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  #46  
Old 05-17-2019, 06:47 PM
gitarro gitarro is offline
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I agree that Olson has excellent even flawless fit and finish based on the sj I played. However I have owned and/or played the guitars of many luthiers who built at the same standard of fit and finish such as Kevin Ryan, michi matsuda, Jason kostal, gerald Sheppard, and Kim Walker.

In fact there are two luthiers who imho build at a higher level of fit and finish than Olson or any other luthier - John Slobod (circa) and Michael Greenfield. If fit and finish is the target then they come as near to being perfect as you can probably find in the world today, especially circa guitars.



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Originally Posted by Johnny_Boy View Post
I guess I might be the only one with an Olson SJ, Heinonen SJ, and Applegate SJ…

I can’t directly compare Applegate SJ with the other two, as it has totally different wood and different age, but my Olson SJ and Heinonen SJ use the same wood combo (Sitka/EIR) and similar decorations, and are similar in age.

Fit and finish wise, you will hardly be able to tell the difference between the two, though Olson is very slightly better.
Olson guitar is the only luthier guitar that looks like it was made at a highend Martin or Taylor factory with no flaws whatsoever. (In this case, this is a compliment). Any other luthier guitars I’ve seen and owned have some small flaws somewhere. (I am picky. There is a 1/128 gap in the purfling or abalone inside the rosette? FLAW… there is a small finish spot that has very slight shade difference? FLAW… Does the neck thickness and shape absolutely flawless and mirror imaged? No? FLAW… Does the light reflect slightly weird on a super small spot? FLAW….Does the bracing has slight sharp edge on one tiny spot? FLAW…Is there a extremely small amount of finish build up next to the bridge or neck where it meets the body? FLAW... you get the idea…). BTW, Heinon fit and finish is definitely above average compared to my other luthier guitars. It is just not at the Olson level, but nobody is.

Sound wise, I would say the two are more like cousins or even brothers, but they are not identical twins. However, Heinon is probably the closest to the Olson SJ for now. My guess is that over time he will deviate further, as luthier tend to gain more experience they start to want to do their own voicing. If I have to describe the difference, both Applegate and Heinon SJ does not nearly have the same amount of the top end sparkle that the Olson SJ have. Not sure why this is, but looking at the bracing pattern and shape among the three, they are not the same.

I also agree that Olson SJ has the thinnest neck and lowest action I’ve ever played on an acoustic. In fact one feedback that I gave to Drew was that I wish the setup was better on his guitar out of the box. He said he didn’t want to set it too low out of the box, and I can understand it, but Jim does it just fine :-). In fact none of my high end acoustics guitars have near the same action as Olson SJ.

This is the spec Jim shared with me, and he did say if I tried to set other guitars to this level, most likely it will buzz. I’ve asked other technicians to set up my other guitars this low and they won’t do it as they say it will be too low and it will buzz. If I pay for a PLEK setup, I can probably get it to do it, but I don’t want to pay that much for a setup.

“From the 14th fret it is 2/32" top of fret to bottom of string on the high E and 2.5 /32" or 5/64th" form top of fret to bottom of string on the low E. Again..from the 14th fret.
The neck is set as straight as possible ....I can't give you a number on that... I just make sure that is fretted on the 1st fret and the 10th fret ( at the same time ) there is a hint of relief... You don't want it going the other way convex.”
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  #47  
Old 05-17-2019, 07:27 PM
ExpoTom ExpoTom is offline
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Originally Posted by Johnny_Boy View Post
Fit and finish wise, you will hardly be able to tell the difference between the two, though Olson is very slightly better.
Olson guitar is the only luthier guitar that looks like it was made at a highend Martin or Taylor factory with no flaws whatsoever. (In this case, this is a compliment). Any other luthier guitars I’ve seen and owned have some small flaws somewhere. (I am picky. There is a 1/128 gap in the purfling or abalone inside the rosette? FLAW… there is a small finish spot that has very slight shade difference? FLAW… Does the neck thickness and shape absolutely flawless and mirror imaged? No? FLAW… Does the light reflect slightly weird on a super small spot? FLAW….Does the bracing has slight sharp edge on one tiny spot? FLAW…Is there a extremely small amount of finish build up next to the bridge or neck where it meets the body? FLAW... you get the idea…). BTW, Heinon fit and finish is definitely above average compared to my other luthier guitars. It is just not at the Olson level, but nobody is.
I'd agree with this assessment of Olson v. Heinonen. I've played a small number of Olsons, and I've found a couple that were a tad less than perfect, but still stellar build quality wise. (For example, it's an issue with some of Jim's older nitro finish guitars that he would get finish sinking over time.)

