Posts Tagged ‘gibson’

Summary: This has all the classic, balanced mojo of a J-45, but in a thinner, “jumbo” body. And though some might consider it heresy that it’s a cutaway, having reasonably easy access to the upper frets makes it so nice for playing solos.

Pros: Fantastic, classic J-45 tone that’s expectedly just a little brighter than the original Dreadnought – more midrange. This guitar has a full, articulate voice that the Sitka Spruce top projects in a BIG way.

Cons: The ONLY con I have is for the LR Baggs Element piezo pickup that comes installed in the guitar. But I would give negative marks to any guitar that has just a piezo. But that said, the guitar sounds okay plugged into an amp. But as with any piezo, plugged directly into a board or into an interface, the sound is lifeless.


  • Body Style: J-45
  • Back: Walnut
  • Top: Sitka Spruce
  • Bracing: Traditional Hand-Scalloped X-Bracing
  • Binding: Multi-Ply Top, Single-Ply Back
  • Neck: Two-Piece Maple
  • Neck Profile: Advanced Response
  • Nut Width: 1.725”
  • Neckjoint: Compound Dovetail Neck-To-Body Joint
  • Fingerboard: Richlite
  • Scale Length: 24.75”
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Nut: Tusq
  • Inlay: Mother-Of-Pearl Dots
  • Bridge: Traditional Belly Up, Richlite
  • Tuners: Mini Grover Rotomatics
  • Plating: Nickel
  • Pickup: LR Baggs Element
  • Controls: 1 Volume  
  • Case: Gibson Hardshell

I have to be completely honest here. If this guitar had no pickup, I’d give it a 5 on its natural voice alone. But I have to be fair and take down marks for the pickup. It’s serviceable in a live situation and plugged into an amp, but directly into a board or interface, you know you’re using a piezo.

Getting a J-45 has literally been a dream come true. Ever since I played one a few years ago, I have had a goal of someday owning a J-45. As I mentioned in a previous post, the J-45 represents the archetype of acoustic tone for me. And to finally have one and play it, well, it’s rather awe-inspiring.

So to address the purists, no, it’s not a traditional J-45. It has a cutaway. The body is made of walnut, not rosewood. The fretboard is Richlite (which feels like ebony). The nut is Tusq, not bone. I DON’T CARE. This is a great guitar regardless of its build materials. Others have brought up that it couldn’t really be a J-45, but I beg to differ. It has the same profile as the J-45. But more importantly, all the tonal balance that I expect out of the J-45 is there, and how it sounds is incredible!

Fit and Finish

I posted these pictures previously, but I’ll post them again:

I snapped those pictures right after I unboxed the guitar. There were no flaws or scratches. No gaps. The walnut back is freaking incredible! It looks like a piece of ultra-fine furniture.

How It Sounds

Again, I posted these previously, but I’ll post them again:

I had to back off the mic for the percussive strumming, so it turned out a little thin on the recording. But in a live situation, this guitar is LOUD! I played it at church over the weekend, and in that volume challenging environment, when I was really strumming hard, I could barely hear my amp! That’s how well the guitar projects. How naturally loud it is is a bit mind-blowing.

And compared to my Simon & Patrick PRO, which is a dreadnought, to my ears at least, it’s easily twice as loud when comparing them both with a light strum.

How It Plays and Feels

It actually took me a few days of regular playing to get used to the neck. The “Advanced Response” neck is both thicker and a touch wider than all my other acoustics. And with my small hands, wrapping my hand around the neck to use my thumb took a little while to figure out. But to be honest, in order for me to do that, I have to put my arm in the correct playing position with my elbow out away from my body. Once I’m in the correct position, I have zero issues playing the guitar.

As for the Richlite fretboard, this is the first time I’ve played a guitar with a fretboard made of this material. I once thought that it would take away from the guitar. But truth be told, it’s as smooth as ebony and makes the guitar an absolute dream to play. I played several solos yesterday and the fretboard felt like butter. Combine that with the absolutely perfect action and I was in solo heaven!

