Gibson Acoustic Guitars: Your Guide to the Gibson J Series of Acoustics

Published Categorized as Brand Spotlight, Gibson
Gibson J Series acoustic guitars

Like Fender, Gibson are more known for their electric guitars – particularly the Les Paul – but there is also a wide selection of Gibson acoustic guitars.

Unlike Fender, Gibson’s acoustics are focused on the higher end of the market – whereas most of Fender’s acoustics are at the more affordable end.

Below are details on the Gibson J Series of acoustic guitars currently being produced as 2016 models- starting from the lower cost guitars and working up.

Table of Contents

Gibson’s J Series Acoustic Guitars

With the lowest priced Gibson Acoustic (The J-15) being $1,499 (USD) – not including the Maestro by Gibson acoustics. And assuming you count Epiphone as a different brand – you can see why I say that Gibson are targeting the higher end of the market.

This is in stark contrast to Fender’s acoustic strategy – their highest priced acoustic is $999.99 (USD) and you can get Fender acoustics for as low as $120.

Anyway I digress.

The J Series 2016 lineup features 13 different models

  • J-15
  • J-35
  • J-29
  • J-45 Standard
  • J-45 Custom
  • 1960s J-45 Burgundy
  • J-45 Genuine Mahogany
  • J-45 Progressive
  • J-45 Red Spruce Figured Mahogany Special
  • 1950s J-45 Antiquity
  • 1968-J-45-Ebony
  • J-185 Quilt Vine VS
  • J-45 Vintage

The J-15

All of Gibson’s acoustic guitars featured in this post are handmade and the J-15 is no exception.

The J-15 features:

  • Body Shape/Size: Round Shoulder Dreadnought
  • AA Grade Solid Sitka Spruce Top
  • Solid Walnut Back and Sides
  • Scalloped X bracing
  • Maple Neck
  • Walnut Fingerboard
  • 24.75″ (629mm) scale length
  • 1.725″ (43.8mm) nut width
  • Tusq nut
  • Walnut bridge with Tusq saddle
  • Cutaway: No cutaway
  • Electronics: L.R. Baggs Element

For more on the J-15 check out my full J-15 Review.

The J-35

The J-35 features:

  • Body Shape/Size: Round Shoulder Dreadnought
  • AA Grade Solid Sitka Spruce Top
  • Solid Mahogany Back and Sides
  • Scalloped advanced jumbo X bracing pattern
  • Mahogany Neck
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • 24.75″ (629mm) scale length
  • 1.725″ (43.8mm) nut width
  • Tusq nut
  • Rosewood bridge with Tusq saddle
  • Cutaway: No cutaway
  • Electronics: L.R. Baggs VTC
  • Finish: Natural

The J-29

The J-29 is similar to the J-35 except that it has solid rosewood back and sides.

Otherwise it has the same features as the J-35 does in the list above.

The J-45 Standard

Now we get into the J-45s, starting with the Standard. J-45 is Gibson’s best-selling model.

The Standard model features:

  • Body Shape/Size: Round Shoulder Dreadnought
  • AA Grade Solid Sitka Spruce Top
  • Solid Mahogany Back and Sides
  • Standard Scalloped X bracing pattern
  • Mahogany Neck
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • 24.75″ (629mm) scale length
  • 1.725″ (43.8mm) nut width
  • Black Tusq nut
  • Rosewood bridge with Tusq saddle
  • Cutaway: No cutaway
  • Electronics: L.R. Baggs VTC
  • Finish: Sunburst

So, what’s the difference between the J-35 and J-45 apart from the finish and the tuners?

Firstly the J-45’s neck profile is slimmer but, most importantly, it’s the bracing. The J-45 has Gibson’s standard X bracing pattern and the J-35 has the advanced jumbo X bracing pattern.

So, what does this mean? Check out the video below to learn more.

Personally I find the J-45 richer/fuller sounding and prefer that – but this is a personal preference thing – and others prefer the J-35. Which do you prefer?

The J-45 Custom

The Custom J-45 features Rosewood back and sides – this is the major difference between the Standard and the Custom.

There are some other small differences but that’s the major one.

The 1960s J-45 Burgundy

The main differences between this model and the Standard are:

  • Bone nut
  • Adjustable saddle
  • 1.687″ (42.8mm) nut width
  • Burgundy finish with white pick guard

There are some other smaller differences too.

The J-45 Genuine Mahogany

The big difference between this and the Standard is the Solid Mahogany Top in place of the Sitka Spruce top.

The J-45 Progressive

The Progressive is very like the Standard in most ways – but there are a couple of major differences.

