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Pre War SJ-200 Rosewood

Mr Fingers

Member
Messages
3,231
Dunno. I'd play one to make sure these are as good as I hope they are, as the SJ200 model has been a real dog during some production periods -- good for dead strumming rhythm (saw Pete Townshend using one for Pinball Wizard with the Who, live) but little else. I love the look of the SJ200 but have never found a new production one that I would buy. I have high hopes for this new effort, but I'm not getting excited until I can try one, which unfortunately seems unlikely since they'll all be snapped up online, probably. Good luck.
 

zombywoof

Member
Messages
4,733
That certainly is a looker ain't it? But we have our bases on that model well covered as decades ago my wife claimed what was at the time my 1960 J200 as her own. But the only thing "pre-War" about this guitar is the rosewood body and pickguard. As far as I know Bozeman has never attempted to replicate the unique bracing the early and 1951 and on guitars had.
 

zombywoof

Member
Messages
4,733
Dunno. I'd play one to make sure these are as good as I hope they are, as the SJ200 model has been a real dog during some production periods -- good for dead strumming rhythm (saw Pete Townshend using one for Pinball Wizard with the Who, live) but little else. I love the look of the SJ200 but have never found a new production one that I would buy. I have high hopes for this new effort, but I'm not getting excited until I can try one, which unfortunately seems unlikely since they'll all be snapped up online, probably. Good luck.
I read an interview where Townsend once said what he liked about his later-1960s J200 was it had a dead soundboard which he felt really allowed him to dig in. My guess though is Pete did not remove the large screwed to the top brace running the length of the lower X brace from the soundhole to the bridge which Gibson started adding to the model around 1961. if you look in the dictionary under "tone sucker" you will find a picture of this thing.
 

NeuroLogic

Member
Messages
1,445
I read an interview where Townsend once said what he liked about his later-1960s J200 was it had a dead soundboard which he felt really allowed him to dig in. My guess though is Pete did not remove the large screwed to the top brace running the length of the lower X brace from the soundhole to the bridge which Gibson started adding to the model around 1961. if you look in the dictionary under "tone sucker" you will find a picture of this thing.
I had an early 60s with the "tone sucker" brace. The guitar was still a dog after it was disengaged. It was around 10 years old at the time plenty of break-in.
 

MaxSustaine

Member
Messages
22
Maybe a good thing they're sold out as I had an itchy trigger finger maybe. I will just say I have always wanted one and now I'm in my later 40s and have the means... but w/o trying one out in person, it's risky for that $. I've read good things so far. I got excited about this one because of the rosewood back/sides and ebony board and bridge which is like the original 1938 I guess. I've often thought the maple ones sound too bright. Anyway, cosmetically everything looks correct to the original pre war. As far as the bracing, the specs say "Traditional Hand Scalloped X-bracing", with hide glue. Now, I would assume that means single X like the original?
I found this online:
"Another important change occurred during 1952, when the single X bracing that had been used since 1942 reverted back to the stronger but arguably less toneful double X bracing used before 1942."
Pete Townshend... well Jimmy Page used a 1963 borrowed from Jim Sullivan to record all the acoustic on Led Zeppelin I including the fingerpicked 'Babe, I'm gonna leave you' and "Black Mountainside"...so my expectations would be for more than just a strummer. I've read the 63 was maple back and ebony board btw.
I remember trying a new out about 15? years ago and loving it but didn't have the cash.
And what is this about a screw in the bracing?? I'll have to look into that more...
 
Last edited:

spence

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,694
I've got one of the Ren Ferguson rosewood reissues that were made in 1991-92 in a limited run of 100. It's a wonderful guitar, and extremely hard to find. Information on them is virtually impossible to find too. Just a short mention in the book 'Gibson's Fabulous Flat-top Guitars: An Illustrated History.
 

zombywoof

Member
Messages
4,733
Maybe a good thing they're sold out as I had an itchy trigger finger maybe. I will just say I have always wanted one and now I'm in my later 40s and have the means... but w/o trying one out in person, it's risky for that $. I've read good things so far. I got excited about this one because of the rosewood back/sides and ebony board and bridge which is like the original 1938 I guess. I've often thought the maple ones sound too bright. Anyway, cosmetically everything looks correct to the original pre war. As far as the bracing, the specs say "Traditional Hand Scalloped X-bracing", with hide glue. Now, I would assume that means single X like the original?
I found this online:
"Another important change occurred during 1952, when the single X bracing that had been used since 1942 reverted back to the stronger but arguably less toneful double X bracing used before 1942."
Pete Townshend... well Jimmy Page used a 1963 borrowed from Jim Sullivan to record all the acoustic on Led Zeppelin I including the fingerpicked 'Babe, I'm gonna leave you' and "Black Mountainside"...so my expectations would be for more than just a strummer. I've read the 63 was maple back and ebony board btw.
I remember trying a new out about 15? years ago and loving it but didn't have the cash.
And what is this about a screw in the bracing?? I'll have to look into that more...
I am not sure what you are basing your judgement of the double X braced SJ/J200s as "less toneful" on. Do not get these guitars mixed up with the bulky double X braced guitars Gibson started building in 1971. I have owned and played these older SJ/J200s for many years and find them anything but matching that description when compared to the single X braced versions. They are beautifully balanced with a rich thick sound.