Overall Impression

What can I say? I love this guitar! And because I didn’t dig the piezo pickup, I just installed my Seymour Duncan MagMic into the guitar. Now I have no issues. With that pickup, the Tone Bone score automatically goes to 5.

A Word on Sustainability

No, I’m not a tree-hugger, but one thing that Gibson bills about this guitar is that it’s made from sustainable material. Walnut is absolutely plentiful and Richlite is made from resin-infused paper. The Sitka Spruce is started to get a little less plentiful, but from what I understand, Gibson is part of a coalition to help harvest Sitka in a sustainable way. So while I’m not a tree-hugger, I do appreciate Gibson’s efforts.

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Saw this on Facebook and had to share it. Here’s the accompanying blurb:

Gibson Custom has reformulated its Goldtop finish to match the original’s deep, dark, gold luster. The Goldtop’s back is also reformulated to match the original from the 1950s.

In the case of the updated Gold, you will notice a deeper, richer finish with a slightly “greener” caste. On the guitar’s back, you will see a noticeable increase in the visibility of mahogany grain and a more severe effect on the final color that comes from the wood’s individual personality. As it was in the 1950s, each guitar back results in a very individual look, based on the use of vintage finish formulations and application techniques, and the characteristics of each individual piece of wood.

That’s pretty awesome if you’re into Les Pauls, and a part of me is saying, “Oooh. I want one.” But the more pessimistic side of me is peaking out and saying, “Nice. Now let’s see what surcharge they’ll apply to these…”

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Just read this in today’s Gibson email feed in my inbox. Great story behind the history of this particular guitar. In any case,  the custom shop has made three versions of this guitar, which you can view here. There will be 50 hand-aged and signed guitars, then 100 hand-aged guitars, and 150 VOS models. Oy-vay! That’s a pretty guitar. Prices seem to be around $13k for the aged/signed, $10.3k for the aged, and $7.3k for the VOS. Hmm… a bit better priced than the Jimmy Page #1 re-issue that I saw in a shop for $27k. Oh well, wtf… I don’t think I’d ever spend that kind of money on a guitar even if I had it. I’m not a collector. But it’s sometimes okay to just drool… 🙂

My ’59 replica is finished with a “Perry-burst,” plus has a similar grain pattern to the plain top. Despite the fact that I’d never buy a real Joe Perry, I can attest to the fact that it is a great-looking guitar. The “Perry-burst” is not quite as blonde as a standard tobacco finish. It has a bit of an orange hue to it. Quite lovely.

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Back in 2011, Gibson got raided – twice – by the government for allegedly violating the Lacey Act, and in August of this year settled with the government for $350,000 so it could continue to import woods from India and Madagascar. There are lots of arguments on either side of what transpired, and I’ve done a lot of reading on the issue since it happened. Despite Gibson’s claim of innocence – and there are some circumstances surrounding the investigations that Gibson may not be as culpable as proponents may think – and the government’s seeming zeal in pursuing this case, I’m a bit on the fence on the whole situation. Here’s a great blog post that I found that has some lively and mostly intelligent discussion on the issue.

No matter the events of the Gibson case, I’m mostly in support of the spirit of the law, though I have commented that the Lacey Act can be a bit ambiguous when it comes to the transportation of exotic woods (I’ve read the law), for the most part, I think it does a good job to help ensure that manufacturers of products that use exotic woods are getting them from legal sources. Where the law gets murky is that it is quite possible that end-users can get prosecuted if they attempt to transport an instrument made of exotic woods and the wood sources are not documented. Can you imagine if you owned a rare, antique guitar and it was confiscated by customs because it didn’t have documentation of its wood sources? Granted, that’s extreme, and it’s highly unlikely that a single person would be prosecuted, but the possibility exists; it’s also a reason that the law is regularly reviewed and amendments have been made. But despite that murkiness, I do not agree that the law should be repealed as some representatives in Congress are proposing. To me, the solution to the issues in the law isn’t to abolish it, but provide due process to amend the law so that it’s fair to all.