  • The progressive has a Richlite bridge with a titanium saddle. This is different but not the biggest difference about the bridge – the biggest difference is that it’s adjustable. it’s called a tune-o-matic bridge and allows you to easily adjust the action (string height).
  • An L.R. Baggs Lyric pick up in place of the L.R. Baggs VTC
  • Gibson G Force Tuning System – this is an electronic system on the headstock that automatically tunes your guitar. You can even set alternate tunings to be automatically tuned when you select them

The J-45 Red Spruce Figured Mahogany Special

The major differences with this model compared to the standard are:

  • The Adirondack Red Spruce Top
  • Figured Mahogany – there’s not a lot of difference tonally than the Mahogany used on the other models, but it’s rarer and has a more unique look to it – it’s typically only used on limited edition guitars (like this one)
  • Only 65 of these have been made – limited edition
  • Gold Tuners

1950s J-45 Antiquity

Another limited edition produced for 2016 is the 1950s Antiquity edition.

The major differences from the Standard are:

  • Bone Nut
  • Bone Saddle
  • Sunset Sunburst Finish and other cosmetic differences

1968-J-45-Ebony

The next limited edition option is the 1968 Ebony model.

The major differences from the Standard model are:

  • Bone Nut
  • Very slim nut width – only 1.575″ (40mm)
  • Rosewood bridge with adjustable black Tusq saddle – so you can adjust your action quickly and easily
  • Ebony finish with cream pickguard

J-45 Vintage

The last of the limited edition J-45s is the J-45 Vintage. The Vintage is new for 2016.

The major differences to the Standard are:

  • Thermally Cured Adirondack Red Spruce Top
  • A thicker rounder neck profile
  • Vintage Nickel Tuners
  • Bone Nut
  • Bone Saddle

J-185 Quilt Vine VS

Finally we have the most different guitar in the J Series lineup – the J-185. It is a Jumbo shaped guitar and features premium tone woods to go with the premium pricing. Moving on from the $1,499 priced J-15, the J-185 comes in at $3,999 to round out the J series.

  • Body Shape/Size: Jumbo
  • AAA Grade Solid Sitka Spruce Top
  • Quilt Maple Back and Sides
  • Standard Scalloped X bracing pattern
  • Mahogany Neck
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • 24.75″ (629mm) scale length
  • 1.725″ (43.8mm) nut width
  • Bone nut
  • Rosewood bridge with Bone saddle
  • Finish: Vintage Sunburst
  • Extravagant vine inlay
Gibson Acoustic Guitars: Your Guide To The Gibson J Series Of Acoustics

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of options in Gibson’s J Series acoustic guitars. And there’s plenty of difference price-wise too. But they are all quality hand-made instruments made with quality woods and materials.

If you’re looking for something more affordable, then Gibson’s acoustics are probably out of your range, but if you’re looking for a premium model, then the J series guitars are worth checking out.

FAQs

Are Gibson acoustic guitars good?

Yes, Gibson acoustic guitars are generally considered to be of high quality and are well-regarded by musicians and enthusiasts alike. However, like any brand, individual preferences can vary.

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)

3 comments

  1. Hi Nathan. There sure are a lot of different acoustics aren’t there. I really like the J45 Red Spruce model, with the light colored wood. I just think it looks a bit different, and unique. I like the sound of acoustic guitars. When I was a teenager, a whole lifetime ago, I learned how to play on an acoustic, but then of course I had to have an electric. A teenager in the sixties, come on! but I really do like the softer sound of an acoustic. I guess that’s reflective of my change in musical taste as I’ve gotten older. I like music in general, a lot, and an acoustic guitar has such a mellow sound. thanks Nathan for the nice website and the good info about the guitars.

    1. Hey Jim

      Thanks for visiting. Yeah the Red Spruce model looks nice. It’s got a bit of a different sound to the other models too because of the Adirondack Spruce top. Would be nice to know that there are so few others out there too.

      I started playing guitar in the 90’s and yeah same thing – had to have an electric, so after starting out on the acoustic I had to have an electric too. But now I’ve definitely moved into the acoustic guitar realm. I love the sound and I like

      It’s never too late to start playing again! You might not be able to afford a Gibson J Series guitar but there are other great guitars for a cheaper price. Check out the “Guitar Reviews” menu at the top where you can search for guitar reviews by price – of course these are only a selection of the many guitars available but it’s a good place to start.

  2. I’ve come into the possession of a Gibson acoustic guitar that is in very good condition. Nice action, stays in tune and very playable. Bright treble and DEEP bass response. It’s OLD. I’ve been told at least 1947 made (maybe earlier). No serial # anywhere on the guitar where I’ve become accustomed to seeing them except on the inside of the sound hole (It may not be a serial # but it’s the only number I can find on the guitar). The number is 8750.
    What do I have?

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