GIBSON GENERATION G-00, G-45, G-WRITER EC & G-200 EC
£899, £1,099, £1449 & £1,799
Back in issue 453 we had a foretaste of Gibson’s Generation acoustic range in the form of the G-45 Studio and Standard models. We were impressed, too. Up until that point, the idea of owning an all-solid wood electro-acoustic guitar with Gibson on the headstock for around the £1k price point seemed unthinkable. And yet there they were – and they were made in Gibson’s prestigious Bozeman, Montana, facility where the company’s top range acoustics are produced.
Those models have now been stricken from Gibson’s catalogue, despite being only a couple of years into their existence, and a new batch of Generation acoustics has entered the limelight comprising the same basic build as their forerunners – Sitka/ walnut – and much of the same livery. These, too, are built in Bozeman. This time, though, instead of the dreadnought-only G-45s, we have a whole range of body sizes from the L-00 sized G-00 to the mighty G-200 EC jumbo.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the price tags. Whereas the ’45s came in at £869 for the Studio model and £1,149 for the Standard, here the prices go between £899 for the littl’un and £1,799 for the G-200. Let’s just remind ourselves: all solid-wood acoustics with Gibson on the headstock for under £2k. Never thought we’d see the day.
The twist in this particular tale adds another level of curiosity to the G-Series as all the models here have a side port – or “player port” in Gibson’s parlance – that takes the form of an extra soundhole on the upper bout topside facing the player. This is a trend in the acoustic market that we’re beginning to see more and more. But it’s usually the bespoke makers that go for it rather than production line based manufacturers. We’ll be looking at how this affects the sound of the Generation acoustic team a little later on. But there’s more…
Gibson tells us that the idea of putting a player port on its acoustic guitars came from Ted McCarty way back in the early 1960s. McCarty is someone who needs no introduction as far as guitar design is concerned, having aided the development of
All four Generation instruments here have an open airiness with great definition and clarity
iconic models such as the Les Paul, ES-335, Explorer, Flying V and even the tune-omatic bridge. You can see his blueprint for the ‘Modern J-45’ here on the left; the player port might have been in a different location back then, but the idea was certainly looked at, even if it didn’t reach fruition the first time around. Mat Koehler, head of product development, Gibson Brands, told us this: “The Generation Collection brings something new to our acoustic guitars while staying connected to all the techniques and philosophies that make the originals so great. Each model offers artists and players of all levels an exciting new playing experience with the reliability, performance and iconic design you expect from Gibson.”
So, not only are we looking at a new range of Gibson acoustics, we’re also exploring the whole player port idea into the bargain. Innovation or novelty? Let’s find out.
First on the agenda, we’ll review the construction details of the G-Range. As we’ve said before, they mirror the G-45s with the exception of the side port, and all models are the same except for body shape and, in the case of the Writer and 200, the LR Baggs pickups.
Tops are Sitka spruce with walnut backs and sides. The G-00’s and G-45’s tops and backs are both unbound whereas both the G-Writer and G-200 have what looks like mock tortoise binding in both locations. Necks are made from utile, also known as sipo, which is one of the family of mahogany-alike woods, sapele being another. The utile’s grain patterning is indeed very similar to mahogany and we must admit that if no-one had told us…
Moving swiftly on, fingerboards are striped ebony, the striping being particularly noticeable on our G-45 while the other ’boards here are jet black at first glance with maybe a soft-brown background hue peeking through if looked at close up. All the guitars have a natural matt open-pore finish and look decidedly ‘woody’ to the eye.
As far as other accoutrements go, tuners are Grover Mini Rotomatics, nuts and saddles are Tusq, bridges are striped ebony, and that’s just about it as far as uniform statistics go. The next thing is to take each guitar individually and explore its charms on a one-to-one basis.
Feel & Sounds
The smallest of the bunch but by no means the runt of the litter, the G-00 drew the same initial response from everyone who picked it up: it might be small but it packs quite a punch in the volume stakes. It’s also a very comfortable guitar to sit with and would make a perfect sofa buddy if you’re on the lookout for one. Gibson describes all the G-Series as having an “Advanced Profile” neck shape, and this feels like a generous C to us. More (dare we say) Strat-y than Les Paul but with a high feel-good factor in the hand.
As for how it sounds, we’ve already commented on its loud and proud voice, but in addition to this chordwork has a great deal of definition, single notes shoot out like rockets and everything is very high definition, if you see what we mean. Crystal clear, well defined and with a good balance. There’s also a fair amount of bass considering its body size.
Based on Gibson’s J-45 workhorse, at least in terms of general shape, the G-45 moves up a notch – and if a bit of the old dreadnought thump and thunder is what you’re looking for then stay tuned. As we’ve already pointed out, construction details are the same throughout this quartet, and so it’s no surprise that this guitar feels similar to its little brother. If pressed, we’d say that the
The G-45 moves up a notch from the G-00 with a bit of the old dreadnought thump and thunder
The player port is like having a little monitor in front of you, giving you a more focused idea of what the guitar is doing
neck profile is very slightly deeper and the sound is definitely more ‘big bodied’. While the clarity is still there, there’s an extra helping of bass here that doesn’t muddy up, even with some heavy-handed strumming. Just like its sibling, there’s plenty of volume on hand, too.
If you’re wondering what the inspiration for the G-Writer’s particular body shape comes from, it’s Gibson’s Songwriter acoustic. What extras has moving up to the £1.5k price bracket given us? A cutaway for starters, fretboard position markers that Gibson calls “single bar”, and also an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup. This particular pickup comprises an undersaddle sensor that is, according to LR Baggs, “as thin as a human hair” and has a single volume control secreted in the bass side of the soundhole. The lack of a tone control here may mean that you’d need some outboard gear – a preamp or DI with added EQ controls – if you were intent on playing live. Alternatively, you could always rely on the front-of-house soundperson. Ahem.
The G-Writer lives up to its dreadnought personality with a fortified midrange and lashings of volume and presence. It might be our ears, but this one sounds a little more widescreen and slightly warmer than the 45 model. In any case, it was a sonic experience we’d be perfectly at home with and would happily enlist its services as a gigging companion.
Welcome to the jumbo! Based around Gibson’s J-200 gentle giant acoustic, the G-200 has everything we’ve already seen on the G-Writer with a little more fire in its distended belly. But it’s not just a case of turning up the bass and leaving it at that. Far from it. There’s an airiness in this region with every note ringing out with authority in each chord you play. It’s also surprisingly warm-sounding, too, and once the Sitka top has opened up a little, this is bound to become even more pronounced.
Despite its added girth, the G-200 is not a cumbersome beast to either sit or stand with. It’s almost perfectly balanced both sonically and physically. We think we might have picked a favourite.
The G-200 has everything we’ve seen on the G-Writer with a little more fire in its distended belly
What of the LR Baggs pickups? They are unobtrusive and businesslike, transferring the G-Writer’s and G-200’s sounds into our AER Compact 60 amp with no bother at all. But more to the point, do those player ports – the principal reason we’re here, after all – have an effect on the sound of these guitars? To be honest, it’s incredibly difficult to tell. All four instruments have an open airiness to them with great definition and clarity and, especially in the case of the little G-00, bags of volume. The more pronounced effect is from the player’s perspective; it’s like you have a little monitor right in front of you, giving you a more focused idea of what the guitar is doing. But we tried standing across the room and listening while someone else played the guitar and the consensus was that we can’t determine whether that extra soundhole is contributing much to the guitars’ overall sound. Having said that, though, we definitely liked what we heard and wouldn’t hesitate in recommending Gibson’s Generation Series to anyone in the market for a quality acoustic at a very realistic price.