bottom end on the older one. It really didn't matter a whole lot on the A/B tracking I did because I was tracking with microphones not really made for the job, in that room(long story). In addition to the strings and mics, I used a pick that I knew would do a decent on both guitars instead of ones that I favored for each guitar. Those items leveled the playing field to some extent, though they did nothing to show the differences via recordings I had.

The experiment is ongoing. New mics are due here by the weekend. I'll learn them and then re-track the current strings using that same pick. Part-2, then, will be to change the strings to what I want and use, and do the tracking using the picks I know to favor them individually. In the end, I'll have A/B test that show how close they can be, and another set that shows how different they can be. At least I hope. Capturing how it feels to play the Maple is not going to be easy.

So to answer your question, finally, I would choose to try the Custom Shop SJ and the Custom Shop '57 SJ-200. Why not the J-45? I have no solid reason, except that I'd want as different as wood as possible to help make the two experiences as different as can be. While I do have two SJ-200s, I can assure you that I do not feel like I'm playing the same guitars. That was the case even when I had them both beside me for a week. I got spoiled to no end.  


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You must not be talking to the right people. I dont think Ive ever played a dead Gibson or a Dud.  And Ive owned many over the years.    Ive many tell me they dont have that tone of a Martin.   Well there not Martins. 
Your J45 TV is a fine guitar.   They have a place in everyones collection or music. 

on another Note. Rosewood j200.   They have alot of voice  I have a few and I like those very much . 

I own a Rosewood SJ banner from  the 90s  great guitar.  

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Since I’ll very soon be ready to buy a J200, I’d grab the newer of the two.  As far as “duds’ go,  I wouldn’t worry about them much with Gibsons..  Besides, just what a dud is depends on the ears listening.  Whatever guitar you buy, get a good setup so that it is very-easy-on-the fingers.  If the guitar is comfortable to hold and play you will spend a lot of time with it.  Also, be sure the J200 is a good match for you.  As already mentioned, it’s physically too big of a guitar for some people.  My J100 (same size as the J200) is a very comfortable fit for me, but I’ve got a friend who loves the guitar, but he’s not as tall as me and he can only play it for a short time before his arms get sore.   .......If the J200 is a good match for you, don’t let someone else talk you out of it.

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