How Does Noel Gallagher’s New Signature J-150 Compare to Gibson’s Original Top-Of-The-Line Flat-Tops?
We take a close look at the king of Britpop’s ‘King of the Flat-Tops’.
Rumours of Noel Gallagher’s signature Gibson J-150 model have been circulating for a few years and now it’s finally arrived the Oasis man promises “it sounds exactly like mine.” Here we examine the guitar’s specs in detail and compare it with those superlative J-200s of yesteryear to find out what all the buzz is about.
But first a bit of background…
Beginning life as a custom order instrument, the guitar that later became known as the Gibson J-200 was born into the Hollywood limelight in 1937 against a backdrop of Western films and country music. An icon of Gibson’s status and heritage for over 80 years, its flamboyant, larger-than-life design also made it the ultimate statement guitar for those icons of the silver screen whose hands it originally appeared in – notably the ‘singing cowboy’ movie star Ray Whitley who is often credited as being the first to own a J-200.
Gibson revamped their ‘King of the Flat-Tops’ J-200 line-up in 1999, offering the “world’s most famous acoustic guitar” in six different guises, including a Custom Shop replica of Ray Whitley’s sunburst model from 1937 known as the Western Classic J-200. The ’99 catalog's Super Jumbo Line also displays the high-end SJ-200 Custom Vine and SJ-200 Elite Custom guitars, along with the best-selling SJ-200 Reissue, and the lower-end J-100Xtra and J-150 models. This was the debut year for the J-150 and it is this guitar – touted by Gibson as being a “more affordable J-200” – that Noel Gallagher’s signature model is based on.
So, why did Noel instantly fall in love with his J-150 the moment he picked it out of the stand and strummed an open E chord? It may not be the top-of-the-range model, but he didn’t let that put him off writing and performing international-selling hits with it.
Gibson Noel Gallagher J-150 Tech Specs
With a Sitka spruce top and AA-grade flamed maple back and rim this J-150 immediately suggests quality. As Noel recently commented: “The back of this looks better than the back of mine!”
Due to material shortages, J-200s switched from a rosewood back and sides to maple in 1947 and are thus regarded as being relatively bright-sounding instruments with a larger body size that accentuates a full, clear range of tone. Consequently, they are known to be a favorite among singer-songwriters (including George Harrison and Bob Dylan) – many of whom enjoy the more strident tones maple can bring. The Noel Gallagher J-150 also features vintage-style hand-scalloped X-bracing and a thin nitrocellulose finish, all of which helps balance a guitar's tone and create open, airy sustain.
As per the earliest Gibson J-200 models, the Noel Gallagher J-150 features a maple neck (in this case a two-piece maple neck with a walnut center strip). Its longer 25½-inch scale length further contributes to the guitar’s tight, percussive feel and sound. In 1941, the J-200’s standard fretboard material switched from ebony to rosewood, and this signature guitar boasts a 12-inch radius 20-fret fingerboard made from fine Indian rosewood with quality mother-of-pearl inlays. The neck is attached using vintage-style hot hide glue, arguably improving the acoustic coupling of the instrument’s neck-to-body joint.
Hardware & Electronics
Lloyd Baggs considers his LR Baggs Anthem acoustic pickup to be “the best combination of stability and fidelity we’ve ever been able to engineer” and the Noel Gallagher J-150 has been fitted with this top-of-the-line pickup system.
In 1961, the original ‘open moustache’ bridge and regular saddle was superseded by a ‘closed moustache’ design with a gold-plated Tune-o-matic bridge bolted through the guitar on either side. Although many people enjoyed this feature it fundamentally altered the instrument’s sound and character, and the Noel Gallagher J-150 has been fitted with the original-style rosewood ‘open moustache’ bridge and bone saddle. Along with its gold-plated Gotoh tuners, multiple-ply binding and fancy pickguard we think it’s a real highflyer.
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