Advice For Beginners

Advice For Beginners

Most people want to play the guitar, but they make these three main mistakes. One: They buy a cheap guitar. Two: They’re overconfident. Three: They try to learn on YouTube. I’m sort of ok with this. The less people that play guitar, the cooler it is that I play guitar. But… It’s also really sad to see people fail and give up. So, here’s some advice.

 “I’ll buy a cheap guitar between $200-$400. That way, if it doesn’t work out, I didn’t lose that much money”. If you think this way, then you’ve already quit. Giving yourself the option of quitting before you’ve even started is stupid. As humans, we are programmed to gravitate towards the simplest option, because, thousands of years ago, the simplest option for our ancestors was still really hard. Our brains have not evolved that much since then, but convenience has. 

Cheap guitars are hard to play, so it’s either fight the strings or watch Netflix. Cheap guitars sound awful, so it’s either sound terrible or go on Instagram. It’s common for people to choose the latter is both instances. 

Paying $800-$1200 for your first guitar will motivate you. Your mentality will change to: Practice a song for twenty-five minutes and reward yourself by watching a show for twenty-five minutes. Or, even better, just practice and don’t watch TV. This will keep you from quitting the guitar. 

Also, (I’m not excited to tell you this) if you still end up quitting (LOSER!), you can resell a more expensive guitar and only lose $200-$400 dollars. 

“I’m a quick learner, I’ll be good at the guitar in no time”. If you think this way, then you’ve already quit. Jimi Hendrix didn’t think he was good at the guitar, which is why he kept challenging himself to come up with new licks. Overconfidence clouds the mind and creates false assumptions. Beginners don’t realize that hand position and posture are the hardest part about starting. Some chords will be easy to play. Your arm will feel relaxed and you’ll think you’re a superstar. But then you’ll have to switch to another chord and all of a sudden you’re attempting to be a contortionist. This frustration will send you from cocky to quitter unless you go into practice knowing it’s a slow process. 

YouTube is badass for learning anything. I’ve learned so much about music, psychology, philosophy, business… But most beginners don’t know how to apply the information to their guitar. “Be wary of unearned knowledge,” said Carl Jung. You can watch five hundred YouTube lessons and retain some of the information, but if you can’t use it on your instrument, that information is useless. You’ll get cocky. When you pick up the guitar you will be overwhelmed. 

A teacher you can talk to will center you. You can ask them questions about a video you’ve watched. They can elaborate on the information and help you apply it to the guitar. Most teachers will know a lot of helpful YouTube lessons that they can recommend. This way you aren’t getting too ahead of yourself. Every video will leave you with questions. This is what weekly or bi-weekly lessons are for. 

Also, investing more money into the guitar by paying a teacher, will encourage you to keep going. 

There are a million other mistakes beginners and professionals make, but these are the ones that make people quit before they’ve even started. Mistakes are lame but overcoming them is the key to brilliance. The reason people want to play guitar is to feel good about themselves, but it’s impossible to feel good if you haven’t experienced the struggle. 


Why You Shouldn’t Base Your Purchase Off A Video

Why You Shouldn’t Base Your Purchase Off A Video

First off, when watching a video, that is not what the guitar sounds like. If someone sends you an iPhone recording, that’s what the guitar sounds like when recorded with an iPhone. If someone is playing a Gibson Custom Shop ’59 Les Paul through a Carr Rambler amplifier and using an SM57 microphone, unless you have that set up, the ’59 Les Paul will not sound like that. People demoing guitars can (and do) modify the sound in recording software, so those “comparison videos” are all horse shit. 

During the pandemic, our shop is getting a lot more people asking for demo videos. These videos aren’t completely worthless. You can gauge the playability. You can listen for buzzes. But, mainly, people want to hear how the guitar sounds. Unfortunately, they aren’t. In most cases, the video makes them feel better about the purchase. Even though it’s not what the guitar will sound like when it’s in their hands, it still helps them make a decision. And, even though it doesn’t sound like the video when they get the guitar, in most cases it sounds better than the video. But this is really only the case with acoustic guitars.

