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Gibson J-45: dark grain stripes on guitar top. Yes or No?


Wolfi
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Hey folks,

I've been a silent reader for quite some time now. Happy to finally have my first post on this platform!

I had the chance to play two Gibson J-45s. One of them is an absolute beauty and sounds great - if you haven't heard the second one. Because the second one is a killer! Even the Martin D-18 and HD28 in the shop available didn't stand a chance when I compared them side by side.

But of course there's a catch: I just can't make up my mind about those weird dark grain stripes in the wood. I am (unfortunately) quite picky about the grain; just wondering if that would be a no-go for you and if you'd skip that one to find another (great sounding) one with the right aesthetics? Also, there's not too much saddle left on this one even though the low E is still on 2.6mm at the 12th fret. Not to mention the poor spraying job on the sides of the guitar; it's almost brown - not black. But I guess I could live with that for now.

 

U4djC3J.jpg


QbjVvno.jpg


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What's your opinion on that? Ever seen such a guitar top?

Thanks,
Pat

Edited by Wolfi
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I think that grain looks good - I agree about being a stickler for looks and I guess everyone has their own likes and dislikes.  I would never buy a guitar with 'bear claw' or imperfections but this grain doesn't bother me.  I would especially be inclined to keep it if it sounds good - I have read (and seen first hand) some terrible sounding J-45's...it is why I don't have one...

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For me a guitar is way more about how it sounds than how it looks.  If the second one is "killer" as you say then I wouldn't worry about what the grain looks like.  Personally I don't find the grain offensive anyway.

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Sound is in the ear of the listener. If I was given the choice between a flawless top with an inferior tone and a less-than-perfect top with killer tone - guess which one I'd pick. When you find that great sound, grab it. I bought my guitar(s) for the music that they can provide - not for lovely photos.

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Thanks for your feedback! I took measurements on the saddle; The low E string pops over the saddle at 4.5mm, the high E string at 2.8mm. I'd like to bring the strings down by 0.2mm. Do you think that's still fine? Would a lower saddle get problematic in the long run? If the angle of the neck changes I could always bring it back by adjusting the truss rod?

Thanks, Wolf

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Any chance you could post a standard mug shot of the guitar? Bizarre angles or closeups make the head spin. Maybe upload to imgur if you've exceeded forum image limits.  Thanks.

As to your conundrum- I'd bought two J-45's of a limited run of 44 that came with beautiful 3-color sunbursts. . . returned the more beautiful one that faded into a warm vermillion (cinnabar). Kept the one that had a cosmetic imperfection, but sounded better. Also bought two Martins of a similar model- kept the one that had the better neck angle- thought I might stand more of a chance of warding off the ghost of neck-resets future. 

Anymore, it's not all about tone, tone, tone for me. As interesting as it is to explore all of the things that can affect how a guitar sounds, as forumite Zombywoof loves to observe, "I still sound like me".

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4 hours ago, 62burst said:

Any chance you could post a standard mug shot of the guitar? Bizarre angles or closeups make the head spin. Maybe upload to imgur if you've exceeded forum image limits.  Thanks.

As to your conundrum- I'd bought two J-45's of a limited run of 44 that came with beautiful 3-color sunbursts. . . returned the more beautiful one that faded into a warm vermillion (cinnabar). Kept the one that had a cosmetic imperfection, but sounded better. Also bought two Martins of a similar model- kept the one that had the better neck angle- thought I might stand more of a chance of warding off the ghost of neck-resets future. 

Anymore, it's not all about tone, tone, tone for me. As interesting as it is to explore all of the things that can affect how a guitar sounds, as forumite Zombywoof loves to observe, "I still sound like me".

But if one sounds better to you, then you'll sound better with that one, too!

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4 hours ago, 62burst said:

Any chance you could post a standard mug shot of the guitar? Bizarre angles or closeups make the head spin.

Arhh, ,  come on good burst - don't let a well earned curriculum of psychedelia down. Or should we say don't let a healthy touch of psychedelia wear you down

                        - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Apart from that, the topic is close to what we had up the other day in the Hummingbird sunburst question-thread.                                                                                                                                                                                                           It's a very private choice and I personally think the example above is a bit on the strong side. Then again if the guitar is superb, it should be possible to live with it. 

                                                  Just my 5 Yen - Hi Wolfi - good first thread. Keeep posting. 

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32 minutes ago, E-minor7 said:

Arhh, ,  come on good burst - don't let a well earned Curriculum of Psychedelia down.

As much as C. of P. might've been a good band name back in the day, when one looks too close, it is possible to miss the forest for the trees.

 

Does this grain look ok ?

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21 minutes ago, 62burst said:


Does this grain look ok ?

Is this the desk of a judge or a mayor. 
Belonging in the chambers of Lewis Carroll or Edgar Allan Poe these graphic patterns had been not a few levels wilder. 

. . . . . . . . cxVsFsy.jpg

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Personally I do not give a fig about what the wood looks like.  My 1942 J50 has a particularly crappy looking top which if you will recall  had one of the book matched top pieces accidentally flip flopped.   But   despite having been with me many years  every time I pull it out of the case and hit a big fat open chord I utter a silent "Wow."  It is like hearing it for the first time. 

Oddly, I have started paying more attention to the back braces.  While I am sure there is a combination of things coming into play when it comes to pulling sound out of a guitar one of the things  my three favorites  have in common is they share the same tall tapering to a knife edge thin back braces.   Go figure.

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18 hours ago, BoSoxBiker said:

Are you having action issues? If so, What are your measurements at the 12th fret, 1st fret and the neck relief?

RE Strips - Rock and Roll!!!!  I think they're kind of nifty, but is personal opinion only.

