Update on SJ200

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by Bob M, Jul 10, 2020.

  1. Bob M

    Bob M Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    It’s been well over a month since I purchased a 2004 Gibson SJ200. It was a bucket list guitar for me and one appeared when I happened on some extra money. I’ve played primarily electric guitar over the years and have owned many. The only acoustic I’ve owned is a Martin D 18 that I bought new in 1976. I’ve always thought that the Martin Dread was a great sounding instrument. Until I brought the Gibson home. After a month or 2 I can tell if I have a “keeper”. I’m blown away by the sound of the Gibson. It has a depth that the Martin simply can’t approach. So much so that I’m thinking of picking up another Gibson acoustic. Anyone else experience this in Gibson acoustics? My D 18 is from the’70s-not one of Martin’s finer periods. But still, the difference is almost shocking.
     
  2. elihu

    elihu Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've heard great things from old J-45's. Example's from the late 40's to the early 50's run about 5k with the wartime years being among the best. During the war the Gibson plant was staffed by females who, according to author John Thomas and others built some of the finest acoustic guitars ever.

    Interesting read.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/0983082782/?tag=tdpri-20

    And yeah, I've got a couple of Martins that I love but i really want to see what the fuss is all about concerning a good Gibson acoustic. Because you only live once.
     
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  3. gitold

    gitold Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have a Martin CEO 7 and 2 Gibson acoustics, a Hummingbird Pro and a Advanced Jumbo Pro. All three were made in the last 6 years and they are all wonderful guitars. People bad mouth Gibson but their Montana shop has been turning out consistently fine instruments for years. I haven’t any acoustic gas at all, these 3 guys cover all the bases for me.
     
  4. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Gold Supporter

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    Ya, nothing like a J45,J50,AJ,SJ
     
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  5. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    You might consider one of the new, US made Epiphone Texans.
    They are about $2500.
    I owned a 1963 Texan and it was a great guitar.
    Sir Paul, Peter Frampton, and Chris Smither can’t be wrong!
    Maybe a J185, Country Western or Southern Jumbo, too.
     
  6. 985plowboy

    985plowboy Friend of Leo's

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    My J-45 just came home from a pro setup yesterday afternoon. It sounds fantastic!
    I own a 1986 J-100E. It was made in the Nashville factory shortly before the move to Bozeman and Rem Ferguson took charge.
    According to legend, by ‘86 they were truly trying to turn things around, hence the Ferguson hire.

    My 100 is exactly the same as the 200 from that time frame, minus the bling. Sycamore back and sides.

    Comparing it to my 45, the 100 is not as loud, but the notes sound like they overlap more and spread out more. Very chimey and the sound washes around.
    The 45 hits hard and has great note separation, but it’s a peaks and valley thing with a quicker decay.
    I think of it as being articulate.
    I’m sure the difference in scale length has something to do with it.

    Having said that, I’m interested to see what a Martin HD-28 sounds like!!!

    Just wondering about greener grass. I really like my Gibson’s. I would advise you to hang on to your D-18 though. You will regret selling one you’ve had that long. Ask me how I know.
     
  7. naveed211

    naveed211 Tele-Afflicted

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    The SJ and a dread are two very different beasts.

    For dreads, I personally prefer Martin over Gibson, though I prefer Guild over both.

    But go try some Gibson dreads yourself and see what you think. They are a different animal than a typical Martin.
     
  8. TwangerWannabe

    TwangerWannabe Tele-Meister

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    Thats funny. I sold both of my SJ200's and now have a D18. I had a 1976 D28 and even after a refret, neck reset, a couple loose braces glued, a new pickguard and the saddle scooted to correct the misplaced bridge/intonation issue a lot of Martins had from that era, and it still sounded dull and lifeless.

    Gibsons are great acoustics, but they tend to vary in sound from one to the other a bit more than Martins, which tend to be a bit more consistent. One of my SJ200's sounded amazing, while the other was dull, lifeless and very disappointing. Both were stunning to look at though. I've also had several J45's (True Vintage, Vintage and Standard models) and just never could bond with them. I've always though J45's were small guitars trapped in a larger guitar's body. I also had an Advanced Jumbo that was an absolute beast. Loud as heck, and could cut through any jam and understood why it was nicknamed "The Bonecrusher" back in the day.

    Since you already have a Jumbo and a dread, why not look at a smaller body Gibson? Something like an 00, and even consider one of the Waterloos that are heavily inspired by the Gibsons made in the 1920's, 1930's etc. I recently picked up a Waterloo WL-K and love it. It's a great compliment to a dread. It's everything a wad isn't; ridiculously light, small, 12-frets to the body, amazingly touch sensitive and articulate, etc. It just forces you to play it different than you'd play a dread so I've found myself coming up with ideas and songs that I wouldnt on a bigger guitar just because of how you approach playing it. Most of the time I prefer larger guitars, but there's something about this WL-K that is pretty magical. I've owned two other Waterloos (a couple of WL-14's) and they were also very nice if you want something slightly more versatile than the WL-K.

    Also, you could consider sending your D-18 out to Bryan Kimsey. Pretty much the go-to guy for taking those 70's Martins and working his magic to bring them to life and uncover their full potential. He'll check it out and see what it needs like shaving some braces, making smaller bridge plates, among other things to lighten a usually overbuilt guitar from that era of Martins.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2020
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  9. zombywoof

    zombywoof Friend of Leo's

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    I guess you could say I have experienced it. I have been playing Gibsons for decades and own a 1920 L3, 1932 12 fret L1, 1942 J50, and a 1961 B45-12 while my wife pays a 1960 J200.

