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Gibson inconsistency

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I played a metal Dobro for many of the dark years of Gibson. It was pretty well known Gibson were on their knees.Guitar friends dissed them, the local music shop guy dissed them and another nutty guitar friend went and bought a J200 that was built out of solid granite. It was very expensive too. At his house one day, he kept wanting to play my Dobro, but I had to give the J back because next to the Dobro, nothing was coming out of the top of that thing! I doubt if that guitar top has ever broken in.

 

So once the word was out about Ren etc, nobody I knew really believed it. It has taken Gibson a long while to get the name back.

 

 

Advance quite a few years - I was looking for smaller guitars for blues fingerpicking and had a Martin 000-15 mahogany top which I loved the sound of, but the nut was a bit skinny and frustrating me a bit. I had just been reading about the Gibson Blues King and thought I would go and try some. The first one I tried is exactly what everyone on the forums complain about - it sounded and played like a suitcase with barb wire strings! I dropped that back in the slot and didn't give it another thought until a couple of years ago, I played my current one at the shop and blamm!!!! etc. Incredible little guitar. Mine! (and the Gibson mania begins!) Supposed to be the same as the guitar I previously tried - no way. Not even close. It sings and cries and all the things guitarists talk about wanting. I don't think it was just strings, because I have always taken them into account mentally...

 

So I was wondering if the shop owners and ex-guitar shop workers could explain how these shops keep all these guitars 'UP' to top form day in and day out. Is there some inventory list that they are aware of when they have to change strings, or is this mostly 'feel' or 'visual'? Do the head guys change the strings on the guitars on the racks, or is it the 'apprentice'?

 

I suppose the GC's and the large places would have some kind of system? Any insider knowledge? I myself have never seen a guitar salesperson with a rag in hand polishing a guitar or changing strings. Does this all happen before they open the shop? At midnight? Do they have a super 'string-changer' or such come in at night?

 

I would love to know.

 

 

BluesKing777.

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I remember this discussion in the past, and an interesting one to say the least. As Guth stated;

“However, as others have pointed out, Gibson is selling pretty much every guitar they make. All of those Gibsons that I've put down after just a few seconds must have appealed to someone else for the exact same reasons that they did not appeal to me. This is more in line with what Buc was pointing out. To me, it's like Gibson acoustics have multiple personalities and when we talk of "the Gibson tone" that means different things to different people.”

 

And this was and is my view. Gibsons are definitely inconsistent ! That is why I don't bother going to the Taylor racks. Every one (being the same model) sounds exactly the same. Where going to the Gibson side, you can Almost select your own custom sound....right off the rack ! Yeah, you may need to handle a few more, but the opportunity is there. As far as correcting the QC at Gibson....I say NO ! Let the inconsistencies be the ability to hand pick your own sound.

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Can't disagreee with this analysis. When you find a good one, it can be pretty special.

 

I would also say that you shouldn't underestimate the ability of strings to modify the character of a guitar. I've never bought a guitar off the shelf in a store (except my old J-45, which I bought used off the wall of a music store in Jackson, MS in 1966: loose braces, buzzes, worn frets, and all), and don't often go into stores to play the guitars, in part because I expect them to have under-performing strings most of the time, which can give a false impression. Realistically, once you get past variances in build quality--which you can readily inspect--your chances of finding a great-sounding Gibson on the wall are probably lower than with some other brands. They seem to sulk if they have old strings, or the wrong strings.

 

I look at Gibsons sort of like the sometimes-cranky black-sheep uncle you might have had as a youngster: he could scare and intimidate you, but if you ever got past the rough exterior, you often found a heart of gold and a soul of pure magic.

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Dude - You are so - so right about the impact of string sound when checking out a guitar. Most Guitar Centers and other major retailers are terrible about maintaining strings. There is nothing worse than picking up a beautiful guitar to play and finding dead strings. Most of the small, quality shops I frequent put Elixer lights on all of their guitars. I play the Elixer lights and medium lights on all of my guitars. To me - they sound great and last a long time.

