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Gibson AJ: historic 1936 vs used production vs HD28

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by JamesAM, Sep 24, 2020.

  1. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    Morning TDPRI-ers,

    About 2 years ago, I got my dream acoustic: a Martin reimagined HD-28. I love it, and it works extremely well for what I do: flatpicking, fast runs, bluegrass and fiddle tune stuff, as well as just all purpose strumming, fingerstyle, and general acoustic playing. I traded in a d-35, which was a bit delicate on the high end, to get it, and I have no regrets. It’s my dream guitar.

    but.

    I am haunted by the sound of the Gibson advanced jumbo. When I was shopping in 2011 for the d-35 I traded in for my HD-28, I was torn between it and an AJ they had at the shop- it was agonizing. I spent literally hours A/Bing the two, but walked away with the Martin because of the sparkle and the 3-piece back- and just because I’ve always been a Martin guy. I’ve wondered if I made the right decision ever since.

    Now AJs are extremely hard to come by, and I’ve got the gas for one- but I can’t actually play one since they’re no longer in production. My question is: is an AJ redundant with the HD-28? If so, is it worth trading in my baby sight unseen for the only AJ Currently available, which is the Gibson Custom shop historic 1936 (hide glue, red spruce)? I wouldn’t consider selling the Martin for a used production AJ from reverb. Has anyone played the historic 1936 AJ and can comment on it?

    thanks for any help you can provide.
     
  2. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I’ve owned, and played several AJs.
    They are wonderful guitars, though they are really nothing like a HD28, IMO.
    I think of AJs as great, somewhat louder J45/50s.
    They AJ has longer scale than the J 45/50 and a nice wider nut width.
    I have played both pickup equipped AJ’s, and AJs with the traditional long saddle.
    The long saddle guitars sound better, IMO.
    Perhaps there’s a new guitar in your future?
     
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  3. Piotr

    Piotr Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Here is your answer, I guess. GAS is a terrible animal :twisted:
     
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  4. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    I hear ya. The AJ is the only Gibson acoustic that I can really get into, and it’s because of the rosewood and long scale- it’s the Martin player’s Gibson. The rustic-ness of the sound is what gets me. To me it sounds right between a d-18 and an hd-28, with a bit less bass and more earthiness. There’s no other guitar that sounds like it.

    The guitar in this video might be the best acoustic sound I’ve ever heard, to my ears, and it wasn’t even recorded very well. Mark starts playing and stops BSing about 7 minutes in.

    I just wonder if an AJ would be ok for flatpicking and bluegrass stuff. Legend has it that an AJ can hang with a banjo no problem, but tradition always sends me back to Martin.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2020
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  5. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    <◇> is a nice look, and that is a great sounding guitar!
     
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  6. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    Has anybody played the new Gibson historic 1936 AJ?

    Is red spruce and hide glue worth trading in my go-to HD28 for?

    Anybody have any expertise Or inside info on 90s Bozeman AJs?
     
  7. Cali Dude

    Cali Dude Tele-Holic

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    Last time I checked, Music Villa was stocking the Gibson custom ADJ. I think they had various models, even the 1936.
     
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  8. spurgie79

    spurgie79 Tele-Afflicted

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    Someone posted a Live from Nerdville interview with Joe Bonamassa and Brad Paisley. I wouldn't consider myself a fan of either but they nerd out talking about gear. About 3/4 of the way through BP picks up what looks to be a vintage Gibson and plays and sings. Through Skype and YouTube and my ear buds, it was the best sounding acoustic I've ever heard. Throaty and warm but clear and articulate. I wouldn't be surprised if it were old or brand new because I'm sure BP knows how to pick a great guitar and knows a thing or two about playing. It makes me realize why variations of the J-45 are so popular.
     
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  9. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Apples and oranges. Both outstanding at different things.
     
  10. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    Awesome- definitely different enough to warrant owning both?
     
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  11. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Gold Supporter

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    Isnt the AJ just a J45 with inlay instead of dot frets?
    Maybe that is an SJ?
     
  12. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Soitanly!! Even ignoring the tone, they are both different playing experiences. Entirely different necks and different feel. I wouldn't take a J-45 out of the running either, because of the shorter scale neck. I feel the Gibsons work better with soloists/vocalists, and the Martin works better in a band. Just my $0.02.
     
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  13. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I believe AJs are 25.5" scale and J45s are 24.75". But I am no Gibby expert. Some short-scale AJs are out there though.
     
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  14. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    That’s an sj. An aj is rosewood back and sides with 25.5” scale- it’s basically a Gibson that’s built like a Martin. I’m pretty sure most have forward shifted scalloped X bracing as well.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2020
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  15. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    I just watched this, and I think- I THINK - that’s an old L-00! It’s hard to tell because it’s kind of hidden by the desk, but the curve of the waist doesn’t look like a slope shoulder and it’s got dot inlay. My goodness, though, even having owned 5 martins in my life, I’ll concede that it sounds incredible.
     
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  16. Stubee

    Stubee Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    I’ve owned my own AJRI since 2003 and decided to buy it after playing the second of two vintage ‘36 AJs I ran across. I haven’t A:B’d the new ones with one of the vintage ones but IMO Gibson did a great job with the reissues in capturing what makes an AJ such a cool guitar. I’ve played a number of the reissues and every one sounded at least “very good” if not great. Some were set up better than others and the neck shape varied a bit, with one having a pretty good V to it. I’ve had a number of compliments on the sound of mine played acoustically from both players and audience. It is a very versatile guitar.

    I’d not do a blind swap of an HD28 for any AJRI. They are both strong guitars, but as others have said they sound very different. I’ve seen plenty of used AJRIs over the years priced less than $2K. I’d just wait for one of those to pop up then see how it grabs you compared to your HD-28. I haven’t played the custom shop AJ so cannot comment on that.
     
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  17. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    Hell, On closer inspection, it might be a j-45. Either way it sounds damn good
     
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  18. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    Thank you so much- this is great info, I really appreciate it.

    The reissue I played 10 years ago was amazing and still haunts me to this day- I’m hoping that quality is consistent across all Bozeman AJs.
     
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  19. spurgie79

    spurgie79 Tele-Afflicted

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    Good Luck in your search. I hate to say try a bunch but Gibson's seem to be all over the map. The acoustics being much closer than the electrics in quality control or so it seems. I can't wait to see what you find!
     
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  20. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I don't think Bozeman puts out a BAD product, but there does seem to be allotta variation between individual instruments and finishes. Martin much less so, especially since they moved into their new digs a few decades ago. My 77 HD-28 sounded very nice, but it wasn't fretted properly - the frets didn't sit flush with the fingerboard. It didn't have a great finish either. This was probably Martin's nadir. When they moved and became more automated, their consistency and quality improved substantially. Gibson, however, seems to always be inconsistent IMO. Not BAD, just inconsistent. Let's just say I would want to inspect any Gibson before buying it.
     
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