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New user -please advise


Blunote

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I've been lurking for several months and have been impressed with the quality of advice and general civility at this site.

 

I purchased a L4-A just after Thanksgiving. Gibson technical support tells me this is a GC model based on the J-180ec and was built in the Bozeman Custom shop. It's a beautiful instrument having a solid sitka top and solid rosewood b/s. More importantly, I really love how it sounds.

 

The first thing I did after purchase was to take it to a local luthier and have it set up. Others who have played it think it's set up well. However, I find it a bit temperamental -it'll buzz a bit if I don't fret it just right -at least on the low E and A string.

 

I'll be doing some travelling and don't want to risk damaging my Gibson so I picked up a second acoustic last week. This one is a Blueridge 000 body guitar modelled after the Martins. Now that I can do a direct A/B test, I've found the Blueridge is much easier to play -especially fingerstyle. Even though both are fitted with light strings, it seems I have to press twice as hard on some more difficult barre chord shapes on the Gibson. Playing the same riffs on the BR are easy.

 

Looking at the two guitars, the string heights look pretty similar. About the only difference I see is that the fretboard on the Gibson appears to have more radius. The Gibson's strung with Elixir Nanoweb 80/20s .012-.053. The BR is still strung with original factory strings, rumored to be D'addario lights.

 

I also notice that it's a lot easier to get volume out of the BR when playing fingerstyle, I'm guessing it's because the Gibson's a lot more guitar to drive. To my ear, the Gibson produces the best tones and I'd really like it to play as easily as this new one.

 

Any thoughts on what may be causing the Gibson to be so much more difficult to fret?

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Welcome to the Forum Bluenote.

 

It sounds to me like the Gibson needs some further setup work. I'm sure I don't need to say this but, subtle differences in a guitar can feel very extreme especially when playing both at the same time - not literally - you knopw what I mean.

 

Gibson's factory setups are reputed to be high so that customers have the flexibility to adjust to their own requirements. This may explain the relative difficulty in barre chords. A tricky Fmaj might indicate that you nut needs some attention.

 

Fret buzz is very often a symptom of a high fret or a truss rod tweak. Again a good luthier will pick this up straight away.

 

I have bought several new guitars in recent years and in each case I have always had a really good setup by a trusted luthier as I do not have the skills myself. I'd suggest a second opinion and perhaps take the BR with you so the luthier has a benchmark.

 

Neck radii and profiles will also make a difference to the feel and playability but at the end of the day, we all have different preferences.

 

Hopefully someone with significantly more technical knowledge will pitch in here. Let us know how you get on with this problem.

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+1 on alberjohn's advice. When I got my Advanced Jumbo, although the action at the 12th fret was only slightly higher than my Taylor, it was not comfortable to play for long periods. I took it to my favorite setup guy and after making some adjustments with a file to the nut slots and a very small tweaking of the truss rod and he had it playing much more comfortably for me. That's what a "good" setup guy/gal can give you and they are worth any small amount they charge to do it.

 

I don't mind making some small adjustments myself, but filing nut slots is not something I would want to try and do. A good tech/luthier can make those adjustments in their sleep! =P~

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