Jump to content
Gibson Brands Forums
Sign in to follow this  
Old Neil

Gibson J-45 True Vintage vs 3 Gibson Southern Jumbo Woody Guthries

Recommended Posts

(Posted this on the Martin forum but this is the Gibson forum after all...:D/ )

Had a very enjoyable time today comparing an Adirondack topped, hide glue braced J-45 TV versus 3 different SJ WG's.

 

Firstly the TV: Lovely wide-grain adirondack, satin vintage patina sunburst and 'old ivory' colored binding and tuning peg heads. Light as a feather and no electrics installed. Lovely, felt like a genuine vintage already with the exception of a rather flat and shallow neck compared to what I was expecting. Still fast and comfortable. Setup could have been better though. Had very twangy/rattle in the top e and b strings. So much so I asked the shop to restring it as I thought the ball-end were buzzing from a poorly done initial setup. No difference. The shop then gave it a minor truss rod tweak. Better but still sharp and twangy with the rattle/buzz only in evidence if pushed a little harder. I am told that due to following vintage spec it doesn't have a compensated saddle. Well, IMO it needs one if that would fix the treble string thing. Overall sound wise though it was dark and deep and resonant. Very vintage tone already. With the aforementioned treble side issues it wasn't as balanced as I would have hoped. Overall it was a very lovable guitar with a great vibe. So much so that I wanted to love it more than I did. Not sure how the above issues could be fixed as I'm no techie but others may chip in if they wish. If the trebles stay thin though then vibe or not it wouldn't be for me.

 

The 3 WG SJ's were all different, one even in spec! It had a completely different pick guard to the other two and different quality of fretboard wood. The best of the three was also the newest (2009 model). It wasn't as dark/old sounding as the TV but it was deep and rich with reverby sustain and presence. This surprised me as its a mahogany guitar with rosewood fretboard and bridge. Speaking of fret boards it was figured and beautiful (Madagascar RW I believe) with the SJ Hex inlays. Lovely! On the treble side was sparkling and thick which balanced out the bass and mids. Engaging and very loud but curiously not particularly typical of the Gibson short scale, slope shouldered sound to my ears at least. More like I've heard the sound of AJ's described. No bad thing of course, just surprising the lower tension scale could generate that sort of punch and clarity.

Summary then: I wanted to love the TV as it felt as comfortable and familiar as a pair of old slippers. Convincing vintage vibe/tone/feel. I'm yet to be totally convinced though without a proper setup and testing it again. Shame about that on this level of guitar but not a total surprise from Gibson and probably an easy fix with a new saddle (?) done by a luthier.

The particular WG SJ I mentioned was a very satisfying surprise. 'Just' Sitka over hog, (albeit with a radiused top) but punchy, loud, deep and sparkling all at once. Easy playability with a more chunky, satisfying neck than the TV too. It was the pick of the litter.

 

Anyone have experience with these guitar models? EDIT to add: Just found this in the Gibson Forum archives that seems to suggest my J-45 dark and deep versus the SJ cut and punch/sparkle seems to apply to the actual vintage versions as well: "Can't speak to the newer ones but over the past 45 or so years I have played a whole lotta older J-45s and SJs and hands down the SJs always seem to be louder with a more woody sound and crackling edge. Makes absolutely no sense - must be the neck binding and board inlays. Ay any rate the J-45s all went bye bye." Gibson officiandos feel free to comment

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just picked up a used J-45 VOS TV with the Adi top.

 

Mine is used, but in mint shape. It is hands down the nicest newer Gibson I've played. Great vintage vibe and tone.

 

Old Neil, I'm with you on the neck shape/size. I thought it would have been more substantial. I like it though.

 

The trebles on mine are very smooth. Hopefully the one you tried is an exception.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Makes absolutely no sense - must be the neck binding and board inlays.

 

Sometimes things just don't make sense - my J45 TV (sitka, not Adi) sounds much as you described the SJ you were so fond of. I've played other J45 TVs, and they didn't sound like the one I ended up purchasing.

 

The more you play, the better the chance that you'll find a true gem.

 

All the best,

Guth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I should be receiving a J-45 TV (2009, adi top) in a couple of weeks, so I hope mine is more like yours tnathantaylor than the one you played Neil!

 

I know I shouldn't be buying over the internet, but it's the same old story of there not being any in the UK (or at least any near me up north) to try. It worked out well with my SWD anyway...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Neil-- while it sounds like the main issue with the TV had to do with set-up, Im wondering if you were hearing the adi-topped TV as drier or twangier than the sitka SJs- you know, punchier, maybe a little less bloom to the notes?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

chrisa83

 

I think you'll be pleased with yours. I bought mine over the internet as well. It's difficult to find used ones in Canada, and I didn't want to buy new. I played a few in stores and they were all good ones so I wasn't too concerned.

