Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Gibson is Back and Great stuff!

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Sorry now that I didn’t order my Bourgeois with a ss.

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It would be interesting to have the SS and the longer scale available to play side by side with your Bourgeois. We can’t go back in time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you would have gone with the long scale for tone. There was a D18 SS that everyone at a shop was raving about. I A/B’d it with the D18V, and I liked the feel of the SS better and the sound of the V better. I wasn’t in the market, but if I was buying one, I would have picked the V (tone over feel for me). It wasn’t a perfect comparison, but it was interesting nonetheless.

The big point… you don’t have to worry. You have the SS for sofa playing and the Bourgeois for making loud music. That sounds like a perfect combination.

Congrats on getting it setup! I love those J-35s. Like you said, they are tough to beat for that price range.

Ya Mike it’s a great buy, to be super critical I could pick apart some of Gibsons workmanship such as a few glue smears, and things but for the money a winner. I heard about the short D18 but have never seen one. In the store I frequent they out of a few hundred guitars may only have one or two ss guitars. May look into it more in the future. As far as my Bourgeois it is the super cannon type, very loud and beautiful tone, it will always be my favorite. Very similar neck to the Gibson feel almost the same. Jerry

I said earlier that the short scale is unbeatable if your style takes you to that advantage. I am glad you are enjoying it too. Question for you Jerry, I notice when I play my J45 the frets feel high to me. (I continually switch back and forth from the Martin to the gibson depending what mood I’m in) My D35 is much smoother and an easier player. It is not an action problem with the J45. For lack of a better description, it feels like my fingers are running over speed bumps when sliding over the frets. Others have commented on this too when they have played it. Do you seem to notice this with the J35? Hopefully I am giving a good enough description. This is really the only complaint I have about my gibson.

The more I hear you loving this thing the closer I am to going out and getting one!!! John

Hi John, well I don’t have and have never played a J45 so I can’t offer a very good comparison, my 35 is smooth as silk, guess that’s why I have fallen in love with this thing. Now that being said, if the truss rod is properly adjusted, I have a .004 thousandths relief put in mine that’s past the seventh fret, and the frets are level, easy to check with a machinist straight edge, I see no reason it would be like that other than large fret wire OR to light gauge strings. On a short scale the string tension is reduced considerably and requires less downward pressure on the fretting fingers. If you combine to much pressure and light strings and short scale on a slide I can see this feeling being there.
On mine I use Martin 12/54’s phosphor bronze strings, on a ss you could even go up to a 13/56 and still be ok. This may elevate some of what you describe. But Always check the neck setup before any other adjustments or changes. It is absolutely amazing the difference a properly adjusted truss can make in all respects. My 35 was ok, but didn’t play as well as I like and the factory had the truss rod backed off all the way, a not uncommon practice with makers as they don’t know the climate the guitars are going to. Made in Bozeman the RH is most likely 10% here in Oregon on the coast it is 50 to 60% RH.
I have a set of tools that I keep to check my necks and make sure everything stays in sink.
This is my first Gibson so it is the only one I can judge by.
I will offer this, keep in mind I am no expert on playing that’s Ben’s dept., however, about a year ago I noticed that I was having finger pain sometimes and hand issues as I play anywhere from 3 to 6 hrs. a day, I read an article concerning the pressure being exerted on the strings and overworking the hands. I made a conscious effort to (“ease up”) and it takes a while, but it is not necessary to press hard against the frets, we have a tremendous amount of strength in our hands being exerted on the neck. The harder you press the harder you work, once a string is fretted no need to press any harder. It took me several months to change this behavior but for me at least it has paid off in ease of play, speed, and accuracy, and allows me to play much longer without fatigue.
Anyway out of this you may find something useful that will help. By the way going from the ss to a Martin which is 25.5 is a huge change so you need to adapt the feel, at least I do. Jerry

John, one thing I forgot to mention, if I am correct the scale on the J45 and j35 are the same??? The 45 i believe is a bit heavier, this guitar weighs 3.8 lbs. the thing is super light, about a full 3/4 lb. lighter than my Taylor and Vintage D. I notice the bracing is quite light weight as well and most of it is shifted forward which lets the lower bout ring very nice.
I don’t have the 9v battery in it now that will add a few ounces but being so super light I don’t know how it will hold up over the years, time will tell. Jerry

Glad to hear your frets are smoother. I appreciate your analysis, but it is not me. Heavy fret profile is the culprit. I have been playing the J45 out/gigs about ten jobs per month so I guess I get used to it. Gotta get my hands on a 35. The switch to the mahogany will be nice! Just have to get my wife tuned in on the fact I am going to buy another one. :sunglasses:

I don’t think your going to regret it John, this thing is so light it’s amazing, I got mine used and there are some good deals out there on evil bay, probably pick one up new or next to for 12/13 hundred. Jerry

Hey John, been thinking about the fret issue you mention on your Gibson, you know you may have just lucked out on that because higher frets are very desirable in my opinion. You may have a guitar that was cut shallow on tooling of the slots perhaps due to a dull tool in the machine or maladjustment at setup. However I would count that as a winner, it it is bumpy on a slide the frets are definitely higher than normal.
I plan on replacing the frets on my Bourgeois with Dunlop 6155’s when the time comes and eventually all my guitars. If the fret wire is high there is much better tone, playability, and much less hand fatigue. Fingers against the wood of the freeboard are an undesirable condition and contribute to fatigue especially when playing fast and tension is setting in. High frets help reduce the pressure required and stop you from pressing wood.
That is one of the reasons Norman Blake and several others played with larger than normal frets. It also allows for a much easier action at setup as the frets are higher and leveling does not take them down much. Jerry

That is an interesting point. Mine is a J45 Rosewood 2003. I reckon it would be intentional but that is the first good reason I’ve heard! I’m going to run with that one! :wink: You hardly notice it if you only play that guitar and I’ve gotten quite used to it. If you want some real bluesy tone or like a rock tone (if you will) you can not beat this one. So I’ll keep it till I leave this world. It may be a little tougher to play but only on certain songs.