 

LCB

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I only know of ONE store that actually took the time to Make sure there new Gibsons were up to standards.. they took the time to polish and tuneup, restring each and every Guitar Often like it was there own.. Hogeye would know whom I talk about.. To bad there not in Business anymore.. You could order by phone., they would spend ample time with you via the phone making sure you got what you were after, and they never had a comeback unless it was to upgrade to a Higher end Piece.. and they had no issues of sending world wide... they honored every sale.. New or used.. Never once said No..

 

How many stores would treat you in this manor? Not many from what Ive seen... I know of a couple that are trustfull enough to make it work for both parties without issues..

 

Inconsistant Gibsons are Good... everyone has different tastes in sound and tone, playabiltiy and so on..

 

I think the only time you may have to worry.. youll get one thats so Nice.. you wont want to play it.. been there, Done that.. :)

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Point 1 : To claim that acoustic Gibson guitars ain't no good or bash them is the same as saying "I don't know a thing about acoustic guitars" period. Only a complete idiot would back up opinions like that and frankly I don't see why serious players/ears here let themselves get upset by these utterly unqualified tendencies.te

 

No I don't particularly like icehockey, but the day I start bashing different teams for that reason, you can carry me out on an old army stretcher.

 

Well, won't comment on the inconsistency Q. in this post. There are much bigger capacities on that subject heard already, so I listened and learned. But let me join the choir who state the ship took water in and started sinking from 1970 and 15 notorious years onwards. I was wounded myself and caught a downright trauma. After purchasing respectively a sq. sh. J-45 and a J-50 as a late teenager just before 1980, the disappointment – though I fought to keep it down – became so big that it followed me the next 2 decades. I sold the 2, bought an excellent street Ibanez, some electric gear and went elsewhere. Okay, of course looked at and tried acoustic Gibsons here and there, but every time prejudices were confirmed and finally they simple were outcounted. A big thing was over and out, it was depressing and in January 1991 I went Martin dread.

Is it true that the negative aura around the once so big brand, drastically downwards spiraled and that its reputation among the rock people and musicians in general got sucked into a hole. Actually that place still to this day blackens the eyes of many who remember the period.

But nothing is static. I first turned my head when my younger brother phoned me around the millennium telling about a new Gibson he was about to buy. Would I try it and give an assessment ? Sure, so up he came and out of the case drew a, , , , Sheryl Crow. I surrendered on the spot. The guitar – though a bit pale for my taste – looked like a real Gibson, , , and sounded GREAT ! Totally surprised I gave him thumbs up, jammed away and enjoyed the modern C&W many times since. That is more than 10 years ago, and I'm fairly convinced a lot of people have been through the same type of enlightenment since. Even old geezers who nearly went down with the stigmatized and doomed Norlin fleet seem to know something has been recreated.

So cherry up boys and girls - don't sit there sighing over a few blockheads on the AGF or whereever. (In fact the response on Guths thread over there wasn't that negative).

I now realize it's called cheer up. . .

 

 

Anyway – the perfect opportunity to present a picture I had in store since this fall. Allow yourself to enjoy :

 

 

.................... ....................................................................The Gibson Mothers TheGibsonMothers-1.jpg

 

. …..................................................... . . . . . …........Those girls cannot have made 1 bad guitar -

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I can see your point but I still peg 1965 as the year Gibson really started breaking with its own traditions of guitar building.

Guess we'll have to agree to disagree on the key "Norlinization" years. Your comments regarding the pre-1970 changes at Gibson are certainly significant, but if you took the body of production (acoustic & electric) between '65 & '69, and compared it to the instruments produced between '70 and '75, the Gibsons and Epis produced in the late '60s would have much more in common with the instruments that preceded them, would be more desirable, and would command a higher value. All of that said, I will confess to previously having had a long & happy relationship with a double-X braced '72 Heritage Custom!