It’s much more difficult to base your decision off a video when purchasing an electric guitar. You can’t demo an electric guitar acoustically. You have to use an amp. And all amps sound different. To record the amp, you have to use a microphone. And all microphones sound different. I believe 100% of the time you purchase an electric guitar based off a video, you will be disappointed with your purchase. Eventually, you will get used to the sound of your set up and it will be fine, but, at first, you will be underwhelmed with your purchase. 

 Comparison videos are stupid. With recording software, someone can make a pawn shop guitar sound better than a Collings. For example: If someone recorded a Collings guitar and EQed the bottom end completely out, they can make the guitar sound thin. Then they could record the pawnshop guitar and add compression, EQ, and reverb to make it sound better. Anyone who doesn’t know about recording software tricks will assume that Collings is a waste of money. AGAIN, comparison videos are phony baloney non-sense. In almost all cases, the more expensive guitar is a better guitar and worth the money. 

Nothing beats trying out a guitar for yourself. But, in the age of internet shopping, what is your alternative? 

 – Message boards with reviews from real people is a good option. You can find out which stores people trust. Pros and cons with certain brands. 

 – Buy from Reverb sellers with 5 stars.

 – Buy equipment used by your favorite musicians.


Seeing Jimi Hendrix Live

Seeing Jimi Hendrix Live

I saw Jimi Hendrix play Woolsey Hall on the Yale campus in New Haven, Connecticut, on November 17th, 1968. It was an early show.

I was there with a blonde girl whose name has been lost to time. It was cold and she wore an itchy wool sweater. Our seats were close to the stage, maybe the third row. We wondered if Jimi would smash or burn his guitar (he did neither).

There were two support bands, Cat Mother & The All Night Newsboys and Terry Reid. I became a true believer in Terry Reid from the first note. I left the show thinking more about Terry than Jimi. To this day I’m not sure who had a bigger influence on me as a musician.

It was a very long time before Jimi came out. The story was he didn’t know there was an early show. I kept wishing they would let Terry do another set. Jimi eventually took the stage and claimed he would make it up to us. He promised to play “Foxy Lady” like never before. He played the first few notes and the hall suddenly fell into complete darkness. It wasn’t for dramatic effect: the band had actually blown the main fuse. They needed a bit more time to run a power line from another building to continue the show. Jimi engaged the audience to help pass the time (as best he could) by telling jokes. The only one I remember was something like: “What’s green and hangs from the trees in Africa? Elephant snot.”

He said he was going to play the next song really loud. He turned it up and played an insane version of “Red House.” It was so loud I thought my ears would bleed.

Looking back, It was a great honor to see many of the guitarists who have influenced both my playing and my worldview. I learned from Jimi that you can never underestimate the power in your left hand, Fuzz and Wah can create magic in the right combination, and most of all, nothing in music is as important as a beautiful melody.

“I’m the one that’s going to have to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to, sing on brother, play on drummer….”

On The Road To Nick Drake

On The Road To Nick Drake

It was a long time ago and therefore a bit murky. As best I remember, the first time I became aware of Nick Drake was seeing a copy of his album Bryter Layter in the import section of Rhymes Records in New Haven, Connecticut. I wondered why anyone would choose to pose with an inexpensive mahogany Guild M-20 and passed on buying the record. I had never heard Nick’s music, and import records were pretty expensive.

Not long after, the printing company I worked for printed a New Times Magazine feature on Nick, written by Arthur Lubow. To my knowledge, this was the first feature written on Nick in the USA, though a few reviews of his records had appeared in other publications. Arthur’s piece captured my attention and boosted my curiosity. I drove back to New Haven and bought the LP. I was an instant believer. To this day, the song “Fly” gives me the chills. Its haunting beauty was like no other song I had ever heard.

