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Guth

Landed a Custom Shop AJ BIrdseye

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I purchased my Collings OM2H back in 1995. I bought it directly from Collings when I used to live in Austin. Over the years, I found that I was playing it less and less, but hung on to it largely for sentimental reasons. I had gone out to the Collings factory a few times while it was being built to check on things as the build progressed. After it was completed, I watched Bill Collings play the guitar right in front of me. My son was born in Austin, and I figured that some day, I would pass the guitar along to him.

 

I've seen a lot of guitars come & go over the years, but I always hung on to my OM2H. However, as time moved on, I was just not creating music on the guitar any longer. I acquired another small bodied guitar a little over a year ago, and since then I pretty much only pulled the Collings out of the case in order to fill up the Oasis humidifier in the wintertime. The more I thought about it, the less sense it made to hang on to the guitar. My son has yet to develop any real interest in the guitar. If he does, I'd rather pass along instruments that really meant something to me, that I've made music with and really connected with. The Collings will more than likely prove to be a better investment over time, but I'm more interested in guitars that you don't want to get rid of regardless of the value. So off the OM2H went to a very talented individual who will hopefully play it more than I have recently. My Collings was a bit pedestrian compared to his other guitars (he had a few with Brazilian rosewood, and others with varying mixes of other exotic tonewoods), but hopefully it will still get played as he really seemed to like the guitar.

 

Similarly, he had a guitar that he did not connect with, and from the looks of it, he must not have played it more than a handful of times. So now I find myself with a maple Gibson for the first time ever. I believe that I've seen at least one other example of this particular model on this forum. It's a 2007 Custom Shop Advanced Jumbo in birdseye maple. Other details include what appears to be a sitka spruce top, 25 1/4" scale, 1 3/4" nut width, mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard and bridge (not sure what type of rosewood, but it looks nice), gold Gotoh open-gear butterbean tuners, and a full-body sunburst. It's a strikingly beautiful guitar, at least to my eyes. It definitely sounds different than my other guitars. To be honest, I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to take to this guitar, or how it might impact my creativity. I'm going to experiment with strings first off and see what strikes me as the best fit. I'd be interested to hear from any of you with maple-bodied guitars as to stings you've developed a preference for with this tonewood.

 

Here are a few photos of the new AJ that I took and thought some of you here might like to see. I would really like to get it out in some natural sunlight for some additional shots but at this time of the year in my neck of the woods that might be a while.

 

maple_aj_front_full.jpg

 

maple_aj_back_full.jpg

 

maple_aj_back_close.jpg

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there's been a lot of photos on this forum but i have to say , and i'm sure there'll be agreement , that that is easily one of the nicest looking guitars posted

so eye catching without blingyness

good luck with it

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wow what a beautiful back! I DO see some birdseye, but it the flame and quilt that jump out! that thing is stunning!

 

 

I have never played a maple AJ. I have always feared it would be too bright since a regular AJ already has a nice cut to it, and maple would add more. maybe i am wrong. hopefully, i will get the chance to play one some day.

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Wow, oustanding, thats one pretty AJ !

 

Although suprised the Collings didnt rock you boat, after Gibson its my 2nd favourite brand and I look forward to owning a Collings rosewood dread or deep bodied OM one day.

 

As far as strings go Ive hit a bullseye with DR Sunbeams for my J-150. They have a lovelly warmth and a touch of mellowness that goes really well against the maple brightness. The lesser tension from being round core also beenfits the long scale for easier bending etc .. Give em at least a try Guth.

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Guth, what a STUNNER!!

 

I don't think I've ever salivated at the sight of a guitar before, but your new AJ has me drooling...the back looks just how I imagine the surface of the sun to look.

 

With regard to Maple (and AJs) I played an SJ200 for many years and have since moved to my AJ, and I find both have similar characteristics, which no doubt is brought out even more when twinned with Maple (mine is Rosewood). String-wise, I'd advise trying out Martin 80/20 Bronze 12-54s as they have a big, fat sounding top end and good low-end definition, not too overtone-heavy and they tend to last well. They're cheap, too! I went over to using Martins on my Gibsons when I tired of the thin top end that D'Addarios tend to produce, and as I gig like a bandit and change strings often, I wanted something easily obtainable, inexpensive and great-sounding. I use Martins on pretty much all of my guitars. A great alternative, though slightly brighter overall, are Ernie Ball Earthwood Medium-Lights...very similar in tonality, just a bit brighter in the bottom end.

