Gibson Hummingbird vs J-45 Acoustic Guitar: In-Depth Comparison

The Gibson J-45 and Hummingbird are two of the most iconic acoustic guitars ever made. They’re both dreadnoughts but they look, sound and feel different.

In this article I’ll take you through all the differences between the Hummingbird and J-45 so you can decide which guitar is best for you.

Quick Comparison

The Gibson J-45 is a sloped-shoulder dreadnought whereas the Gibson Hummingbird is a square-shoulder dreadnought. The larger-shaped body of the Hummingbird means it is louder and has more bass-emphasis causing it to sound warmer and louder than the J-45 which sounds brighter.

Comparing Specifications

There are three main variations of the Gibson J-45 and Hummingbird:

  • Standard
  • Studio
  • Original

Each version has some model-specific differences aside from just the body shape.

Standard Hummingbird and J-45

The Gibson Hummingbird Standard has a round neck profile and is over $1000 more expensive than the J-45 standard which has a Slim Taper Neck. Both guitars are available in Vintage Sunburst, however only the J-45 is also available in Cherry and with a left-handed version.

FeatureJ-45 StandardHummingbird Standard
Neck ProfileSlim TaperRound
BindingMulti-Ply Top, Single-Ply Back5-Ply Top, 3-Ply Back
PickguardTeardrop0.06” Hummingbird
Vintage Sunburst
Vintage Sunburst
Left-Hand AvailableYesNo
Average Price$2850$4000


  • Sitka Spruce Top
  • Mahogany Back and Sides
  • Mahogany Neck
  • Indian Rosewood Fretboard
  • Traditional Hand-Scalloped X-Bracing
  • 24.75″ Scale
  • 12″ Fingerboard Radius
  • 20 Standard-Size Frets
  • TUSQ Nut and Saddle
  • 1.73″ Nut Width
  • Mother of Pearl Dot Inlays
  • Compound Dovetail Neck Joint
  • Nickel Hardware
  • Grover Rotomatic Tuners
  • Adjustable Truss Rod
  • LR Baggs VTC Under-Saddle Pickup
  • Soundhole Mounted Volume and Tone Control
  • 0.012″ String-Gauge
  • Hardshell Case Included
  • Gloss Nitrocellulose Finish

Studio Hummingbird and J-45

There are two versions of the Studio Hummingbird and J-45: walnut and rosewood.

Both models are available in the same color options but have two cosmetic variations. The J-45 has dot inlays whereas the Hummingbird has Parallelogram inlays and the pickguard is more decorate on the Hummingbird as well. The J-45 Studio is approximately $100 cheaper than the Hummingbird Studio.

FeatureJ-45 StudioHummingbird Studio
InlaysMother of Pearl DotMother of Pearl Parallelograms
Average Price$2250$2350


  • Sitka Spruce Top
  • Walnut or Rosewood Back and Sides
  • Walnut or Rosewood Neck
  • Walnut or Rosewood Fretboard
  • Traditional Hand-Scalloped X-Bracing
  • Advanced Response Neck Profile
  • 24.75″ Scale
  • 16″ Fingerboard Radius
  • 20 Standard-Size Frets
  • TUSQ Nut and Saddle
  • 1.72″ Nut Width
  • Multi-Ply Top, Single-Ply Back
  • Compound Dovetail Neck Joint
  • Nickel Hardware
  • Grover Rotomatic Tuners
  • Adjustable Truss Rod
  • Active Under-saddle Piezo Pickup
  • Soundhole Mounted Volume and Tone Control
  • 0.012″ String-Gauge
  • Hardshell Case Included
  • Nitrocellulose Finish
  • Color Options: Antique Natural, Walnut Burst, Rosewood Burst
  • Left-Handed Version Available

Original Hummingbird and J-45

There are three versions to consider here:

  • 50’s Original J-45
  • ’60s Original J-45
  • Hummingbird Original

The ’50s Original J-45 and Hummingbird Original have the same nut width, bone nut and saddle, pickup and controls but different inlays, finishes, binding, pickguards and tuning machines.

The ’60s Original J-45 differs from the Hummingbird Original in terms of nut-width, inlays, binding, finish, tuning machines and pickguards. The Hummingbird also has a pickup unlike the ’60s Original J-45.

The main differences between the Gibson ’60s Original J-45 and ’50s Original J-45 are the nut widths, saddle materials, pickguard designs and the fact that only the ’50s Original has a pickup.

