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View Full Version : Gibson J-45 vs. Martin HD-28


duaneallen
06-10-2009, 05:36 PM
Can anyone explain to me the difference in sound between these two. I have a Martin HD-28 that I love, but the smaller body of the Gibson is interesting to me. How would any of you characterize the difference between the two. Thanks.

Brent Hutto
06-10-2009, 05:41 PM
I don't think a J-45 is smaller than a Martin dreadnought. It's a tiny bit wider across the lower bout (1/4" or so) and maybe a tiny bit shallower in the depth (1/8" or so) and about the same length overall. What dimension were you thinking is smaller?

Unless I have my Gibson models crossed-up which is entirely possible...

Aaron Smith
06-10-2009, 05:58 PM
J-45 is roughly similar in size, with a shorter scale length. The scale length affects both playability and tone.
I've always been a Gibson guy but there are some amazing Martins out there too.

Brackett Instruments
06-10-2009, 06:00 PM
Brent's right. The lower bout is a little bigger, the waist is a little smaller, and the shoulders are rounded. The J45 is a short scale, which lowers the string tension a little. Tonewise, to my ears a J45 is a little more mellow, and woody sounding than a HD28.

Bikerdoc
06-10-2009, 06:04 PM
Both guitars sound wonderful. The Martin with the Rosewood back and sides vs the Gibson with the Mahogany back and sides produce very different sounds. The mahogany is a more mellow sounding wood (softer) than the Rosewood. If the J45 is smaller it's certainly not much and it's really not considered to be a smaller size guitar.


Peace

ataylor
06-10-2009, 07:41 PM
this isn't me. i wish it were because it would mean i would have both of these guitars. :) (someday)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_mnND7apwk

obviously not the same as getting out and playing them yourself. but the differences are evident in this little test. personally i think the martin sounds better for flatpicking and the gibson nails the folksy fingerstyle vibe. both great guitars and you can't go wrong with either.

erivel
06-10-2009, 08:56 PM
Mahogany/Rosewood, Vanilla/Chocolate, Apples/Oranges...

Why don't you trying playing one and find out for yourself? Our words are no substitute for your ears.

BTW I own both and love 'em because they are very different from each other.

duaneallen
06-10-2009, 09:04 PM
this isn't me. i wish it were because it would mean i would have both of these guitars. :) (someday)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_mnND7apwk

obviously not the same as getting out and playing them yourself. but the differences are evident in this little test. personally i think the martin sounds better for flatpicking and the gibson nails the folksy fingerstyle vibe. both great guitars and you can't go wrong with either.

Wow, this answers my question! Thanks.

Folkstrum
06-10-2009, 09:14 PM
I definitely favor the Martin sound in that video. Much of it likely due to different back and sides. The Gibby is more mellow-not quite the "cut" or ring of that HD w/rosewood. I know by now I gravitate much more strongly to the rosewood sound. Personal pref. Doesn't mean one is better, one worse. Just different beasts altogether.

steverok
06-11-2009, 12:01 AM
A helluva choice. I personally prefer the warm and friendly sound of a good J-45. A shining example of each is optimal.

runamuck
06-11-2009, 12:31 AM
Can anyone explain to me the difference in sound between these two. I have a Martin HD-28 that I love, but the smaller body of the Gibson is interesting to me. How would any of you characterize the difference between the two. Thanks.

The sound of an HD-28 compared to a J-45 is just so, so different I don't know where to start. The video and recording that someone else here has posted does not at all make it clear how really different they sound. Not only are they built with different woods, but, more importantly, the bracing and overall design is quite different

It's impossible to put these things into words. You really have to try a J-45 for yourself and you'll hear it immediately.

Jim McCarthy

Lefty Guy
06-11-2009, 03:01 AM
I own both & will never part with either.

The Gibson is smaller (scale) & much lighter in weight. Neck widths are similar to my "feel". My Gibson is a sunburst finish & the neck is also a "gloss" finish, which makes it feel different (can get a bit "sticky" if my hands sweat) to the matt finish on the Martin neck.

