1. The Rules have been updated regarding posting as a business on TGP. Thread with details here: Thread Here
    Dismiss Notice

Martin D-18E vs. Gibson J-50

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by Billy Moss, Dec 10, 2017.

Which guitar would you rather have?

  1. Martin D-18E

    73.1%
  2. Gibson J-50

    26.9%
  1. Billy Moss

    Billy Moss Member

    Messages:
    4,397
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Which guitar would you rather have and why?

    Martin D-18E with the LR Baggs Anthem.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Gibson Limited Edition J-50 VOS with the LR Baggs Element VTC pickup.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Akwingnut

    Akwingnut Supporting Member

    Messages:
    397
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Location:
    Ak
    D-18E, because I've not tried a J-50 and I'm admittedly a Martin fanboy.
     
    Billy Moss likes this.
  3. DeSolo

    DeSolo Member

    Messages:
    294
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2013
    Location:
    Michigan
    Whichever one inspires you to play every day. Whichever one responds best to your finger and pick technique. Acoustic guitars are not commodities, they vary much more than electrics within the same model range. I'd look at used ones if available, if they are well played and broken-in.

    Good luck with the search!
     
    alexanderplatz and Billy Moss like this.
  4. guitararmy

    guitararmy Member

    Messages:
    1,902
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2007
    Location:
    The Mountain State
    I would get both...
    Two different sounds.
     
  5. Bluedano1

    Bluedano1 Member

    Messages:
    5,478
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Location:
    Manassas, VA (Wash.D.C. suburb)
    I own (and just love!) a Martin, so I'd gravitate towards getting a Gibson for another great sound/look and feel.

    But it would be a Sunburst J-45 over this J-50
    just hypothetical...

    If I did not already own a Martin,
    I would get the Martin, as D-18's are awesome, for any style of acoustic playing, IMO
     
  6. snakestretcher

    snakestretcher Member

    Messages:
    4,022
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2008
    Location:
    Exeter, England
    The D-18, no contest. I don't like the tone of short scale and mahogany combined, so the Gibson falls at the first hurdle.
     
    Bluedano1 likes this.
  7. fjblair

    fjblair Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    11,020
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2011
    Location:
    NC High Country
    Apples and oranges to me, just depends on the "sound" you are looking for. The Martin is excellent, but so is the Gibson :beer
     
    Scary Uncle G. likes this.
  8. Tony Done

    Tony Done Member

    Messages:
    2,078
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2017
    Location:
    Toowoomba, Australia
    Both are the style of instrument that I like, sitka/mahogany, not bling, so it would depend entirely on hands-on experience with individual guitars. I like the Gibson look, but my recent experience is that they vary a lot in tone. OTOH, I like the old plain-braced D-18s, not so sure about the new scalloped-braced ones. I wouldn't buy either without trying first, because things like tone and neck angle vary in both of them.
     
    Chris Scott likes this.
  9. Chris Scott

    Chris Scott Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    7,590
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    Location:
    Playa Jaco, Costa Rica
    Yup, and the neck angle spec can be a real problem if the guitar is destined to spend any time in a place with a high RH...I just finished a reset on a brand-new J-45RW that had 4 months on it before it was unplayable...as just one example that springs to mind.
     
  10. Groberts

    Groberts Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,491
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2009
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    D-18 for the win! I just bought a new Old stock (2015) from a local store and can't believe I spent my life without owning a D18. But perhaps all those years of trying something else makes this guitar more endearing and lasting for me. Tried a lot of guitars to achieve "This" tone.
     
    Bluedano1 likes this.
  11. Bluedano1

    Bluedano1 Member

    Messages:
    5,478
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Location:
    Manassas, VA (Wash.D.C. suburb)
    I own a '93 D-1 ( budget Martin, spruce/ Mahogany) that I absolutely love and 2017 has been my year ( the first in 40 + years playing) to really be around ( hear and play) some very nice Martins ( and Martin inspired guitars).

    I spent much of the year going to Bluegrass jams ( casual home jams) and got to play real '53, '57, and new ( Golden Era, I forget..) D'18's and all sounded and played great! Clarity and balance of tone- very comfy necks/action and nice light bodies.

    I really don't split hairs too much trying to discern tone between the individual guitars ( and I can say the same for the D-28'S and Blueridge clones I came across- ALL very nice players), but they all have that bold Martin clarity in tone , that differ in ' shading' as far as how bright/ chlmey or how Bassy, mid-rangey individually...when you can't stop playing them, it's a good thing!
     
  12. Billy Moss

    Billy Moss Member

    Messages:
    4,397
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Bump for more opinions please.
     
