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hustledouble

looking to buy a killer acoustic...ideas?

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I've done a decent amount of homework and have found a solid deal on a used Randy Scruggs Advanced Jumbo. While, I'm not an avid fan of his, I am drawn to the AJ and the cool crown inlays on the Scruggs. I was originally thinking about breaking the bank and getting a new Firebird Custom Acoustic, but since it's the same size as the Hummingbird, that may be a wee bit larger or a guitar than I want. Ideally, I'd like something that sounds amazing Gibson-style, but isn't super bulky. Mostly strumming but also good for picking. I'm not interested in any of the small bodied, cutaway, stage guitars because I'd like a more robust sound. Anyone have any ideas for me? I figure my criteria puts me into the Advanced Jumbo/J-45 range??? I'd consider vintage also, but nothing too rare and price-heavy.

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I don't know if you have considered it; but have you thought of spending the money to get a guitar built for you by an independent luthier? This is only my opinion, but I can't see myself ever spending big bucks on a brand guitar again.

 

Matt

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I was looking for a killer acoustic that wasn't too bulky to replace my SJ200 which had been causing me shoulder probs.

 

I've been playing guitar for 18yrs, 12 or so of them professionally, so I've played a lot of guitars in that time. I knew that for my criteria, there was a small selection of guitars that would fit the bill (I have my small-body needs covered by my L-00 Blues King and Lyon & Healy parlour). I've always loved Gibson acoustics as the classic Gibson sound dovetails perfectly with my playing style, and the 1.725" nut width suits me to perfection. I didn't want another short-scale guitar as my L-00 is SS and I have large hands which tend to feel more comfortable on a long scale neck.

 

So, from the short list of guitars within my price range that might suit (J45, Hummingbird, AJ, J185) I narrowed it down to an AJ.

 

A mint 2002 AJ came up with my regular go-to guitar supplier, I went to see it, fell in love and brought it home with me. That was a month or so ago, and I'm still in love with the thing-it's a deeply satisfying guitar, loud, throaty, responsive, dynamic, oh-so-comfortable to play, amazing neck (long scale and bound, it plays like butter on a summer's day), and absolutely as-new, yet has clearly been played as it has a gorgeous, wide-open tone.

 

I can't recommend the AJ highly enough. It's a purchase that you would be hard-pressed to regret, and that Scruggs model comes with a pickup too-whatcha waiting for?

 

Matt raises a valid point about having a luthier build you a guitar to your spec, as this can yield some brilliant results if you know exactly what you want. Having said that, I know five musicians who have had guitars hand-built to their exact whim, and only one of them still has hers. The rest didn't live up to the dream ideal or didn't feel just so, and ended up being sold. The problem, if this happens, is that a non-brand guitar has very little resale value in the secondhand marketplace. You can end up with your dream acoustic, however, but it's a bit of a roll-of-the-dice.

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The good news is you cant go wrong. As a rule (individual units may vary), an AJ or a J45 would be the more versatile choice, in the sense of being adaptable to a variety of styles. Of the two, an AJ would have more power, bass,and punch; a J45s the sweeter top and more chordal blend. HBs are a different beast, more biased to bass and mids. Excells more as a strummer than a picker, as things go.

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I was looking for the same thing...last week. I bought a 1930's vintage sunburst Advanced Jumbo (2011), ....I absolutely love it. Would have gone for the L-00 Luthiers choice unit....but 5 grand...I'll have to just make one of those.

 

But it's real important that you have a Gibson...firm believer in that.

 

Michael

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Rambler nailed it with the comparitive description between the '45, AJ and 'Bird.

 

The J45 is a great all-rounder. There's nothing it doesn't do well, but I personally prefer a bound, long-scale neck. I just feel more at home with that configuration.

 

Sustain is another consideration-the J45 is quite a dry, old-school sounding guitar (not as dry as the OJ or J35, though), and has a relatively short amount of sustain. Great for blues, folk, country, anything vaguely old-timey and organic sounding. I love the tonal character of the J45. However, the record I'm starting work on at the moment calls for a more sustainy, harmonically rich and vaguely otherworldly tone for fingerstyle, which I find is abundant in the AJ. It's a guitar that's reminiscent in punch, power and sustain of a Martin D28, but a lot more characterful. There are a gigantic amount of D28s out there (for good reason, they're wonderful guitars) but the AJ is a far more uncommon beast, which appeals to me.

 

Plus, it's freaking gorgeous...those neck inlays, the decorative headstock work, those unique machineheads, the firestripe 'guard, that buttery 'burst, the binding which (on my '02) is starting to mellow to a lovely shade of cream, the whole lot. Absolutely brilliant looking.

