Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Gibson J 200 Guitar and The Gibson SJ 250 Monarch

When it comes to high end, very expensive, and beautiful steel string acoustic guitars - people most often think of Martin guitars, or Gibson guitars. Now, there are many, many other guitar manufacturers making beautiful steel string guitars, but surely Martin and Gibson are the best known. When it comes to flatpicking steel string acoustic guitars, however, nobody beats Martin - but then again Gibson has it's massive, beautiful, and loud J 200, and it's even more expensive and beautiful sibling the J-250 Monarch.

The Gibson J 200

Jimmy Page, Elvis, and John Lennon all Played the Gibson J 200.

Jimmy Page used a J-200 for a lot of the acoustic guitar on the first Led Zeppelin album.
Jimmy Page used a J-200 for a lot of the acoustic guitar on the first Led Zeppelin album.
John Lennon and all the Beatles forever preferred Gibson and Epiphone guitars.
John Lennon and all the Beatles forever preferred Gibson and Epiphone guitars.
Elvis Presley always used either a Gibson or a Martin guitar.
Elvis Presley always used either a Gibson or a Martin guitar.

Johnny Cash, Another Great With A Gibson J 200.


The Gibson J 200, a Loud Jumbo American Guitar Classic.

The Gibson J 200 debuted on the American music scene, and indeed, the entire world in 1937, during the era that had been called "the golden era" of American acoustic guitars. It's said that the J 200 is the most famous acoustic guitar in the world. That might be true, or it could be that the Martin D 28 is the most famous acoustic guitar in the world. I think the answer here is more a matter of opinion than fact.

The Gibson Guitar company has always competed with C.F. Martin & Co. for top slot in quality, reputation, and sales of acoustic guitars in America, and the entire world. When it comes to competition with Martin guitars, the Gibson J 200 is the one guitar that they produce that really CAN compete as a fine, high quality instrument for flatpickers. But the J 200 is much more than that.

So what is a J 200? Well, visually, just look at the thing! The "J" stands for "Jumbo," and the J 200 is certainly one of the largest, if not THE largest standard production model guitar in modern acoustic guitar manufacturing.

I considered for about a half a second that someone might wonder why I put James Patrick Page, and his picture above the pictures of Elvis Presley, and John Lennon. Are You Kidding ME? If you are reading this, then I assume that you are a guitarist, and no guitarist would question the order in which I placed those pics.

I found four prices for the base model J 200:
1. Gibson J-200 Studio Acoustic/Electric Guitar
$2,999.00Sam Ash
2. Gibson Elvis King of Rock J-200 Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Ebony
$3,549.00 -
3. Gibson J-200 20th Anniversary Acoustic Guitar Vintage Sunburst
$4,799.00 - Musicians Friend
4. Gibson J-200 Custom Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Antique Natural
$4,899.00 -

The Gibson SJ-250 Monarch.

The SJ 250 Monarch

So what, then, is a SJ 250 Monarch? It's simply a fancier version of the J 200. It's not any bigger, but the "SJ" stands for "super jumbo," and it's definitely a super guitar. The SJ 250 Monarch also features more abalone, or "mother of pearl" inlay than does the J 200. It's a very similar appearance upgrade to what you see in the differences between a Martin D 28, and a Martin D 45. Also, it's tough to miss the beauty of the gold plated tuning keys that the SJ 250 Monarch features.

This wonderful, loud, and beautiful guitar has been priced between $19, 999.00 to $25, 771.00 new and retail.

The Unique Mustache Bridge Found On the Gibson J-200 and SJ-250 Monarch

That Mustache Bridge!

Besides the fact that the Gibson J 200 and SJ 250 Monarch guitars are probably the largest production model acoustic guitar in the world, and that this beautiful instrument is the single best alternative to an upper level Martin acoustic guitar, or one of it's solid wood competitors, the "other" most distinguishing
characteristic that the Gibson J 200 features is it's unique and lovely Mustache bridge.

 With any J 200 or SJ 250 Monarch by Gibson, the customer is going to be paying a lot of money for one of these instruments. What should always be understood is that these instruments are heirlooms and investments, and not "just" fine guitars.

Solid Tonewoods.

When the Gibson J 200 debuted in the late nineteen thirties, it was made with a solid Adirondack "red" spruce top, and Solid rosewood back and sides. Later, the guitar's tonewood material for the back of the instrument and the sides was changed to solid Maple.

Now Maple is a traditional tonewood for stinged instruments, it's beautiful, can resist the tension produced by strings and tuning keys for lifetimes, and even the famous Stradivarius violins are mad of maple. Figured maple is always beautiful, but I'm told that figuring with Maple makes zero difference regarding the tone produced from it's use in stringed instruments. I have to admit that I'm completely influenced by a guitar's tone, and not much concerned with it's beauty.

 It's a musical instrument that we're talking about here, not a runway model. I've also been told that the Maple on these very large Gibson Jumbo guitars truly helps their tonality, and brings out their best characteristics because maple allows for clear separation of the notes, and helps overcome some of the boomieness of these large instruments.  Facts are, I want to play more guitars with solid maple back and sides, so as I can make some more pointed observations concerning their specific tonality, and tonal characteristics.

Today, the base model Gibson J 200 features solid Sitka Spruce for it's soundboard, and Solid maple for it's back and sides. It also has a rosewood fingerboard, rather than ebony.

Final Thoughts.

The Gibson J 200, and it's more expensive and beautiful brother or sister, the Gibson SJ 250 Monarch are amazing guitars, sound investments, and wonderful instruments of heirloom quality. They are exceedingly loud guitars, and this is their most valuable characteristic. A loud acoustic guitar is a million times more desirable to own than a quite one. These guitars are loud enough for someone to perform playing one without amplification, should the venue not be too large.

The SJ 250 Monarch is also a fine competitor to any of the C.F. Martin and Co. production model guitars of the Martin D 45 line. Both the Gibson and the Martin have huge amounts of fine, precision cut abalone inlay, and gold plated tuning keys.

Any Good solid wood Martin guitar is bound to be a loud guitar if played by a pro, who is trying to be heard. You can also "hot rod" most any acoustic guitar to make it louder, there are also some other things that can be done to increase a guitars volume, and I'm talking about doing so without adding any amplification. Or, you can buy a Gibson J 200, or even a Gibson SJ 250 Monarch. I've played these guitars, and they are the loudest guitars that I've ever played.

The Gibson J 200


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