 

A very generous forumer sent me a pack of John Pearse Pure Nickel acoustic strings for my AJ, and they sound fantastic too, a lot more old-timey than the hi-fi PB and 80/20 we're all used to, but great nonetheless.

 

One thing I've found is that my AJ HATES Phosphor Bronze strings. I put a set of D'Addario EJ16s on it a little while after I bought it, and it sounded like CR*P, inexplicably...those strings made it sound like a £20 junk-shop special, I've never heard such a string-related change in a guitar before, it was shocking. I had those strings off and in the bin within 24hrs and slapped a set of Martins on it, and whaddyaknow, there was the tone I fell in love with when I bought it.

 

One thing I've learned is that AJs are a bit of a finnicky guitar-they need the right strings and the right playing technique, but when the stars are in alignment there's nothing on earth that sounds like an AJ...pure liquid magic.

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Guth,

 

A stunningly beautiful guitar! Congratulations and thanks for sharing it with us.

 

I've long wanted a maple AJ. My friend, Kim Walker, restored the only known original maple AJ when he was head of Gruhn's repair shop. What he has said about that one has made me want one.

 

I hope that you'll favor is with a recording or three on your new beauty.

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Congrats!!! Welcome to the Birdseye AJ Club.

 

I hope you enjoy it for years. I love the incredible light weight, and HUGE thunderous open chords, and beautiful clarity when picking notes.

 

The back and sides on yours are stunning....much nicer than mine.

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Nice AJ.... I had one in a Birdseye Ice Tea Burst back in 1996 ... I ended up selling to Jeff Ament from Prearl Jam.. it was a Killer Guitar..

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That's a beauty, Guth! A maple AJ.....hmmm. I often wonder about tonewood changes in traditional guitar builds, the AJ traditionally being rosewood. Such a change it seems would create a whole 'nuther beast than the original spec for the model. I would guess maple on an AJ would make for a loud, snappy, in-your-face kind of sound, very "present", v. a loud, powerfully warm, punchy rosewood tone. What's your take on the tonal change, rosewood v. maple, in this guitar? Looks gorgeous, whatever it's tonal character! Good score!!

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I have never played a maple AJ. I have always feared it would be too bright since a regular AJ already has a nice cut to it, and maple would add more. maybe i am wrong. hopefully, i will get the chance to play one some day.

 

This Guitar (presuming it is similar to mine) defies the "too bright" relunctance for Maple. After buying and selling a J-185, I thought I was done with Maple forever till I found my used Birdeye AJ hanging on the wall at my local GC. It has a DEEP resonant bass the best sustain I've ever heard on a maple guitar--maybe due to the AJ bracing.

 

I thought that my sunburst SWD was my lifetime guitar, but I sold it last year because this Maple AJ gives me everything I wanted out of that SWD for heavy strumming, at a fraction of the weight and the preferable (for me) slope shoulder. To me it is like the best of an AJ and a J-200 in one guitar.

 

This is a real special series--I think Guth got himself one of Ren's best. Enjoy it!

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Thanks all. I really appreciate the comments and the string recommendations.

 

jt, I had no idea that there actually was a maple example in that original batch of AJs.

 

I have no idea how the guitar records at this point. Once I've had a chance to sort out the string situation, I'll work on putting something together to share.

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Guth,

 

Congratulations on such a great looking guitar, and welcome to the Maple AJ Club.

 

My Maple AJ is short-scale. Is yours?

 

Here's a couple of shots of mine, just for those who've never seen one of these unusual models.

 

866p.jpg

 

908u.jpg

 

918k.jpg

 

917i.jpg

 

Red 333

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One of the finest AJs I played was a 1993 birdseye AJ; tried it at Elderly Instruments next to a new rosewood one and an original '38 - '37. Of the three, I liked the new maple one the best, the new r/w one second, then the original one.

 

That is a beautiful maple AJ!!