The screwed on Fuller brace was actually a cross brace running the width of the guitar. So I misspoke earlier. As Gibson was apparently always edgy about supporting the big old tops on the J200 they were added in the hopes of keeping the soundboard in front of the bridge from collapsing. Fortunately they were easy to remove, Here is a link to some discussion about the added brace and pics on UMGF. Also note the bridge plate in one of the photos which was large enough to qualify as a piece of furniture. These were installed to support the tune-o-matic bridges Gibson went to in 1961. When it comes to bridge plates size matters. Martin took a beating when they went to oversized rosewood plates in the late-1960s. Those used by Gibson dwarfed the Martins.
.
66 J200 Cross Brace - The Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum (umgf.com)
 

MaxSustaine

Member
Messages
22
I am not sure what you are basing your judgement of the double X braced SJ/J200s as "less toneful" on. Do not get these guitars mixed up with the bulky double X braced guitars Gibson started building in 1971. I have owned and played these older SJ/J200s for many years and find them anything but matching that description when compared to the single X braced versions. They are beautifully balanced with a rich thick sound.

The screwed on Fuller brace was actually a cross brace running the width of the guitar. So I misspoke earlier. As Gibson was apparently always edgy about supporting the big old tops on the J200 they were added in the hopes of keeping the soundboard in front of the bridge from collapsing. Fortunately they were easy to remove, Here is a link to some discussion about the added brace and pics on UMGF. Also note the bridge plate in one of the photos which was large enough to qualify as a piece of furniture. These were installed to support the tune-o-matic bridges Gibson went to in 1961. When it comes to bridge plates size matters. Martin took a beating when they went to oversized rosewood plates in the late-1960s. Those used by Gibson dwarfed the Martins.
.
66 J200 Cross Brace - The Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum (umgf.com)
Thanks for the reply. No, I'm not basing it on my own judgement, just what I've read online. I quoted that from another site, that the double x is considered by some to be less toneful... but I have no idea.
Anyway, I never really considered buying a vintage one as the price would most likely be higher for a good example and I couldn't try it out before buying unless it was local. There may be issues with old ones. This new rosewood model piqued my interest and I just had an online chat with someone at Musicians Friend and they told me these are suppose to be shipping again Feb. 1st. I plan to call around my local shops late January and see if I can try one out when they come in.
 

MaxSustaine

Member
Messages
22
I own one, it's just stunning. Highly recommended purchase.
Do you think it sounded great out of the case new? Do you feel it has opened up or improved in tone since you've owned it? How is the playability and did you have to get it set up at all? Is the action low? Sorry about all the questions, I've located one and about to pull the trigger. Anything else you would like to say about it, please do.
 
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wox

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,401
Do you think it sounded great out of the case new? Do you feel it has opened up or improved in tone since you've owned it? How is the playability and did you have to get it set up at all? Is the action low? Sorry about all the questions, I've located one and about to pull the trigger. Anything else you would like to say about it, please do.
Yeah, I really do think it sounded great right out of the case. I got it in July and the sound has not changed (nor would I really expect to in 6 months), though I would love it if some of the compressed mids opened up into more of a vintage-y woody tone (but still love as-is). You can tell it's built light, you can really feel the whole body moving underneath you.

Setup is fine, totally playable right out of the box. Action is solidly medium, which is appropriate for a big strummer. I may slightly lower the bridge at some point, but I don't want to mess with it now.

Sound-wise, it's close to the SJ-200 sound I had in my head. Balanced tone - big bass, wooly typical Gibson lower mids, but also a smooth high end that really rounds the tone out without sounding bright. It's also pretty loud, which some 200s are weirdly not.

I've played a bunch of 200s over the years, many (most?) were underwhelming in some way. Either lacking projection, or painfully mellow to the point where they were more of an overbuilt, thumpy sound. I've never played a vintage rosewood, but have heard some great ones in recordings.

I think mine sounds better than some of the demos I've heard, including this Acoustic Letter demo video, but there are so many variables in recording, and YouTube audio does it no favors. I think this Japanese demo is accurate to my instrument.

There are a number of actual rosewood SJ demo videos by Norm's, and I really do think the sound is close. Some of those sound more scooped (thinking of one with a horseshoe inlay at the end of the board that Vince Gill plays in a video), and have a vintage woody/vocal sound that imo only comes from actual old guitars. Their videos seem to be shot with a cheap on-camera mic tho, so it's hard to tell.

I don't love the case. It's a super tight fit, I have to push down on the guitar to get it to settle into the case. Maybe that means it's a great fit and super protective tho. I'm sure that'll break in over time. Also, I usually need to laterally push the lid on my case a little to get into the right spot to latch, but no big deal.

Anyway, everyone wants different things, but I am extremely happy with this guitar. Good luck with your purchase.
 

Black Squirrel

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,279
I have a 51 J-200 that is The best Vintage guitar I own for sound and playability its the one that makes me want to sell the others while I am playing it.

I did Play a 2021 Hummingbird Whatever their High-end vintage reissue series is (Legend? TV? Authentic?) and it was hands down the best Hummingbird I have played so I think they are doing it doing in proper in Montana these days.
 




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