Gibson G-00 and G-200 Review
Solid wood construction and Bozeman-built appeal in more affordable and streamlined designs.
Intimate-feeling playing experience. Nice neck. Easy to play. Body shape well suited to austere appointments.
Fundamental build quality good, but detail-level work could be much improved.
Gibson's history is rich with acoustic instruments built to be accessibly priced. The company's beloved and underrated B series guitars from the '60s, for instance, used laminate mahogany sides to make them more attainable. Even the legendary J-45 began as a relatively affordable model—cleverly using that beautiful sunburst finish to conceal less-than-perfect spruce pieces that were in short supply around World War II.
For most of recent history, Gibson's acoustics occupied more rarified upmarket territory—largely leaving the mid-price business to their Asia-built Epiphone Masterbilt instruments, Taylor and Martin's Mexico-built entry-level flattops, and a revolving cast of overseas manufacturers.
It's easy to understand Gibson's reticence to enter the mid-price acoustic game with a Gibson-branded guitar. It's a brutally competitive market: Asia-built instruments leverage lower manufacturing overhead to ape more expensive American inspirations, while legacy American brands offer less luxuriously ornamented guitars built with alternative and laminate woods—often in facilities in Mexico. With the Generation Collection of acoustics, Gibson chose a middle path to the mid-price market. Rather than move production to Mexico or overseas, or use laminates or wood composite materials, the Generation guitars are built with solid woods in the same Bozeman, Montana, facility that makes the company's top-shelf flattops. That means the guitars are pretty austere and more expensive than a lot of the mid-price competition. In fact, you could argue that the highest-priced members of the Generation series, the $1,599 G-Writer and $1,999 G-200, are not mid-priced at all. Yet the G-00 and G-200 offer a compelling playing experience, and each model is built with a side port (which Gibson calls the Player Port) that enables a subtly more intimate means of relating to each guitar's dynamic potential. For this review we looked at the two models that bookend the Generation Collection: the G-00 and G-200.
G-00: A Baby with Big Personality
For many players, this author included, the Gibson L-00 is a magical little instrument. Not only does it conjure images of Bob Dylan shattering folk convention circa '65 with his very similar Nick Lucas model, but it's one of those flattops that, when built right, occupies a sweet spot between power and sensitivity. They are fantastic fingerstyle instruments, and the Generation Collection incarnation of the L-00, the G-00, is particularly well suited for that task.
At $999, the G-00 is the least expensive of the Generation Collection, and it might be the instrument that wears the series' no-frills dressing most gracefully. The slim, compact lines are flattered by the lack of binding, giving the guitar an earthy, elemental essence that suits its folky associations. The solid walnut back and sides are beautiful pieces of lumber with abundant swirl and figuring that lend the otherwise plain-Jane styling a lot of personality. The solid spruce top, meanwhile, is straight-grained, high-quality wood. The neck is carved from a single piece of mahogany-like utile, and the headstock (which is fashioned from two additional "wing" sections of utile) is capped with walnut. The striped ebony, with its orange-red streak that runs from the soundhole to the 5th fret, lends a subtle sense of flash to the guitar's otherwise spartan visage, and the fretwork is largely flawless.
Though the G-00 has a lovely natural glow, the nitrocellulose satin finish seems exceedingly thin. That's no bad thing if you like your tone as wooden and unadulterated as possible, but if you're the kind of fastidious player that likes to keep your instrument in perfect shape you may long for a more robust finish. The G-00 also shows some signs of economizing on the guitar's interior, which is more visible for the presence of the player port. A sizable errant glue smear was plain to see just inside the player port and several sections of bracing could have benefitted from another pass with sandpaper. These aren't imperfections that affect sound or playability in any way. But they are details you'd like to see looked after more carefully when you're shelling out a grand for an instrument.
"The G-00 sounds especially lovely in detuned settings, exhibiting bass richness that's rare in a guitar this size."
Wrapped Up in It
One of the really lovely things about playing a guitar with the compact dimensions of the G-00 is the way it feels like an extension of yourself. Big guitars can sound beastly, but the G-00 lends a natural, effortless feel to the playing experience. The neck, which feels like a cross between a D and C profile, walks the line between slim and substantial gracefully. I might have preferred a touch more girth, but there's no arguing with the ease of playability.
