Best Choice for a Gibson These Days?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by coyoteblue, Mar 19, 2006.

  1. coyoteblue

    coyoteblue Member

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    I want to buy a Gibson acoustic and wonder what's the best value these days. Gibson gets so much criticism for price and workmanship, but still there's a distinctive sound that's hard to find anywhere else. I played a beaten up '51 J-50 yesterday, selling for $4000 CAN, that sounded great. The owner of the store where I played this J-50 said Gibson has always built their guitars in a relatively slipshod manner, that this was true as much today as back in the '50s. Given this observation, the difference in a modern J-50 and the '51 must just be time played. Thoughts on this? I'd love to get your thoughts about choosing a Gibson, which model, new or old. I'm thinking I don't want to pay much over $2500 altogether.
     
  2. Hard2Hear

    Hard2Hear Member

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    Of the 8 Gibson acoustics in my local shop here, the one that blows the others away is actually the cheapest one, a Working Man J45. It is one of the nicest sounding Gibsons Ive ever heard. They do get it right from time to time and still make some awesome stuff. You just have to find it.

    H2H
     
  3. kilgorekid

    kilgorekid Member

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    Hi, Coyote-Sent you an email about my 1967 Gibson J-50 to see if you might have any interest in it.

    Bill
     
  4. bluegrif

    bluegrif Member

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    With Gibson acoustics (more than any other brand I can think of) you really have to try a bunch to find a great one. Most of the newer Montana flat tops are not bad but many are simply not worth the money. Right now the local GC (the only local Gibson dealer) has two J-45s, an Historic Series Advanced Jumbo, and a maple bodied Jumbo. Frankly, my $650, Chinese-built Epiphone Masterbilt blows all of them away. As does the Masterbilt AJ they have at the store.
    However, I've also played some magical Gibson flat tops. One was a sixties J-45 that I played in Seattle. Looked completely beat up but sounded wonderful. And new ones can be great as well. A few years back I played a Montana L-00 that sounded very cool (in a midrangey, bluesy way). And about two years ago that same GC had a great sounding L-150 that I was very tempted to buy.
    Hopefully, you live near a large Gibson dealer if you plan to buy a newer one (or a big vintage store if you want to go used). I'm sure you could find a great one if you have a number to choose from.
     
  5. photoguy

    photoguy Member

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    Can't help much with new Gibson models, but wanted to give a thumbs up for the early J-50's. My 1965 J-50 is the best sounding acoustic I've ever played, and most people that hear it say the same thing. I think you're right about older guitars having a chance to find their sound given time and excercise. If I were shopping today, I'd try to replicate my old guitar.
     
  6. coyoteblue

    coyoteblue Member

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    Thanks for the advice on Gibson's. I'm finding that it's true that they're pretty variable, and this is true of the older models too. It's strange, but here in Toronto no store I've seen has more than 4 new ones in. It's hard to get an idea of the full line, which would best be done comparing one to the other.
    I do have a line on a couple-thanks to kilgorekid for a great offer.
     
  7. gtr777

    gtr777 Supporting Member

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    I recently bought a songwriter deluxe. I must say I wasn't even looking to buy a guitar that day. I just happened to try it and had to buy it. It just sounded full and lively. Still love the sound of it and I don't regret the purchase.
     
  8. Buffalosix

    Buffalosix Member

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    I've had a Gibson J-100 XTRA for six years (minus a two-month period where I'd traded it in - I finally had to get it back).... and I've have a J-45 Rosewood for about three years. You can't go wrong with either. The Super Jumbos and the Round Shoulder Dreads are two of Gibson's flagships. They both have distinctive sound traits, but both have the trademark Gibson bass "thump." Both had minor issues on purchase, both were corrected by a good setup from a competent luthier - overall, very pleased with product by Gibson Montana. Heck, I'd like to personally fly out there and shake Ren Ferguson's hand.
     
  9. coyoteblue

    coyoteblue Member

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    Thanks for all the advice. There aren't any large Gibson dealers in Toronto...strange but true...the most I've seen in any one store is four guitars! This means a lot of store hopping and comparison by memory. As for the J-45 Rosewood, I haven't seen one here. Are these the only ones that have a natural finish?
     
  10. billygoat

    billygoat Member

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    I think L&M in mississauga has 5 or 6
     
  11. asv

    asv Member

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    I've recently played a lot of Gibson acoustics, and the Advanced Jumbo was consistently the nicest of the bunch. It has a very open sound that is rare in dreadnought type guitars.
     
  12. Buffalosix

    Buffalosix Member

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    Coyote:

    Gibson changes specs like some folks change their socks, so as with all info on this board, YMMV (your mileage may vary). However, my understanding is that the J-45 Rosewood is still available in both 'burst and natural (mine is natural).

    The J-45 standard (aka J-45 Historic) is available only in 'burst. Gibson was re-issuing the J-50 for a while, which was your standard spruce/mahogany round shoulder like the J-45 standard, but in natural.

    Cheers.
     
  13. THROBAK

    THROBAK Vendor

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    The 50's-60's era J-45 and J-50 guitars are braced completely differently than the current production Montana made versions. The old bracing has a warmer rounder tone that sounds like a Gibson. The current bracing is more like a Martin style of bracing and the current J-45 and J-50 sound more like a Gibson trying to sound like a Martin. I like the old J-45 and J-50 much better. I have two 64' J-45's and two 64' J-50's and they all sound great. Even with the adjustable bridges they have. One of my J-50's has a plastic bridge and is the worst sounding of the bunch. The braces are also triangularly cut rather than cut with parallel sides with a peaked top to the brace. The plastic bridge models also have plywood bridge plates. If you can find a good older one that does not have the plastic bridge or the triangular bracing odds are that it will sound way better than any current production J-45/50's. The old jumbo frets also give a meatier sound on the old guitars. I find my new J-45 sort of wimps out when you did into it. The old ones sound great when you dig into them.
     
  14. Ogre

    Ogre Member

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    The Advanced Jumbo is my favorite new Gibson. They are about $2100 new.
     
  15. PHLOW

    PHLOW Member

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    I think the "every guitar is somewhat different" philosophy really applies when considering a Gibson. I used to work in a store that sold the Gibson acoustic line and found that there was a wide tonal difference within models. The Gibson Rep once brought in the "sliced in half guitar" to show the internal construction of their product. My take, along with lots of others, is that they are a bit overbuilt (maybe the politically correct phrase would be built to last!)

    The Custom Shop guitars, while still Gibsons, are sometimes more responsive guitars when new. With the budget you mentioned, I would probably lean toward finding an older one that sounds like what you are after as opposed to buying new and hoping time turns it into what you want. Good luck in your search!
     

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