My only issues with Drew's build were that you can see the difference in the top where the neck/tail blocks switch to kerfling, which I haven't seen with others, and a small gap in one of his inlays. (And he admits that inlays are a touch harder for him because he doesn't use CNC machines due to cost, while Jim does some great CNC work)

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Originally Posted by Johnny_Boy View Post
I also agree that Olson SJ has the thinnest neck and lowest action I’ve ever played on an acoustic. In fact one feedback that I gave to Drew was that I wish the setup was better on his guitar out of the box. He said he didn’t want to set it too low out of the box, and I can understand it, but Jim does it just fine :-). In fact none of my high end acoustics guitars have near the same action as Olson SJ.
I had the same feeling on the action settings. Drew did caution that he wanted all of his builds to get a local setup done after 6-12 months to dial it in, but I've noticed the action is a bit higher out of the box. (He also knew I was a flatpicker originally and left it higher so I could do both)
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  #48  
Old 05-20-2019, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by gitarro View Post
I agree that Olson has excellent even flawless fit and finish based on the sj I played. However I have owned and/or played the guitars of many luthiers who built at the same standard of fit and finish such as Kevin Ryan, michi matsuda, Jason kostal, gerald Sheppard, and Kim Walker.

In fact there are two luthiers who imho build at a higher level of fit and finish than Olson or any other luthier - John Slobod (circa) and Michael Greenfield. If fit and finish is the target then they come as near to being perfect as you can probably find in the world today, especially circa guitars.
Gotta agree with you here. I've never seen a guitar with a fit and finish quite like a Circa. The guys who are blown away with Collings fit and finish should take a mirror to the inside of one of John Slobod's guitars. He's not human.
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  #49  
Old 05-20-2019, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by usb_chord View Post
Gotta agree with you here. I've never seen a guitar with a fit and finish quite like a Circa. The guys who are blown away with Collings fit and finish should take a mirror to the inside of one of John Slobod's guitars. He's not human.
Well, John doesn't really advertise this, but most of his build process now is completely automated.

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  #50  
Old 05-21-2019, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by justonwo View Post
Well, John doesn't really advertise this, but most of his build process now is completely automated.





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Originally Posted by usb_chord View Post
Gotta agree with you here. I've never seen a guitar with a fit and finish quite like a Circa. The guys who are blown away with Collings fit and finish should take a mirror to the inside of one of John Slobod's guitars. He's not human.


Sorry....This thread is not for Circa Guitars.. But Fit & Finish wise I’ve never had a chance to see anything better than the work of John Slobod!
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  #51  
Old 05-21-2019, 02:04 PM
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Sorry....This thread is not for Circa Guitars.. But Fit & Finish wise I’ve never had a chance to see anything better than the work of John Slobod!
You’re right. Apologies to the OP.
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  #52  
Old 05-22-2019, 11:38 PM
gitarro gitarro is offline
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You’re right. Apologies to the OP.
It was a pretty good photo shopped joke though!
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  #53  
Old 05-24-2019, 12:35 PM
Bone0305 Bone0305 is offline
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Default Anyone own an Olson And a Heinonen?

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Originally Posted by Johnny_Boy View Post
I guess I might be the only one with an Olson SJ, Heinonen SJ, and Applegate SJ…

I can’t directly compare Applegate SJ with the other two, as it has totally different wood and different age, but my Olson SJ and Heinonen SJ use the same wood combo (Sitka/EIR) and similar decorations, and are similar in age.

