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  1. #1

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    What's the difference between a Guild Benedetto JSA and a Guild Benedetto AA?

    I see a 2000 GBAA on Reverb and wondered what the difference was if any.

    -Charley

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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by charleyrich99
    What's the difference between a Guild Benedetto JSA and a Guild Benedetto AA?

    I see a 2000 GBAA on Reverb and wondered what the difference was if any.

    -Charley
    I think they got Johnny onboard after having teamed up with Bob to reengineer the AA. I'm not sure of other differences except the nut on my JSAA is 43mm which is 1 11/16 in old money and the reported nut size on the AA is 44mm (1 3/4).
    The scale length on the JSA (or mine at least) is 651mm which equates to roughly 25'9/16" making it 3mm longer than the the typical 648mm (25'5").

    From what I can tell, the bodies look the same.

  4. #3

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    The difference is that Johnny Smith asked Guild to eliminate the floating neck and have the neck contact the top up to the last fret.

    Another difference is that the Westerly GBAA had a thinner finish than the ones made in Corona (which includes all of the GBJSA examples).

    The nut was never 13/4 despite advertisements to the contrary.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    The difference is that Johnny Smith asked Guild to eliminate the floating neck and have the neck contact the top up to the last fret.

    Another difference is that the Westerly GBAA had a thinner finish than the ones made in Corona (which includes all of the GBJSA examples).

    The nut was never 13/4 despite advertisements to the contrary.
    Any experience to how they sound both acoustically and plugged in?

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    The difference is that Johnny Smith asked Guild to eliminate the floating neck and have the neck contact the top up to the last fret
    My Guild JSA does not have this design. I guess Guild and Johnny never did see eye to eye on some things.

    I'd also be interest to know if all the Benny JSA's have thicker finishes. I doubt they were all sprayed at the same time. The one I have doesn't look particularly caked. I suppose it depends on how automated their spraying was.

  7. #6

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    I don't know if this is a myth but lore has it that Johnny Smith had Guild (and Gibson before Guild) first build the bodies as full-bodied i.e. non-cutaway guitars and then perform surgery on the guitar to make a cutaway because D'Angelico had made his guitar that way. I don't know if Bob Benedetto and the Guild team carried out this instruction on the GBJSAs that FMIC Guild made.

    The GBAA's cutaway was made the "old-fashioned" way.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky
    I don't know if this is a myth but lore has it that Johnny Smith had Guild first build the bodies as full-bodied i.e. non-cutaway guitars and then perform surgery on the guitar to make a cutaway because D'Angelico made his guitar that way. I don't know if Bob Benedetto and the Guild team carried out this instruction on the GBJSAs that FMIC Guild made.

    The GBAA's cutaway was made the "old-fashioned" way.
    Hey Jabber
    I've been doing some research into his since getting the original JSAA. This is what I've found.

    Yes that is apparently true. D'angelico was lazy and didn't want to change his templates, so he just added a cut away and covered the excess wood, with binding. D'aquisto didn't like this method and thus his guitars don't have that style.
    In a way you could then say that there are two schools of archtop top carving. The Epipohone/Old Gibson way, or the D'angelico/Gibson(post JS) way.

    So I was happy going along safe in this knowledge, until I saw this!

    Guild Benedetto AA vs GBJS?-image4-4037458100-jpeg

    That pic shows Johnny playing one of his D'angelico's with the Epiphone style cutaway/top carve.

    So either the pic isn't showing the angle properly or D'angelico did change his moulds and did update his top carves.

    My conclusion is then, that Johnny really liked the one that had the cruder top carve and thicker binding (perhaps the one he lost in the fire)? And kept that in mind when he went to Guild. Guild back then of course being full of old Epipohone boys said "no".
    Or if you want to be cynical, Johnny saw it as a way of differentiating himself from the crowd and tied it in as his own design feature.

    If you look at how Gibson was doing cutaways before that, you can see they were making them in the Epiphone/Gibson way.

    Guild Benedetto AA vs GBJS?-fiucuzesgamiwyo3p87r-4106950242-jpeg

    Which means Johnny Smith is responsible for all Gibson solid tops being carved in the 'lazy D'angelico' fashion from then onwards.

    Personally I don't like the extra thick binding and that style of carving. It doesn't allow you to get as an elegant shape to the top plate. You can't create a recurve in the area or allow the diaphragm idea to work effectively.
    On the other foot, it does allow the top to stay high and the body deeper in the neck area which could give Gibson a slight deeper, potentially richer sound in a similar body size.

    They both make for great Archtops.

  9. #8

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    IMO, most of the Johnny Smith guitars, whether from Guild, Gibson, Heritage or Fender/Guild/Benedetto are fine guitars. There are dogs among them (Johhny Smith left both Gibson and Heritage due to quality control issues) so as always, buyer beware. The one big difference between them is scale length. The original Guilds had a 24.75 scale length, the Gibson and Heritage had a 25 scale length and the Guild/Benedettos had a 25 5/8 (some have been measured at 25 9/16) scale length. The diffrent scale length makes a huge difference in feel. A buyer should know what scale length is his/her preference and buy accordingly. Also beware of diffrent nut sizes. They can range from 1 5/8 to 1 3/4.

