Top positive review
15 people found this helpful
A fitting tribute to a timeless classic
on November 25, 2010
I find the J-45 the perfect mid-point between the brass and boom of a hardcore dreadnought and the sweeter, more balanced tone of smaller-bodied guitars. My first good acoustic was a Martin HD-28LSV and while it was an incredible bluegrass guitar in every way, it wasn't very well suited for other styles. You could change the strings, change your pick and play it differently but it would still have that unmistakable boom and bark with not much midrange. I now own a 2005 J-45 Historic Collection and it is essentially identical to the True Vintage apart from the later-era logo. It can do bluegrass, country, folk, jazz, blues, Irish tunes, rock, pop, choro and anything else you can throw at it with ease. It does have an unmistakable quality to the sound but that doesn't get in the way of your input and I think that is the key to what makes it such a versatile "workhorse" instrument.
After having played so many dead Gibsons over the years, mainly post-1994 models, I'd all but sworn off getting a newer one but I managed to find a good one. Playing as many examples as possible is standard practice in the classical guitar world but it seems to be either less of a priority or completely unknown to the casual steel string player. This is definitely the key to finding and acquiring a good one. I've bought a few guitars sight-unseen on seven day approval but I couldn't imagine buying one without it, which I've met many that have. If you want a guitar, that is okay but if you want an instrument, you have to find one that you can really speak with.
The thing that got me into slope-shoulder guitars in the first place was a sublime Dana Bourgeois Slope D that I tried out ten years ago. That guitar has always stuck in my mind and while the J-45 may not be quite as refined in sound and construction as the Bourgeois, at this point, I actually prefer its slightly more raw character. I don't think you can go wrong with any J-45 but certainly the True Vintage comes as close as you can get to the iconic pre-war classic without mortgaging your house. Five stars.