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 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