Went in to buy a Gibson, walked out with something unexpected

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by runningman, Jun 19, 2019.

  1. runningman

    runningman Member

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    I've been jonesing for a slope-shoulder, 24.75" scale length Gibson acoustic, and I really like the understated vibe of the J35.

    So one showed up used at a local shop for a little over $1k, and I was basically ready to buy it as long it was relatively clean and sounded good.

    Well, it was clean, but it sounded thin. Just didn't have that nice throaty midrange this style guitar is famous for. So pass on the Gibson.

    As I'm walking out, a rack of lower-end acoustics catches my eye. I wouldn't even have given it a second glance, but there was a really clean sunburst dread that stood out from the pack.

    I picked it up and strummed a G chord, and it sounded phenomenal. Action is good, frets are decent, intonation excellent, and sustain is outstanding. I could barely believe what I was hearing, because it was priced at $179. It's a Hohner HG-09 built in Japan in 1978, and it's astonishingly clean. Like 9/10 condition-wise.

    So I walked out with a sub-$200 guitar on a trip to spend >$1000.

    Goes to show, you never can tell...
    [​IMG]
     
  2. redir

    redir Member

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    And now you have a lot left over for guitar strings :D
     
  3. tjontheroad

    tjontheroad Silver Supporting Member

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    Nice. So you still have $800 burning in your pocket? Go back there now ;)
     
  4. strumnhum

    strumnhum Member

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    Old sayings often ring true-"Don't judge a book by it's cover", "Don't knock it 'till you've tried it".
    Bet that was a nice surprise--real nice looking, guitar, btw!
     
  5. Strat-cat

    Strat-cat Member

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    Nice job listening with your ears instead of your eyes!

    Amazingly clean for its age! :)
     
  6. Frozen Rat

    Frozen Rat Gold Supporting Member

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    Yep, $1000 doesn't necessarily make for a good G chord. Sometimes good wood shows up where you don't expect it.
     
  7. Tony Done

    Tony Done Member

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    Yeah, I've learned long since that "more" and "better" are not synonymous. I've had a lot of guitars over a period of more than 55 years, many of them not cheap, and one of my two fingerpickers is all-laminate.
     
  8. slooky

    slooky Member

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    Doesn't say much for Gibson.
     
    Rod and Irving Pye like this.
  9. beatcomber

    beatcomber Member

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    Adding insult to injury, the Hohner has an adjustable bridge!
     
    Rod likes this.
  10. runningman

    runningman Member

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    yeah, I've never owned an acoustic with this sort of bridge before. common sense tell me that there should be some sonic downside due to the lack of a direct connection between the saddle and bridge, but I'm not hearing it. this guitar sustains better than most, so maybe the steel insert improves sustain?
    Well, in fairness the Hohner is 40 years old, and even laminate guitars (I think this one has a solid top and laminate sides/back) seem to improve with age.

    It's absolutely true that Gibsons are inconsistent. Both in terms of build quality and tone. Obviously every piece of wood is different, but more than any other builder, Gibson seems not to be able to find some sort of equilibrium. They are all over the place, and I would never order one sight unseen.

    That being said, maybe we need to take the bad with the good, because the good ones are sublime, as opposed to a company like Taylor, where all their stuff is basically good, but nothing is great. IMHO, of course.
     
    Rod likes this.
  11. Mr Fingers

    Mr Fingers Member

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    Gibson's acoustics are super-inconsistent, and in my opinion, the modern ones are excessively so, trending towards the dead ad dull. The great ones are really great -- I have one -- but they are the exception. I spent many years trying to get a Gibson acoustic (I like the L-00 style, but I tried everything, and I mean everything) and it was a hugely discouraging, even upsetting experience. It's hard to imagine generating so many crappy expensive guitars, year after year. The dead Gibsons, like a typical Hummingbird, so make fantastic rhythm and recording guitars, so they're good for that. Your Hohner, on the other hand, is an utterly ordinary guitar but one in which, apparently, the stars alined to yield a great sound that you love. When people tell you that a guitar of that build and cost can't sound as good as you say, you can just play it. Congratulations on having the vision to avoid buying a Gibson because it's a Gibson.
     
  12. Rod

    Rod Tone is Paramount Silver Supporting Member

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    Very nice! And under $200! You made my day! And the Sunburst finish is killer...an adjustable bridge as well.. who knew....
     
  13. BEACHBUM

    BEACHBUM Member

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    You can't go wrong with those 70's and 80's Japanese made acoustics. Lots of sleepers to be found in that market. I've got a 1980 Japanese made Sigma/Martin D10 Anniversary model that over time drove both my expensive Taylor and Martin guitars to the auction block to fund Gretsch and Gibson electrics. It's every bit as good as any D18 I've ever played. Congrats on a great find and enjoy that puppy.:)
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  14. BluesForDan

    BluesForDan Member

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    that's pretty dang clean for a 41 year old guitar. nice score indeed.
     
  15. pickaguitar

    pickaguitar 2011 TGP Silver Medalist Silver Supporting Member

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    bolts
     
  16. themannamedbones

    themannamedbones Member

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    Ditch that adjustable bridge, for something solid and it will sound better. Nice score!!
     
  17. runningman

    runningman Member

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    you know, that thought crossed my mind. but this thing sounds so good and the sustain and intonation are outstanding.

    I'm going with the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' philosophy for now.
     
  18. Blue Light

    Blue Light Member

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    How about a Hohner G09B? That's what I've been strumming since the early '80s. For the longest time it just bugged me. Perhaps it was because it didn't seem to sound anywhere as good as my singing buddy's Martin. And it coulda used a serious set-up and massage, oh, ten years ago.

    I was parted from the Hohner this year and started doing some serious shopping around. Some of the high-end Martins and Gibsons hit high marks soundness and, uh, pricewise. Then yesterday I was reunited with the Hohner again and thought, hey, not so bad after all. I an live with this a while longer. I don't think it's the same grade as your HG-09, which, a quick internet search tells me, is a well regarded model.
     

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