No doubt, this issue is complex, not only from the manufacturers’ standpoint, but from the buyers’ perspective as well. There are those folks who refuse to purchase anything that isn’t made of exotic wood. Me? My answer is “it depends…” The reason I say that is simply this: If it sounds great, and I can express myself with the guitar, I really don’t much care about what it’s made out of. But then again, I’m not really a collector, so trade value is far less important to me than someone who knows they’ll sell eventually sell a guitar.


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Oooo…. nice…. I’ve always loved 12-string guitars. There’s nothing like the strum sound of a great 12-string, be it acoustic or electric. But a Les Paul 12-string. OMG! I need to play one! Here are some quick features:

  • Solid mahogany body (weight relieved)
  • Grade-A Maple neck with 60’s profile
  • Grade-A Rosewood fretboard (wonder why they didn’t use Richlite on this)
  • Classic 57’s for pickups (I dig these pups)
  • Mini Grover tuners
  • Comes in Heritage Cherry Burst, Goldtop, or Ebony
  • PLEK’d neck.

From what I can tell, street prices for these are around $2199. That’s actually not a bad price at all. In all honesty, though I’d love to play one, I’m not sure if I’d ever get one. But that all depends on what ideas I could come up with once I play it. That’s really the deciding factor for gear for me. Does it inspire me to play? That said, I don’t think this guitar is gimmicky at all. But I do believe any 12-string is a sort of niche guitar.

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I have admittedly been so damn busy with work that I’ve been a bit remiss about surfing around for gear. Feeling that I haven’t been keeping this blog current with gear, I went looking, and came across this guitar on the Gibson web site, the L6S, a reissue of the original 70’s L6S, which was itself a solid-body version of the venerable L6. But like the 2009 Nighthawk reissue, this new version sports some pretty cool features.

Pickups are a 490R in the neck and 498T in the bridge. Some folks don’t like these, but I’ve always liked these pickups (though I might like the 57’s a bit more). Body is solid maple with a maple neck. The guitar comes in either an Antique Natural finish with a maple fretboard (as shown to the left) or a Silver Burst and a baked maple fretboard. Kind of a basic guitar, but the kicker on this is the 6-position chicken-head pickup selector. Here’s what each position does:

Selector Position:

  1. Bridge Humbucker
  2. Bridge Single Coil
  3. Both Single
  4. Both Humbucking
  5. Neck Single
  6. Neck Humbucker

Very, very intriguing, that’s for sure, and convenient. I suppose it could be argued that push-pull pots would do the trick, but to get these different combos, you’d have to manipulate two knobs. This is a simple turn of a dial. Quite nice. I’m very intrigued by this guitar – enough so to try to find one to play. Good thing I don’t have the money right now because I’m intrigued enough that I would buy one just to try it. 🙂

For a little history, Santana played an original back in the 70’s, as did Rich Williams of Kansas. Here’s a video of Rich Williams playing an original back in 1975:

Street price for this is not bad at $1599-$1699. I bet you could find a used shop version for even less. Nice.

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The Venerable Gibson ES-175

I was in Guitar Center last week, trading in my Gibson Nighthawk for my wonderful DV Mark Little 40. While I was talking to Nick , the trade-in guy, a gentleman walked asking if he could play an ES-175 that was hanging on the wall. This particular one was a vintage 1952 ES-175, and it was gorgeous. After the guy was done playing it, since Nick was trying to get an appraisal, he placed the guitar on the padded desk in front of me. Of course, I couldn’t help myself. I picked it up and started playing it. It was A LOT lighter than I expected – much like an acoustic, and the action was fantastic! I didn’t get a chance to plug it in, but it had a nice, natural voice from what I could hear from the dude that was playing it before me.

I didn’t think I’d like an archtop, but I was really digging playing that guitar. There was a certain vibe about the guitar, and being that it was 60 years old, really added to its charm. It was in truly great condition! In any case, it had a super fat, gorgeous sound. If I had the $4k to buy one of these gems, I’d jump at the chance.

Here’s a great example of the sound of an ES-175:

By the way, the guitar being played above is a two-pickup version that didn’t come out until 1953. The one I played was a 1952 with a single P-90. Here’s a history of the ES-175.

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