My mistake ... I did not compare this instrument against other guitars. This is a good lesson towards remembering to use your common sense when buying a guitar ... always play it first. It's unlikely that I would replace or buy this guitar again if stolen or lost, not unless we are talking about a very old guitar, such as something built in the 1940-50's. This guitar would be much, much better if it had some actual resonance and volume. The worst aspect? Read the previous sentence, please.
This is the second Gibson I've had in my life. The first was a early 70's Country-Western, received as a gift around '87, and now this modern SJ. I have, as of this writing, already sold the SJ. (I gave the CW away to a friend, and I DID warn him in advance that it was a tone-dead tank.) Considering the quality of the two I've had, there won't be another. Maybe there are some good ones out there, but if so, I have yet to play them.
Model Year: 2009
Price: $2899.00 (new)
Where Obtained: Guitar Center
The guitar was made in Bozeman, Montana, in the Gibson Custom Shop. The body and sides are pattern grade, quarter sawn solid Mahogany, and the 24-inch scale neck is a solid piece of Mahogany, topped with a 20-fret Indian Rosewood fingerboard with 050" white single-ply binding and split parallelogram inlays made from mother of pearl. The Gibson logo on the headstock is also mother of pearl, as is the classic Gibson tulip that adorns it. The top is AAA-grade premium solid Sitka spruce. The pickup is a Fishman Matrix Infinity, an undersaddle system with a active, endpin-mounted preamp and soundhole mounted rotary controls for volume & tone. The finish is Vintage Sunburst. Body style: Slope Shoulder Dreadnought. Bridge style: Indian Rosewood Belly Up. Tuners: Nickel Open Back Gotoh.
This guitar needed an over-the-top set-up, full crown and dress of all frets, saddle and nut slot height adjustments, and tightening of the bridge bolts. The 1-3/4" fretboard is a bit wide for my taste, and requires a slight mental adjustment to go from 1-11/16" which is the nut width I am most accustomed to playing. Tonally, it has a fairly good string-to-string balance, but the sound is tight, scooped and "young". After the set-up, it played comfortably, but there is not a great deal of volume as of yet. It may require quite some time for this instrument to open up. IF it opens up. Note: The guitar did NOT ship with the advertised pickup; it had something much cheaper installed, and it took Gibson about three weeks to try and figure out exactly what had accidentally got dropped in there ... afterwards, I was issued a refund of part of the purchase price. Interestingly enough, Gibson STILL dropped the ball, and they never did discover which pickup was installed ... my luthier had to get down in there to identify it for me. I wasn't going to mess with it and void the warranty. Regardless, I had the pickup switched out to a L.R. Baggs Dual Source, which is an outstanding pickup. The finally identified cheaper Fishman did not sound good at all; it was very electric in tone, with tons of feedback. In addition, all the wires were hanging loose inside, and I had to have them tacked down. Note: Gibson's customer service is staffed by very nice, pleasant people, and they DID make the effort to help me out ... it's just that there is a serious lapse of communication between Bozeman and Nashville (neither appears to know what the other is doing, unfortunately.)
Amp: Fender Acoustasonic Junior DSP Combo Amp with Effects. Sound: I took a chance, and bought this guitar sight-unseen from Guitar Center. I had always wanted a Gibson, and considering the many positive comments I heard about the quality of the instruments coming out of Bozeman, I decided to order one. That was a mistake. Visually, the guitar is beautiful, (except for an odd finish flaw near the fretboard side of the sound hole) but in terms of tonality I find it lacking. Some of my opinion may be because I have never played a Mahogany guitar before, but the rest I think is due to the guitar being very new, and it may possibly have structural problems. This guitar would be best used on stage, with a good rig for amplification.
Live playing? Only with an amp. The longer I play it, the softer it sounds ... I think there may be some issues with one or more of the braces coming unglued. The truss rod has been adjusted twice. There are also some problems with the guitar staying in tune; it requires frequent adjustments to compensate. I have kept it in a temperature and humidity controlled room, so climate changes have not been a factor.