Gibson Songwriter Deluxe Standard – Review of High End Guitar

Gibson has long been known for quality acoustic guitars, and the Gibson Songwriter Deluxe Standard is nothing short of a modern classic. This impressive square-shouldered dreadnought is ideal for writers and performers of almost all genres. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a High-End Acoustic Guitar

There's a whole world of great-sounding acoustic guitars out there, but every model isn't ideal for every person. Here are some things to think about before choosing yours:

  • Think about electronics -- If you perform live, it's important to find a great-sounding pickup that suits your musical style. Make sure you read about the electronics in the guitars you consider so you can choose a great-sounding one.
  • Think about tonewoods -- Lots of people choose guitars based on aesthetics, but make sure you choose yours based (mostly) on sound. Many high-end guitars have backs and sides made of rosewood (sparkling, balanced sound) or mahogany (warmer, darker sound), but there's an impressive variety of tonewoods out there.
  • Consider body shape -- This is one of the most important things to consider. For example, many flatpickers prefer dreadnoughts for their bass response and lots of fingerpickers like a grand concert or 000 guitars for their projection and articulation.

Our Picks for Review

Guitar

Guitar

Model

Price

Full Review

Main

Gibson

Songwriter Deluxe Standard

Cell

Alternative

Gibson

Songwriter Standard EC Rosewood

Cell

Alternative

Martin

HD-28E

Cell

Alternative

Gibson

J-45 Standard

Gibson Songwriter Deluxe Standard

PRO's & CON's of Gibson Songwriter Deluxe Standard

But before we jump into our review, let's look at some pros and cons:

Pros

  • It's the first Gibson acoustic to have a fretboard with a compound radius, so it has highly playable low action all down the neck
  • It's made with an AAA-grade Sitka spruce top and solid Indian rosewood back and sides for highly detailed, classic acoustic guitar sound
  • High-end appointments (like gold Grover Mini Rotomatics) and unique inlays make it a visually stunning guitar
  • The onboard Fishman Ellipse Aura pickup gives you incredibly natural sound that's easy to customize

Cons

  • This is a fairly expensive guitar, and it may be out of the price range of some players
  • Sometimes, buyers note that the guitar arrives with the action fairly high

Features and Benefits

Now, we'll dig more into the specifics of this Gibson Songwriter model.

Body Style and Bracing

Like many Gibson Acoustic guitars, the Songwriter Deluxe Standard is a square-shouldered dreadnought. These guitars offer full, balanced sound, and many have a pronounced low end. Since most acoustics are dreadnoughts, this body shape makes the Songwriter Deluxe Standard a very versatile guitar. Lots of flatpickers prefer dreadnoughts, but this versatile body shape is compatible with virtually every playing style.

The bracing on this Gibson is especially notable. Like many higher-end Gibson acoustics, it has Advanced X-bracing, a hand-scalloped bracing style modeled after the bracing used in 1930s guitars. The bracing is made of Adirondack red spruce. Red spruce is one of the stiffest and strongest woods used in guitars, so this bracing offers optimal sustain. If you want to learn more about the bracing Gibson uses on their acoustics, check out this interesting video.

Notably, the Songwriter Deluxe Standard is made using hide glue, a high-end adhesive used on most of Gibson's best acoustic guitars. The compound dovetail neck joint offers superior stability.

Tonewoods

This guitar is made using some of the best tonewoods out there. The Songwriter Deluxe Standard has a top of AAA-graded Sitka spruce. The back and sides are made of Indian rosewood. While many guitarists view Brazilian rosewood as a kind of holy grail of tone, Indian rosewood offers a similar sound and is a more sustainable option. If you want to hear the difference between these species, check out this interesting video.

This Gibson Songwriter has a single-piece mahogany neck, which helps to warm up the sound just enough. The Songwriter Deluxe Standard also has a rosewood bridge and fingerboard. Rosewood is a very comfortable fingerboard material to play, and it coordinates well with the rosewood back and sides.

Playability and Sound

One of the best playability features of the Songwriter Deluxe Standard is the compound radius fretboard. This feature gives you low action all down the neck, and it makes this guitar play almost like an electric. The radiused fretboard also makes string bends incredibly easy to play.

The round neck profile adds to this guitar's playability, too. While it isn't as slim as some very tapered necks, it strikes a balance between classic acoustic necks and the slimmer necks preferred by many contemporary players. The scale length is 25.5", which is about average.

The Songwriter Deluxe Standard is an impressively articulate guitar. It has clear, almost piano-like highs, and the low end is tight and defined as it is on many rosewood guitars. The midrange is present without being overwhelming.

If you'd like to hear the Songwriter Deluxe Standard for yourself, check out this useful demo video. This guitar's clear voice, combined with its superior playability, makes it an ideal choice for musicians in just about every genre.