    Here is da' wife's '60 J200.
    [​IMG]

    My '20 L3
    [​IMG]

    And my '32 L1.
    [​IMG]
     
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  10. zombywoof

    zombywoof Friend of Leo's

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    Possibly one of the brightest spots on the guitar horizon is the rise of budget friendly versions of Gibsons and others. In addition to the Warterloo line we now have Tony Klassen's Crooked Star guitars and Iris guitars which is a joint venture between Dale Fairbanks and Adam Buchwald.
     
  11. chezdeluxe

    chezdeluxe Poster Extraordinaire

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    Bob look no further than the 2004 J200. You don't need anything more than that and the D18.

    Over the years I have put together a parcel of flattop acoustics but nothing sounds as good as my 2001 J200. I think Gibson Montana under Ren Ferguson were at the top of their game around that time.

    The others in my stable that are all excellent but don't have the volume and complexity of the Gibson are
    C.1905 George Bauer parlour
    1941 Kalamazoo by Gibson Oriole
    1974 Guild D40
    1989 Martin 000 28
    2015 Maton Messiah dreadnought

    That's a varied mixture of small, medium and large; Brazilian and Indian rosewood and mahogany; ladder braced and X braced;
    short scale and long scale.

    Nothing touches the maple J200.
     
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  12. TwangerWannabe

    TwangerWannabe Tele-Meister

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    I dont necessarily consider Waterloos "budget" guitars. They're not cheap. Farida guitars sold through Elderly would fit the "budget friendly" small body Gibson copies though. They seem very nice for the money.
     
  13. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

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    Absolutely. At one time I had a D28, Gibson J-185 and a Gibson Southern Jumbo. The D28 never got played and was sold. The D28 was lifeless compared to either of the Gibsons. There is a reason that Gibsons are the sound of much of acoustic rock/pop music.
     
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  14. zombywoof

    zombywoof Friend of Leo's

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    Perhaps "budget friendly" would be a better way of putting it. The cost of an Iris is more than $3K less than the most affordable hand-built Fairbanks guitar. It is just nice to see other builders giving Collings a good run for their money and offering us more choice.
     
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  15. TwangerWannabe

    TwangerWannabe Tele-Meister

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    This just proves that we all hear things differently. I ditched my J45's in favor of my D-18. I've never played a D28 that I have particularly liked. I'd take a D35 over a D28 or HD28 any day of the week.

    Other say Martins are lifeless and dull...that's kind of how I felt about J45's, and I had a few regular old Standards, a couple TV's and a V model. I think I just got an exceptional D-18.

    With that said, you just can't compare a J200 with a D-18, or any other dread. Both are very different animals. All depends on what you're doing with it. I've had a couple Ferguson-era SJ200's. One was particularly incredible sounding, but no way would I reach for that guitar and take it to a bluegrass jam over a Martin dread. However, I would have no problem taken a Gibson Advanced Jumbo to a bluegrass over a Martin. Those things project like crazy, but at the same time wouldn't be my first choice for singer/songwriter stuff. Not saying the AJ is a bad guitar for the stuff because any guitar works, but the SJ200 would be my preference for singer/songwriter stuff.

    My point is every guitar sort of has it's place and where it seems to work better over another, and that preference can vary from one person to another.
     
  16. zombywoof

    zombywoof Friend of Leo's

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    At one time what really set the SJ/J-200 apart from dreads (and pretty much everything else) was the Gibson's unique bracing. For much of the guitar's history from the late-1930s into the 1960s, it had an extreme wide angle X brace above and below the soundhole with two transverse tone bars. There was nothing else like them in the known guitar universe.
     
  17. Stefanovich

    Stefanovich Tele-Holic

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    Glad you loving the SJ200. One of most beautiful guitars ever made IMO.

    Don't forget that acoustic guitars are not that consistent. Not all D-18s sound the same and not all SJ200s sound the same. My own D-18 (a 1943) is a fantastic sounding guitar and I have friends with D-18s from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Some sound great, others not so much.

    Buying an acoustic is something that needs to be done based on your ears, not on the model. Sounds like your ears pointed you in the right direction with the SJ200.
     
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  18. Steerforth

    Steerforth Friend of Leo's

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    I have a bunch of acoustics, including two Custom Shop Gibson’s. Everything is either Gibson, Epiphone Masterbilt, Eastman, or along those lines. And most are some interpretation of either the J45 or Advanced Jumbo type, mahogany or rosewood.

    Aside from that I have a Guild D40 and a Martin 000.

    But the only Martin that I can really say that I love is the D-18. I should probably sell the 000 and pick up a D-18.

    I think the trend here might be mid-rangey tone. That might be what I hear that I like so much in Gibson acoustics. If you like country, or the Beatles and that sort of thing, then I wouldn’t be surprised if you liked most Gibson acoustics that you try.

    That’s just my opinion, though. Perhaps others would see things differently. I’d like to hear more opinions yet on this one.
     
  19. CJM3309

    CJM3309 Tele-Meister

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    I don't want to derail this thread, but could you share any other pics of the '32 L1? That top is amazing. I won't be able to get it out of my head. Very nice!
     
  20. zombywoof

    zombywoof Friend of Leo's

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    This is the only Gibson I have ever run across with the tiger stripe effect in the burst. The real key at one time to the Gibson burst though was you could see the wood grain even under the blackest black.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020
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