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J185 has arrived-not what I expected - PIX added

Geoffrey Lawton

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Well - my new J 185 is in and it's not the J 185 I ordered. The one I ordered

had the Maltese crosses and this one is a straight forward Modern Classic.

I'm a bit disappointed because I wanted the crosses. That being said - it looks

pretty nice. The top grain is very tight and the maple looks nice. There is a

little 'ridge/ripple' of finish on the back. You can feel it with you finger and

you can see it when you turn it towards the light. Not sure I should be

concerned about that. It's about 1 - 2" long and very narrow.


First impressions - The bass has the must Gibson 'thunk' that I've heard

on a new instrument. So much so that I'm thinking I should change out

the strings and see what I hear. The mids and highs are nice and it has

plenty of punch. A bit boxy - but not bad. Action is decent. And this model

sits so well in one's lap.


So - consider this my first report. I'm going back to play it now.

BTW - have any of you had a new guitar arrive with strings DOA?



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Hmmmmm, how badly do you want those maltese crosses? Is this something that will pick away at you over the years, or will you be able to let it go? Only you can answer that. Same with the ripple. Do you love the sound, or is it just okay. Maybe sit with it for a few days and see how you feel. FWIW, when I bought my guitar, the strings were filthy.


First song you played on it?

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I can live without the crosses.

There are 2 finish imperfections I've found. I guess

I should send it back - if I really want to 'get what I

pay for" - it is a new guitar and returnable (MF).

I'm going to change out the strings in a couple of

days - see what happens. All this said - it's a fine

looking Gibson, imho. We'll see. I'm looking forward

to more comments by the members here - that

usually helps my think through stuff like this.


PS - the strings aren't dirty - they just 'thud' a bit

more than I'm used to so I'm wondering if they 'don' got old'

hanging around on the guitar (is that possible?). Or is this

the guitar's sound?

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Geoff, FWIW a Gibson that I purchased new a couple of years ago had a number of cosmetic imperfections: a little "finish ripple" in two places on the neck (right where I put my thumb in 1st and 2nd positions, so I always see/feel them), a couple of small dings on the fingerboard, visible whitish traces of glue around the bridge, an annoying rattle in the body (turned out to be a little wood chip that took me months to finally identify and manage to remove), and a tiny finish bubble that imploded, leaving a "dimple" in the back upper bout. Though I have been known to obsess over minutia like this, I honestly didn't worry much about these things and they bother me even less now. The reason: the guitar sounds and plays beautifully, which was the chief reason I bought it.


My other guitar is a Collings, and the finish on that thing is perfect in just about every way. IMO, that perfection is part of the Collings ethos, and contributes to the overall "feeling" of their instruments, which is kind of unique. The little imperfections of the Gibson are likewise part of their ethos, again IMHO. I happily accept them, and feel that they are part of what makes Gibsons unique.

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When I bought a guitar new at Elderly's about 8 years ago I picked from about ten in stock, and took the best sounding one (to me) up to buy it. The clerk looked it over and found the tiniest ding imaginable. He pointed it out and asked if I wanted to choose another. I said this was the one that spoke to me. Well, he said, if it's the one you want we'll deduct for the ding ($40 if memory serves me right). I didn't even ask for a reduction, but he said they didn't like to sell imperfect merchandise for full price.


Well, the ding is still there, and I still can't find it most of the time it's so insignificant. But I sure will never forget the ethical behavior of the store. Getting to the point, if you like the guitar and consider the imperfections tolerable, you might want to ask the dealer for some consideration. The money may not matter much over the long haul, but it will sure erase any nagging annoyance over the imperfections if you can think you got a good deal on a guitar you like.

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Geoff, Sorry to hear about your situation.


Don't sweat the small things. If you like the way it feels keep it. if not you can always return it.


Thats, the sad fact about buying without first playing it.


I guess you didn't keep the J-185 TV VSB?

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Good memory.

I HAD a TV for a short time - just didn't do anything for me.

I had an HC earlier and I really shouldn't have let that one go.

I currently have a Jubal J 185 - great box.

I just changed the strings on this one and it's made a big

difference - much more lush and much less 'thud'.

The more I play it - the more I like it. Plenty of volume and - now -

sustain. I've only tried the bare finger routine. Up next - finger and

flat picks.