 

Brazil66 has it right...it's important that you make your next purchase a Gibson. I've owned a ton of guitars, but the ones I've kept and/or come back to have always been Gibsons. A Gibson feels like home to me, and I know I'm at my best when I've got one in my hands.

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I never really know how to respond to these what guitar should I buy posts.

 

When I stumbled upon Gibsons many decades ago I wasn't looking for one. Everybody I knew was playing Guild and Martin dreads so I kinda had the notion I should get one of those. Not having alot of scratch I was looking only at used guitars. I just happened to be in a little hole in the wall shop one day and spotted a glint of burst in the corner. I pulled the guitar out, dusted it off, tuned it up, and spent about two hours playing it. That guitar came home with me that day - a 1930s Gibson L-00 (with a crack in the back).

 

Point is, had I stuck to the guitars I thought I should have bought I might have turned my nose up at that little Gibson. 40 some on years down the road I am still playing Gibsons. These days I got me a big one - a 1960 J-200 but I still keep a little script logo LG-2 close by.

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Well you can't go wrong with either a J45 or an AJ. I love both, for different reasons. Rambler described the differences well. If you like the AJ and it fits your playing style, go for it. I've had mine since '94 and never regretted it. If you can buy one of each!

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Well, I headed over to a nearby Guitar Center because they had a j-45 Standard and Custom, an Advanced Jumbo and a Hummingbird Pro, From my readings here, it sounds like The HB Pro is at the bottom of the food chain with regards to overall tone for a HB. Turns out, after playing all three, I thought the HB Pro sounded noticeably better than the J45s and AJ that they had. Also, after playing it, I really didn't find it to be much larger than the J45 and AJ...certainly not enough to deter me given the warmer and fuller tone. I also really liked the neck. It just felt right.

 

So, I've decided that I'm going to buy a killer Hummingbird (maybe a Dove?). I was strongly considering a Custom Firebird acoustic, but I think it may be a bit too flamboyant for my taste. I do want a guitar that looks amazing. But I'm mildly concerned that if I ever play out with the FB, it would be apparent that my wallet exceeds my talent level and I'd prefer not to be that guy.

 

Any suggestions in this direction? Seems like a lot of positive feelings about the HB True Vintage. Any years to avoid if buying used on ebay? Any idea how to know if you're getting a good sounding one if you're buying one off the net? It sounds like there's a decent variance.

 

Thanks for all of the sound advice so far.

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So, I've decided that I'm going to buy a killer Hummingbird (maybe a Dove?).

 

I had a chuckle when I read that. Because, I totally know the feeling [biggrin]

 

Anyway, I wound up with a TV Southern Jumbo, and have been very happy with the decision. But, I am in the process of installing a K&K Pure Mini so I can plug-in.

 

Good luck, and post pictures when you get her.

 

 

BTW, that firebird looks really awesome, and I wonder how a maple square should dread would sound? I bet the highs are tight and clean [thumbup]

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I was looking for a killer acoustic that wasn't too bulky to replace my SJ200 which had been causing me shoulder probs.

 

I've been playing guitar for 18yrs, 12 or so of them professionally, so I've played a lot of guitars in that time. I knew that for my criteria, there was a small selection of guitars that would fit the bill (I have my small-body needs covered by my L-00 Blues King and Lyon & Healy parlour). I've always loved Gibson acoustics as the classic Gibson sound dovetails perfectly with my playing style, and the 1.725" nut width suits me to perfection. I didn't want another short-scale guitar as my L-00 is SS and I have large hands which tend to feel more comfortable on a long scale neck.

 

So, from the short list of guitars within my price range that might suit (J45, Hummingbird, AJ, J185) I narrowed it down to an AJ.

 

A mint 2002 AJ came up with my regular go-to guitar supplier, I went to see it, fell in love and brought it home with me. That was a month or so ago, and I'm still in love with the thing-it's a deeply satisfying guitar, loud, throaty, responsive, dynamic, oh-so-comfortable to play, amazing neck (long scale and bound, it plays like butter on a summer's day), and absolutely as-new, yet has clearly been played as it has a gorgeous, wide-open tone.

 

I can't recommend the AJ highly enough. It's a purchase that you would be hard-pressed to regret, and that Scruggs model comes with a pickup too-whatcha waiting for?

