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modoc_333

AJ.... why not more talk?

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I think it's the best thing they have ever built.  When it came out it was the top of the line.   But people don't seem to go for it.   Why do you think that is?

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The AJs are awesome guitars.  Ideal for gentle fingerpicking, but made for a loud and clear sound.  My AJ is not the traditional one.  Mine is Koa and short scale and as I said numerous times before, "I'm not sure what model it actually is."  Whatever is it, it's a truly super guitar.  I had a rosewood AJ, long scale and my son has it.  He's had it for several years now and it's a gentle beast.  I still play it now and then and it's a different feel and sound from my Koa AJ.  If I remember correctly, I think the rosewood is a 91-92 model.  I don't know that I'd say one is a better guitar than the other.  Both are really fine guitars.  If I had to choose, I'd likely say that the rosewood is the better AJ...................Anyway, I don't think that lots of people outside of guitar folks know what an AJ is.  It doesn't have the notoriety of the Hummingbird, which is quite possibly the most well-known guitar in the world.  The AJ, aside from  its enlay on the neck is a  kind of plain-looking guitar and tends to blend-in with the looks of a million other guitars (to the general public).  Like the Martin D28 and D35, it's a monster, but also like them is typically not very flashy in the looks department.  A Hummingbird or a Dove in the hands of "Roy Clark" level picker will likely be remembered more than an AJ or D28......because of the bling.  People want to be entertained, and a Hummingbird/Dove add to the entertainment.  Folks like us listen to and look at guitars differently......Just my view.  Doesn't make me right and someone else wrong.

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Modoc, nice to have you checking in!  Re the AJ, for me it's simply been a matter of having a preference for short scale instruments.  I do own a number of long scale acoustics (including a McCartney Texan), but since the J-45/J-50 covers the same territory in a short-scale, I've never been focused on AJs.

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It's hard. . . the robust Advanced Jumbo standing in the shadow of the humble J-45. Maybe the type of music it excels at is not as big as the broad range of music that the J-45 covers so well ?

As Bobouz said, scale length. But it's the AJ's scale length and bracing,  combined with the rosewood's overtones, and the concentrating effect of the slope shoulders. . . the mahogany J-45 just seems to augment the vocals, and not compete in the same sonic space.

CL4JUVr.jpg?1

 

Modoc- 'glad to see there's been a remission in your guitar overload.

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21 minutes ago, 62burst said:

It's hard. . . the robust Advanced Jumbo standing in the shadow of the humble J-45. Maybe the type of music it excels at is not as big as the broad range of music that the J-45 covers so well ?

As Bobouz said, scale length. But it's the AJ's scale length and bracing,  combined with the rosewood's overtones, and the concentrating effect of the slope shoulders. . . the mahogany J-45 just seems to augment the vocals, and not compete in the same sonic space.

CL4JUVr.jpg?1

 

Modoc- 'glad to see there's been a remission in your guitar overload.

 

You're absolutely right about the RW AJ being a difficult guitar to marry up to vocals. I had the same problem when I had my 2002 AJ. Great guitar, super powerful and loud, lots of character, but it's natural tonality really fought with my vocal. 

For the last few years I've owned a Maple AJ, a 2016 Custom Shop Flame Deluxe, which is a MUCH better fit with the male voice. The tendency for Maple to have slightly less midrange really pulls the EQ of the guitar into a more neutral and balanced shape, and the projection and response of the thing is just glorious. 

I'm a big AJ fan, and was really disappointed that I couldn't make the traditional RW AJ work for me as a singer/songwriter. The Maple is perfect, though. Oddly enough my friend Mick Terry, a tremendous songwriter and artist, has owned my RW AJ since 2014 and has made two beautiful albums with it-he plays it in open E with a light pick, and has a different vocal tonality to me. It suits him perfectly, I can't imagine a better combination...so it's only SOME voices it doesn't sit with easily!

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Its a challenging guitar to play and the tone is specific, not to everyone's liking.  The slope shouldered rosewood long scale designed is quite a challenge to harness, it really a has a lot under the bonnet. This is turn makes it a challenging strummer, best suited to hybrid strumming, but excels at single note flatpicking and fingerpicking. As Jinder mentioed, this power and volume clashes with the male voice, i had the same experinece when i owned mine.

Also, the tone is somewhat rustic, a bit rough n ragged, especially compared to the smoother J-45.

Id say those two things ,and simply less marketing, exposur had an impact on the AJ. Simply not as appealing to a broad audience, but more a tighter segment, which in turn impacts sales big time.

 

Edited by EuroAussie

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I owned an AJ; a great guitar to be sure. But it is louder than a J-45, and more nasally loud more specifically. A unique tone. A great fingerpicker. A great flatpicker. Not so great a strummer.

Not for everyone; but certainly good enough for Mark Knopfler.

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Yeah, it does seem that while many found the AJ to be their favorite model, there has been little talk of it lately.  Maybe the AJ has just been buried by all the hoopla surrounding the newly introduced lines such as the "Historic" Series. 

