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J-45 Standard Setup


Jay-45
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I recently purchased a 2021 J-45 Standard from an Authorized Gibson Dealer in another state.. They told me that the J-45 that I purchased came expertly setup from the factory. I found it a little hard to play and replaced the original strings with Elixer PB Extra-Lights. The sound with the Extra-lights was horrible. So, I put on some D'Addario PB EXP16 Lights, and now the sound is back to better. So, I have a few questions.

1. What are the best strings to put on to try to achieve the same type of sound that Neil Young gets from his Martin D28. That is the type of music that I play.

2. What additional setup can be done to my J-45 to achieve better play-ability for my short fat finders?

I read elsewhere that lowering the action, or changing the saddle can really impact the tone, negatively.  So, I would really appreciate any advice or tips to help get my setup right, for me.

I am in Orange County, California and do not know any Gibson Luthiers.

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Welcome.

For starters, a J-45 sounds nothing like a D-28. They are completely different guitars, so if that is your goal, you are almost bound to be disappointed with a J-45.

You may want to play if for awhile, like weeks, to get a feel for what you like and don't like about your current setup.

You don't necessarily need a luthier to do a setup. You need a good guitar tech. A professional setup is fairly cheap, and generally well worth the cost.

Typically, they may ask you to play a few things in your normal style, so they can get a better feel for how to set the guitar up for that style of playing.

As you have learned, extra-light strings are not a particularly good match for the J-45.

Strings are a very personal choice. As you may have noticed, there  is a pinned thread at the top of the Gibson acoustic forum dedicated to strings and the bits that go with them.

Start your research there.

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39 minutes ago, jedzep said:

...or, check their return policy and get a refund so you can buy the Martin.

Many of us own some of each, loving the different tone.

 

55 minutes ago, j45nick said:

Welcome.

For starters, a J-45 sounds nothing like a D-28. They are completely different guitars, so if that is your goal, you are almost bound to be disappointed with a J-45.

You may want to play if for awhile, like weeks, to get a feel for what you like and don't like about your current setup.

You don't necessarily need a luthier to do a setup. You need a good guitar tech. A professional setup is fairly cheap, and generally well worth the cost.

Typically, they may ask you to play a few things in your normal style, so they can get a better feel for how to set the guitar up for that style of playing.

As you have learned, extra-light strings are not a particularly good match for the J-45.

Strings are a very personal choice. As you may have noticed, there  is a pinned thread at the top of the Gibson acoustic forum dedicated to strings and the bits that go with them.

Start your research there.

This is my first experience with a short scale guitar. I am wondering which frets are most impacted with shortened widths. It seems that I am have to tighten up my shapes of open chords in the first three frets. Can you enlighten me on what the benefits and drawbacks are with the 24.75" scale vs the normal 25.5" scale that I was used to on other dreadnaughts. 

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This is my first experience with a short scale guitar. I am wondering which frets are most impacted with shortened widths. It seems that I am have to tighten up my shapes of open chords in the first three frets. Can you enlighten me on what the benefits and drawbacks are with the 24.75" scale vs the normal 25.5" scale that I was used to on other dreadnaughts. 

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1 hour ago, Jay-45 said:

That's a bit mean-spirited!  I just got my J-45 and am still learning about what it can and can't do as far as sound goes.

Jay-45,

Not mean-spirited at all. Just a real-world observation.

I own both a D-28 and a j-45, and can tell you that they sound very different, because, if nothing else they are constructed of different tone woods ( the Martin of Sitka Spruce and ROSEWOOD, and the Gibson from Sitka Spruce and MAHOGANY).  Other differences aside, those will result in very different voices. And different strings and set-ups won't make one sound like the other.

The j-45 is an excellent guitar, and you will undoubtedly enjoy it, but it doesn't sound like a D-28.

However, if you want a guitar that does sound like the D-28, either get the Rosewood Martin Dreadnought, or the Gibson Rosewood equivalent, which is what jedzep was telling you.

RBSinTo

Edited by RBSinTo
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Having both, I notice very little difference in playing short scale guitars, and it may just be that I'm not that skilled or discerning a player.  I have square-ish, not so long fingers too, and have tolerated many not so well set up vintage acoustics, perhaps desensitizing me to getting spoiled by the clean, easy feel of a perfectly set-up new instrument.

As such, I do need the 1 3/4 inch nut width for max string spacing, and use medium strings tuned a step down to D standard, often with a capo to make things easier on my old hands and vocal reach.  I think it's important to not get too used to one set of fret hand expectations, and to be able to handle different feels with just a little adjustment time.  You never know when a friend will hand you their D-28 and say, here, try this.


It sounds like the seller didn't really ship your guitar out with the promised setup, for whatever reason.  As Nick said, you'll probably want to have that done somewhere down the line.

Edited by jedzep
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I play lots of Neil young on my J-45.  I think his stuff sounds really great with that dry woody slope shoulder sound.  My favorite strings on it are Martin retros (monels), but you HAVE to play the guitar a week or two until they start to break in before they really hit their stride.  From there, they last six months sounding great.  
 

