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  1. #1

    J-45 vs Southern Jumbo - Differences?

    I can't find anything about the Southern Jumbo on Gibson's website.

    Are these guitars exactly the same as the J-45s except for the cosmetic details (inlays and such)? Are there any structural differences, like bracing or scale length, or anything else that would affect tone or playability?

    I have played a few of each, and it always seems to me that the SJs are warmer sounding than the J45s. Is this because of a structural difference, or is it all in my mind?

    Also, what are the differences between the standard line, True Vintage and Legend series? I remember Gibson's old website stated this clearly, but I can't figure out what is different between them from the crappy new website. It amazes me that they charge twice as much for the Legend as the TV, but don't clearly tell you what you are paying for!

    Thanks,
    John

  2. #2
    Les Paul Forum Member j45's Avatar
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    Re: J-45 vs Southern Jumbo - Differences?

    Traditionally the SJ's got better wood. Back in the 40's and 50's it's very clear to see the SJ's have tighter grain Spruce tops compared to the J45's and they also received the very finest mahogany for back and sides. The mahogany on old J45's is usually very plain where the backs and sides on SJ's have stunning, tight grained.... almost 3D detail fine quality mahogany. I don't know about the new ones.

    I've never seen anything written about the difference in sound but I've had enough of each to know the SJ and J45 both have their own signature "voice". The old J45's are usually warm with deep open low end and a wide open "billowing" sound when strummed. The SJ's are typically more detailed and tight with better defined top end, more pronounced mids, and tighter defined lows. The billowing J45 character makes them without a doubt the finest, big banging, cowboy strumming guitar ever made. The SJ is typically a bit easier to record and does fingerstyle better than J45's. You would have to look at the wood to see if this tradition is still carried on. Old SJ's will have more "grain stripes" per inch on the tops than J45's due to the higher quality, tight grained spruce. The mahogany backs and sides are quite easy to see that a premium grade wood is used on the SJ's.

  3. #3
    Les Paul Forum Member lanman's Avatar
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    Re: J-45 vs Southern Jumbo - Differences?

    Ironically, I just got my refin 44 SJ back from Kerry Char.....neck reset, frets etc. He had asked what I thought in comparisson to my 45 J45 he did the same thing to last summer and in layman's terms, in comparrison to J-45's description above, I said almost the exact thing word for word.....and the grain is definitely tighter on the SJ.

    I was initially planning on selling the one that I "liked the least" but have determined that I simply have to figure out a way to keep them both. They are both very different but equally amazing. I would add that the SJ is a tad louder and a bit more responsive.

    I have tried new j-45's but not any new SJ's.






  4. #4
    Les Paul Forum Member tusong200's Avatar
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    Re: J-45 vs Southern Jumbo - Differences?

    Is that an original bridge?? I thought the 'belly' came later. Just curious...

    Otherwise, sweet instrumet. I'd love to find one (that I could afford).

  5. #5
    Les Paul Forum Member lanman's Avatar
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    Re: J-45 vs Southern Jumbo - Differences?

    Yes, that is the original bridge. Although I am far from an expert on these, I believe that you will find both belly bridges and the standard rectangular type between 44-46. Someone please correct me if I am wrong. My '46 J45 has the rectangular type.

    When I sent this one in, the saddle groove in the bridge was "worn out". I told the luthier to save it if he could. He filled the old groove and then cut out a fresh one that is slightly off angle wise but hr did that on purpose for intonation purposes.

    Besides the refin, this guitar also has a replaced pickguard. Unbelievably, Kerry Char has a friend who has a couple of big pieces of original 40's Gibson Pickguard material. I was so jazzed when he told me as the guard that was on it was the wrong shape and way too thick. I was having a hard time finding a new repro that I would be happy with. It looks exactly like the guard on my J.

    I was considering selling this one but reality suggested that I could probably only get $2500 in this market. I personally would buy a player war time era Gibson in this range over anything new. My over-all experience suggests that these old acoustics are more special on average in comparison to the famed Gibson 50's solid bodies. I have not played one.....including the LG-1's....that was not an amazing guitar.