 

Fred

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Although suprised the Collings didnt rock you boat, after Gibson its my 2nd favourite brand and I look forward to owning a Collings rosewood dread or deep bodied OM one day.

 

As far as strings go Ive hit a bullseye with DR Sunbeams for my J-150.

 

Well, we all have our likes and dislikes and sometimes there is overlap and other times there isn't. The Collings was an amazing piece of craftsmanship, no doubt. I just had somewhat of a sonic falling out with it over the past number of years. It makes more sense that a fine guitar like that is owned by someone that is actually going to play it. I have nothing but good things to say about Collings guitars overall. They're a really good bunch of folks down there in Austin. Don't know why I didn't think of the Sunbeams.

 

 

Man....that back is awesome! Sunburst a plus too. How about a set of DR sunbeams or Ernie Ball earthwoods...

 

I'm detecting a theme with the DR Sunbeams, those will be on my list for sure.

 

 

With regard to Maple (and AJs) I played an SJ200 for many years and have since moved to my AJ, and I find both have similar characteristics, which no doubt is brought out even more when twinned with Maple (mine is Rosewood). String-wise, I'd advise trying out Martin 80/20 Bronze 12-54s as they have a big, fat sounding top end and good low-end definition, not too overtone-heavy and they tend to last well.

 

A great alternative, though slightly brighter overall, are Ernie Ball Earthwood Medium-Lights...very similar in tonality, just a bit brighter in the bottom end.

 

A very generous forumer sent me a pack of John Pearse Pure Nickel acoustic strings for my AJ, and they sound fantastic too, a lot more old-timey than the hi-fi PB and 80/20 we're all used to, but great nonetheless.

 

One thing I've found is that my AJ HATES Phosphor Bronze strings. I put a set of D'Addario EJ16s on it a little while after I bought it, and it sounded like CR*P, inexplicably...those strings made it sound like a £20 junk-shop special, I've never heard such a string-related change in a guitar before, it was shocking. I had those strings off and in the bin within 24hrs and slapped a set of Martins on it, and whaddyaknow, there was the tone I fell in love with when I bought it.

 

You've definitely been through the hoops when it comes to trying strings on an AJ!

 

I'm afraid that I'm amongst those (maybe the only one) who recommended the D'Addario PBs when you got your AJ. I use EJ17s on my rosewood AJ and love the tone. I'm glad that you found the strings that you do prefer. I currently have a set of the JP PB new-mediums on my rosewood AJ and might try those on the maple box as well in addition to those you've mentioned.

 

 

Congrats!!! Welcome to the Birdseye AJ Club.

 

I knew that I had seen mention of this particular run from 2007 on this forum before. I haven't been able to find out too much about them other than the specs I've listed above. If you know of any other information regarding these guitars, I'd love to learn more.

 

 

That's a beauty, Guth! A maple AJ.....hmmm. I often wonder about tonewood changes in traditional guitar builds, the AJ traditionally being rosewood. Such a change it seems would create a whole 'nuther beast than the original spec for the model. I would guess maple on an AJ would make for a loud, snappy, in-your-face kind of sound, very "present", v. a loud, powerfully warm, punchy rosewood tone. What's your take on the tonal change, rosewood v. maple, in this guitar? Looks gorgeous, whatever it's tonal character! Good score!!

 

Surprisingly, or perhaps not, the maple AJ shares many of the sonic traits of the rosewood AJ. It has volume to spare (my wife thinks it the loudest guitar I've ever owned, so I'm guessing that it projects well as it doesn't seem any louder to me when I'm playing it). The sound is definitely very present, yet it's also much more complex to my ear than I would have expected. I really have a hard time putting such things into words that make sense. I'll try to throw together a recording as soon as I can, that will be far more telling I'm sure.

 

My Maple AJ is short-scale. Is yours?

 

No, this is not one of the short-scale versions. It does feature a wider 1 3/4" nut width. I particularly love the burst on the sides of your AJ.

 

One of the finest AJs I played was a 1993 birdseye AJ; tried it at Elderly Instruments next to a new rosewood one and an original '38 - '37. Of the three, I liked the new maple one the best, the new r/w one second, then the original one.

 

Now that sounds like a grand day for sure.

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