The next Nick Drake LP I found was Five Leaves Left. It appeared in a Greenwich Village record shop. Five Leaves Left affected me even more deeply than Bryter Layter. “Time Has Told Me” and “Riverman” held me in a trance. How could these two amazing records not be major hits? Nick’s third LP Pink Moon proved to be very hard to find. Luckily, after a few trips back to NYC, I scored a copy in another record shop in the Village. There was a bit of a cult demand and some original gatefolds of Pink Moon were actually fetching over $100, but I was determined to own it, so I didn’t flinch. Soon I was back home in Connecticut dropping the needle on the first track of the LP, Pink Moon. To say I was not ready for what I heard was an understatement of biblical proportions. It opened a door to another world. I played it start to finish more times than I can recall. It became the only LP I played for quite some time.

Many years later, I was playing a gig and someone in the audience bought one of my cassettes after my set. He said to me, “You should know that the only other cassette I own is Nick Drake’s Pink Moon. Pink Moon had become and is, to this day, deeply rooted in my DNA. Anyway, once I owned all three of Nick’s LPs, two things became apparent to me: First, Nick was not using the same alternate tunings everyone else was using and in the case of the Pink Moon, a lot of songs were in their own unique tunings. Secondly, the Lubow article quoted a line from a song that was not on any of the three LPs.

I had to know more, so I called his publisher and asked to speak to him about the story. I was told that he did not speak to people he did not know. I left a message, stating that I had read the piece, tracked down and bought all three LPs and I had a few questions and would love to talk to him. He returned my call about a half-hour later, appreciative that his article had inspired me to search out all of Nick’s music. After speaking with Arthur for some time, he decided to give me Nick’s parents’ phone number in the UK and suggested they would very much enjoy talking to me.

I mustered the courage and made the first, of what was to be many trans-Atlantic phone calls. Nick’s mother, Molly, answered the phone. She projected a beautiful spirit and an amazing amount of generosity to me. After a while, she put Rodney, Nick’s father, on the phone and he shared the same qualities. They were amazed that I had found all three LPs (By that time, I had also acquired a copy of the very rare USA compilation LP of the first two LPs). I mentioned that I had learned to play all of the songs on the Pink Moon LP and various songs from Nick’s other LPs. I said I would send them a cassette.

A short time later, I received a very long letter from Molly thanking me for the cassette of me playing Nick’s music. She also sent me a cassette of Nick’s demos and “bedroom” recordings. From then on, we shared many letters, cards, and phone conversations. Molly also shared many of her observations regarding my own music. Years later, I learned that she was also a songwriter.

During the course of one of our conversations, Molly suggested I contact TJ McGrath, another fan of Nick’s music, who also lived in Connecticut. At that time, TJ was the editor of the music fanzine Fairport Fanatics which went on to become the magazine Dirty Linen. TJ and I met for a night of playing Nick’s music and sharing information we had discovered about Nick and the music associated with his, such as John Martyn, Richard Thompson, Fairport Convention and earlier influences, Davy Graham, Jackson C Frank and Bert Jansch. Each new door that opened led to another and after some time, there was a network of people connected by their love of Nick’s music. At a certain point, it felt like we were part a secret society and that was going to pretty much be the way it would be.

Then in 1999, one Thursday at 8pm, before an episode of Friends, the haunting chord that opens Pink Moon was heard across the USA. The song “Pink Moon” was the soundtrack to a VW commercial. Within a few days, everything was different. Pink Moon became one of the top selling CDs on Amazon. After that, Nick’s music also started showing up in movie soundtracks. I’ve been continually struck by the great care exercised by Nick’s estate in determining who is suitable to be licensed to use his songs.

By this time, I was working at AcousticMusic.Org, which is a Martin guitar dealer. It has become known that Nick only posed with the Guild M-20 on the album cover. The guitar actually belonged to the photographer. While we could talk about my theories regarding what guitars Nick owned and didn’t own, we know Nick’s last steel string guitar was a Martin 000-28. We know by its serial number that it was imported into the UK after Nick had recorded all three of his LPs, so the only recordings he could have used this Martin on were the last five songs: “Rider on the Wheel,” “Black Eyed Dog,” “Hanging on a Star,” “Voice from the Mountain” and “Tow the Line” (found many years after the other four songs).