Good luck with yours.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the subject of Southern Jumbos and SJs... I recently about 2 weeks ago went to several music stores and played as many slope shoulder Gibson models as I could find, at least 10. Two of them were TVs and one was Rosewood J-45. One of them totaly jumped out at me with vibe, playabilty and exquisite tone colors in both the treble and base strings. My ears just cant get enough of listening to those chords ring. It turned out to be the new Kris Kristofferson Southern Jumbo. It has a Custom Shop sticker on the back of the head stock. Maybe that is why it jumped out head and shoulders above the rest. Although I didn't notice it was from the custom shop untill I got it home. I have been playing for 40 years and own a custom Martin OM42 and a Collings D1A. This SJ-45 can compete with the best of them. They only made 300 of these. It would be interesting to hear from others to find out if they are all as good as the one I was lucky enough to find.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

jkinnama:

Yes I would say the TV is drier tone wise and also darker. I agree that it is a setup issue. However I don't want to buy a premium guitar to then have to take it to a professional luthier just to have it play like should from the factory in the first place. So, to test this I've approached another shop and asked them if they can get another TV in on spec and they agreed. It might take a week or two but it will be interesting. I'm thinking of asking them to send an SJ WG at the same time to do a fresh comparison at that shop!

 

chrisa83:

I hope you didn't get the impression I thought the TV a bad guitar. Quite the opposite! Despite its setup problems I really liked the whole vibe and tone of it. When a guitar makes you love it despite obvious faults that's saying something!

 

jsliker1:

As far as I'm aware the WG and Kristofferson are very similar spec barring the pickguard and the electrics (more sophisticated in Kristofferson). Yes, I could well end up with the Woody SJ. That particular one of the three I played was special.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Timely Post.

I have a Woody Guthrie SJ coming in (on spec) for me this week.I've been gassing for one long enough.

If it speaks to me I'll take the plunge.

I'll post my findings and pictures if it comes home with me.=P~

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a Woody Guthrie SJ and a J-45 TV. Both are set-up the way I like them with Mediums (.013 - .056). I enjoy playing both and while they look similar, they sound very different from each other. The Woody sounds generally deeper, louder, richer, and fuller. The J-45 is lighter and brighter. I like having different guitars for different moods and different songs. However, if I had to give up all of my guitars but one, I would keep the Woody. They are underrated gems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Woody sounds generally deeper, louder, richer, and fuller.

 

Great description! :-& It certainly matches my experience. The Woody SJ surprised me as it was a more modern take on the Gibson sound, like a cross over point to the Martin dread richness. Although I've owned a J-200 in the past I've mostly owned and played played other brands. I went a little over the top in my tone search for a few years buying, playing and trading some high-end Martins (42 series, GE, Marquis Madagascar etc) including 3 custom orders in exotic wood combinations, a Collings D-1A and currently (probably the 'best' guitar I've ever played), a Huss and Dalton Adirondack over old-growth Brazilian 'Traditional Dreadnought' (ie, their boutique shop take on a Martin pre-war dread). Its my sole guitar at present.

What I love about Gibsons is their earthy, non-elitism and the player comfort of their slope shoulder, short-scale guitars. I prefer mahogany Gibsons as it matches the sound I have in my head about their signature tone. So the SJ Woody came as a surprise to me having a 'best of both worlds' approach. I thought signature guitars were a little 'cheesy' but there is nothing to tell you this is not a normal SJ save the label inside. The TV just had that instant old school vibe captured very well that pulls you in. I was a little surprised about the slimmer neck on the TV and the fact that the SJ's neck was fuller and had a round, beveled style edge instead of a right-angle. I could care less than others perhaps about scroll head stocks and faithful vintage appointments as long as it plays and sounds great. Its all good as they say.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Earlier this week they said it was very near the Netherland's warehouse =D> and it would take about a week to get it into the shop in the UK, so hopefully sometime next week! Bear in mind I ordered this on the 25th of August when the guy said he could get one to me in a week... :^o

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wondering??

Anybody know for sure what gauge strings the Woody SJ"s come with from the factory? Light or medium?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I should be receiving a J-45 TV (2009' date=' adi top) in a couple of weeks, so I hope mine is more like yours tnathantaylor than the one you played Neil!

 

I know I shouldn't be buying over the internet, but it's the same old story of there not being any in the UK (or at least any near me up north) to try. It worked out well with my SWD anyway...[/quote']

 

 

Same old story indeed Chris and it isn't any better down South eilther mate I assure you!

 

Welcome, however belatedly, I didn't see you come in, or I'd have been civil before LOL

 

Is your SWD the cutaway like Albertjohns?

 

Mine is the SS 12 string bought on Ebay with faults and reset into shape by Robbie Gladwell ( who hasn't had a mention for far too long!|)888

 

 

BR

 

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wondering??