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Guess we'll have to agree to disagree on the key "Norlinization" years. Your comments regarding the pre-1970 changes at Gibson are certainly significant, but if you took the body of production (acoustic & electric) between '65 & '69, and compared it to the instruments produced between '70 and '75, the Gibsons and Epis produced in the late '60s would have much more in common with the instruments that preceded them, would be more desirable, and would command a higher value. All of that said, I will confess to previously having had a long & happy relationship with a double-X braced '72 Heritage Custom!

 

Generalizations are always difficult, but there is a lot of truth in what you say. I have a '68 ES 335-12 whose build quality it excellent. Literally its only flaw is that late-60's narrow fretboard and thin neck. Likewise, Gibson did quite a bit of work on my '48 J-45 in 1968, and although I didn't like the cherry sunburst top it came back with, I couldn't fault the general quality of the workmanship.

 

What you can say, however, is that there are warning flags associated with Gibsons built in the second half of the 60's, and you need to evaluate guitars from this period on a case by case basis. After 1969, and before the modern era? You have to pick over a mountain of rocks to find that occasional diamond.

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I don't mean to derail from the subject of different era's of Gibby (I think I'm actually learning something), but I think the OP is referring to modern guitars, and differences between different makes you can buy now.

 

I don't visit AGF, nor do I feel any reason to. I can't say what is said there, or their reasons. But, going on what the OP has said, it is myth.

 

What I am reading is that variance in sound from one sample to the next is a QC issue. I don't see them as being the same thing. Even from what I get "online", I have yet to see a discussion on QC coming out of Bozeman. This is the closest to it.

 

As for my own experience, what I have touched and played, regardless of whether I liked the sound or not, the stuff coming from Bozeman have been great from a craftsmanship level.

 

I am not sure I like the use of the word "inconsistant" here. If we are talking about a lack of quality from one batch to the next as it implies, I haven't really seen that subject in discussion. I see the word used to describe "varience" between different samples regarding tone. In that case, I would say that Gibson has not varied more from sample to sample than the other good brands I have tried and shopped for. Certainly, Martin has had as much. But I get the same experience from Breedlove and the Santa Cruz built Larevee.

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I played a metal Dobro for many of the dark years of Gibson. It was pretty well known Gibson were on their knees.Guitar friends dissed them, the local music shop guy dissed them and another nutty guitar friend went and bought a J200 that was built out of solid granite. It was very expensive too. At his house one day, he kept wanting to play my Dobro, but I had to give the J back because next to the Dobro, nothing was coming out of the top of that thing! I doubt if that guitar top has ever broken in.

 

So once the word was out about Ren etc, nobody I knew really believed it. It has taken Gibson a long while to get the name back.

 

 

Advance quite a few years - I was looking for smaller guitars for blues fingerpicking and had a Martin 000-15 mahogany top which I loved the sound of, but the nut was a bit skinny and frustrating me a bit. I had just been reading about the Gibson Blues King and thought I would go and try some. The first one I tried is exactly what everyone on the forums complain about - it sounded and played like a suitcase with barb wire strings! I dropped that back in the slot and didn't give it another thought until a couple of years ago, I played my current one at the shop and blamm!!!! etc. Incredible little guitar. Mine! (and the Gibson mania begins!) Supposed to be the same as the guitar I previously tried - no way. Not even close. It sings and cries and all the things guitarists talk about wanting. I don't think it was just strings, because I have always taken them into account mentally...

 

So I was wondering if the shop owners and ex-guitar shop workers could explain how these shops keep all these guitars 'UP' to top form day in and day out. Is there some inventory list that they are aware of when they have to change strings, or is this mostly 'feel' or 'visual'? Do the head guys change the strings on the guitars on the racks, or is it the 'apprentice'?

 

I suppose the GC's and the large places would have some kind of system? Any insider knowledge? I myself have never seen a guitar salesperson with a rag in hand polishing a guitar or changing strings. Does this all happen before they open the shop? At midnight? Do they have a super 'string-changer' or such come in at night?

 

I would love to know.

 

 

BluesKing777.