  6. #6
    Les Paul Forum Member j45's Avatar
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    Re: J-45 vs Southern Jumbo - Differences?

    The straight, rectangular bridge was pretty much standard but the belly down bridge was seen from time to time in the early to mid '40's. The belly up bridge became standard around 1949.

  7. #7

    Re: J-45 vs Southern Jumbo - Differences?

    Thanks for the info guys! I have played a few SJs and J45s lately and am considering an SJ as my next purchase, although it may be a while since my wife and I just had our first baby. I did not notice a difference in the quality of the woods on SJs vs the J45s, but I really wasn't looking that closely. Next time I see these two side by side, I will look at that. Also, I will think about your description of the general differences in sound between these two models.

    If anyone has any info on the True Vintage vs. Legend vs. standard question, I would love to hear it!

    Thanks,
    John

  8. #8
    Les Paul Forum Member plaintop's Avatar
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    Re: J-45 vs Southern Jumbo - Differences?

    Quote Originally Posted by j45 View Post
    Traditionally the SJ's got better wood. Back in the 40's and 50's it's very clear to see the SJ's have tighter grain Spruce tops compared to the J45's and they also received the very finest mahogany for back and sides. The mahogany on old J45's is usually very plain where the backs and sides on SJ's have stunning, tight grained.... almost 3D detail fine quality mahogany. I don't know about the new ones.

    I've never seen anything written about the difference in sound but I've had enough of each to know the SJ and J45 both have their own signature "voice". The old J45's are usually warm with deep open low end and a wide open "billowing" sound when strummed. The SJ's are typically more detailed and tight with better defined top end, more pronounced mids, and tighter defined lows. The billowing J45 character makes them without a doubt the finest, big banging, cowboy strumming guitar ever made. The SJ is typically a bit easier to record and does fingerstyle better than J45's. You would have to look at the wood to see if this tradition is still carried on. Old SJ's will have more "grain stripes" per inch on the tops than J45's due to the higher quality, tight grained spruce. The mahogany backs and sides are quite easy to see that a premium grade wood is used on the SJ's.
    Very well put, this is absolutely my experience as well.

  9. #9
    Les Paul Forum Member Tonehawk's Avatar
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    Re: J-45 vs Southern Jumbo - Differences?

    My very well worn 1956 SJ. Amazingly loud and toneful - major mojo in this one. I cannot wiegh in on the differences as I have not owned a J-45. I will say that this guitar will cut through the mix of a bunch of acoustics. It has a very focused, big sound.

  10. #10
    Les Paul Forum Member tooold's Avatar
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    Re: J-45 vs Southern Jumbo - Differences?

    Quote Originally Posted by GotTheSilver View Post
    I can't find anything about the Southern Jumbo on Gibson's website.

    Are these guitars exactly the same as the J-45s except for the cosmetic details (inlays and such)? Are there any structural differences, like bracing or scale length, or anything else that would affect tone or playability?

    I have played a few of each, and it always seems to me that the SJs are warmer sounding than the J45s. Is this because of a structural difference, or is it all in my mind?

    Also, what are the differences between the standard line, True Vintage and Legend series? I remember Gibson's old website stated this clearly, but I can't figure out what is different between them from the crappy new website. It amazes me that they charge twice as much for the Legend as the TV, but don't clearly tell you what you are paying for!

    Thanks,
    John
    Not sure how much the new ones are going for, but look for an early 50's SJ or J45, depending... ones with issues aren't going for that much.

  11. #11

    Re: J-45 vs Southern Jumbo - Differences?

    Quote Originally Posted by tooold View Post
    Not sure how much the new ones are going for, but look for an early 50's SJ or J45, depending... ones with issues aren't going for that much.
    You know, I hadn't really thought about buying vintage until seeing the pictures on this thread and hearing from people who own them. How much are 1940's-1950's SJs and J45s in good condition going for these days?

    BTW, Gibson MAP for a new SJ True Vintage is around $2800. Standard series I think is about $2000.

  12. #12
    Les Paul Forum Member gottabetweed's Avatar
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    Re: J-45 vs Southern Jumbo - Differences?

