NGD: Finally a decent gig-worthy not-so-J45, affordable J-45 Slope Shoulder dread!

Discussion in 'Other Cool Guitars' started by dreamingGretsch, Jan 13, 2022 at 6:26 PM.

  1. dreamingGretsch

    dreamingGretsch Synchromatic

    670
    Oct 12, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    I've been jonesing for a J-45..

    I'm looking at a few options for an affordable J-45 ever since I played one.. I do understand the copies wont be the same, heck, the tones are not even the same for all 3 of the same J-45 standard units Ive tried.. LOL

    So i want to dip my feet in the waters and test if the J45 will work for me by buying affordable and decent enough for gigs. Its the same way when I got into teles anyway. Went from Squier to AV62. Same thing with my 330. Casinos first then to an ES-330!

    Fast-Forward; Okay, trip report!!!

    I went to a store near me and tried out a few guitars thats I’m REALLY interested on.

    [​IMG] Untitled by D Y, on Flickr

    Epiphone Slash J-45
    Sigma (Solid) JM-SG45
    Sigma (Laminate) JM-SG45+

    Of course, for shiz and giggles, I tried and reference this beast for tone and feel. I wanted the 50’s one but they told me it just got sold 30 mins earlier and I was late. So it’s the 60’s model with the adjustable saddle. To be honest, I dont even know what a “real” J-45 sounds like, but since it’s a Gibson model, then lets use this as the “real” thing.

    [​IMG] Untitled by D Y, on Flickr


    The three contenders for today;

    Epiphone Slash J-45
    [​IMG] Untitled by D Y, on Flickr

    Sigma (Laminate) JM-SG45- Left and Sigma (Solid) SJM-SG45 - Right

    [​IMG] Untitled by D Y, on Flickr

    Another photo to prove all three are there;

    Epiphone Slash (Front), Sigma (Laminate - Middle), Sigma (All Solid - Last)

    [​IMG] Untitled by D Y, on Flickr

    First impressions are, man all these three are SUPER LIGHT!!! I almost threw these guitars up in the air when I picked them up! The two Sigmas are equal in weight and the Slash, a little bit heavier.

    And here’s them three comparison. This vid is short and actually doesnt really show everything but maybe enough to “hear” all three guitars. I apologize for the slopiness, the widths and neck profile, and string spacing were all new to me lol





    In the end I chose between the two Sigmas…

    The Epiphone, PROS: great wood selection in these guitars. Wood is wood. Pau ferro, all solid, etc. GREAT NECK btw! It feels like an electric guitar neck. Same with the Gibson. Its nice. I like it.

    CON: although very good (fit and finish is also great), feels a bit cheaper than the two Sigmas. Dont get me wrong, the build of the Sigma felt closer to the Gibson J-45 60’s in terms of feel.


    Sigma SJM-SG45 and JM-SG45, PROS: really good quality made guitar. Very light! For the laminate model, It doesnt feel or respond like a laminate would. I think it’s lightly built. Neck is thinner versus the Epiphone but wider. Suited me more though. For the solid model, that Adirondack top has tons of headroom and volume. I’m always in love with Adi topped guitars. They’re just amazing paired with hog back and sides too.

    CONS; for the laminate model, i wish it had wood on the fretboard and bridge. It’s Micarta. Not that it bothers me. Its very smooth, well finished, feels like Ebony, but smoother, blacker. Feels great. The finish at the back of the neck is satin, and the body is gloss. I just wish it was gloss all over. But also not an issue.

    Guess what guitar I walked out with…..

    [​IMG] Untitled by D Y, on Flickr

    The JM-SG45 Laminate model. Lol, i thought its gonna be the all solid Sigma at least. But it sounded closer to the 60’s J45 reissue Gibson in the store. Go figure!

    Less harsh than both solid models from Sigma and Epiphone, a bit more subdued, but works perfectly plugged in as I wont battle with too much overtones when playing live and loud. Just perfect warm bed for vocals.

    I think my ears are going towards warmer tones now. Even my eq for my electric guitars are a bit warmer and bassier than it used to.

    [​IMG] Untitled by D Y, on Flickr

    [​IMG] Untitled by D Y, on Flickr

    [​IMG] Untitled by D Y, on Flickr

    The Sigmas are pretty good value! Save me almost half of my budget which is always good, which means I got more guitar for my money.

    If I have more money, id probably wont buy the Gibson, but Id go Eastman. The Eastman E20SS in the same store (no photos sorry!) is actually better - soundwise. Warm, thumping low end and balanced highs. However, it’s just 400 aud more than what I can spend at maximum.

    There you go! I think we live in a great era. Inexpensive guitars punching above their price range. When I finally upgrade, id turn the world upside down to find a nice J-45.
     
  2. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Age:
    63
    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    geeeeeze ..... there all beautiful :)
     
  3. dreamingGretsch

    dreamingGretsch Synchromatic

    670
    Oct 12, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Yes they are! Actually, the Gibson is the most beautiful. its waay more than just another black colored acoustic. It is really a nice looking acoustic.

    Sigma and Eastman did really good job in their bursts.. I like their bursts better than the Epiphone Slash and IBGibson stuff.

    most importantly, they all sounded great! While I didnt pick the Epiphone Slash, its still very good.. the specific Sigma example I tried were just better to my ears..
     
    thunder58 likes this.
  4. 64ChevSS

    64ChevSS Gretschie

    191
    Dec 24, 2016
    Innisfil, Ontario
    That Sigma is a beauty!! Why is the low E bridge pin different that the others?
     