Around 2004, I contacted both CF Martin Guitar Company and Nick’s estate to propose the idea of a limited-edition Martin Custom Shop guitar, based on Nick’s 000-28. It would take until 2019 with the support of Nick Drake’s estate, Leonard Wyeth (owner of AcousticMusic.Org), and the CF Martin Custom Shop to make a limited edition run of ten guitars possible. These ten guitars will be available exclusively through AcousticMusic.Org. We arrived at a guitar that is sonically perfect for the style of music that Nick composed. We chose understated design elements that will appeal to fans of Nick’s music, as well as to other musicians, for whom this guitar may be the door that leads them to the music of Nick Drake.

My First 12-String Rickenbacker

My First 12-String Rickenbacker

I remember the compressed guitar sound coming out of our black and white Motorola TV set like it was yesterday. That moment in time has become part of my sonic DNA. It was like nothing I had ever heard before. There on the TV was this skinny guitar player with strange rectangular sunglasses and a blonde guitar that sounded like it was sending messages from another dimension.

I recognized the guitar instantly as a Rickenbacker because John and George of The Beatles both played Rickenbacker guitars. This one sounded completely different than either of theirs. I discovered pretty fast that the guitar had 12 strings, with the bass strings tuned an octave apart and the treble strings tuned in unison. George’s Rickenbacker was also a 12-string, but this new sound was a sonic game changer. The song was “Mister Tambourine Man,” and the band was The Byrds.

The guitarist Jim McGuinn (later to change his name to Roger) had created a new sound by compressing the signal and boosting the treble. He was also a banjo player and fingerpicked the guitar with metal fingerpicks. This sound became known as “Jangle” Rock and pretty soon almost every band had a 12- string Rickenbacker on both sides of the Atlantic.

There were three basic models; the solid body 450-12, the semi-hollow 330-12, and the deluxe semi-hollow 360-12. The two most popular finishes were the natural, which was referred to as Mapleglow, and the sunburst, which was named Fireglow.

I had to get my hands on one of these. The problem was they were very expensive. Even the least expensive one, the 450-12, was around $250, which was a lot of money in 1965 for a 13-year-old kid to lay his hands on. It was decided that I would have to get an after school and weekend job if I was ever to afford one.

At this point, a little back story is in order. My first guitar was a robin egg blue Kapa Continental. It was an okay guitar, but not what it was sold to me as, which was “better than a Fender,” I got it in around 1963 at Goldies in New Haven. A year later, I was at Caruso’s in New London trading it in. I had a bunch of money saved and hoped that with my trade-in I could get a 450-12. I asked what could he do. He opened up the case of a Rickenbacker 450-12, thought for a bit, and offered me a red Fender Mustang. I don’t know why I took the Mustang. I suspect I was sick of the Kapa.

I then went back to work at my job at the local Hammond Organ shop. My job was to polish the organs, help deliver them, along with cleaning and vacuuming the shop. Oh yes, and every Saturday I had to clean both sides of the very large plate glass window in the front of the shop. The owner insisted that I use only Windex and old newspapers to clean the window. It took me forever to get rid of all the streaks.

It wasn’t until 1966 that I finely had enough money to get my first Rickenbacker, a Fireglow 450-12. The guitar was my pride and joy until one night, playing at a coffeehouse in Ivoryton, the neck fell off. For a very short period of time, Rickenbacker experimented with changing the guitar’s construction to a glued-on neck, from “neck through” construction, where the neck and body are one piece of wood (the body is created by gluing “wings” to either side of the core). Sadly the amount of string pressure was too much and the glued on neck joints failed. The guitar had to be sent off to Rickenbacker for replacement.

This took over a year and by the time I got the guitar back, I had acquired a used Mapleglow 360-12 on loan. My father met a guy at a bar named the Woodlawn in Madison, Connecticut. He had the Rickenbacker and a Stratocaster that he gave up playing. He told my dad I could keep the 360-12 until I got my 450-12 back. Needless to say, I tried my hardest to keep the 360-12, but it would not be until a couple of years later that I would be able to get one from Harmony Music in Madison. By then, I got a job there and worked it off, instead of getting paid. I’ve almost always had a 450-12 and 360-12 in my “toolbox” since high school. There were very long periods of time when I would not play them and was tempted to sell one or both of them. However, there always seemed to be a song or project that only sounded right with that haunting compressed jangle of my youth.

