Here we have a Gibson J-185 Custom Vine acoustic guitar built in 2004. This guitar has never been owned and has never been played. I just received it as new old stock from the original dealer. The guitar is perfect in every way.
-The Custom Shop has a much higher standard of quality than Gibson USA does. The finish flaws usually found on Gibson USA models are nearly non-existent on the Custom Shop models. The luthiers at the Custom Shop have more experience.
-The Custom Shop uses better cuts of wood, such as the maple and ebony cuts used for this guitar. Even the current J-200 Custom has a rosewood fretboard, as opposed to the ebony of this J-185 Custom Vine. The woods used to build non-Custom Shop Gibson guitars are inferior – trust me, I’ve owned them.
-This last item is an observation of mine, but I haven’t technically verified it: It seems to me that the Gibson Custom Shop braces its guitars lighter than Gibson USA does, giving Custom Shop Guitars a better tone. This could be because Gibson knows that the people buying Custom Shop guitars have more knowledge about guitars and are less likely to overload the top. When people overload the top, Gibson ends up paying for warranty repairs, leading them to brace the guitars slightly heavier to prevent that from happening. My Custom Shop guitars have all been lighter than my Gibson USA guitars.