  5. dreamingGretsch

    dreamingGretsch Synchromatic

    670
    Oct 12, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    I broke the bridge pin as I was super excited to change the strings to 13's.. LOLOLOLOL

    I didnt see there was one replacement included.. its now back to normal. HAHAHA
     
  6. Gasee

    Gasee Gretschie

    220
    Jun 4, 2009
    North Wales
    The Sigma's are Great value's! I have a Gibson Hummingbird that I will never part with. And I played Martin's most of my life. Enjoy!
     
  7. dreamingGretsch

    dreamingGretsch Synchromatic

    670
    Oct 12, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    i’m actually getting exposed now to the Gibson side of acoustics. I hated the SS look before but after trying it, its really nice and I fell in love with it.

    Doing an A&B with the Sigma and the 60’s Gibson, the Sigma can get close!

    Of course now, this guitar will make me more familiar with this scale length and the tone it should project. So hopefully, when I think of upgrading, I’ll be able to find a nice J-45.
     
  8. sgarnett

    sgarnett Synchromatic

    805
    Apr 14, 2020
    Kentucky
    I happen to have a 60s Gibson J-50 w/ Adjustable Bridge. My father gave it to me in the 70s when he got a D35 (which I also have now).

    The J-50 was the same as the J-45 except for the clear finish instead of paint.

    Years ago, the “ebony” bridge started lifting, and that’s when we discovered it was plastic! The late great Homer Ledford made a beautiful striped ebony bridge, keeping the adjustable ceramic saddle. However, it still has the laminated maple bridge plate inside, and over time they have proven to be weak. Mine has too. I use extra light strings on it now. Of course, all those years with the plastic bridge didn’t help.

    With the light phosphor bronze strings I used for a long time, it was definitely brighter than the D35, and yes the neck feels like an electric.
     
  9. dreamingGretsch

    dreamingGretsch Synchromatic

    670
    Oct 12, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    thank you sir!
     
  10. dreamingGretsch

    dreamingGretsch Synchromatic

    670
    Oct 12, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    oh wow!! It must sound great now? Woods all opened up and stopped thinking its a tree. Heheh.

    i do hope this one lasts longer. Ive put 13’s on it and it definitely drives the top a bit harder.
     
    sgarnett likes this.
  11. stiv

    stiv Country Gent

    Sep 12, 2014
    Firenze, Italy
    I've had a Sigma Martin as a main acoustic for long time... it was a early 90's SDR35 and boy, it hold his own with the best of them.
    Congrats and enjoy!
     
  12. Ricochet

    Ricochet Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Congrats, tnx for the review.

    I went shopping for a J45 once. I looked long and hard at the Sigmas. Almost pulled the trigger.
     
  13. Highroller

    Highroller Country Gent

    Jun 11, 2015
    Portland, OR
    Seems to be a good day for slope shoulders here at G-T! Congrats and enjoy the new guitar!
     
  14. sgarnett

    sgarnett Synchromatic

    805
    Apr 14, 2020
    Kentucky
    Decades ago, I read an interview with Leo Kottke. On the subject of tone, he said he thought guitars sound best when they are on the verge of imploding.

    Well, there was a period when Gibson was looking for ways to cost-reduce the J-45/J-50. They were lightly braced, the bridge plate was changed to weak laminated maple, and the plastic bridge was actually bolted on (though it was well hidden). It was on the verge of pulling itself apart, but sounded great!

    The carved ebony bridge helped, but it’s still weak (strong bridge on a weak structure is still weak). It was beginning to lift again, so I switched it to extra light strings. It still sounds great, though the XL strings do take something away.

    I assume the new 60s model is early 60s and/or tweaked slightly to strengthen the failure points.
     
  15. Ashley1983

    Ashley1983 Gretschie

    154
    Aug 9, 2020
    England
    My uncle has 2 j45 a ‘58 a mid 60’s and also a 70’s j50

    I have played these a few times over the years and I’ve always wanted one but never pulled the trigger to buy one as every time I have come to
    get one I can’t find the tone of his… champagne taste beer money….
     
    new6659 and sgarnett like this.
  16. dreamingGretsch

    dreamingGretsch Synchromatic

    670
    Oct 12, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    oh wow!! Thats nice! It mustve been sounding very open by now!
     
  17. dreamingGretsch

    dreamingGretsch Synchromatic

    670
    Oct 12, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    thank you sir! What did you get?

    if I ever had more money, id actually take the Eastman. Hahahaha. To be honest it sounded sweeter than the black 60’s Gibson J-45. Very well balanced!
     
  18. dreamingGretsch

    dreamingGretsch Synchromatic

    670
    Oct 12, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    i didnt see the other thread! Yes! Man, id love to get my hands on a J-45 standard and compare mine. My Sigma might not get close, of course, but to have a feel and reference!
     
  19. dreamingGretsch

    dreamingGretsch Synchromatic

    670
    Oct 12, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    This is actually what my luthier told me too! An acoustic must like what you said. On the verge of imploding!

    the Sigma i have is very light. Weighs the same as the Gibson. But its lighter than the Epiphone. They feel very lightly built though, but im not sure how true that is.

    once I take it to my luthier for fret level and a full run over, id ask if it was indeed a lightly built instrument or just got lucky that the woods used were very light. Lol.
     
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