Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45 Review & Prices

Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45 Review
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  • From Gibson's 2023 Artist Collection series
  • Keb' Mo' Signature
  • Made in United States
  • 6 strings
  • 25"'' scale
  • 12" Fretboard Radius
  • Thermally Aged Sitka Spruce top
  • Solid Mahogany back
  • Solid Mahogany sides
  • Mahogany neck
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Bridge pickup: LR Baggs VTC (Preamp/Active)
  • Belly Down, Closed Slot, Rosewood bridge
  • Acoustic Keb' Mo' Neck Set neck
  • 19 Medium frets
  • Grover Open-back tuners
  • Compare Specs >

Our Scores and Tone Evaluation

Playability 77
Sound 83
Build quality 89
Value for money 68
Overall Score 83
Tone Evaluation
  • Heavy Metal
  • