Claescaster

Month: April, 2014

Gibson J-45 / J-50

1955 Gibson J-45My new dream guitar, an old Gibson J-45

A year ago when I started to buy acoustic guitars I had no idea what the difference between a Gibson or Martin was or how different body shapes, models and tone woods affected the sound. I could easily have told you who was playing a Telecaster, Stratocaster or Les Paul while listening to a song but I could never have told you if someone was playing an acoustic Gibson, Guild or Martin. Over the year I have added 6 Levin guitars to my collection and 5 Japanese acoustics, two of them sold by now, and played a lot of new made Chinese and Korean guitars and I have come to following conclusion. My favourite acoustic guitar is an old Gibson J-45. This is nothing new, I realised that last summer after seeing Kris Kristofferson, I did a post about it with some great acoustic guitar demo’s to prove my point. There is something very special with the old Gibson Jumbos, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a J-45, J-50, Southern Jumbo or Advanced Jumbo, they all have that special booming bass sound. If you listen to any acoustic Jackson Browne, early James Taylor or even Bob Dylan you will understand what I mean straight away. There was a lot of Country players that favoured this sound before the singer and songwriters of the Sixties and Seventies. Two modern examples that I really like is Gillian Welch and Daniel Romano, he is actually playing something more modern like a Gospel but the bass is still there. If you listen to Dan Tyminski and hear his 1946 Martin D-28 I’m sure you would want a wartime Martin straight away but still, there is something special with the Gibson Jumbo sound. I’m not even sure if I would prefer a Gibson J-45 or a J-50, actually I really like the Southern Jumbo too with their fretboard inlays, so I guess as long as it’s old, worn and sounds like a Gibson Jumbo I would be happy. I mentioned earlier that I recently ordered a 1977 K.Yairi TG-40, which I have very high hopes for. I bought it straight from Japan and unfortunately it got stuck in the Spanish customs and has been there since the 12th of April. The Yairi TG-40 is a Guild D-40 copy, which was introduced in the Sixties as a competitor to Gibson’s J-45. The Guild D-40 became famous as the Bluegrass guitar for their even response over all the strings and I really like the sound of them, it’s actually not too far off from a Sixties Gibson J-45. With a bit of luck the customs will release my guitar soon and with even more luck it’s going to be an awesome Yairi copy of an Guild which might sound a bit like a Gibson.

Bob Dylan Gibson J-50
Bob Dylan with his worn old Gibson J-50 in the early Sixties. The Gibson J-45 and J-50 is more or less the same guitar, it was just that they used nicer looking wood for the soundboard on the J-50 so they wouldn’t have to paint it in sunburst to cover up any imperfections.


Enjoy the sound of James Taylor’s Gibson J-50

Video of the day


This always makes me happy. Such a good live version, the voices are just awesome together. Ry Cooder & The Moula Banda Rhythm Aces: Let’s Have a Ball (1988)

 

Ad of the day

Roy Buchanan in a DiMarzio ad from Guitar Player Magazine, May 1977
Roy Buchanan in a DiMarzio ad from Guitar Player Magazine, May 1977. I love how nothing is actually related to the old pictures of Buchanan playing his Nancy. “Roy now uses a Hamer (not pictured) equipped with two DiMarzio Super Distortion Humbuckers”.

Chest Fever

Chest FeverAraceli and I have a gig tomorrow night, Wednesday 16th of April, with our band Chest Fever. This time we are actually headlining and are going to do a 1 hour set in 33 I 45. We will start around 20.30 so if you are in town and feel up for some Swedish/Spanish country sung in English then please come by. This will be our fifth gig and I have actually managed to never perform twice with the same guitar. Tomorrow I will bring my beloved Morris W-40 and maybe an old Greco Telecaster for some country twang.

Update: April 18, 2014
Chest Fever – Not so young anymore, live at 33 I 45 in Barcelona 16th April 2014


H.S. Anderson Mad Cat

H.S. Anderson Mad Cat

I have always been gay for the H.S. Anderson Mad Cat. I’m not even a Prince fan, this is the guitar that Prince made famous and used during the first half of his career, it’s something else. I think I really like it because of the unique look, it’s a bit too much of everything, a “all in” kind of guitar. The leopard pickguard should be too much but for me it just looks awesome, actually it reminds me a bit of Prince, but in a good way. If an African dictator, you know the ones with huge palaces in marble while the people are starving, needed an electric guitar, this would be it. I’m sure that Gaddafi had a couple in his guitar collection. H.S. Anderson was created by Mr. Hidesato Shiino and distributed and crafted by Moridaira who made Morris. Morris have always been seen as one of the better acoustic guitar builders but their electric guitars were fairly poor in the early 1970’s. When Shiino started H.S. Anderson in 1973 it was meant as a high quality custom shop brand aimed at the professional Japanese market. Here is some more information taken from Music-trade in Japan:

Mr. Shiino said that the original design of MADCAT came from the Takahiko Ishikawa who is top guitarist here in Japan (Maybe Mr. Ishikawa played over 10,000 songs…!!! He is mainly playing the acoustic guitar). Anyway, when they have a drinking, Mr. Ishikawa just wrote the original design of MADCAT. A few weeks later, Mr. Shiino added his idea and made the prototype of MADCAT. Well, about Mr. Shiino, you could check my JV history page. The logo mark was designed by Mr. Atsuro Yamada who is currently Managing director of Gramco Ltd – Top Strategic Brand Consulting Company. Mr. Shiino and Mr.Yamada were a good friend, and Mr.Yamada designed the logo mark and even MADCAT illustration. The Morris factory for H.S. Anderson was independent from Morris Acoustic guitar factory in Nagano. I’ve heard hat 3 craftsmen (Mr.Shinoda, Mr.Imafuku – He is Fujigen manager currently and other craftsman) made H.S. Anderson brand guitars. Early days (1973 -1974) made Madcat hasn’t got the serial numbers and signature in cavity. Later day (after 1975), H.S. Anderson guitars have their signature of these builders somewhere – PU cavity. Of course, Mr. Shiino left already (He established the ESP in 1975).

Music-trade has a beautiful Mad Cat in their collection that is unfortunately not for sale, which I can understand. I have actually never seen a real H.S. Anderson Mad Cat on eBay, only later versions made by Hohner, they were made in the Moridaira factory too, at least the first versions. The later Hohner “The Prinz” guitars that came in the 1980’s were most likely made in Korea by Cort. There has been numerous re-issues of the original H.S. Anderson Mad Cat, some better than others. Now there is one called Vintage re-issue Mad Cat made by Moridaira, the plant that made Morris and H.S. Anderson back in the 1970’s. Here is a review from Premier Guitar.

H.S. Anderson Mad Cat
I do love the H.S. Anderson cat

HS Anderson Mad Cat aka Prince's Hohner tele
Prince back in the days with his H.S. Anderson Mad Cat

K.Yairi TG-40

Yairi TG-40 Made in Japan 1977
K.Yairi TG-40 a Guild D-40 copy from 1977. Every K.Yairi guitar is given birth in Kani, a small community in the beautiful mountainside area of Honshu, Japan.

Sometimes when I’m left unsupervised, especially on Sunday nights, I end up buying guitars that maybe I shouldn’t have bought, or rather that maybe I don’t really need. I’ve been thinking a lot about trying to find a 1970’s Gibson J-45, I can’t really afford anything earlier, but that would still set me back a at least 1500€ which is really hard to justify for a guitar player on my level. I’ve managed to track down the guitar sound that I love to Gibson’s old jumbo models, think Jackson Browne, and the J-45 or J-50 would have been ideal, I think, it’s hard to know without trying but from all the Youtube clips I’ve been listening to they all have a very similar sound. It’s that dry woody booming bass sound that is unmistakably a Gibson J-45. Now I got a Japanese made Guild D-40 copy instead, it wasn’t really planned but I couldn’t resist, or I got carried away, anyway, it’s mine now. The Guild D-40 has a lot of awesome qualities, it’s a proper bluegrass guitar and was built for their even response over all the strings. I trust that Yairi did a good job 37 years ago and even if it doesn’t sound like a Gibson J-45, I’m sure it will have a lot of warmth and good bass, just what I’ve been looking for. On top of that, it’s a freaking Yairi, I never thought I would be able to afford that and I’ve dreamt of a Yairi since I bought my first Japanese acoustic.

Yairi TG-40 Japan Catalogue 1970's K.Yairi TG-40in the Japanese catalogue from the late 1970’s. List price ¥60.000, around 420€, which must have been a fortune back in 1977. Then again, this was a fairly cheap guitar for being K Yairi, the top model cost ¥200.000, about 1400€.

Ad of the day

Martin guitar ad from Guitar Player Magazine, September 1974
Martin guitar ad from Guitar Player Magazine, September 1974. I love how few parts an acoustic guitar has.