Where does the Gibson Johnny A sit in the hollowbody spectrum?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by shawntp, Oct 10, 2008.

  1. shawntp

    shawntp Member

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    I remember seeing some diagram around here that placed various semi-hollow /hollow guitars in a relative hollowness/sound range:

    Les Paul -------------ES339--ES335-------------------------------ES175

    I'm not necessarily looking at this in terms measured hollow area but in terms of peoples opinions of perceived sound. I've read the Johnny A has no center block but its body size is probably under even that of a 339 (or close to) so I am wondering where in relation to a 339/335 would people place the Johnny A.
     
  2. shawntp

    shawntp Member

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    I did a little searching in the harmony central reviews forum and a few there tend to describe it as somewhere between a les paul and 335. Sounds like its a little different than the 339 though. People seem to comment that it has some of that full hollowed 335-ish sound but with the twang of a tele/sg.

    I'll have to get my hands on one to try for myself.
     
  3. kingsleyd

    kingsleyd Frikkin genyus Gold Supporting Member

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    You really do have to play one yourself to see/hear.

    I owned a JA for a couple of years. Recently unloaded it because I have other similar guitars that I prefer. The way I hear it, it's closer to a 175/295 than a 335/336. Which appears to have been JA's intention, as he did his first CD mostly with an ES-295 but didn't want to deal with single-coil pickups and a full-size hollowbody out in the touring world of clubs with unpredictable house systems and highly variable AC quality.

    That said, it's a highly versatile guitar and can get Les Paul-ish, Tele-ish, or Gretsch-ish if you dial in the amp the right way. The one thing it really doesn't do is that warm, breathy ES-335 thing.
     
  4. stratlad

    stratlad Member

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    ShawnTP: I own a JA stoptail (within first 300 made). It's difficult to accurately describe its tone because it is sort of blend (to my ear anyway) of Gibson and fender tones. As Kinglseyd said - you need to try one.

    That being said - here's my 2 cents. The JA is NOT a jazzbox or 335 so don't expect that. It's a relatively bright and chimey guitar, but never harsh or ice-picky. The neck scale length is that of a strat, making it much twangier and articulate than most Gibsons, yet it's humbuckers keep things warm and it has good sustain. Its kind of a fusion between a tele and an LP with more definition and clarity and a bit of 'air' thrown in, and less hollow sounding than a 335 or 336. It's not too tolerant of sloppy playing and will expose your errors, but that's ok. It's neck is also different - kind of a fusion between a traditional Gibson LP neck and a C profile strat neck.

    Below is a quote from another player with a good description of the JA's tone (and with which I agree, though I am not the author):

    "The string definition is amazing. Each string speaks equally and chord articulation is extremely clear. The bridge pup has a little tele-like snap. The neck is a bit darker and fuller sounding. The guitar can sound huge or chime like a bell. Straight into an amp, it can fill the entire room with rich, 3-D textures. Crank the amp a bit and it just sings. Feedback is there only when you want it. This is an amazingly versatile instrument capable of jazz, blues, funk, some rock and even country."
     
  5. shawntp

    shawntp Member

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    Thanks for the info guys - I was out guitar browsing today and found one in a shop. I was able to play it right next to a 339 and a 335 and get a good feel for it.

    Incredible guitar and a very unique sound. While it didnt have that big fat 335 tone, the hollowness gave it a rich complex woody tone that filled out its bright/twangy-ness. It played like butter too - wonderful craftsmanship out of the Gibson Custom Shop.

    I'd definitely put it somewhere between a Les Paul and a 335 but that totally hollow body does give it a uniqueness all its own. Where the 339 is sort of a 335/LP blend you might think the Johnny A would line up around a 339 but its both brighter and woodier while not necessarily overlapping that 33x fat neck tone.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2008
  6. stratlad

    stratlad Member

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    Shawntp: Glad you got to try a JA - words are only so good at explaining tone. As you saw - it's not a 335 and it's tone is complex and good - it sounds even better through really high quality amps (I see you have a Carr Mercury - I have a Rambler and it really brings out the complexity in the JA's tone). Unlike a 335 or 339 with the JA you are dealing with solid woods which I think focuses the notes more.

    Happy hunting!
     
  7. soopajeanmi

    soopajeanmi Member

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    The Les Paul, 339, 335, 175 are 24 3/4 scale lenght guitars

    The JA is 25 1/2

    Huge difference in feel and tone.
     

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