I may be wrong but I recall reading or hearing somewhere that Ren based the design of his bracing on that in an original AJ although modifying it to add strength to the top.  So if true, with a few notable exceptions, all Bozeman Gibsons share a bit of AJ DNA.   What would then appear to make the guitar stand out in a crowd would be the long scale neck which makes for a different feel as well as a different sound.  

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I'm playing bluegrass these days and the AJ works really well for that - projective when I want to be, or if someone else takes a lead I'll just sort of play barre chords up the neck and it will blend in nicely without disappearing.  However, it's rare to see someone perform with an AJ or boutique AJ - I think Martin pretty much owns the bluegrass space with the D-18 and D-28 (and other boutique makers with their own versions), it's a music genre with its own traditions and the really famous players all played Martins.  This is likely due to the fact that so few original AJs were made that they were really an obscure guitar for decades.  Personally, I prefer the "rustic and rough" sound as EA put it over the sweeter Martin sound and use that to sound different from all the other guitarists with their square Martins.

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I own two J45’s, an H’bird, a 1994 Centennial Jumbo and a 2003 Luthers Choice AJ.  The AJ is by far my favorite.  It is my “run back into the burning house” to save guitar.  Mine does have an Adi top and I suspect that affects my opinion a lot.  Yes it is an extremely strong guitar when needed but beautiful on quiet passages also.  Some have stated that AJ are not good strummers,  better for single note lines.  However I love the sounds of chords played on this guitar.  The sound is deep with just a beautiful shimmer on top.  I love it.  Guess that’s why there are so many different models out there.

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As an addendum to my earlier comments, I spent an hour with my Maple AJ yesterday and it could well be my favourite of all my guitars. It's so bold and dynamic, really responsive and easy to coax different tones from. It has a similar response to a very dry vintage instrument, really lively and quick. With the Sunrise pickup in it, it's a superb live guitar, too.

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3 hours ago, Jinder said:

As an addendum to my earlier comments, I spent an hour with my Maple AJ yesterday and it could well be my favourite of all my guitars. It's so bold and dynamic, really responsive and easy to coax different tones from. It has a similar response to a very dry vintage instrument, really lively and quick. With the Sunrise pickup in it, it's a superb live guitar, too.

. . . and I meant to echo your original comments on the maple AJ from your earlier post- having really gotten into the sound of maple has brought me a fresh set of ears to hear how it works on the Advanced Jumbo; how it tightens the sound, and reins in the power of the AJ's overall design. Birdseye model from the early days of Bozeman, below:

 

FrYDRrT.jpg?4

8M5YdcR.jpg?3

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I’ve had a standard and a walnut AJ. Both were excellent sounding powerful guitars. My main issue is I like my action extremely low. Both guitars had an extremely tapered wedge which makes sense to raise the bass strings but does not fit my preferences 

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53 minutes ago, 62burst said:

. . . and I meant to echo your original comments on the maple AJ from your earlier post- having really gotten into the sound of maple has brought me a fresh set of ears to hear how it works on the Advanced Jumbo; how it tightens the sound, and reins in the power of the AJ's overall design. Birdseye model from the early days of Bozeman, below:

 

FrYDRrT.jpg?4

8M5YdcR.jpg?3

That's a stunner, 62!! From the front it looks identical to mine...the back is something else, though!!

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I think that a number of comments made above get to the heart of the matter. The AJ was designed to be a powerful flatpicker's weapon with it's long scale and dynamic voicing. (To confuse matters, Gibson being Gibson felt the need to create a short-scale AJ to drum up sales, which might be great guitars, but realistically aren't really AJ's but in name only.) Sticking to the authentic AJ design, it's not surprising that it might be a bit of a miss here on this forum as so many members are strummers / vocalists. But as seen with Jinder and others, there are no absolutes when it comes to the AJ. 

I myself have 3 Gibsons — a J45TV and two AJ's, one with rosewood back & sides and the other with maple back & sides. As a fingerpicker who doesn't sing, the AJ's design actually works out well for me. This makes sense as in some ways the AJ's voicing reminds me of a more dynamic, louder OM guitar. I'll admit that I've ended up spending more time with the maple AJ than it's rosewood counterpart over the past couple of years. Were I to sell one of my Gibson's the rosewood AJ would be the first to go. To summarize, the Advanced Jumbo is indeed a great guitar, but it's just not for everyone nor ideal for every purpose. I would add that from an aesthetic standpoint, they are amongst the most attractive guitars that Gibson has ever created to my eye — the diamond and arrowhead inlays being my all time favorite fretboard design.

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I'm new to the AJ party, having just scored a used 1997 model last week. Mine has rosewood back and sides and a spruce top.

I love how loud it is, whether I'm flatpicking, hybrid picking, or strumming. It's WAY louder than my 1994 J-100 Xtra.

I haven't had a chance to play with my musical partner yet (he's the lead vocalist) so we'll see how it goes with vocals the next time we get together.

 

Edited by AcousticBrew

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