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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Guitar Center Presents: Holiday Gift Guide
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Les Paul Desert Burst Satin
Fender Classic Series 5 Guitar Case Stand Tweed
Fender Holiday Guitar Cable Keychain
Fender Limited Edition Holiday Sweater
Harbinger MLS1000 Personal Line Array Speaker System
Sterling Audio P10 Dynamic Instrument Microphone
Sterling Audio Harmony H224 USB Audio Interface
Apogee BOOM 2x2 Audio Interface
Gibson Unveils New Digital Amp
Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
Belltone Announces P-90 Foil-Tron Single-Coil Pickup
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
Belltone P-90 Foil-Tron Pickup
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.