Also, “expert factory setup” or whatever they call it is rarely acceptable.  Nut slots on mine were way high when I got it.  I really think medium strings sound best, and if you have a good tech check the nut, relief, and saddle, it should play like butter and sound amazing.  A proper setup will make the guitar sound better (not worse) because you’ll be better able to play the notes without buzzing or trouble.  And if you must, use True Mediums or Medium-Lights, but much lighter than that, and you lose tone IMO.  Have fun!  

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First welcome and congrats on the Gibson.

I get the impression though you are overthinking all of this.  

Best advice thus far offered is to live with the guitar for a while and maybe just putz around with strings.  Just sniff each other out.  Experience will teach you not only what works best for you in terms of feel but how to pull what you want out of this or that guitar.  Most of the times a new to you guitar is the start of a beautiful friendship.  But then again, sometimes you and a guitar are just not going to click.   

 

Edited by zombywoof
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6 hours ago, j45nick said:

Welcome.

For starters, a J-45 sounds nothing like a D-28. They are completely different guitars, so if that is your goal, you are almost bound to be disappointed with a J-45.

You may want to play if for awhile, like weeks, to get a feel for what you like and don't like about your current setup.

 

 

Hard to sound like Neil anyhow, but I keep these two around for when the NY mood hits Martin D18E Retro and Martin HD28V! :

 

sRnv4n8h.jpg

BluesKing777.

 

Edited by BluesKing777
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38 minutes ago, jedzep said:

...two more guitars I didn't know you had.

It's not so hard to sound like Neil, just hard to think like him.

 

I have owned both for 7 or 8 years........even though I am primarily 0/00/OM, you know you keep reading about this stuff and owning it for a few years is a sure way to find out what people are talking about!

It is funny how things change - you read the forums and all the people currently buying pre-aged guitars, but not that long ago when the HD28V (2006 model) was at the guitar shop, it was over in the ‘naughty pile’ that everyone ignored for the pristine newbies. It had some heavy pick strokes across the top and a bit of buckle rash!😷

Now it is a 15 year old Martin beauty!

And one of the first blues guys I saw play live concerts was Brownie McGhee with his D18! Phew!

 

BluesKing777.

 

 

Edited by BluesKing777
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1. What are the best strings to put on to try to achieve the same type of sound that Neil Young gets from his Martin D28. That is the type of music that I play.

A.  It's really hard to compare apples to oranges.

 

2. This is my first experience with a short scale guitar. I am wondering which frets are most impacted with shortened widths. 

A. I cant help you there, I don't understand the question. 

 

My advice would be to leave your guitar alone IMO ( some people only dream of having a j-45 ) Play it for a few months let you both get used to each and then take it and 

have a good setup by a good luthier, ( also over the years Ive changed from lights to mediums a few times without issues but all guitars are different)  And as far as NY goes he also 

played a d-18 on some songs, your j-45 would be closer to that than a d-28 when trying to compare  IMHO.

 

**Im not a regular poster here but a fairly regular lurker,   Im a lover of most genre of music and good guitar brands  they all have their place , Ive been trying to play for over 30 years, I come here to learn more about Gibson acoustics ( I couldn't think of a better place to go ) so take my opinion with a grain of salt. 

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Welcome and belated congratulations on your New Guitar Day!  We all have artists we respect greatly who play different models and brands.  I am not a fan of Young, but thought he was mostly an electric player.  I'm sure you knew his D28 and D45 are vintage and rosewood, so will sound different than a new J45  when you made your decision.  I'm guessing your voice is different as well !!   And I bet you were also aware of the fact that the J45 is arguably the most commonly recognized guitar out there for a reason.  

Anyway.  it will take a couple years for your guitar to get broken in and attain its full potential in terms of tone.  Enjoy the voyage, and don't worry about the destination.    Also,  it takes a player several hours to adjust to the differences in a new  guitar when they are use to playing another - to the point of feeling really comfortable.  The better the setup, the quicker the adjustment period.  But as RbW suggested above, don't rush to get the setup.  And a  pox on extra lite strings!  Medium Lights are what I would shoot for -  Lites won't give you the full sound and power you want.   Depending on your situation, as Jedzep suggested, tuning down a full step to DGCFAD allows many of us to use medium strings,  get better bang for the buck on the bass strings  plus enjoy the feel and sound when  capoing on the 2nd fret.  And, of course,  ignore the first week of jangly-spangly new string sound. Though many love it, many others prefer the sound of strings that have at least a year of play on them - to be able to hear the guitar and not let the strings get in the way.   As you know - the heavier and higher the string - the more power it will put out, but the more difficult it will be to fret.  So you have to find a happy medium, sometimes within a hundredth of an inch.  A guitar tech will get you close enough.  "Measure with a micrometer, mark with chalk and cut with an axe."   I have short scale and long scale guitars and switch back and forth so often, I never think about a difference in 'feel' - just how much I enjoy the difference in sound.  Finally,  watch large swings in humidity - that will affect 'feel' as the belly/face swells up and raises the bridge to the point of making the strings a tad sharp# !  