Jr Saw It Happening

Jr Saw It Happening

Sometimes a picture will stay with you forever. I had already owned one of the first Les Paul Goldtops to arrive in Connecticut in 1968 and sold it due to its weight — I was a pretty skinny kid and it killed my shoulder.

I was not a stranger to Gibson Les Pauls. I had seen black Customs and Sunburst Standards in the hands of various rock stars, but this was something different. It did not take long to read an interview with Leslie West to discover the guitar in the Life Magazine Woodstock issue, that I had an instant love of, was a Les Paul Junior. Now, how to get one!

I made a few trips to W48th street in NYC, but no luck. There was a weekly newspaper in Connecticut named the “Bargain News” that I checked weekly. One ad seemed promising, but the guitar turned out to be a single cutaway Melody Maker. It was a very cool single pickup guitar that I got for $50, but it was not a Junior. I had $150 saved up from painting a neighbor’s garage so I was ready for one to show up. At this point in time the only Junior I had ever seen was Leslie’s, and to my knowledge that was what a Junior was. 

After a while my chance to own one came. I found an ad for one in the Bargain News. The guitar was in Monroe, Connecticut, about an hour drive, but I was not going to miss my chance. My band mate Peter and I got into my VW and drove to Monroe.

When I walked into the room the first thing I noticed was it’s cool brown alligator case. I slowly opened the case. To my complete surprise the guitar looked nothing like Leslie West’s Junior. This one was red and a double cutaway, but it did say “Les Paul, Junior” on the headstock so it was a Junior. I dig it anyway, it had the appointments I liked, one pickup and a wraparound tailpiece so while not what I thought I was buying, I was happy.

At that point I had the Melody Maker and my first Junior. Shortly after that I picked up another red double cutaway at a pawn shop in New London. Because new Martin guitars had black pickguards and older ones had red “tortoise” guards, for some time I thought the red ones were older. 

I finally got my first no issues sunburst single cutaway Junior on W 48th Street sometime in the summer of 1970. It would not be until around 1972 that I got my first TV Model, a 1959 double cutaway. I traded George Gruhn a Brazilian rosewood 00-28G for it. 

Over the years I would own many Juniors, TV’s and Specials (two pickups). As time went on I learned more about the history of the model. I’ll share my understanding of the evolution of this model.

The Junior was introduced in 1954 as a single pickup, sunburst finish economy Les Paul. Some early examples have Maple bodies. I saw what appeared to be a prototype from 1953 at Gruhn’s awhile back. Gibson moved the position of the pickup in relationship to the treble side of the wraparound tailpiece stud because it had a bad habit of breaking through to the pickup route. In 1955 Gibson introduced the TV Model, which is identical to the Junior except for its straw blonde-like “Limed Oak” finish and black tone and volume knobs. There was a myth that the finish was created to show up better on TV, but I’ve never believed that. 

At some point in 1958 the Junior and TV went through a major design change. In what appeared to be an effort the create a guitar with greater neck access, both models became a double cutaway guitar. The earliest examples in 1958 had a very “squared” off slab body. At some point in late 1958 or early 1959 the body edges were rounded and the neck heed was extended, to achieve a more stable neck joint. The Junior acquired a red finish and the TV model became a bit more yellow, and both guitars had red tortoise pickguards. Another detail was that the neck profile on the 1959 models were for lack of a better word, huge. In 1960 the neck profile became more of a thin, flat oval. 

The Junior was originally introduced as an economy student grade guitar. I doubt Gibson would have ever dreamed that it would become the guitar of choice for so many and varied rock guitarists. From Leslie West, Keith Richards, John Lennon, Neil Young, Mick Jones, Johnny Thunders, Billie Joe Armstrong and many others. I venture to say almost every serious rock and roll guitarist has one in their toolbox. 