Feature‘50s J-45 Original‘60s J-45 OriginalHummingbird Original
Nut Width1.72”1.69”1.72”
InlaysMother of Pearl DotMother of Pearl DotMother of Pearl Parallelograms
BindingMulti-Ply Top, Single-Ply BackMulti-Ply Top, Single-Ply BackMulti-Ply Top, Multi-Ply Back
Hardware FinishNickelNickelGold
Saddle MaterialBoneTUSQBone
Tuning MachinesGrover StrapGrover StrapGotoh Keystone
Pickguard‘50s Tortoise‘60s White0.06” Hummingbird
Under Saddle PickupLR Baggs VTCNoneLR Baggs VTC
ControlsVolume and ToneNoneVolume and Tone
Vintage Sunburst
Wine Red
Antique Natural
Average Price$2800$2600$4000


  • Sitka Spruce Top
  • Mahogany Back and Sides
  • Mahogany Neck
  • Indian Rosewood Fretboard
  • Round Neck Profile
  • Traditional Hand-Scalloped X-Bracing
  • 24.75″ Scale
  • 12″ Fingerboard Radius
  • 20 Standard-Size Frets
  • Bone Nut
  • Compound Dovetail Neck Joint
  • 0.012″ String Gauge
  • Hardshell Case
  • Nitrocellulose Finish
  • Left-Handed Version Available

Hummingbird vs J-45: Tone

The Gibson Hummingbird produces a louder and warmer sound with more bass-emphasis compared to the J-45. This is because the J-45 has a smaller body due to its sloped-shoulders which means it tends to sound a bit brighter and more crisp.

The body shape causes the tonal differences between these guitars since they use the same woods and bracing pattern.

There are some different versions which use rosewood and walnut instead of mahogany but when comparing the models made from the same wood, you can expect the Hummingbird to sound warmer and fuller.

Both guitars sound great and can be used for strumming and fingerpicking. There isn’t a “better” sounding guitar out of the two, it’s all personal preference.

Check out this YouTube video to hear the Hummingbird and J-45 tones being compared back-to-back.

Hummingbird vs J-45: Feel

In terms of body dimensions, the J-45 and Hummingbird are fairly similar in terms of lower-bout width and body depth, however the Hummingbird has a slightly wider upper-bout and larger overall size due to the square shoulders.

There isn’t a huge difference between the two, but if you have a smaller frame then you might feel a bit more comfortable with the J-45 compared to the Hummingbird. It’s also worth noting that the Humming bird is slightly heavier than the Gibson J-45.

Check out this table comparing body dimensions of the J-45 and Hummingbird.

DimensionGibson J-45Gibson Hummingbird
Body Depth4.90”4.88”
Weight4.2 lbs4.8 lbs

In terms of the necks, it really depends which model variant you’re looking at (Standard, Studio or Original).

  • The Standard versions have different neck shapes. The J-45 Standard has a “Slim Taper” neck whereas the Hummingbird Standard has a “Round” neck profile which feels fuller.
  • The Studio versions have the same “Advanced Response” neck profiles.
  • The Original versions all have a “Round” neck profile.

I recommend trying these guitars out in the store in order to get a good idea of which kind of neck profile is most suitable for you.

Hummingbird vs J-45: Appearance

Aside from the body shape which means the guitars look different, the Hummingbird also has a more bold and lavish appearance compared to the more under-stated looking J-45.

Although there are some styling differences between versions (Original, Standard and Studio), the Hummingbird tends to look a bit more extravagant due to the pickguard and Mother of Pearl Parallelogram inlays as opposed to dots in the J-45.

On most J-45 models the pickguard is fairly small and simple looking, whereas on the Hummingbird models it is much more decorative.

The other thing we need to consider here is the color options. Here’s a list of available colors for each version.

Standard Models:

  • J-45 Standard: Cherry and Vintage Sunburst
  • Hummingbird Standard: Vintage Sunburst

Studio Models:

  • Both the J-45 and Hummingbird Studio models are available in the same color options: Antique Natural, Walnut Burst, Rosewood Burst

Original Models:

  • J-45 ’50s Original: Ebony and Vintage Sunburst
  • J-45 ’60s Original: Ebony and Wine Red
  • Hummingbird Original: Antique Natural, Heritage Cherry Sunburst

Price Comparison

The Gibson Hummingbird is more expensive than the Gibson J-45 however the exact price difference depends on the version (Studio, Original or Standard). Here is a table comparing the average prices of each guitar at the time of writing.

Average Price of Gibson J-45 and Gibson Hummingbird

If you want check the current prices, here are links to each model on Guitar Center:

Check out my in-depth comparison between the Gibson Hummingbird and Gibson Dove.


Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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