The sense of being at one with the guitar is enhanced slightly by the player port. This design feature was, according to Gibson, a primary impetus behind building this line (the company uncovered blueprints from 1964 proposing a J-45 with a relocated sound port). Sound ports have been features on boutique instruments for decades. Just as on many of those guitars, the effect of the sound port is subtle on the G-00. But if you tune the guitar to an open chord and play the guitar while covering and uncovering the port, you'll hear a real difference—primarily in the way the low end blooms and the treble tones ring. And by the way, the G-00 sounds especially lovely in detuned settings, exhibiting bass richness that's uncommon in a guitar this size in this price range.
The G-00 does not come with a pickup, but as we found when testing the pickup-equipped G-200, the port works effectively as a supplementary monitoring solution in quiet performance situations. How it fits into the aesthetic whole is subjective. And how it affects performance will vary from player to player, but, at least in my experience, it lent an extra sense of detail in fingerpicking situations.
G-200: Mama Bear Makes a Racket
Gibson's list of iconic designs is lengthy to say the least. But while it may not be as famous as some of its other acoustic and electric kin, the J-200 is one of the most beautiful and impressive Gibsons of all. The Generation Collection version, the G-200, does many things that a good jumbo should. It compels a player to dig deep into chugging, choogling rhythm moves and it's loud. Man, is it ever loud. In the case of the G-200, though, that loud can sound just a touch one-dimensional at times. How you relate to strong midrange may determine how much you love or just like the G-200 in a strumming context. But it can sometimes read as brash—particularly when you use the heavy rhythm approach that makes a J-200 the acoustic of choice for power strummers like Pete Townshend.
The bass tones are quite pleasing—a quality revealed, again, by the presence of the player port. And if you use a lighter, more dynamic flatpicking approach, you can coax a much more even tone profile that lets the resonant low end and ringing highs shine. Jangly Johnny Marr and Peter Buck arpeggios sound lovely for this reason—especially when you use a capo. In fingerstyle situations, the guitar feels a little less dynamic and balanced, largely because coaxing an even response from a body this big takes a fair bit of muscle. But when you do get a feel for how to make the G-200 sing with a lighter touch, the walnut and spruce tonewood recipe dishes some very pretty tones, indeed.
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Like the G-00, the G-200 is an absolutely lovely player. While the action feels slinky and low-ish, there isn't a buzzing string to be found anywhere—and that's a beautiful thing given how much the guitar begs to be played hard and that the cutaway makes lead runs all the way up to the 20th fret a workable proposition.
But while the playability is hard to top—and reflects a great deal of care for how this guitar was built and set up—there is still evidence of some economizing to keep the price in that high-mid category. As on the G-00, there are clearly rough cuts on the bracing that could have been remedied with a light pass with the sanding block. And while none of that undoes the satisfaction of playing a guitar that feels this smooth, it does potentially undo some of the enthusiasm you might feel after parting with nearly $2K for the instrument. What's more, the soundhole revealed a less than flattering view of the wire connecting the otherwise excellent L.R. Baggs Element Bronze preamp to the soundhole-mounted volume control. You don't want to use hardware to affix a length of wire to bracing or the top that are so critical to tone, but there must be some way to fix a wire so you don't see it flopping through the player port.
"The guitar begs to be played hard and the cutaway makes lead runs all the way up to the 20th fret a workable proposition."
Gibson is taking a noble shot at threading a needle with the Generation Collection. The company's commitment to building a more affordable flattop in the U.S. is a welcome development—not to mention a good way to help guarantee a little more resale value on the back end for players that see a lot of churn in their collections.
There is a lot that is special about the G-00. In tone terms, it compares favorably with more expensive Bozeman-built flattops in the high-mid-price grand concert category. The playability is superb, and the player port adds a subtle but unmistakable extra dose of detail in fingerstyle situations. The G-200 is less flattered by the Generation Collection recipe—at least in its new-from-the-factory state. The midrange could use some of the mellowing that often comes with the passing of a few seasons and sessions. And it's hard to avoid longing for a little more responsiveness to a light touch. That said, it sounds—and feels—massive in detuned situations and its copious capacity for volume makes the possibilities of the G-200 as a rhythm guitar super tantalizing. Whether or not you'll ultimately want to spend a few hundred more for a Gibson with more upscale appointments (a solid rosewood-backed J-45 Studio, for instance, costs just $250 more) will be down to how you bond with the guitar in person. But both guitars exhibit tons of potential for the right player.