Just so you know. I was in a 5-star dealer in Seattle a while back and there was a guy in there from Gibson. He was cleaning and restringing every Gibson in the store. I asked a few questions and here's what he said. Gibson has a whole seperate list of employees(DPS) that do nothing but restring, clean, and set up Gibson products. They visit each and every Guitar Center and 5-Star dealer in the country. I actually ran into the same guy at Misic Villa in Bozeman on several occasions. I asked several music stores in my travels and they confirmed that Gibson is the only company that has this sort of a program. They all said they get regular visits from these folks and they change strings once a month. That's probably not enough as there are a lot of people playing guitars in a month but it is a start. I think Gibson is listening to you and trying their best to help the situation. This has to be a huge expense for them and all the dealers I chatted with really appreciated the help. Gibson also provides free strings to the dealers as in incentive for them to change strings between DPS visits.

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Which is why Gibson should string their showroom guitars with Elixirs or EXP's, so that they still sound decent and zippy after a month. Much easier fix (and cheaper) than paying reps to change the Masterbuilts so often which die oh so quickly,

 

Just so you know. I was in a 5-star dealer in Seattle a while back and there was a guy in there from Gibson. He was cleaning and restringing every Gibson in the store. I asked a few questions and here's what he said. Gibson has a whole seperate list of employees(DPS) that do nothing but restring, clean, and set up Gibson products. They visit each and every Guitar Center and 5-Star dealer in the country. I actually ran into the same guy at Misic Villa in Bozeman on several occasions. I asked several music stores in my travels and they confirmed that Gibson is the only company that has this sort of a program. They all said they get regular visits from these folks and they change strings once a month. That's probably not enough as there are a lot of people playing guitars in a month but it is a start. I think Gibson is listening to you and trying their best to help the situation. This has to be a huge expense for them and all the dealers I chatted with really appreciated the help. Gibson also provides free strings to the dealers as in incentive for them to change strings between DPS visits.

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I don't know anything except for what I hear, but what I hear is that even within the same model at the same store there is a good deal of variation. Some guitars just sound "not right" and others sound "right".

 

Don't know if I can do any better than that for an explanation besides saying I can hear it.

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I don't know anything except for what I hear, but what I hear is that even within the same model at the same store there is a good deal of variation. Some guitars just sound "not right" and others sound "right".

 

Don't know if I can do any better than that for an explanation besides saying I can hear it.

 

Don't know if I've ever heard someone sum it up so succinctly — simple but spot on. The key is finding one that sounds "right" to you, then you're set.

 

As "right" as my guitar is for me, I'm convinced that it would be "not right" for plenty of others. That's okay by me, we each have our own preferences.

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I can hear it too. I think most everyone here can. But, again I'll say “That's the beauty that Gibson guitars have over any other brand. “You can personalize your own sound off the rack !

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It would be boring to go to the Dodge Dealership to Find nothing but Neons.. but if that was the case.. which one would appeal to you? Stereo? , Color? interior? each one has something different inside.. Now to pick which one..

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Interesting discussion. As an owner of several brands of guitar, I have a slightly different take. I agree that the Gibson tone isn't for everyone and that some people just hear a different sound in their heads and unless a guitar produces that sound exactly, it's considered a dud. I also agree that some dealerships don't represent Gibson guitars at their best for a variety of reasons that have been mentioned here, including old strings and hoards of passers-through pawing instruments that they have no intention of buying.

 

I love my SJ-200. It took me a while to get one I liked but I do very much like it. It has a vibe all its own. It was an expensive guitar, costing more than my Bourgeois and approaching the price of my Goodall. It fills a niche that those other guitars don't, which is why I bought it. But objectively, it has minor flaws that the others don't. The others don't sound like a Gibson, but they sound absolutely fantastic. I won't say they sound better; they sound different. But they're certainly as good sounding in their respective ways as the Gibson is in its way. So, what we have is three guitars (I could bring in other examples but let's just talk about these three) that are all wonderful instruments, each in its own way. The difference is that the QC on the Goodall and Bourgeois far exceeds the QC on the Gibson. I don't mind that. The little imperfections on the Gibson don't influence tone or playability and may even give it a certain charm. But there's no denying that they're there, and I don't think they're there by design but because the guitar was considered good enough with those little flaws present. I agree with that, actually, and still love the guitar.

