Gibson J 15 Review: Acoustic Guitars Under $1500

Published Categorized as Dreadnought Reviews, Gibson Acoustic Guitars, Guitar Reviews, Guitar Reviews under 1500, Sitka Spruce Top Wood, Solid Wood Back and Sides, Solid Wood Top Wood, Walnut Back and Sides

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Hello and welcome to my Gibson J 15 review.

This is the first in my series of guitar reviews in the less than $1,500 price range.

This review will look at Gibson’s J15 in terms of:

  • The Tone;
  • The Playability;
  • The Materials the J 15 is made from;
  • Who the J 15 is best suited to;
  • The J 15’s value-for-money

I’ll also provide video of the J15 in action so that you can get an appreciation of the tone for yourself and some user reviews so you can read about other people’s opinions.


The Tone


acoustic guitar's tonality

Gibson’s J15 is a dreadnought guitar so you expect a driving full sound – and the J15 doesn’t disappoint there. You can really extract some volume out of this guitar – or you can quieten it down to a whisper when you need to.

It doesn’t have a cutaway – whilst this makes it more difficult to reach the upper frets it does add to the fullness of the sound.

Overall, it has a nice balanced tone that is dynamic – but didn’t wow me as such.

In terms of brightness of the acoustic guitars like this, the J-15 is on the brighter side. I would say a 7/10 if 1 being the warmest sound possible and 10 being the brightest possible.

The Materials

Top: Solid Sitka Spruce

Back & Sides: Solid Walnut

Bracing: Gibson’s standard x scalloped bracing

Bridge: Walnut

Saddle: Tusq

Nut: Tusq

The J15 is an all solid wood guitar, with a solid maple neck, and a walnut fretboard and solid sitka spruce top, which is always nice. Not unexpected in this price range but this is probably the first price range where you would actually start to expect it.

I haven’t come across too many walnut bridges so far but it is quite a hard and strong wood (though not as hard and strong as rosewood) so is suitable as a bridge wood.

Electronics

The Gibson J15 is fitted with L R Baggs Element electronics. By all accounts these electronics are high quality and work to emulate the acoustic sound of the guitar as much as possible.

Videos

Check out the video below to get an idea of the sound of the guitar for yourself.


Playability


I found the J15 was nice and smooth to play. It wasn’t the nicest I’ve played but it was pretty good. It was great for strumming and flat-picking and held its own playing fingerstyle.

Action

My action preferences run a little bit lower than the J15 was set up. I think I would have liked playing this instrument even more had the action been a touch lower.

That said, even considering the action wasn’t where I’d want it, it still played really nice and there was never any feeling of hand fatigue the whole time I played it.

Nut Width

The J15 has a 1.725″ (43.8mm) nut width. 43mm and 44mm is the most standard nut width, so this is pretty standard and felt normal to play on.

Fretboard (fingerboard)

The fingerboard is made from Walnut. This isn’t a fingerboard that I’m used to playing on – but it did feel nice to play on so this is all good.

Scale Length

The J15 is a full size dreadnought and has a scale length of 24″ (629mm) which is within the normal range for acoustics offering natural sound, but a little bit shorter than the longer scale length guitars (they tend to go up to 25″ (648mm).


Who this Guitar is Most Suited to


The J-15 Gibson Acoustics would suit anyone who has a reasonable amount to spend on a right guitar – but who doesn’t want to spend a fortune. It would be great for an advancing guitarist who is looking to get a step up in quality and sound of this dynamic guitar.

It’s a full size dreadnought so it’s not the best choice for kids or smaller adults.

It’s at its best when strumming and flat picking – but it’s also fine for fingerstyle. If fingerstyle is your bread and butter then are better options but if you mostly strum and flat-pick and occasionally play fingerstyle then the J-15 would be a great fit.


Value-for-Money


You get an all solid wood guitar at a price when you expect it – but it’

s the lowest price range that you would expect it at.

In terms of the materials you get it’s definitely value-for-money. It’s a well-made instrument with quality materials and it plays nice.

But even with all of that, it wouldn’t be my first choice if I was looking for a guitar in this price-range. But a lot of that is done to personal preference. This guitar is a quality all round guitar – but it didn’t wow me and I didn’t fall in love with it. I can’t quite put my finger on it but it didn’t do it for me the same way as the other guitars I played on the same day (the Martin D15M and the Taylor 322e).

But as I say this a lot down to personal preference and a lot of people do fall in love with this guitar.

More Info and Where to Buy

Disclosure: Links below are affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you.

If you are interested in this guitar or are looking to get more info on it check out the links below.

Gibson J-15 Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Thanks for reading and I hope that this review has been useful in your guitar search.

If you’re interested in this guitar check out the links above. If you want to check out more reviews of other guitars in this price range, then check out the link below.
>> Acoustic Guitars Under 1500 Reviews

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…I have been researching acoustics to death and have narrowed it down to a few makes / models where playing comfort for long gigs is important. I have never played a Gibson until I got my hands on a Gibson J-15. I fell in love with the scale length and slightly wider nut that was evident in the playability.

    But you mentioned in your critique that you had played guitars with easy actions and man would I like to know which makes / models you are talking about. Actions can be lowered but I’d rather start with a guitar that, by nature, is extremely playable. I would love to hear about some of the guitars you are referring to in your review.

    Thanks…

    1. Hi Kevin

      Thanks for your message.

      I would say that the Takamine P1NC was really nice for playability – but the action was setup a bit lower as far as I could tell and this is something that I definitely prefer – but not everyone does. Also, this is a full scale length – if you like the feel of that slightly shorter scale length, then the J-15 is probably a better option. Also, this is a very different guitar in terms of tone and in terms of it’s shape – and has a narrower nut width.

      The Taylor 322e was also something I found really nice to play. This is a shorter scale length – but it’s also a very different guitar tone-wise and shape-wise to the J-15. Though I think the Dreadnought models with Spruce Top and Sapele back/sides in that 300 series also have the shortened scale length. Obviously not going to be the same tone-wise as the J-15 but more similar than the 322e.

      The other one would be the Martin D-15M. Again, very different tone-wise but I really liked how it played. It also has a shortened scale length and is a dreadnought but a very different tone.

      But none of these are direct comparisons to the J-15. The J-15 has walnut back and sides – which is different to everything else there – and to be honest, I would say that the J-15 is in the same league in terms of playability – just that I would want the action lowered a little bit, which is personal preference. Also, apart from the 322e, the other two guitar’s I mentioned have a narrower nut width – so if you prefer that wider width, then the J-15 ticks that box for you too.

      Hope this answers your question

  2. How does this instrument compare with a Gibson LG2, I see the pricing is very similar and they look similar, to me…

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