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Holiday Gear Finds 2022
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s Faded
SE Standard 24-08
MONO FlyBy Ultra Backpack
JBL 3 Series Studio Monitors
Guitar Tech Screwdriver Set
Xvive U2, U3 and U4 Wireless Systems
Elixir® Strings Acoustic Phosphor Bronze with NANOWEB® Coating
Elephant Foot Risers and Frames
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
Caparison Horus-WB-FX MF
The Woman Tone
Templo Devices Holiday Specials
Taylors Guitars GS Mini
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Sennheiser MD 421
Orangewood Guitars Oliver Jr.
Marshall CODE 50 Digital Combo Amp
Line 6 Catalyst 100
LR Baggs Venue DI
Kali Audio LP-6 V2
Eventide H90 Harmonizer®
Wilkinson R Series Trev Wilkinson Signature Pickups
Hercules Stands Five-Piece Guitar Rack with Two Free Expansion Packs
ISP Hum Extractor Pedal
LAVA ME 3
Gator Cases Transit Guitar Gig Bags
DeLoach Guitars DL-225
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Messiah Guitars Introduces the Flare
Flare is a dual-function pedal with a tube-like booster and a 1970s-style ring modulator effect that can be played separately or together.
Flare’s ring modulator is based on the iconic tone of the original Dan Armstrong Green Ringer. This vintage classic was made famous by Frank Zappa who loved the unusual modulations created by generating a harmonic octave over notes. Messiah’s version offers two control knobs: a “Sparkle” tone attenuator and output Level control. Its taupe-gold body, purple and green knobs and stick-figure rock ’n’ roller holding up a flame convey an appropriately rockin’70s vibe.
In a unique twist, Messiah’s Flare pairs the ringer with a warm tube-style boost instead of a fuzz. Flare feeds the booster into the ringer for an extra punch, while preserving the Green Ringerspirit. The ringer side also turns any fuzz into an octafuzz, and it has the ability to quiet signal background noise fed through it.
The booster side features a single Boost knob to control the MOSFET circuit, making it very tube-amp-friendly with a warm, organic boost and gain of up to 32dB.
The pedal is a distinct improvement over the 1970s pedal that inspired it. “Most ringer pedals don’t track well,” Tom Hejda, owner of Messiah Guitars. “The player can’t rely on repeating the same effect even with the most consistently played notes. We carefully matched the components, so our ringer follows your every move, producing that slightly dirty octave you expect on demand.”
Messiah developed this vintage octave pedal with flexible features so that people who love that messy, dirty Zappa-esque sound can get there with ease but there’s also something for those who have not fallen in love with fuzz or the Green Ringer alone. Flare offers an array of sonic options while retaining simplicity in the controls.
Each Flair Pedal Includes:
- 3 control knobs: Boost, Sparkle, and Level
- Two effects – Ring Modulator and Boost – can be used together or separately
- Space-saving top side jacks
- Durable, cast aluminum alloy 125B enclosure with fun artwork
- Easy to see, illuminated True-bypass foot switch
- Standard 9V pedal power input
Flare Pedal Demo
Messiah Guitars pedals are designed with an explorative player in mind. Like their custom guitars and amplifiers, Messiah’s pedals are hand-crafted in Los Angeles for a long life with guaranteed quality.
Flare retails for $199.00 and can be purchased directly at Messiah Guitars or you can hear it in person at Impulse Music Co. in Canyon Country, CA.
For more information, please visit messiahguitars.com.
MayFly Introduces the Le Canard Envelope Filter
This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal.
If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and QUACKS like a duck, then it must be a duck. That's how we came up with the name for our new envelope filter. This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal. Trevor explains how this is possible in the launch video, as well as gives a demo on Le Canard’s operation.
The attack control determines how quickly the filter responds to the envelope, and the decay sets how quickly the filter releases afterward. The range controls which frequency spectrum the filter does its magic on. Add to this relay-based full-bypass switching with failsafe, and you've got one crazy little quacky beast. It is so expressive that you'll want to give up on your rocker-wah forever.
The MayFly Le Canard envelope filter features:
- Super fast responding envelope follower. Touch it and it jumps!
- Range control to dial in the character of the filter
- Attack control to control how fast the filter moves on that first touch
- Release control to control how slowly the filter slides back to baseline
- Full bypass using relays with Fail SafeTM (automatically switches to bypass if the pedal loses power)
- Cast aluminum enclosure with groovy artwork
- MSRP $149 USD ($199 CAD)
Introducing the MayFly Le Canard Envelope Filter
All MayFly pedals are hand-made in Canada.
For more information, please visit mayflyaudio.com.
Outlaw Effects Launches NOMAD ISO Pedalboards
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more.
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.