  13. Scary Uncle G.

    Scary Uncle G. Member

    Messages:
    1,535
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2017
    Well, I've owned both a Martin D-18V and a Gibson J-45, so I have some familiarity with the general styles of guitars if not those specific models. They're both great guitars, but tonally very different animals. The Martin is LOUD, probably best for bluegrass flatpicking, but mine needed at least .012 strings to sound good. Anything less, and it sounded weak. I also had trouble bonding with the narrow (1 11/16") but deep neck on the Martin. I don't know what neck the D-18E comes with so I can't comment there.

    The Gibson is maybe better for vocal accompaniment (although a case could be made here for either). The Gibson also sounds great with an .011 string set, and that, combined with the shorter scale makes for a much easier playing guitar, at least for my old, arthritic hands.

    Since my principle use of an acoustic is to accompany my singing, and because great tone is, to me, worthless if I can't comfortably play the guitar, the Martin is long gone, but I still have the Gibson.
     
  14. Scary Uncle G.

    Scary Uncle G. Member

    Messages:
    1,535
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2017
    Wow, I've not had to touch either my 12 year old J-45 or my 14 year old Hummingbird since their initial setup. I've heard many more stories of Martins needing neck resets, so I'd have to say it's a possibility with either. I'd check the build very carefully on any acoustic guitar with respect to neck set. We are, after all, dealing with objects made of wood, and wood isn't perfect.

    Then again, there was my Gibson Dove, which began to suffer from a rising top. Strangely enough, it only began to appear after the guitar was returned from Gibson for a minor warranty repair on the binding. No idea why the guitar was stable for two years and then began to move. My guitar room is air conditioned in the summer and humidified in the winter, and none of my other guitars were affected.
     
    Tony Done and Chris Scott like this.
  15. big jilm

    big jilm Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,015
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Location:
    Houston TX
    Whichever one had a neck that felt great in my hand. For me, the #1 factor in a great acoustic is how the neck feels - even over the differences in woods, etc. I love the neck on my Gibson J-29, and I also prefer the shorter scale - but if the Martin had a better feeling neck, I’d go for it.
     
    Scary Uncle G. likes this.
  16. GK34

    GK34 Member

    Messages:
    141
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2009
    I voted D-18 GE. I actually have the current standard version of the D-18, and I feel like a good D-18 works great for just about anything. That said, a Gibson J50 is a classic that has been on plenty of recordings. Can't go wrong with a J50 at all.
     
  17. rockabilly69

    rockabilly69 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,083
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    Location:
    Ogden, Utah
    I own very good examples of a D18 and a J45 (same guitar as the J50 spec wise, just different finish), and I like the J45 better for me as I prefer the shorter scale length for a little less string tension, and I like the thump of the Gibson tone for the way it works in my songs with my voice. That said, I could easily make my living with a D18 as they are fantastic guitars. I like my D18 better than my more expensive HD28 as I think the Mahogany back is more balanced tone wise than the scoop of the HD28. And Martins tends to sustain longer than the thumpy Gibsons. It really depends on what you are looking for acoustically. This is a decision that can only be made by comparing them back to back with a good set of fresh strings on both of them.

    BUT.... The one thing I don't like though in both of your choices is the LR Baggs pickups systems as I have never had good luck with them. I feel both have a plastic tone quality I can't get around, and the element pickup as been the cause of string balance issues on more more than a few Gibson acoustic that I've played! And I think the microphone on the Anthem system has a compressed tone that I just don't like. I play acoustic guitar for a living and my top three players all have the B-Band XOM 2.2 system in them, which have been in all of them for a few years now, and are much easier for me to dial a tone in with.

    LR Baggs that I've tried. Anthem (full system not the SL), Lyric, M1, Element, i-Beam, Para DI (knobs too small bad form factor).
     
  18. evening_crow

    evening_crow Member

    Messages:
    286
    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2012
    Location:
    Lancaster, California
    I've got a Martin already so I'd probably gravitate more towards the Gibson. As for which one I would advice buying, I'm not sure. I did pick a Martin over all the Gibsons I tried though. They're very different sounds so I don't know what might work for someone else. I've actually been interested in finding one lately but keep going to the J45 Custom or J29.

    What can I say? I guess I simply prefer rosewood.
     
  19. Tony Done

    Tony Done Member

    Messages:
    2,078
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2017
    Location:
    Toowoomba, Australia
    I don't think that this can be emphasised strongly enough. Check neck angles before buying!!!! My impression is that Martin might be worse than Gibson in this particular respect, but I wouldn't bet money on it.
     
  20. Totally Bored

    Totally Bored Member

    Messages:
    7,612
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Location:
    New York
    D18 only because I have No Martin and it's on the list
     

Share This Page