APbyvke.jpg

 

 

It's well known that I'm not a fan of the red on the 'birds...but that's stunning!

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On 7/7/2021 at 6:29 PM, Wolfi said:

Hey folks,

I've been a silent reader for quite some time now. Happy to finally have my first post on this platform!

I had the chance to play two Gibson J-45s. One of them is an absolute beauty and sounds great - if you haven't heard the second one. Because the second one is a killer! Even the Martin D-18 and HD28 in the shop available didn't stand a chance when I compared them side by side.

But of course there's a catch: I just can't make up my mind about those weird dark grain stripes in the wood. I am (unfortunately) quite picky about the grain; just wondering if that would be a no-go for you and if you'd skip that one to find another (great sounding) one with the right aesthetics? Also, there's not too much saddle left on this one even though the low E is still on 2.6mm at the 12th fret. Not to mention the poor spraying job on the sides of the guitar; it's almost brown - not black. But I guess I could live with that for now.

What's your opinion on that? Ever seen such a guitar top?

Thanks,
Pat

Personally, I think it's a beautiful top. As opposed to an Antique Natural finish, noticably darker grain lines work for me on a Vintage Sunburst finish. The sides are supposed to be a dark brown, not black, so that is correct. But all that doesn't matter—it all comes down to whether you like it if it's going to be your guitar.

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RBSinTo's Law states:

"Everybody does what they do. I do what I do. You do what you do. And he does what he does."

If you really can't live with the aesthetics of the one that sounds wonderful, then keep looking until you find one that checks all the boxes.

My honest opinion: the most important characteristic of a musical instrument is the quality of its sound, and the aesthetics are secondary, and I'd opt for the one with the grain lines that sounds better.

Good luck with your quest.

RBSinTo

 

Edited by RBSinTo
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Wolfi....I vote NO.  You have stated the following in your own words about your Gibson, you wrote:  "I just can't make up my mind about those weird dark grain stripes in the wood. " ..this tells me you may not be happy with what you got on a $2850 guitar.  I too disliked the excessive stripes going down all over my two Gibson guitars. It took me six returns...I returned a J-45 three times, and a Hummingbird three times for esthetic reasons only. I hated doing it, but I hated the way they looked.  The result?  Both my J-45 and the Hummingbird are now flawless, with perfect burst, and no (zero) lines but smooth as butter on the tops.  Was it worth my effert?  ..Oh yes indeed it was for me.  And both my Gibsons now not only "play like angels"...they "look like angels too."   The choice is yours. It will play perfectly. All six of the Gibsons I returned were stellar in sound and tone. You can get a good looking one if that is what you want and you persue it. And it will sound every bit as good..if not better than the stripe top ones you have...which to me look like water had run over it and dried leaving those marks...that is not what they are, they are natural grain lines, but to me it looked like stains and I simply would not accept it.  I vote ..return it simply because those stains seem to bother you now...and trust me..if they bother you now...they will continue to do so every time you pick it up.  I was asked why I was returning those guitars I simply said point blank..."I do not pay $3000 and $4000 for a guitar with a top like that. No questions asked, they took it back and ordered a new one. And I KEPT doing that until I got what I wanted. At that price I felt i deserved the best. No regrets now!

Edited by ALD323
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Wolfie,      To pass on a great guitar, one which feels and sounds better than any other you may ever find, simply because the grain looks like wood, instead of ... not wood,  would be an invitation to regret,Returners Remorse, for most here.    If it were an expensive new car with actual defects in the paint job or a dining room table that had a big old fugly Knot Hole in it - absolutely return it.     It's obvious from this small sample of comments some people don't like bear claws, some don't like red in their sunburst, some don't like grain lines.  But most prioritize the tone, playability, fit and finish over pure aesthetics.  

That said -  I think you've already made up your mind to not purchase it.  It sounds like you've got access to a store that has a good selection, if it has 2 J45s.  IF a brand new one, albeit a great player, has little saddle left - I would definitely pass on it.  Most telling -  you wrote that you are unhappy with the ''poor spraying job on the sides - its brown, not black. But I guess I can live with that for now."     

The question might be - are you looking for a good J45 while you continue the search for  "The One" ?   You might have to follow ALD323's strategy and keep ordering and returning guitars until you find one you believe checks all the boxes.  Of course, the dealer may cut you off after getting a half dozen returned for aesthetics.  For example, Standard J45s usually have brown sides, not black or near black.    G'Luck. 

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I have come to realize that it is impossible for me to have a guitar that doesn't caress my eye. Regardless of sound and playability.                                                                                                                                                                             It happened many years ago, but is now more obvious than ever.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               To spend time behind a foreign looker would feel too wrong - and no matter how many hours, nothing would change that circumstance.                                                                                                            The lack of 'deeper acceptance' becomes a barrier blocking the symbiosis I'm after - and it's the feeling of symbiosis that provides the ease'n'calm it takes to dive in, stay there and learn. 

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19 minutes ago, E-minor7 said:

I have come to realize that it is impossible for me to have a guitar that doesn't caress my eye. Regardless of sound and playability.                                                                                                                                                                             It happened many years ago, but is now more obvious than ever.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               To spend time behind a foreign looker would feel too wrong - and no matter how many hours, nothing would change that circumstance.                                                                                                            The lack of 'deeper acceptance' becomes a barrier blocking the symbiosis I'm after - and it's the feeling of symbiosis that provides the ease'n'calm it takes to dive in, stay there and learn. 

Willie Nelson, for one would beg to differ with you.

RBSinTo

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Don't know why  some  refer to  this top as flawed.  The top was carefully selected  for this J-45. I call it unique,  not the least bit flawed. Why is it important that every J-45 look exactly the same?

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