 

But view this from the perspective of someone who owns a Bourgeois, Huss & Dalton, Goodall, Santa Cruz, or some other small-shop guitar that costs about the same as my SJ-200 TV. From their perspective, it's not unreasonable for them to wonder why those other companies can supply a great sounding guitar without little flaws when Gibson does not. I think asking those questions is legitimate and doesn't constitute bashing. It may mean they don't get the Gibson vibe, but that's a different matter. From the perspective of those other guitars, getting great sound doesn't entail a willingness to overlook little glitches like tool chatter marks on a fingerboard or visible glue lines around a pickguard (which are pretty small potatoes in the grand scheme of things). I can't really fault them for raising the question.

 

From the perspective of a lifelong Gibson enthusiast, this seems petty. If you get a great sounding guitar, what difference does it make if there are some minor glitches that you need a spotlight and magnifying glass to spot? Your getting a legendary tone and an iconic look. Shouldn't that satisfy anyone?

 

I don't think either of these viewpoints is wrong, they're just different. I don't think the former is Gibson bashing or that the latter is blind fan-boy loyalty. They're just different world views when it comes to guitars.

 

Some of the responses in this thread could be loosely interpreted as saying, "okay, Gibsons aren't all the same but that's something I like about them." (I concur with that, by the way.) But that amounts to acknowledging that there's some inconsistency there. It may be inconsistency that we like and that reminds us that guitars are made by human hands from organic materials, but it's inconsistency. Likewise, when I or others say, "who cares about some imperfection you can only see if the light glances across the surface of the guitar at a precise angle during a particular phase of the moon? The thing plays great and sound s great." That's an acknowledgment that there are QC differences between Gibson and other builders in their price range. Now, those QC issues are well below our threshold for caring about them in the least. but they're there. And the inconsistencies may not bother us and may even be viewed positively, but they're there.

 

So, I guess my point is that I don't see people raising issues of QC or inconsistency as really having any bearing on my feelings toward my Gibson guitar. I don't think the people raising those issues are evil, biased, stupid, or otherwise undesirable. Of course, some of them are talking through their butts, but what internet forum doesn't have that problem?

 

I hope these comments don't tick people off. Like Guth, I've caught some heat for these views in the past, which has always puzzled me. I put my money where my mouth is and bought a very high-end Gibson. I like what's coming out of Montana a lot. But disagreeing with that viewpoint doesn't make other folks jerks or idiots, in my judgment.

 

Okay, I said my piece.

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I think I have to go with it being a string issue. I recently went to a guitar center and played for almost an hour a 2011 Hummingbird and it sounded terrible. The reason I didn't hold this against the guitar is because of hearing all the stories of the "dead" strings, and in all honesty it makes sense. God only knows how many people play that guitar and don't wipe it down and how long those strings have been on the guitar.

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Bob D that was an interesting post. It occurs to me that most or maybe even all the cosmetic issues you see as flaws and thus inconsistencies fly completely under my radar! I live with a dog and keep guitars out all the time, allow other people to play my guitars (family is the worst) and basically assume all sorts of dings, scratches, finish clouding, etc. will appear on every guitar I own. Possibly I just don't understand what people are talking about when they call Gibsons 'inconsistent' because those people have cosmetic standards which inhabit a different universe from the one in which I live. This is not a put-down, it's a recognition and concession that my cosmetic expectatons are perhaps so different from other folks that we may be talking past each other.

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And a well said piece it was!

 

Interesting discussion. As an owner of several brands of guitar, I have a slightly different take. I agree that the Gibson tone isn't for everyone and that some people just hear a different sound in their heads and unless a guitar produces that sound exactly, it's considered a dud. I also agree that some dealerships don't represent Gibson guitars at their best for a variety of reasons that have been mentioned here, including old strings and hoards of passers-through pawing instruments that they have no intention of buying.