Hey Kid Rock & Roll

Hey Kid Rock & Roll

There’s a thing that happens when you hear a band for the first time and you know they have forever changed the way you relate to a type of music. I would liken it to a zen satori, like getting to the essence of something you didn’t know you were missing until you heard it, and from then on everything is different. This happened to me one afternoon in 1977. I was working the graveyard shift in a printing plant and tended to stay up all day hanging around the house drinking coffee, playing guitar, reading and listening to WPKN.

One day I was having a cup of coffee and WPKN was playing a band I had never heard before. The DJ played the whole LP start to finish, and from the first song I was a true believer. Not only did I not know who the band was, but their approach to rock & roll was coming from a place that caught me off guard. They sounded like they took a turn off a familiar road and ended up somewhere between The New York Dolls, Bob Marley and Chuck Berry, if they had all been jacked up on speed and quite angry about the state of the nation. If you haven’t guessed, the band was The Clash, and I got to hear the first LP in one glorious shot of anarchy.

The LP simply named The Clash stands today as strong of a statement, both musically and lyrically, as it did in 1977. The topics and the songs written in the late 70’s UK seem equally at home today with the current state of affairs in the USA (maybe the UK also).

In the song “I’m So Bored With The USA,” the lyric “Yankee dollar talk to the dictators of the world, In fact it’s giving orders, an’ they can’t afford to miss a word,” rings like part of the current news cycle.

“Remote Control” takes aim at what is currently referred to here in the USA as “the one percent.” “They had a meeting in Mayfair, They got you down and wanna keep you there, It makes them worried, Their bank accounts, That’s all that matters, You don’t count”.

“Career Opportunities” takes on the lack of good jobs, political conditions and the poor economy. “Career opportunities, the ones that never knock, Every job they offer you is to keep you off the dock. Career opportunities, the ones that never knock”.

The one cover on The Clash is the Junior Murvin reggae classic “Police & Thieves,” taking the band in a direction (reggae) that would serve the band well in the future. My favorite lines from this song are “Police and thieves in the streets (oh yeah), Scaring the nation with their guns and ammunition, Police and thieves in the street (oh yeah), Fighting the nation with their guns and ammunition.” Once again the lyrics are perfectly at home with the current climate here in America.

As a band, Joe Strummer’s rhythm guitar parts played on a Fender Telecaster are the perfect foil to Mick Jones’ style of playing and guitar of choice  –like so many others before him, most notably Johnny Thunders — a single pickup double cutaway Les Paul Junior. While most guitarists in punk bands avoided taking leads, Mick’s leads cut through the mix with razor sharp precision. Paul Simonon on bass and Terry Chimes on drums are the perfect rhythm section for whatever the band decided to take on. From straight out high velocity punk, classic rock & roll and reggae, everyone is up to the task.

This is as damn near perfect as it gets for a first LP. The bands next two LP’s would reveal that as great as it is, The Clash would be the first of three of the most groundbreaking UK R&R LP’s from a band since the original British Invasion of the 60’s.

Iconic Guitars: The Gibson J-45

Iconic Guitars: The Gibson J-45

There are few acoustic guitars that are as recognizable and influential in the world of music as Gibson’s J-45 model. It is regarded as Gibson’s most famous and widely used acoustic guitar, and countless guitarists throughout the second half of the 20th century relied on a J-45 or J-45 variant in the studio, the writing room, or the stage.

In general terms, the J-45 is a slope shouldered dreadnought with a spruce top, mahogany back and sides, a mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard, and a 24.75” scale length.

The roots of the J-45 go back to 1934, when Gibson introduced the Jumbo. Before the Jumbo was produced, the largest flat-top that Gibson manufactured was the Nick Lucas model, which was a fairly narrow guitar with a deep body. The Nick Lucas was popular for a time, but in 1932 Martin introduced the Dreadnought, a large body guitar that was much louder and deeper sounding than anything in the Gibson catalog.

It became known for its volume and projection, and quickly became a much-desired guitar.

Gibson describes the Jumbo in their 1934 catalog as producing “a heavy, booming tone so popular with many players who do vocal or small combination accompaniment for both personal and radio appearances. The bass of this model will amaze you, and of course the clear, brilliant treble is in perfect balance.”