 

Matt raises a valid point about having a luthier build you a guitar to your spec, as this can yield some brilliant results if you know exactly what you want. Having said that, I know five musicians who have had guitars hand-built to their exact whim, and only one of them still has hers. The rest didn't live up to the dream ideal or didn't feel just so, and ended up being sold. The problem, if this happens, is that a non-brand guitar has very little resale value in the secondhand marketplace. You can end up with your dream acoustic, however, but it's a bit of a roll-of-the-dice.

 

Jinder, I agree.....and if you go to AGF you see a lot of guys trying to sell their "custom" built guitars to a very limited audience for less than half what they paid.....it's like trying to sell a suit that has been tailored especially for you...you have to find someone with the same size, shape, taste.....that one out of five ratio seems about right from what I've seen. For me, better to play before buying.....

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Saw a couple HB Modern Classics on ebay with bidding between $1800-2K. What's a good price on that one? Are there years to stay away from? Models that have better tone?

 

Hustle, the True Vintage Hummingbirds are the ones to have. I've owned two Modern Classic 'Birds which were great, but played a friend's TV and...wow! Amazing guitars.

 

Also DO try a Dove. A good Dove is second to none-incredible, incredible instruments with the sweetest bell-like trebles and a piano-like bottom end. Less common than a Hummingbird though, which makes them a wee bit cooler in my head!

 

Stay away from the 'Bay if you can...always try before you buy if you're dropping some serious folding on a gitbox.

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The Custom Firebird is SUPER cool. Basically a Dove with short scale and reworked decor (or a Hummingbird with Maple back and sides and reworked decor). Either way, a really cool guitar and one that sounds great, based on all the recordings I've heard.

 

If I were you, I'd go and try out all three (Hummingbird, Dove and Firebird) and see which one speaks to you. Travel a bit if you have to, it'll make finding THE guitar even sweeter.

 

Another gem to try, if you can find one, is a Maple J45. They were made in limited-run custom shop batches and the things sound amazing. I've played two, and they were sweeter than sweet. There's something about the Maple/slope combo which just sounds like pealing bells...incredible. If I ever make a custom shop order, it'll be for a Maple J45 12-string. Hell yes!

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No one locally has the Firebird unfortunately. But I do live near a 5* dealer that can swing me a sweet deal on one. I started another topic. I hope that's ok. I've wittled down my choices to the FB or the HB TV.

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Well, I headed over to a nearby Guitar Center because they had a j-45 Standard and Custom, an Advanced Jumbo and a Hummingbird Pro, From my readings here, it sounds like The HB Pro is at the bottom of the food chain with regards to overall tone for a HB. Turns out, after playing all three, I thought the HB Pro sounded noticeably better than the J45s and AJ that they had. Also, after playing it, I really didn't find it to be much larger than the J45 and AJ...certainly not enough to deter me given the warmer and fuller tone. I also really liked the neck. It just felt right.

 

After reading this, I'm curious why you didn't go for the Hummingbird Pro that you connected with?

 

The reason I ask is because if you went to a few other stores and repeated this process, you might find that you prefer the J-45 at one store, the AJ at another, so on and so forth. All guitars are unique, even from one example to the next of the same model. This is especially true when it comes to acoustic guitars and I find this aspect of acoustics to be truly fascinating. I'd recommend that when you're out looking at guitars and you find an example that you don't want to leave behind, then buy that particular guitar. There's no guarantee that the next example of that model will sound/play just as good to you.

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That's is certainly sound perspective...rimshot pleease. I guess my feeling was that I had initially written of the HB due to size without actually playing one. But upon trying the Pro at GC, I found the neck and body to be to my liking. The sound was good and warm, but I feel like it can get even better. For 2K, I feel like there are better deals on more adorned models. What I found with the J45s and AJ, was that the tone was not as robust and I enjoyed the neck on the HB much better. So, in a nutshell, the deal wasn't super sweet and I feel like I can do a bit better for the loot.

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What do you think about a HB True Vintage vs the Custom Firebird? It's seems like they'd be somewhere in the same ballpark new.

 

But following on from Guth, the guitar you really liked at the shop was an HB Pro, which is a different beast from either of those. It's smaller in body than either, despite similar shape, but it's long-scale, unlike the original HB, the HBTV, or the Custom Firebird. Are you sure you want a short-scale instrument with a (slightly) larger body?

 

That is to say, try a standard HB and an HBTV before you pull the trigger! Their feel will necessarily be different from that of the HB Pro you tried and liked. Bling or no bling, the deals on them might be less sweet if they don't feel right.

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The Custom Firebird is absolutely worth a try. The one I played, spoke up and was G-maple at its best.

 

A couple of posters claim it's short scale. The G-site says classic long 25,5, which confirms the theory it's basically a Dove.

 

Good hunting -

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