 

I love my SJ-200. It took me a while to get one I liked but I do very much like it. It has a vibe all its own. It was an expensive guitar, costing more than my Bourgeois and approaching the price of my Goodall. It fills a niche that those other guitars don't, which is why I bought it. But objectively, it has minor flaws that the others don't. The others don't sound like a Gibson, but they sound absolutely fantastic. I won't say they sound better; they sound different. But they're certainly as good sounding in their respective ways as the Gibson is in its way. So, what we have is three guitars (I could bring in other examples but let's just talk about these three) that are all wonderful instruments, each in its own way. The difference is that the QC on the Goodall and Bourgeois far exceeds the QC on the Gibson. I don't mind that. The little imperfections on the Gibson don't influence tone or playability and may even give it a certain charm. But there's no denying that they're there, and I don't think they're there by design but because the guitar was considered good enough with those little flaws present. I agree with that, actually, and still love the guitar.

 

But view this from the perspective of someone who owns a Bourgeois, Huss & Dalton, Goodall, Santa Cruz, or some other small-shop guitar that costs about the same as my SJ-200 TV. From their perspective, it's not unreasonable for them to wonder why those other companies can supply a great sounding guitar without little flaws when Gibson does not. I think asking those questions is legitimate and doesn't constitute bashing. It may mean they don't get the Gibson vibe, but that's a different matter. From the perspective of those other guitars, getting great sound doesn't entail a willingness to overlook little glitches like tool chatter marks on a fingerboard or visible glue lines around a pickguard (which are pretty small potatoes in the grand scheme of things). I can't really fault them for raising the question.

 

From the perspective of a lifelong Gibson enthusiast, this seems petty. If you get a great sounding guitar, what difference does it make if there are some minor glitches that you need a spotlight and magnifying glass to spot? Your getting a legendary tone and an iconic look. Shouldn't that satisfy anyone?

 

I don't think either of these viewpoints is wrong, they're just different. I don't think the former is Gibson bashing or that the latter is blind fan-boy loyalty. They're just different world views when it comes to guitars.

 

Some of the responses in this thread could be loosely interpreted as saying, "okay, Gibsons aren't all the same but that's something I like about them." (I concur with that, by the way.) But that amounts to acknowledging that there's some inconsistency there. It may be inconsistency that we like and that reminds us that guitars are made by human hands from organic materials, but it's inconsistency. Likewise, when I or others say, "who cares about some imperfection you can only see if the light glances across the surface of the guitar at a precise angle during a particular phase of the moon? The thing plays great and sound s great." That's an acknowledgment that there are QC differences between Gibson and other builders in their price range. Now, those QC issues are well below our threshold for caring about them in the least. but they're there. And the inconsistencies may not bother us and may even be viewed positively, but they're there.

 

So, I guess my point is that I don't see people raising issues of QC or inconsistency as really having any bearing on my feelings toward my Gibson guitar. I don't think the people raising those issues are evil, biased, stupid, or otherwise undesirable. Of course, some of them are talking through their butts, but what internet forum doesn't have that problem?

 

I hope these comments don't tick people off. Like Guth, I've caught some heat for these views in the past, which has always puzzled me. I put my money where my mouth is and bought a very high-end Gibson. I like what's coming out of Montana a lot. But disagreeing with that viewpoint doesn't make other folks jerks or idiots, in my judgment.

 

Okay, I said my piece.

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I didn't know we were talking cosmetics, I never paid attention to that either. I think there are pretty guitars all over the place, but it's the sound. When a Gibson is on... I don't know, it literally makes my spine tingle. Now, not every Gibson I've played does that (actually most don't), but the ones that do... That's what I need. I feel like I hear things that, range of sound, fullness, depth, clarity... And no other guitars do that for me. It's actually a little strange and for the longest time I kept wondering "how hard can it be to make a good guitar, why do you have to be a Gibson to get it right?"

 

I don't know why, but apparently it is hard and not even they get it right every time.

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I also thought this thread was referring to sound, not cosmetics. I personally don't care about cosmetics. That's one reason I bought a J100 over the J200. As far as I know, the bling is the only difference, so it left me with enough extra cash to buy another sweet Gibson.

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