Gibson J-200 questions...

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by Gringo13, Feb 12, 2016.

  1. Gringo13

    Gringo13 Tele-Holic

    Age:
    39
    Posts:
    959
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2009
    Location:
    East Tennessee
    I recently stumbled into an opportunity to get a new J-200, which is my dream acoustic guitar. I will be getting this guitar from Wildwood Guitars, but I have a couple of questions regarding my options.

    My top two options are the new 2016 model and the "New Vintage" Wildwood Limited Edition model from a couple years back. Here are the primary differences that matter to me...

    2016- Sitka spruce top, gold Grover tuners, L.R. Baggs Anthem pickup, Tusq nut and saddle.
    http://www.wildwoodguitars.com/products/11755066.php?CategoryID=433&n=18

    Wildwood New Vintage- Adirondack spruce top, gold/pearloid Gotoh vintage-style tuners, L.R. Baggs Element VTC pickup, aged bone nut and saddle.
    http://www.wildwoodguitars.com/products/10985060.php?CategoryID=433&n=3

    There are a few other differences, but these are my primary concern.

    My questions...

    What are the truly noticeable differences between the Adirondack spruce top from solid Sitka spruce? I know it can vary, but I'm looking for realistic generalizations.

    How does the VTC pickup compare to the Anthem? This guitar will be plugged into the venue DI 75% of the time, so a great pickup is extremely important to me. It seems the Anthem is superior, but I've heard Gibson chooses the best pickup for each style of guitar. I just don't understand how this works.

    Which tuners are better for stability and longevity?

    If I were never gonna plug this guitar in, then I would get the the Wildwood guitar, but I will be plugged in so often that I want this guitar to reflect the craftsmanship and price tag all times. It'd be a damn shame if the guitar doesn't shine due to a pickup system.

    Advice?

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2016
  2. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,794
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    Location:
    South Australia
    IMHO the VTC is a good option. Also used in the L -OO and the J -45.
    They're the ones I'm deciding on.
    I prefer Grover tuners but you need to check carefully that they are not outsourced
    ones. Something about the lettering of Grover.
    I prefer the vintage model for appearance but I bet it comes at a cost.
    Big guitars and maple back and sides are really bright.
    I believe Andirondack Spruce is better. JMHO
     
  3. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    74
    Posts:
    4,970
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Location:
    Toowoomba, Australia
    You could do some Google research on timber properties, and, given your potential investment, it would also be worth subscribing to the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum. Some of those guys know a lot about the acoustic properties of timbers. Adi is the traditional top timber, and it is making a comeback since decent pieces of new growth became available. Whether it is superior in your context is another question.
     
  4. max_twang

    max_twang Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,419
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2009
    Location:
    New York
    Personally, I wouldn't drop that kind of cash on a guitar that I haven't played. Especially an acoustic guitar. Just my 0.02.
     
  5. Gringo13

    Gringo13 Tele-Holic

    Age:
    39
    Posts:
    959
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2009
    Location:
    East Tennessee
    I agree, but this is sort of a gift situation and there aren't many J-200s at local stores.
     
  6. FMA

    FMA Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,373
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2003
    My understanding of it is, all things being equal, Adi have more volume and overtones than Sitka, which would sound warmer. Adi is considered an upgrade from Sitka.

    The Baggs Element is a fine pickup. I have a J-45 and a Songwriter, both equipped with Elements, and run through a good DI, they sound good through a PA.

    The differences in the tuners wouldn't matter much to me. I guess vintage-style tuners would look more, well, vintage.

    Of course, nothing replaces playing the guitar before buying, but I'd give the New Vintage a shot. There's a lot of talk in the interwebs about Gibson inconsistency, but I'm no sure about that. I played a lot of new Gibson acoustics when I got my J-45 and the Bozeman guitars were all pretty consistent.

    Wildwood, I'm sure, as a good return policy and if you don't dig it, send it back and give the new J-200 a try.
     
  7. Jethro

    Jethro Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,781
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2008
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    I find a lot of inconsistencies in Gibson acoustics. Some are quite stiff and just don't seem to project that well, while once in a while you find one where everything just clicks and sings so to speak. You really have to play both and go with what feels right and speaks to you. Keep in mind....pickups can always be changed, IMO the guitar on its own has to make you want to pick it up and play....just mt 2c
     
  8. Flakey

    Flakey Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,610
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2011
    Location:
    The Land of 10,000 Lakes
    +1 but assuming all else is equal, in my experince, an Adirondack spruce top provides a bit more punch and projection.
     
  9. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    10,800
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Even if you had local "samples", they still won't necessarily be exactly representative of how you might respond to the guitars you are looking at Wildwood. I have a friend who lives in the area and he swears by Wildwood. How about calling them, explaining your interest in both guitars and asking for a detailed comparison by one of the staff.

    IME, as noted above, there is a fair range of variability in Gibson acoustics and sometimes, you will just feel like one is more alive than another.

    All that being said, the Adi top with the Kluson-style tuners just looks like a classic J-200. the grovers may function fine, but they sort of look like the 70's and 80's to me.

    - also, just noticed, they have one of the used "Bob Dylan" SJ-200 in the used acoustic section at a significantly lower price. Has the double pickguard, which might be over the top, but might be a pretty good value - if you could get a good feel for what it sounds like and plays, etc.
    http://www.wildwoodguitars.com/products/12824062.php?CategoryID=121&n=18

    Just my 2 cents.

    If there was any way you could get somebody local to try them out and report back to you, I'd do that. Either guitar is a significant expense.
     
  10. BopT

    BopT Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,833
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2011
    Location:
    Chicago
    Can't go wrong with a J200. I kinda like the vintage version. Best of luck!
     