    Quote Originally Posted by GotTheSilver View Post
    How much are 1940's-1950's SJs and J45s in good condition going for these days?

    BTW, Gibson MAP for a new SJ True Vintage is around $2800. Standard series I think is about $2000.

    I got this '51 SJ, - refinish, replacement bridge, and replacement pickguard for $ 1400.00 about 2 months ago. I wouldn't trade it for any new Gibson guitar, period. Issues acoustics are going for good prices these days.

    http://images.lilypix.com/displayima...bum=2520&pos=4
    http://images.lilypix.com/displayima...bum=2520&pos=2

  13. #13
    Les Paul Forum Member tooold's Avatar
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    Re: J-45 vs Southern Jumbo - Differences?

    Quote Originally Posted by gottabetweed View Post
    I got this '51 SJ, - refinish, replacement bridge, and replacement pickguard for $ 1400.00 about 2 months ago. I wouldn't trade it for any new Gibson guitar, period. Issues acoustics are going for good prices these days.

    http://images.lilypix.com/displayima...bum=2520&pos=4
    http://images.lilypix.com/displayima...bum=2520&pos=2
    Nothin' wrong with that... great deal.



    If you're patient, you can find good stuff, although you might need to buy without playing first (i.e., ebay). If you buy right, you can resell without damage. You might get it right first time, it might take a couple of tries, but you'll get there, learn a lot and play some great guitars in the process. Count on some $ to a good tech for setup, reglue loose braces, whatever - sometimes guitars are sold simply because they need a $150 trip to the shop.

    Of course, you can also get lucky at your local dealer, just depends on who and where your local dealer is...

  14. #14
    Les Paul Forum Member j45's Avatar
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    Re: J-45 vs Southern Jumbo - Differences?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tonehawk View Post
    .
    Geez, that's nice.

  15. #15

    Re: J-45 vs Southern Jumbo - Differences?

    Quote Originally Posted by j45 View Post
    Traditionally the SJ's got better wood. Back in the 40's and 50's it's very clear to see the SJ's have tighter grain Spruce tops compared to the J45's and they also received the very finest mahogany for back and sides. The mahogany on old J45's is usually very plain where the backs and sides on SJ's have stunning, tight grained.... almost 3D detail fine quality mahogany. I don't know about the new ones.

    I've never seen anything written about the difference in sound but I've had enough of each to know the SJ and J45 both have their own signature "voice". The old J45's are usually warm with deep open low end and a wide open "billowing" sound when strummed. The SJ's are typically more detailed and tight with better defined top end, more pronounced mids, and tighter defined lows. The billowing J45 character makes them without a doubt the finest, big banging, cowboy strumming guitar ever made. The SJ is typically a bit easier to record and does fingerstyle better than J45's. You would have to look at the wood to see if this tradition is still carried on. Old SJ's will have more "grain stripes" per inch on the tops than J45's due to the higher quality, tight grained spruce. The mahogany backs and sides are quite easy to see that a premium grade wood is used on the SJ's.

    This is the most accurate comparison I have ever read! Well said, Sir! I have found the exact same, but of course with the Gibson Unpredictable variations thrown in as Gibson has always done minor changes in bracing and scalloping it seems without sharing the info, especially on the Southern Jumbo. I find a proper J-45 to have a wee bit more thump and woody sound and the SJ to be VERY even and usually a bit louder and more well defined because of more time spent hand scalloping to hand intonate the tops. I always get a bit frustrated with the know-it-alls who kill most J-45 vs SJ threads with the incorrect info that they are EXACTLY the same, but the SJ has more bling... which I have never found to be true. I love both and play currently a Gibson Custom Shop Limited Edition 1 of 60 Late 1950s Re-Issue Southern Jumbo Triburst... try saying that fast! A word of warning on Gibson's Re-Issues they are sometimes EXACT copies and sometimes NOT... both can be good and bad depending on what you want so ask lots of questions if you get one of their re-issues or special series. Mine is perfect, but it came with the 50s style micro tiny narrow short frets that most people including me dislike and I was furious as they told me they were the current normal frets and this was not the case!

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