    The Gibson variation is the one that Johnny Smith played the most and I think that, and the fact that their price is the highest, proves that they are the most desireable.

  10. #9

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    While many have said the 25 9/16 scale is too long, it is actually slightly shorter than a classical guitar's scale.

    -Charley

  11. #10

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    25 9/16" = 649,288mm

    classic guitar scale = 650mm


  12. #11

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  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    IMO, (Johhny Smith left both Gibson and Heritage due to quality control issues) so as always, buyer beware.
    I bought two JS models from Johnny in the late 1980s and spent a considerable amount of time on the phone with him. I asked him point blank why he left Gibson and he told me that it had nothing to do with quality, but everything to do with quantity (and $$$). After leaving Kalamazoo Gibson had virtually no archtop-building capability for several years. Johnny asked them to commit to building and selling a number of JS guitars (can't remember if he said 25 or 50) and they told him they couldn't, so he went to Heritage, who did make that commitment.

    Since I learned this directly from him I'm reasonably sure it's the truth even though he'd said otherwise in interviews.

    Danny W.

  14. #13

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    Danny I can confirm that Gibson after the move had major problems with the cutting jig they used for archtop top cutting. Apparently it was quite old and too worn out. I ordered my L5 in mid ‘87. It didn’t pop out of Hutch’s hands till Dec 89 and I was told that the delays all had to do with rebuilding that cutting jig. Or whatever it’s called). I don’t recall hearing about any significant deliveries of archtops 87-89. The store owner I ordered from knew the Gibson rep pretty well, we got good info from him.
    Jim Triggs was there at that time, learned the cutting jig story from a phone call with him.
    jk

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danny W.
    I bought two JS models from Johnny in the late 1980s and spent a considerable amount of time on the phone with him. I asked him point blank why he left Gibson and he told me that it had nothing to do with quality, but everything to do with quantity (and $$$). After leaving Kalamazoo Gibson had virtually no archtop-building capability for several years. Johnny asked them to commit to building and selling a number of JS guitars (can't remember if he said 25 or 50) and they told him they couldn't, so he went to Heritage, who did make that commitment.

    Since I learned this directly from him I'm reasonably sure it's the truth even though he'd said otherwise in interviews.

    Danny W.
    Also possible that he had different feelings and different concerns on different days, like most of us, and the answer may have depended upon who asked and when. But this is a really interesting thing that you bring up and, I have to say, it makes a lot of sense. After all, Johnny was a businessman with business interests to look after.

    I have only played two GJSes, one made 80-81 and I don't know for sure about the other but probably not before mid-70s. While they sounded a bit different the feel was pretty similar; this was also 40 years ago so take that with a grain of salt. Wonderful guitars, both of them.

  16. #15

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    Thanks for all the really informative responses.

    However, I was hoping for some opinions on the Guild BAA currently on Reverb.

    Stunning 2000 Guild/Benedetto Artist Award Signature Model | Reverb

  17. #16

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    Hi Charley. I have not played a Guild Benedetto JS AA, but I own the near identical twin to the guitar you are considering. Mine is a Benedetto Artist Award from 2001, one of the last ones made in Westerley. It has exactly the same burst finish and pickup, inlays, bindings etc. It is simply a spectacular archtop. It is aesthetically beautiful, a work of art. It is also great sounding and a pleasure to play. It has a very warm, rich and mellow jazz tone, which I prefer. If you are looking for bright and crisp, this is not the guitar for that, unless you are willing to replace the pickup. I can't guarantee it, but I doubt you would regret buying it. Good luck!
    Len

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Len R
    Hi Charley. I have not played a Guild Benedetto JS AA, but I own the near identical twin to the guitar you are considering. Mine is a Benedetto Artist Award from 2001, one of the last ones made in Westerley. It has exactly the same burst finish and pickup, inlays, bindings etc. It is simply a spectacular archtop. It is aesthetically beautiful, a work of art. It is also great sounding and a pleasure to play. It has a very warm, rich and mellow jazz tone, which I prefer. If you are looking for bright and crisp, this is not the guitar for that, unless you are willing to replace the pickup. I can't guarantee it, but I doubt you would regret buying it. Good luck!
    Len
    Thank you. I was hoping for a modern archtop sound with more bottom end than the typical Archtop with a bit of flattop flavor.

    I don't think this a JS, just AA. The extra strap pin is odd...

    How is it acoustically?

    Regards

    Charley

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by charleyrich99
    Thank you. I was hoping for a modern archtop sound with more bottom end than the typical Archtop with a bit of flattop flavor.