In terms of sound to my fairly naive ears, the Gibson is quieter but with more direct attack, which falls away quicker. The Martin is much louder & has more sustain. I like both but tend to use the J-45 more for fingerstyle stuff or just mucking around on the "couch", whilst the HD-28 suits me better for flatpicking & heavy strumming stuff.

tkuane
06-11-2009, 03:30 AM
They're both nice guitars. I don't have anything I really dislike about either of them. Describing sound with words is like translating a few times. From my ears to my words to your ears. And we don't have a complete consensus on the words we use to describe sound. Some information is bound to be left out and misrepresented.

There's no subtitute to listening and hearing for yourself. I have a J-45, and although I don't play it much anymore, it was the best guitar I ever encountered before discovering small workshop makers.

Doubleneck
06-11-2009, 05:50 AM
Have an old J-45 which I love. To me the Martin is brighter and I think better made. The Gibson with its sunburst has just the "look" and the sound is to me mellower and more personal.

Acoustic Rick
06-11-2009, 06:27 AM
To me a guy really should have both. :D

rmyAddison
06-11-2009, 06:39 AM
I agree very poor comparison, too many differences.

Martins sound like Martins and Gibsons like Gibsons, take your pick or choose both but long versus short scale , different woods, nothing to really compare apples to apples, they are different animals.

actaylor
06-11-2009, 06:42 AM
I have the standard D-28. I used to own a J-45. They are very different guitars, IMHO. I sold my J-45 and regret doing so. Love my Martin, but the J-45, with its shorter scale, was fun to play. Maybe one day I'll own another..

patticake
06-11-2009, 06:57 AM
and not all j-45's sound exactly the same, either. age, among other things, can make a huge difference. i'm a big fan of the sound and feel of j-45's, or at least the ones i've played.

1cubilindo
06-11-2009, 07:10 AM
I have a D-28 and a J-50 so the difference is actually more pronounced to my ear. Loud vs Subtle. One's sound is direct and the other just embraces you. Would not trade either.

Navajo Chief
06-11-2009, 07:41 AM
I also own and love both!!!!!

Yaz1009
06-11-2009, 08:10 AM
It is round shouldered like the 45, but with Rosewood and a longer scale.

davenumber2
06-11-2009, 08:17 AM
Gibson also makes a J-45 Rosewood if you prefer the rosewood sound to the mahogany. I like the shorter scale on the J-45. Just agrees with me better. But, as has been said, you just need to play 'em.

SpruceTop
06-11-2009, 08:23 AM
Can anyone explain to me the difference in sound between these two. I have a Martin HD-28 that I love, but the smaller body of the Gibson is interesting to me. How would any of you characterize the difference between the two. Thanks.

Both the Martin HD-28 and Gibson J-45 can be loud! The Martin HD-28 has a darker rosewood tone while the mahogany back and sides Gibson J-45 coupled with its bracing pattern has the wonderful Gibson midrange presence and is more "open" sounding than the Martin HD-28. With their scalloped braces--forward-shifted on the J-45--both guitars feature prominent bass emphasis and a warm overall resonance and make great flatpicking and fingerpicking guitars. Dimensionally, the Gibson J-45 is a bit wider and deeper than a Martin HD-28. The Gibson's 24-3/4" scale length with it's lesser string-tension vs. the Martin's 25.4" scale length makes the Gibson an easier-playing guitar. If a guitarist is into dreadnought guitars, they should have a Martin HD-28 and a Gibson J-45 in their stable as the tone characteristics and playability of each are different enough that each guitar is a refreshing change from the other.

A new Gibson J-45 (regular mahogany back and sides model) will be a bit less costly than a Martin HD-28 and the J-45 includes the L.R. Baggs Active Element pickup/preamp with soundhole volume control while a new Martin HD-28 is acoustic-only.

Regards,

SpruceTop