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Gibson G-45 Standard Review: Reputation Stands for Itself

4.8 out of 5 stars
Gibson G-45 Standard Review: Reputation Stands for Itself
Body And Neck:4.7 out of 5 stars
Electronics:4.7 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.8 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.8 out of 5 stars
Value:4.9 out of 5 stars

For all of the issues that have plagued Gibson in the past couple of years, the company's Bozeman, Montana acoustic guitar factory has remained a major bright spot. With a reputation for spotless quality control and hand-built renditions of legendary designs, Gibson acoustics remain some of the best offerings on the market today.

Even by Gibson's standards, the brand-new G-45 Standard is a groundbreaking instrument. Its mixture of unique tonewoods and classic styling makes it stand out from axes like the company's legendary J-45. Considering that it's hand-built in the United States, the $1,300 sticker price (or $1,000 for a studio edition) sounds almost too good to be true.

Let's take a look at some of the details to find out what makes this instrument one of the best acoustic guitars under $1,500 that you can buy.

Gibson G-45 StandardBody and Neck

Though it belongs to the “Generation” series rather than the “Jumbo” lineup, the G-45 borrows its body style from Gibson's world-famous J-45. The sloped-shoulder dreadnought style offers a comfortable profile with plenty of projection and a unique tonal signature. In this case, the top uses solid Sitka spruce, while the back and sides are constructed out of solid walnut.

Sitka spruce is the quintessential tonewood for acoustic guitar soundboards; it's prized among manufacturers for its strength, clarity, and resonance. Walnut is lighter in tone than rosewood or mahogany, with a bit more focus through the midrange and upper end of the register. It forms a lovely contrast with the darker, duskier sounds of other dreadnought guitars and gives the G-45 its own characteristic look to boot.

Now, it obviously takes a couple of sacrifices to create a hand-built American acoustic guitar for just $1,300. Rather than a traditional mahogany neck and rosewood or ebony fretboard, the G-45 uses utile for the neck and pairs it with a Richlite fingerboard. However, you'll still find the same hide glue dovetail neck joint on the G-45 as on all of Gibson's top-shelf acoustics.

The neck itself is shaped with Gibson's “advanced response” profile, which is slightly chunkier than its “slim taper” feel. It's substantial and solid to hold yet not too thick for players with smaller hands to use comfortably.

ElectronicsGibson G-45 Standard

You could be forgiven for not realizing that the G-45 is actually an acoustic-electric instrument — there are no knobs or patches on the body that would indicate the presence of an onboard pickup! Look into the soundhole, however, and you'll find a Fishman Sonitone unit tucked away with a few controls for your volume and tone.

The pickup itself sits underneath the guitar's saddle to pick up the acoustic vibrations. It's not the most complex, but it's an extremely helpful addition for live gigs and loud jam sessions. Just plug in through the strap button at the back of the guitar, and you're good to go!


The bridge, like the fretboard, is made from Richlite and styled in a traditional belly-up pattern reminiscent of the J-45. This guitar's compensated saddle and nut are both made out of Tusq for the best sustain and intonation possible.  The tuners, meanwhile, are mini Grover Rotomatic closed-gear units.

However, the real outstanding pieces of hardware here are less noticeable. The entire body is finished in a nitrocellulose lacquer. This lighter material is used on vintage and premium guitars; many players think it lets the wood “breathe” and resonate better than cheaper urethane finishes do. Similarly, the interior bracing uses a non-scalloped “X” pattern to reinforce the wood of the soundboard.


The G-45 clearly draws from Gibson's rich tradition of acoustic manufacturing, but it's a refreshing departure from the sound of the company's other models. Rather than a warm and smoother sunset sound, the G-45 offers bright, up-front tones that carry well over other instruments. Articulation is clear and defined throughout the top end, while the midrange is boisterous and in-your-face.

The midrange may shine when you strum the G-45 hard, but the bass is rich and deep in its own right. One of the major strengths of this guitar is its resonance; it offers incredible sustain and natural reverb. When run through the onboard pickup, it sounds obviously electronic, though it's still usable for gigs and situations where you simply have to run it through an amp. Otherwise, you'll achieve a drier sound with an outboard mic positioned close to the soundhole.


Not only is the Gibson G-45 an outstanding all-around acoustic guitar, but it's also an absolute steal. The craftsmanship and thought that went into this model are evident from the first glance; it's attractive and sleek with the rich, distinctive sound to match.

It's not a carbon-copy of Gibson's classic acoustics, but the G-45 has got an enticing character in its own right. This axe would make an outstanding purchase for gigging musicians or any player looking to make the step up to a professional-level acoustic guitar while still getting a fantastic deal.

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