    I don't think this a JS, just AA. The extra strap pin is odd...

    How is it acoustically?

    Regards

    Charley
    Charley,

    I owned two of the Westerly built Benedetto Artist Awards (one from 2000 and the other from 2001). One was acoustically loud (the later one), the other was quite quiet. I found the extra long 25 5/8 scale length to be a bother and also found the Benedetto pickup to be less than perfectly balanced, so neither of those two guitars was a long term keeper for me. HTH

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    Charley,

    I owned two of the Westerly built Benedetto Artist Awards (one from 2000 and the other from 2001). One was acoustically loud (the later one), the other was quite quiet. I found the extra long 25 5/8 scale length to be a bother and also found the Benedetto pickup to be less than perfectly balanced, so neither of those two guitars was a long term keeper for me. HTH
    So darn hard to buy a high-end guitar online without first playing the specific instrument...

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by charleyrich99
    Thank you. I was hoping for a modern archtop sound with more bottom end than the typical Archtop with a bit of flattop flavor.

    I don't think this a JS, just AA. The extra strap pin is odd...

    How is it acoustically?

    Regards

    Charley
    How it is acoustically depends on many factors. Type of strings, gauge of strings, picking style, type of pick, etc. But if you are looking for a modern archtop sound with a bit of flattop flavor, I don't think you will get it from that guitar. If it is like mine, it will be more on the dark and warm side. I have a number of archtops and my AA is the darkest sounding. Here is a link to a video of my AA being used as a rhythm guitar on Chet Atkins' version of Avalon. My friend Don Cerce is playing rhythm. Doesn't give you a sense of how it sounds without an amp, but it's something... Hope it helps.



    Len





    Len

  22. #21

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    I have owed 2 Guild AA and like SS says they were ok but did not inspire me to play. They were fine guitars a sunburst from the mid 70's and and blond Westerly I think from 1988. The older had a bit better acoustic sound and frankly they just underwhelmed me. In contrast I have 2003 L5c that is way beyond either of those Guilds and I cannot stop playing it. Really if the guitar calls you to pick it up and play it then that is the one to get.

  23. #22

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    Some great playing! Thanks for the sound clip!

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by charleyrich99
    So darn hard to buy a high-end guitar online without first playing the specific instrument...
    Yes it is! I went through a bit of a leap in faith on a custom build. It worked out great for me, but one thing I can say to echo the previous comment is to know the neck specifications that you want. Do you want the shorter Gibson scale? Standard Gibson width? Or an L5 longer scale? Or a JS 25” scale?

    Those are the things that most affect the feel of the guitar, and can’t be changed later.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by bluejaybill
    Yes it is! I went through a bit of a leap in faith on a custom build. It worked out great for me, but one thing I can say to echo the previous comment is to know the neck specifications that you want. Do you want the shorter Gibson scale? Standard Gibson width? Or an L5 longer scale? Or a JS 25” scale?

    Those are the things that most affect the feel of the guitar, and can’t be changed later.
    The scale doesn't bother me much. I switch regularly between 24 1/2 archtop and solid body 25 1/2 scale.

    Its the sound that is the biggest variable to me. I have been considering a custom Stephen Holst build, but the risk it will be a dud sound-wise is slowing me down from placing the order.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by charleyrich99
    Thank you. I was hoping for a modern archtop sound with more bottom end than the typical Archtop with a bit of flattop flavor.

    I don't think this a JS, just AA. The extra strap pin is odd...

    How is it acoustically?

    Regards

    Charley
    I took the 11 flats off the GJSA and put on a set of 12 half wounds and the guitar totally changed.
    My main observation is that playing it with fingers doesn't do the guitar justice. When you use a pick, the guitar leaps into life.
    I would put it firmly in the acoustic Archtop bracket. It has the bark and bite of a traditional parallel braced pre 60's Archtop but can also become very mellow and responsive if played closer to the neck.
    Put the pick down and it struggles to produce much volume and you are left feeling like it wants to give you more.

    It is an exceptionally beautiful Archtop. The shape and carve is beyond what you'll get at Gibson (unless you buy a Citation but even then, I've not seen that level of recurve). Bob clearly took time to make sure the tops and backs were designed to his specifications.
    I think Bob's would be more refined however.
    It's a different class of guitar but that doesn't mean it's better and I can tell it is divisive, because it divided opinion in myself.

    I wouldn't call it modern but with half wounds, it does sound like a flat top in Archtop form so in this regard, you might be well pleased.

    Imo with a few changes the guitar could be a 9 all day. Right now it's a slightly confusing but promising 7.
    I give it an acoustic ratting of 8.5 which is very high.
    Bare in mind I see 9 - 10 as being given to the greatest handful of Archtops ever made.

    You'll have to excuse me, I've only played about 10 hours worth of guitar in the last 5 years so pretty out of shape.

    Last edited by ArchtopHeaven; 06-19-2022 at 04:09 PM.