Anybody know for sure what gauge strings the Woody SJ"s come with from the factory? Light or medium?

 

Got an answer from Gibson Customer Service. (Responded to my e-mail in 2 hours !) VERY IMPRESSED

 

Hello' date='

 

Thanks for writing!! [u']The strings are Masterbuilt Premium and the gauge is Light -- .012 - .053.[/u]Best regards,

 

Vincent Wynne

Gibson customer service

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Got an answer from Gibson Customer Service. (Responded to my e-mail in 2 hours !) VERY IMPRESSED

 

Hello' date='

 

Thanks for writing!! [u']The strings are Masterbuilt Premium and the gauge is Light -- .012 - .053.[/u]Best regards,

 

Vincent Wynne

Gibson customer service

 

The only trouble is that Gibson Customer Service is located in Nashville, and often has no idea what is going on in Bozeman -- which doesn't prevent them from answering questions about what's going on up there. There are some notorious examples of them giving out completely inaccurate information. (You'll not doubt see some more if you hang around here for awhile.)

 

In this case, the answer you got is probably at least close to accurate. What might be off is that last .053. After Gibson string manufacturing was temporarily (if you believe the official story) farmed out to D'Addario not too long ago, Bozeman got some very-slightly-heavier light gauge strings -- the D'Addario-standard light gauge that runs from .012 to .054 -- in, so some Woodys may have come from the factory with those.

 

Custom Shop guitars have been known to come equipped with other strings, but all regular production models come with Gibson Masterbuilt lights, except during times when Bozeman can't get them (e.g., around four or five years ago when the Elgin plant was shut down for retooling for a few months). AFAIK, there was no supply shortage between the Elgin closure and D'Addario taking over. But, then again, I haven't asked anybody in Bozeman about it.

 

-- Bob R

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Same old story indeed Chris and it isn't any better down South eilther mate I assure you!

 

Welcome' date=' however belatedly, I didn't see you come in, or I'd have been civil before LOL

 

Is your SWD the cutaway like Albertjohns?

 

Mine is the SS 12 string bought on Ebay with faults and reset into shape by Robbie Gladwell ( who hasn't had a mention for far too long!|)888

 

 

BR

 

John

[/quote']

 

Hi John, thanks! No worries - I joined a while ago when I was looking at getting a J45, asked a few questions then just lurked.

 

No not a cutaway, just normal 6 string, really sweet. Hopefully I didn't just get lucky with that one and my J45 will be just as good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting thread! Particularly appreciated the most recent replies about the ideal strings for both Southern Jumbos and J-45s.

 

Someone on an earlier thread, who identified himself as a former executive (CEO, I believe) for two string companies said that because of the shorter neck on the J-45 and its glorified SJ varients, you should go with light strings 11s, or "even 10s" -- was his recommendation.

 

My year old "Northern Jumbo" is almost identical (right down to the 'firestripe' pickguard) -- same woods as the "Woody Guthrie" SJ. I switched to Dean Markeley 11s and took my instrument to the finest luthier in this northern city of 700,000 -- "Bob Grierson."

 

After dressing the frets, and removing a tiny shim from one side of the bridge, plus other tweaking, Bob made my guitar absolutely perfect! (It has the finest action I've ever played on an acoustic in my 50 years of trying out fine instruments; the sound is glorious!

 

Mr. Grierson said: "Go to D'Addario's --- they make a set of "11s" where two of the strings, the high E and the G are the same gauge, but the other strings are all 2/100ths larger: It will really open up the sound of your guitar" (which he said was "very accurate, by the way"). I can't imagine how my 'dream guitar' could sound any better. But those will be my next experiment.

 

Thanks again for the interesting thread!

 

Mark Blackburn

Winnipeg Manitoba Canada

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I should be receiving a J-45 TV (2009' date=' adi top) in a couple of weeks.../...

I know I shouldn't be buying over the internet, but it's the same old story of there not being any in the UK (or at least any near me up north) to try. It worked out well with my SWD anyway...[/quote']

 

Hi Chris,

I'm in the exact same situation as you. Seems like there's no way to find a J-45 TV 200 miles around Brussels (Belgium).

 

Anyway I decided to order one via my local dealer, though he called me yesterday saying that the TV model has been

 

replaced by a new one, the "2009 model"...The only differences I could find are the red spruce top, vintage sunburst VOS...and the price : + 700€ (640£) ! Moreover, the expected delivery time is next February 2010 (not a big problem).

Now I hesitate. Either I go for a regular J-45 or spend some extra money on the TV (tough).

 

A couple of questions :

Have you received yours yet ?

Is it a new "2009" model ?

Where did you buy it from ?

How much did you pay for it (guitar and shipment to the EU) ?

Are you happy with your purchase ?

 

Any input that will help me to make up my mind will be greatly appreciated.

 

Cheers,

 

Samuel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...