Although the Jumbo was sought after, a price of $60 was too expensive for many musicians in Depression-era America. Gibson stopped production due to lack of sales in early 1936.

Gibson introduced two new models in 1936 ­— the Advanced Jumbo, which was a more highly appointed guitar with rosewood back and sides designed to compete with Martin’s D-28; and the J-35, which was essentially a less expensive version of the original Jumbo, and was intended to compete with Martin’s D-18. The J-35 sold for $35 and was produced from 1936 into mid-1942.

To reduce the price from the Jumbo, Gibson removed the neck binding, replaced the inlaid logo with a silkscreen, switched to less expensive tuners, produced most J-35’s without scalloped braces, and switched the neck, back, and sides to a dark red mahogany from a more labor intensive sunburst finish.

It became a fairly common guitar of the era; Doc Watson was known for using a J-35 in the early part of his career.

In 1942, World War II was straining the manufacturing resources and supply lines of American companies, and Gibson simplified their production line of guitars to reflect these issues. It was during this period that the J-45 was introduced. Differences between the J-45 and 35 were minor; the 45 now featured a teardrop shaped pickguard, the peghead was radiused as opposed to straight sided like the 35, the Gibson logo was changed and silkscreened in a gold color, and the “banner” logo with “Only a Gibson is Good Enough” was added. The neck shape changed from a V to a rounder “baseball bat” shape.

For the rest of the war, the guitars reflected the material shortages that Gibson was faced with. Some guitars were made with maple necks, tops were often not book matched, and there are some J-45s from this era with 4- piece tops instead of 2-piece tops. Truss rods were also not included in these guitars due to a shortage of metal. These necessary changes aside, guitars from this era are known for their incredible tone.

The J-45 remained mostly the same in specification until the early 1950s. The rectangle bridge was replaced with a top-belly design, which offered some resistance to the top’s tendency to start to bulge up, but did not affect the top’s vibration behind the bridge, which is essential to an acoustic guitar’s tone and volume. A 20th fret was added in 1955. In 1956, Gibson began offering their J-45 with an adjustable bridge saddle which was popular with customers, but also known to have a negative impact on tone and volume. In general, 1960s J-45s are very highly regarded and known to be well-built, great sounding instruments.

In 1962, Gibson replaced the traditional brown sunburst with a cherry sunburst, and in 1968, changed over to a square shouldered body style, to simplify production. Gibson could use a single mold for all of their flat top guitars except the J-200. This was the “Norlin era” of the company, and guitars from this period are known to have a marked decrease in quality, appearance and tone. Sales of the J-45 dropped considerably by the late 1970s, and the model was dropped entirely in 1982. Gibson did not resume making J-45 until 1984, bringing back the round shoulders and more traditional aesthetic elements.

Over the years, Gibson has done countless variants of the J-45 with different woods various levels of appointments, and artist signature models, but the tried and true formula of mahogany, a sunburst finished spruce top, round shoulders and short scale length has stood the test of time. Gibson’s current production model is not all that far removed from the models of the 1950s, with some modern upgrades.

The J-45 has become an iconic guitar, and has been used by a tremendous list of musicians over the decades. Some artists known for their use of a J-45 or a variant thereof include Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Woody Guthrie, Donovan, Bruce Springsteen, Woody Guthrie, James Taylor, John Hiatt, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Gillian Welch, and the list goes on.

As long as music continues to be made, the J-45 will certainly still play a role.

Depth of Sides:

1934 Jumbo 4.44

1937 J-35 4.31

1943 J-45 4.34

1958 J-45 4.39

The 2019 NAMM Show

The 2019 NAMM Show

The guys from the shop made their annual trip to the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show in Anaheim, CA. NAMM is known as the “the world’s largest trade-only event for the music products, pro audio and event tech industry” with over 100,000 people in attendance every year. We got the opportunity to browse all the great new products. Above all, we placed orders for some excellent new guitars.

A new excursion into domestic woods and a sustainable guitar at the Bourgeois booth. American Walnut back and sides Redwood top.

Bourgeois sustainable guitars made with domestic wood.

Martin Modern Deluxe

Martin Modern Deluxe guitar line.

