Tell me about the gibson J-185

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by teleblaster, Jan 28, 2012.

  1. teleblaster

    teleblaster Member

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    I guess this is a smaller version of the J-200? Does anyone have one . are they big and bold sounding like the J-200
     
  2. Stubee

    Stubee Member

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    It is actually a completely different guitar. I'd recommend looking here http://home.provide.net/~cfh/gibson.html and doing some research on the model history.

    They have a very unique tone for a Gibson IMO--as does the J-200--and the original ones are highly prized guitars. I played a couple of vintage J-185s and a few J-200s and the J-185 is perhaps a more versatile guitar than the J-200 IMO. It is not the big guitar a J-200 is but 'bold sounding' is in the ear of the beholder. I thought the J-185s were a bit better for single string/double-stop stuff than a J-200 but both are nice.

    You are probably talking reissue and I'm guessing some owners of both models will chime in.
     
  3. teleblaster

    teleblaster Member

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    Thanks for the info.
     
  4. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Member

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    A blonde, fifties J-185 I once played is the only maple bodied flat top guitar about which I immediately thought "I must have this!!". But lacking the $10,000 to $15,000, I probably never will! I, too will presume you are talking about the contemporary reissue, which I have no experience with.
     
  5. Pedro58

    Pedro58 Member

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    Same here. Only they were $3500-4500 in the 90's when I played a few of them. Spectacular sounding acoustics. The reissues are okay. With some time and play, they might open up and sound really good. The only reissues I've handled were in shops and brand new.
     
  6. Stubee

    Stubee Member

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    Yeah, I played the vintage ones over the years as they increased from a couple thousand bucks to $8500 on the last one, if I remember right. When I first started messing with guitars you could get 'em for less than that. The J-185 has always been a rare thing because they made just a few, really.

    Go to AGF or UMGF maybe for a broad flattop owner bunch that owns these models both vintage and RI. I can guarantee that UMGF has a vintage Gibson owners crowd that boggles the mind. I toyed with a couple of vintage AJs and other stuff years ago and just couldn't justify the buy in my case (I'm talking 1/10 what they go for now) but those guys were buying them and still do. Interesting reading...
     
  7. zhivago

    zhivago Member

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  8. teleking36

    teleking36 Supporting Member

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    I've had experience with both a vintage J-185 and a Reissue that's currently owned by my cousin.

    The originals are amazing. I identified with the voicing almost immediately. They have a beautifully sweet and strong projection but with a more balanced voice than say a J-200. I would love to own one someday, but unless I find one in an attic or win the lottery, it ain't happenin'.

    The reissue is a great guitar, granted you're able to sort through a few and find the 'good one'. My cousin's guitar is great. Not amazing, but solid. I like my Woody Guthrie Southern Jumbo more that the J-185 RI, but that's an apples and oranges debate.
     
  9. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Member

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    An old friend of mine is a fine artist (painter) and an amazing "hobbyist" luthier (he has built nearly a dozen killer flat tops). He is buddys with Julius Borges and built a 185 size guitar in Julius's shop out of OLD (as in actual, real dalbrgia nigra) BRW that is a jaw dropper.

    I think the size is optimal (same silouette as the ES-175, minus cutaway. It is also the same as the Everly model) and would love to see a lightly built 12 fret in mahogany! When I win the powerball tonight(!), the first call I make will be to Julius!
     
  10. Dog Boy

    Dog Boy Member

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    To my mind the J185 is the way the J200 should have been built.
     
  11. MT Buckaroo

    MT Buckaroo Silver Supporting Member

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    My 2001 sunburst J-185 is a very nice guitar. No issues. Love the Gibson "bling" of the flame maple back and sides, the parallel block fretboard inlays, and maltese cross bridge inlays. One of the "good ones," I'd say. But with two sunburst Collings (D2Hsb and OM2esssb) in the arsenal, it may be headed to the Emporium in the near future.
     
  12. mc_namara

    mc_namara Member

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    i have J-190EC which is basically the same guitar with an extra pickup and cutaway.
    Bought back in 2002 at $2600 from wildwood guitars.
    For a decade that was my one and only acoustic so not really able to compare correctly but have to note that some recording pro guys had been borrowing it for a record session and rated it very high(not many acoustic gibbons available here).
    Now it's time to reftret which means that 190ec/185 is very comfortable player- having ten guitars in the house, all of them nice instruments, mainly older Fenders and Gibsons this one has got the most of the playing time
     
  13. zombywoof

    zombywoof Member

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    I take it you have never owned an SJ/J-200 back when Gibson only made 100 or so a year.
     
  14. treeofpain

    treeofpain Silver Supporting Member

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    Obviously the vintage ones are different animals from the newer versions.

    I have played a LOT of newer J200's and did not like most of them. Just really dead-sounding. But when you find a good one, they are really good.

    I have only played a few newer J185's, and I owned a 1990 (I think) model for several years that was a great all around guitar. The J185's I have played were more consistently good than the J200's, for what that is worth. I also like the smaller body.
     
  15. Pitar

    Pitar Member

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    There was one example of a J185 at a local GC I thought was a decent sounding guitar. That was a couple years ago. It sold and I haven't played one as nice sounding since. That said, I'm told by Gibson fans that I don't have an ear for the Gibson sound.
     
  16. snakestretcher

    snakestretcher Member

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    I briefly owned a Custom Shop J185 Koa. It looked spectacular but tonally it was not anything to write home about. Nice enough but I felt it could have benefited from the long scale of the SJ200.
     
  17. sshan25

    sshan25 Supporting Member

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    Have you thought about an Eastman? When I was looking for a round shouldered dred, someone turned me on to Eastmans. I A/B’d them with several J-35/45’s and I preferred their E10-SS to every Gibson I put my hands on. I know they make a few different jumbos. Considering their price, it is amazing how much guitar Eastman can produce.
     

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