When considering the sound of any acoustic-electric, it's also important to discuss electronics. The Songwriter Deluxe Standard comes with the Fishman Ellipse Aura, a unique pickup with a soundhole-mounted preamp. This system blends the guitar signal with one of four "sound images" to create full, natural sound. If you want to know a little more about this truly unique system, check out this video.

Finish and Appointments

This Gibson Songwriter is a very well-appointed guitar, and it looks a lot like custom shop models. Gold Grover tuners give it a high-end look, and the maple binding looks significantly nicer than the plastic body binding commonly seen on acoustics. This guitar also has a distinctive tortoiseshell pickguard -- it's the same wavy-edged shape you see on all of Gibson's Songwriter models.

The inlays are the mother of pearl arranged in a diamond eye design, which looks a lot different than any fretboard inlays we've seen from Gibson before. The abalone rosette adds a touch of tasteful sparkle. This guitar features a bone nut ad saddle for superior tuning stability and authentic acoustic sound.

Like most handmade Gibson acoustics, this guitar is hand-finished with nitrocellulose lacquer. This finish is designed to minimally interfere with the sound. You can find this model in one of two finishes: Vintage Sunburst or Antique Natural. To see how Gibson finishes their guitars, take a look at this video.

Social Proof of the Guitar

If you're looking into a guitar like a Songwriter Deluxe Standard acoustic, you might want to try it out yourself first. But if this isn't possible, the next best thing is to check out some reviews from other players. Here are some helpful reviews we found along the way:

Gibson Songwriter Deluxe Standard Review 01

For this reviewer, the Gibson Songwriter plays effortlessly and sounds great. The only sign of wear they've noticed is on the tuning machines, but they noted that they still perform well.

Gibson Songwriter Deluxe Standard Review 02

This useful review snapshot comes from Music Radar. It points out one of the guitar's revolutionary features -- it has the first compound radius fretboard on any Gibson acoustic. The result is a very low action that plays incredibly well.

Gibson Songwriter Deluxe Standard Review 04

This last review snapshot focuses on the electronics in the Songwriter Deluxe Standard. This guitar comes equipped with the Fishman Aura Ellipse system. While it may not e as well-known as the L.R. Baggs VTC Element found on most contemporary high-end Gibsons, this is a pretty remarkable pickup in its own right.

Alternatives to Gibson Songwriter

Before selecting a once-in-a-lifetime guitar like this Gibson Songwriter, you'll probably want to make sure that this is the model for you. In order to help you make that decision, we've found a few potential alternatives to consider.

Gibson Acoustic Songwriter Standard EC Rosewood

How it Compares to Gibson Songwriter

  • It's made from the same tonewoods as the Deluxe for classic acoustic sound
  • It comes with Fishman Prefix Plus-T electronics instead of the Fishman Ellipse Aura
  • It also has gold hardware featuring Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners
  • It has the same low action and easy playability

Review

This guitar is a somewhat updated version of the Songwriter Deluxe Standard. It also has a solid Sitka spruce top with solid rosewood back and sides. However, this version is equipped with a cutaway that allows for easier access to frets further down the neck. 

If you'd prefer a guitar with a cutaway but still love the Gibson Songwriter Series, make sure you check this one out!

Martin HD-28E

How it Compares to Gibson Songwriter

  • Modified low oval neck with a slim-taper profile may be better for players who like a fast neck
  • It also features an ebony fretboard and ebony bridge
  • It has L.R. Baggs Anthem electronics
  • Like most Martin dreadnoughts, this one has the signature deep bass response that's perfect for flatpickers

Review

If you prefer the vintage sound of a Martin dreadnought, then this acoustic-electric version might be a good choice. This guitar has a similar build to the Songwriter Deluxe Standard -- it also has a solid Sitka spruce top with back and sides made of solid East Indian rosewood.

If you prefer the sound of a Martin, make sure you take a look at this guitar!

Gibson J-45 Standard

How it Compares to Gibson Songwriter

  • Solid Sitka spruce top with mahogany back and sides gives you a mellower tone that's still responsive
  • L.R. Baggs VTC Active electronics give you incredibly natural and detailed live sound
  • Traditional, vintage aesthetic is reminiscent of older folk dreadnoughts
  • Rolled, beveled fingerboard and impeccably finished frets are exceptionally comfortable to play

Review

If you like the Songwriter Deluxe Standard but want a different, warmer sound, the J-45 might be a good choice. This slope-shouldered dreadnought isn't as bass-heavy as a square-shouldered dreadnought, and its mahogany back and sides give it a warmer, rounder tone.

If you prefer the iconic sound of the J-45, make sure you take a look at this guitar!

In Conclusion

While the Gibson Songwriter Deluxe Standard might not be Gibson's most popular guitar, this model sounds just as good as it looks. If you value classic, versatile acoustic sound and unmatched playability, we think this model is worth looking into. Its incredible responsiveness and excellent pickup system make it an ideal choice for performers, too. Click here to check it out!

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