Fit and finish wise, you will hardly be able to tell the difference between the two, though Olson is very slightly better.
[Olson guitar is the only luthier guitar that looks like it was made at a highend Martin or Taylor factory with no flaws whatsoever. (In this case, this is a compliment). Any other luthier guitars I’ve seen and owned have some small flaws somewhere. (I am picky. There is a 1/128 gap in the purfling or abalone inside the rosette? FLAW… there is a small finish spot that has very slight shade difference? FLAW… Does the neck thickness and shape absolutely flawless and mirror imaged? No? FLAW… Does the light reflect slightly weird on a super small spot? FLAW….Does the bracing has slight sharp edge on one tiny spot? FLAW…Is there a extremely small amount of finish build up next to the bridge or neck where it meets the body? FLAW... you get the idea…). BTW, Heinon fit and finish is definitely above average compared to my other luthier guitars. It is just not at the Olson level, but nobody is.]

Sound wise, I would say the two are more like close brothers, but they are not identical twins. However, Heinonen is probably the closest to the Olson SJ currently by any builder.

My guess is that over time he will deviate further, as luthiers tend to gain more experience they start to want to do their own voicing.

If I have to describe the difference, Heinonen SJ sounds slightly quieter, a bit less mid, and maybe a tad less sparkle on the top. The bracing pattern is the same, but the shape of the braces are slightly different.

I also agree that Olson SJ has the thinnest neck and lowest action I’ve ever played on an acoustic. In fact one feedback that I gave to Drew was that I wish the setup was better on his guitar out of the box. He said he didn’t want to set it too low out of the box, and I can understand it, but Jim does it just fine :-). In fact none of my high end acoustics guitars have near the same action as Olson SJ.

This is the spec Jim shared with me, and he did say if I tried to set other guitars to this level, most likely it will buzz. I’ve asked other technicians to set up my other guitars this low and they won’t do it as they say it will be too low and it will buzz. If I pay for a PLEK setup, I can probably get it to do it, but I don’t want to pay that much for a setup.


Wow! Thank you so much for all this info! That is really helpful. So as far as tone & thinness of the neck Drew is the ”closest” and the action and could get close with a good set up? Or is it a case of close but no cigar? I really don’t have anyone I’d trust with at least a 2 hour drive to touch ANY of my guitars for a set up. Well Danny Ferrington moved back to town but I’d shutter to get a price from him assuming he’d even do it! Ha! Again thank you and one day dang it I’ll too have all three! [emoji23]🤣

Last edited by Bone0305; 05-24-2019 at 04:39 PM.
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  #54  
Old 05-24-2019, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Bone0305 View Post
Wow! Thank you so much for all this info! That is really helpful. So as far as tone & thinness of the neck Drew is the ”closest” and the action and could get close with a good set up? Or is it a case of close but no cigar? I really don’t have anyone I’d trust with at least a 2 hour drive to touch ANY of my guitars for a set up. Well Danny Ferrington moved back to town but I’d shutter to get a price from him assuming he’d even do it! Ha! Again thank you and one day dang it I’ll too have all three! [emoji23]��
I think the tone is *very* close and the setup *could* get you there on playability. Johnny Boy and I have been trading notes, and that's the conclusion I've reached based on our discussion.