And the cosmetic things aren't a big deal - they are just

there so I figured I'd ask how others how they deal with their

'little disappointments'. I don't normally fret over stuff like

that unless it's something I could have prevented. That

drives me nuts.


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This is only MY opinion, but when I think,J-185, I think of the crosses. I'd have to send it back but I'm a bit anal when it comes to certain things. As for the blemish. A couple weeks ago I was in McKenzie River Music in Eugene, Oregon. Bob, the owner "forced" me to play two different Collings CJ's. One a rosewood 'burst, the other a 'hog natural. They were both knockouts to play! The tag on the hog said, $4.600. The one on the RW said, $4,200. When I questioned this he pointed to a small ding on the lower bout of the RW and said that was the reason. I never would have seen it for a long time. Especially since I would have been frothing at the mouth for months if I could have afforded to walk out of the store with either one of those guitars. So, that was a $400 ding in their minds. They had some nice Gibbies on sale, (unadvertized to the public), that included a J-185. Beautiful guitar! I also played a blonde '93 SJ-100. It had that darker, honey color top like one of Emmylou's. It had two dings in the finish on the front about 2 inches long each but that puppy was like butter. Just a beautiful looking and sounding Gibby. I was just a lottery win away from that, the Collings and the Humminbird TV!! I'm rambling - good night!

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Does it have Grover rotomatic or nickel Klusons?


No doubt I'm in the minority here but never having been a Christian the maltese crosses do nothing for me and look tacky. OK' date=' flame away![/quote']


Jerry - I think maltese crosses are more aligned with Nazis than Jesus. I like them because they were on the original model of J-185 so are correct in the vintage sense. Your opinion on them being tacky is probably shared by many and is a valid opinion. I guess I like them more for the nostalgia than their actual artistic merit. ( Oh, I'm not now, nor ever have I been a Nazi either. Also, my Christian friends and relatives have me booked for Hell.)

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Geoff, if it's not what you ordered and your not pleased , return it. Maltese crosses are very much apart of the vibe of a J185 . I custom ordered a J185 tv and it arrived at the dealer with no crosses,wrong bracing and loose tunning pegs , back it went . Most important being the tone/sound/ feel of your guitar --- be without a doubt that it is what you want bro thats why we love our Gibsons!

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btw, they aren't maltese crosses. neither is the fighter-fighter shield. Fire fighters use a St. Florian cross and the 185 uses the cross pattee.


that being said..... it sounds like you want a J185, but not THIS one. so why keep it? if it isn't what was advertised (what you wanted), has flaws, didn't come in tip top condition, and doesn't sound that good then why keep it? a J185 may be for you.... but i think you need to find the RIGHT one for you.

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Personally, I think the crosses, maltese or otherwise, are visually, what really sets the J185 apart from the rest. I love 'em..........and I must have one - preferably red and with twice the standard amount of strings.


TW, I think the swastika was hijacked by the Nazis and is in fact an ancient Hindu symbol? (I do sometimes look at my children's RE homework!)

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I just purchased a J-185 without the crosses and like it that way. Sure, it not the vintage look but I think its an improvement. When I see those crosses I think of Jesse James and motorcycles which I don't love. I love the guitar, sound, and look without.


I do, on the other hand, think its pretty low-class for MF to advertise their guitar with the crosses and ship one without.


It just bad business. If you like it keep it, but there is no shame in sending it back.


Just know you are not alone in the no crosses club. Heres mine:







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ryanfender, that is one heck of a beautiful guitar!


And just to wade into the fray, were I to get a J-185 I'd probably get one with the crosses, though I'm not affiliated with any fascistic groups, political or religious.

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I've put up a few pix of the J185. What do you think?

I do like it - even without the crosses. I've taken a look

around the web but can't seem to find any - used or new - with

the crosses - except for the TV and I don't have the dough for one

of those.


BTW - I had a major attack of dumb *** when I was ordering this guitar.

I went back and found the MF site for the J185 and - lo and behold - they

advertised it as a Modern Classic. However - the pictures they used were

of the Historic College (or TV) J185 - with, of course, crosses. So I was

almost totally at fault - it seems that, not only did I not read the fine print,

I didn't read ANY print.


Strings? I changed the originals to JP New Mediums. Great choice. The guitar

is really starting to 'move'. I just may end up keeping this thing. I am going

to take it to my tech and have him check it out (neck angle mentioned, etc.)







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