Apologies for any of this that tells you what you already knew !!!   G'Luck. 

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11 hours ago, jedzep said:

...two more guitars I didn't know you had.

It's not so hard to sound like Neil, just hard to think like him.

 

After talking about it, I played my D18 from the photo at lunchtime acoustically yesterday and then plugged in with the pickup later on.

I then pressed record when playing a short 8 bars blues fingerpicker - if anyone wants to hear it, I just posted it here on AGF:

https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=632417

 

 

BluesKing777.

 

 

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36 minutes ago, jedzep said:

Love it, BK.  Better sustain, richer tone on a big guitar. 

Let's see Neil try that one!

 

Thanks JZ!

It is hard to control the bass , even with my bare finger playing, and hard to record it! Then I played too fast.....

I played a whole lot of NY tunes before recording the blues - I have a NY book and I play the chords and fingerpick the (famous) singing bits.....don’t have to sing!

Sorry for the thread hijack but it is useless posting the track here. Next up in Chez BK777 - my 2005 Blues King was next to the D18 and gets a run.....

 

BluesKing777.

 

 

 

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I wouldn't worry.  I think Jay45 got some useful information about wrangling his new guitar.  Your playing added to acoustic threads always fits in nicely.

I'm stuck on Neil last couple days, and a couple songs from Tull's first two, testing out D'Addario XT medium 80/20s on my J50.   A week in, I love them.  No break in period, just nicely balanced.  We'll see how long it lasts.

Edited by jedzep
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40 minutes ago, jedzep said:

I wouldn't worry.  I think Jay45 got some useful information about wrangling his new guitar.  Your playing added to acoustic threads always fits in nicely.

I'm stuck on Neil last couple days, and a couple songs from Tull's first two, testing out D'Addario XT medium 80/20s on my J50.   A week in, I love them.  No break in period, just nicely balanced.  We'll see how long it lasts.

 

Elixir PB Nanos rule! Leave them on for 5 years if rotating guitars! Saved our skin in lockdowns. (Strings and other bits hard to get here since Covid, and good guitars go for gold.)

 

BluesKing777.

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Hah!  5 years, huh?  Sold.  I'll put a set on an OM next and send my report.

Nothing in short supply here in the USA,  except maybe sanity.

Yeah, prices are nasty.  I was looking at a sweet parlor, but the seller offers no info.

https://reverb.com/item/45454460-martin-0-16-ny-1967

...
but we digress.

Edited by jedzep
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1 hour ago, jedzep said:

Hah!  5 years, huh?  Sold.  I'll put a set on an OM next and send my report.

Nothing in short supply here in the USA,  except maybe sanity.

Yeah, prices are nasty.  I was looking at a sweet parlor, but the seller offers no info.

https://reverb.com/item/45454460-martin-0-16-ny-1967

...
but we digress.

 

Digress?

I think we have digressed from our first digress! 😁

I saw a guit that I traded years ago for sale again the other day, at 3 x the price! And if I took the 2 Martins in the photo above to the guitar shop, there would be a fight! They got nothin'....and the delivery people have been on strike! They had a D28 standard for 2 secs, and a 00-18 for 1 sec, but they haven't had any D18s for years!

BluesKing777.

 

 

 

Edited by BluesKing777
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On 11/24/2021 at 7:10 PM, Jay-45 said:

I recently purchased a 2021 J-45 Standard from an Authorized Gibson Dealer in another state.. They told me that the J-45 that I purchased came expertly setup from the factory. I found it a little hard to play and replaced the original strings with Elixer PB Extra-Lights. The sound with the Extra-lights was horrible. So, I put on some D'Addario PB EXP16 Lights, and now the sound is back to better. So, I have a few questions.

1. What are the best strings to put on to try to achieve the same type of sound that Neil Young gets from his Martin D28. That is the type of music that I play.

2. What additional setup can be done to my J-45 to achieve better play-ability for my short fat finders?

I read elsewhere that lowering the action, or changing the saddle can really impact the tone, negatively.  So, I would really appreciate any advice or tips to help get my setup right, for me.

I am in Orange County, California and do not know any Gibson Luthiers.

The factory can only set the instrument up so much until it gets shipped to wildly other places. In that sense, it will never be expertly set up when it gets to your region. Temperatures and humidity values vary simply too much in other places for the factory to home in on a razor-sharp setup without leeway to account for that.

Get the guitar to a competent luthier or guitar technician in your region for a professional setup to make it easily playable. The action will probably have to come down on the saddle as well as the nut, and the neck straightened, all of which doesn't impact sound but playability.

For strings, and the Neil Young acoustic sound, I would suggest nothing lighter than .012 gauge strings, preferrably exactly these.

SAG-CPB12_front_nw.png

Edited by Leonard McCoy
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