Just note that each guitar is always going to be a tad different, but I think Drew builds in the Olson tone spectrum and hasn't done as much as Brian Applegate to differentiate the tone of his SJs. (His non SJ/OM Hybrids I am guessing are nothing like Jim's designs and are probably more inspired by Bourgeois) Anything different has been done because Drew has a different build process, so there are some slight modifications as expected, but none that are about changing the tone AFAIK.
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  #55  
Old 05-24-2019, 09:29 PM
Johnny_Boy Johnny_Boy is offline
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Originally Posted by Bone0305 View Post
So as far as tone & thinness of the neck Drew is the ”closest” and the action and could get close with a good set up? Or is it a case of close but no cigar? [emoji23]🤣
No, the thickness of the neck is NOT the same. In fact that is probably the only major difference in terms of physical part of the guitar. Olson SJ neck is done via CNC, and Heinonen SJ is done by hand, so there will be some differences, but overall the Heinonen SJ has much thicker neck than Olson SJ. I prefer thinner Olson SJ neck, mainly because I am used to playing electric guitars.
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  #56  
Old 05-24-2019, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Johnny_Boy View Post
No, the thickness of the neck is NOT the same. In fact that is probably the only major difference in terms of physical part of the guitar. Olson SJ neck is done via CNC, and Heinonen SJ is done by hand, so there will be some differences, but overall the Heinonen SJ has much thicker neck than Olson SJ. I prefer thinner Olson SJ neck, mainly because I am used to playing electric guitars.


Drew told me he uses a different truss rod than Jim which keeps him from getting that thin. But he said he can get very close. Maybe I can sweet talk him into using the same for mine!? [emoji6] or maybe if we all email him he will change to that one.. 🤣 I referred a friend to him after his beloved Lowden was ripped off. He got a dread and asked for s fatter neck none the less he loves it! Adi top with figured hog. In emailing with Drew he so far seems amazing to work with. Honestly if I could build SJs exacting to Jim I have no earthly idea why I’d change a THING! Ha!
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  #57  
Old 05-24-2019, 10:17 PM
Bone0305 Bone0305 is offline
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Originally Posted by ExpoTom View Post
I think the tone is *very* close and the setup *could* get you there on playability. Johnny Boy and I have been trading notes, and that's the conclusion I've reached based on our discussion.

Just note that each guitar is always going to be a tad different, but I think Drew builds in the Olson tone spectrum and hasn't done as much as Brian Applegate to differentiate the tone of his SJs. (His non SJ/OM Hybrids I am guessing are nothing like Jim's designs and are probably more inspired by Bourgeois) Anything different has been done because Drew has a different build process, so there are some slight modifications as expected, but none that are about changing the tone AFAIK.


Yeah man if I had the cash I’d have not only a stash of Olsons (yes plural) but I’d love to have a stash of his OMs, both styles. I bet they rock!
Yeah set up wise I’d have to ask home to do it and roll the dice on it changing during on shipping.
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  #58  
Old 05-25-2019, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Bone0305 View Post
Drew told me he uses a different truss rod than Jim which keeps him from getting that thin. But he said he can get very close. Maybe I can sweet talk him into using the same for mine!? [emoji6] or maybe if we all email him he will change to that one.. 🤣 I referred a friend to him after his beloved Lowden was ripped off. He got a dread and asked for s fatter neck none the less he loves it! Adi top with figured hog. In emailing with Drew he so far seems amazing to work with. Honestly if I could build SJs exacting to Jim I have no earthly idea why I’d change a THING! Ha!
He has his reasons. For example, Jim still does a dovetail neck and Drew uses a bolt on--which he believes makes more sense for an eventual neck reset. The neck block is therefore different, which modifies the bracing style a bit as a result. But the reason is a practical one, not just for change's sake.
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  #59  
Old 05-25-2019, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by ExpoTom View Post
He has his reasons. For example, Jim still does a dovetail neck and Drew uses a bolt on--which he believes makes more sense for an eventual neck reset. The neck block is therefore different, which modifies the bracing style a bit as a result. But the reason is a practical one, not just for change's sake.


Ah I see! I like bolt ons anyway. Heck if he can get super close to an Olson that’d be juuust fine with me! I feel like he can do it too.
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  #60  
Old 05-27-2019, 01:01 AM
ExpoTom ExpoTom is offline
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Ah I see! I like bolt ons anyway. Heck if he can get super close to an Olson that’d be juuust fine with me! I feel like he can do it too.
I and others who have played both would suggest that he can get super close if that's what you're looking for.

(In my case, I was trying to get close to a *particular* Olson and not just the overall Olson tone)
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