The Modern Deluxe features the following:

  • VTS TOP – The vintage appointments offered in the Modern Deluxe Series include a Sitka spruce Vintage Tone System (VTS) top and VTS Adirondack spruce braces. VTS allows Martin’s craftspeople to recreate not only the visual aesthetics of a vintage guitar, but also reproduce the refined tones of fine vintage instruments.
  • TITANIUM TRUSS ROD – One of the ultra-modern features that is new to this series is a two-way titanium truss rod, which makes the neck super easy to adjust, and it is 64% lighter than a traditional truss rod.
  • LIQUIDMETAL® RED DOT PINS – The models also feature Liquidmetal® red dot bridge pins.
  • COMPOSITE CARBON FIBER BRIDGE PLATE – The new composite carbon fiber bridge plate that increases the volume without adding weight.
  • GOLD OPEN-GEAR TUNERS – All four models feature stylish gold open-gear tuners.
  • PEARL INLAID LOGO – All four models feature a gorgeous, pearl inlaid, 1930s style script logo on the headstock.
  • WOOD BINDING – The 28-style guitars feature East Indian rosewood back and sides with a contrasting flamed maple binding, while the 18-style features genuine mahogany back and sides with contrasting East Indian rosewood binding.
  • GOLD FRETS – All four models feature stylish gold frets.


acoustics at a lower price point.

Affordable Gibson acoustics.


brought a variety of new designs and delightful refinements to existing designs and we placed liberal orders. Can’t wait to receive them!

Eastman guitars.

Rooting for a Gibson Comeback

Rooting for a Gibson Comeback

As a kid, Jimmy Page’s Gibson Les Paul was the stuff of my guitar dreams. Fifteen year old me certainly couldn’t afford Jimmy’s Les Paul, but it inspired me to get my first guitar from a local pawn shop. I’ve been noodling ever since. So, it pained me to learn Gibson had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May 2018. As a fan of guitar music and Gibsons, it was unfathomable that the maker of guitars that provide the soundtrack of my and so many other’s life was in dire straights.

How did this happen? Due to falling revenue, Gibson’s former CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, pursued diversification and acquired Philips’ audio and home entertainment business in 2014. Competing with the likes of Apple and Amazon in the home electronics business was clearly an overreach. Lastly, Gibson lost their way. Too many overpriced fancy electronics and boutique guitars. Ultimately, Gibson, saddled with $500 million in debt, simply could not get out from under this burden. With new leadership including CEO James Curleigh and majority ownership KKR, Gibson is poised to refocus on what it does best – make guitars.

We here at GuitarsForTrade.Com and AcousticMusic.Org are proud to once again be a dealer of Gibson acoustic guitars.

Some of my Gibson guitar heroes:

Jimmy page

Jimmy page

Angus Young

Angus Young



Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton

Joe Perry

Joe Perry

Pete Townshend

Pete Townshend

Bob Marley

Bob Marley

Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen

Mark Knopfler

Mark Knopfler

1965 Rickenbacker 360-12

1965 Rickenbacker 360-12

George Harrison, Roger McGuinn and Pete Townshend played a 1965 Rickenbacker 360-12.

George Harrison acquired his Rickenbacker 360-12 12 string in 1964 during the Beatles first U.S. Tour.

Guitars For Trade Rickenbacker 360-12 Roger McGuinn

Roger McGuinn

Guitars For Trade Rickenbacker 360-12 George Harrison

George Harrison

Guitars For Trade Rickenbacker 360-12 Pete Townshend

Pete Townshend

James Taylor and the Gibson J50

James Taylor and the Gibson J50

James Taylor recorded Sweet Baby James with a Gibson J50. The Gibson J50 with its mahogany back & sides, spruce top, Brazilian Rosewood fretboard and adjustable bridge helped produce the album’s iconic sound.

Martin 00-18 & 00-28

Martin 00-18 & 00-28

Martin 00-18, a stalwart of Martin’s acoustic guitars for 140 years.

Martin 00-18 and Martin-00-28. The 00-28 has rosewood back and sides and 14 frets.