  11. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    74
    Posts:
    4,970
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Location:
    Toowoomba, Australia
    FWIW, I'm in the camp that wouldn't buy a J-200 without trying it first. From the few I have tried, many sound very ordinary, and good ones aren't common. The same applies to other Gibson acoustic models
     
  12. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    42,098
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Location:
    Bakersfield
    My son who has passed, owned a J-200 his wife bought for him in 1997, it was new but was manufactured in 1995. I never really believed in a guitar opening up until he got the J-200. When it was around 12 years old, there was a discernible difference in volume and tone that just came on suddenly that was just incredible. It was I believe a spruce top model. It did not have a a pickup so if you play the guitar plugged in most of time that part wouldn't matter much I suppose.

    I owned a D-28 Martin Marquis that had an Adirondack top, and I can tell you they are different from spruce and not by a little. There is one caveat to the Adirondack, you MUST play the guitar regularly or the top stiffens up and the volume drops, I don't know if they all do that, but my Marq sure did. It will come back in a day or so of playing, but it's a quite noticeable difference. When an adi top is working though, it is definitely just more of everything you like in an acoustic.
     
  13. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    74
    Posts:
    4,970
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Location:
    Toowoomba, Australia
    ^^^Yes, "opening up" is a well-documented phenomenon, albeit mostly anecdotal. I have experienced it in a positive way first hand in a custom Maton in my mate' s shop; the improvement was truly extraordinary over a period of a few months. However, it is a chancy business, my new Martin J-40 went from very good to very bad over a period of about three years, when I gave up and sold it at a significant loss. It is the main reason I would not now buy a new expensive acoustic, another reason is possible changes in geometry.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2016
  14. Gringo13

    Gringo13 Tele-Holic

    Age:
    39
    Posts:
    959
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2009
    Location:
    East Tennessee
    Thanks for the responses, y'all. I really appreciate it. I agree that playing the guitar is the most important aspect of picking a new guitar, but that's not gonna be an option, unfortunately. I spoke with an extremely helpful and friendly rep from Wildwood and he told me that the Wildwood edition is truly an amazing sounding guitar and suggested that one, but I don't know about the pickup comparisons. I can upgrade the Element if I don't like it, but I hate the idea of having to upgrade anything on such a high end guitar. Btw, that's totally opposite from my philosophy with my Teles... I love to "upgrade" them.
     
  15. NiceTele

    NiceTele Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,144
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2012
    Location:
    Australia
    I went shopping for Gibson acoustics some time ago, and the J200 was the most variable of all the acoustics- every one seemed totally different in feel, sound looks. I did buy one eventually, but sold it a while back as I never really found it comfortable to play, although it had lovely balanced tone. My advice is don't buy one before you spend a lot of time playing each one, though if you find the right one, you will be very happy.
     
  16. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    74
    Posts:
    4,970
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Location:
    Toowoomba, Australia
    ^^^^ That sort of story seems fairly common re J-200s.
     
  17. Jethro

    Jethro Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,781
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2008
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    If you absolutely are unable to play both to compare, then I would lean toward the Adi top. As Toto's Dad explained....there is a huge difference between regular spruce and adirondack, or red spruce as some call it. I have the Martin Marquis D28 which has the adi top, and it is extremely loud and fast in it's response time, whereas regular spruce is a bit more spongy (for lack of a better word). As mentioned, the more you play it the more it opens up as well. I find Adi tops really project louder than typical spruce....
     
  18. Buckocaster51

    Buckocaster51 Super Moderator Staff Member Ad Free Member

    Age:
    68
    Posts:
    20,419
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Location:
    Iowa USA
    Admin Post
    I would describe the difference between Adirondack and Sitka spruce tops as:

    headroom

    so...to me it depends upon how you intend to play it.
     
  19. August_West

    August_West Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    261
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2013
    Location:
    SAN BRUNO, CA
    I have owned a dread with sitka (30 years), and a dread with adi (5 years). I bought both brand new. Yes, guitars open up, but save that debate for AGF. Sitka has a warmer tone IMHO, & you will notice a tonal improvement with a sitka top within 3 years (out of the box you could notice her loosen up a little within 90 days), a bit more improvement 5 years, possibly better still at 10ish years, after 12 years she's done (as far as improving with age). This is purely subjective, but my ears back it up (buy a guitar new out of the box, own it 30 years, and report back to me if you disagree). The adi top may not loosen up for maybe 9 months, will show improvement at 3 years, and will punch you in the balls at 5 years with her tonal improvement. IMHO, the Adi offers a broader pallete. The lows rumble like a mutha, the highs sing like the angels, mids punchy as hell. My experience is just my own..... Here's the trip, which proves true for my ears, I believe sitka is a better match for a mahogany B&S guitar while adi is superior for a RW B&S (people I know who own a Martin D-18GE will disagree). My D-18V has Mahogany B&S with Sitka top, HD28 RW B&S sitka top, & HD28V has RW B&S with an adi top. If I pick up the 18V first, she's the best guitar I've ever heard. When I set her down & pick up the 28V I cream my jeans. The 28V wants me to play her more aggressively, while the 18V brings out my softer side (probably all in my head, but thru my ears to my soul I swear it's true). The short version: get the adi top! :)
     
  20. August_West

    August_West Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    261
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2013
    Location:
    SAN BRUNO, CA
    PS: I'm not familiar with the J-200, do both guitars come with maple back & sides? The adi top with the maple B&S will be bright, but the Jumbo body might tame that. Could be to your liking. I think Wildwood has a decent return policy. If so, you're only risking the cost of shipping if you don't like the adi maple combo.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.