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How's the J45 for finger pickin'?


DavieDoo
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With apologies, I tend to fall down rabbit holes during purchase decisions.  When I last checked in I was looking at L'00's, and I haven't abandoned that search, but they are in low supply.  So I'm wondering if the ol' "workhorse"  can substitute as a decent finger pickin instrument.  Clearly it's cut out for just about everything else.

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From a guy who can't finger pick...good players make good noise on any good guitar, so I never look at it in that way.  The wider string spacing and smaller bod make the L generally easier to handle for me, and the tone is relatively mellower and a little less woody.

Are you shopping vintage?

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As I am only a fingerpicker, I guess I can utter an opinion on this one.  Can I fingerpick my J50?  You betcha.  Is it the comfiest guitar in the house for that approach?  Not even in the ballpark.  When it comes to Gibsons and fingerpicking my two pre-War guitars are the ones which feel like home.   It has less to do with nut width and such than it does with string spread at the bridge.  My two oldest Gibsons clock in with a spread respectively of 2 5/16" and 2 3/8".  The J45 seems to struggle to make it to 2 3/16" (at least mine does).  Been that way since around 1941.  Obviously, there is no rule book for such things.  I am just one who prefers as much right-hand room as I can get and who does not like having to be patient waiting for muscle memory to kick in.  

Edited by zombywoof
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30 minutes ago, fortyearspickn said:

DD,  of course - if you ask our resident Martin Consultant, he'll suggest you get a guitar made in Nazareth.  And not just because it's Christamastime. 

I wouldn't. Then there would be more Martins for me. Well you can get the 30K D-45 with a Flamingo on it, or whatever bird it is, I will gladly stand out of the way of anyone purchasing it.

Edited by Sgt. Pepper
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6 hours ago, fortyearspickn said:

Lars, thanks for that video !     Shows the balance between the two octaves clearly.    

DavieD, I think you might get more 'coverage' with the range of different types of playing with a J45.   A jack of all trades. 

I posted a video of a guy finger picking a new Epiphone J-45? Not sure what happened to it? $749.00 & it sounded good. Not quite a Gibson but pretty darn good.. 

Found it!

 

Edited by Larsongs
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There was a time when I thought J-45s and other Gibsons with the 2 1/8 string spacing at the bridge were not at their best fingerpicked. That was because I did most of my playing--I only fingerpick, including on electric--on 1930s and 1920s Gibsons and Larsons with wider string spacing at the bridge.

But ... even at my age, my hands and brain can adapt.  🙂  I switch back and forth nearly daily between my Gibsons with 2 1/8 spacing at the bridge and my Gibsons, Larsons, and other guitars with wider spacing. I now have no preference.

Here's my 1943 SJ, a gussied-up J-45, fingerpicked. Yeah, I think it works beautifully.

 

 

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I LOVE my J-45 for fingerstyle.  After years of pondering if I needed an LG-2 to augment it, to have the smaller, more projecting guitar for the more technical, instrumental stuff, I realized I can shift my right hand back a fraction of an inch or so closer to the bridge and get really close to that sound.  Meanwhile, the J-45 has warmth, presence and the low end thump that I adore.

When I started playing c.1978, I was split between formal classical guitar and slopping folkie strumming.  The two extremes grew somewhat closer together through the years, but it wasn't until I got my current J-45 that I found I could dispense with flatpicks and arrange pretty much my whole 40-odd years of songs into a barehanded (bareknuckle?) playing style that uses three fingers, the backs of fingernails, the Wes Montgomery thumb, etc.

The questions you get to answer for yourself are -

1. Does the J-45 string spacing work for YOU?  That is a very subjective and personal thing, and your own body geometry and mechanics and adaptability are factors only you can answer.

2. Does the resulting sound work for YOU?  You're just going to have to play it and listen, and see where you come down on the balancing of projection, presence, low mid-range vs. high midrange, sustain, etc.

 

Edited by rustystrings
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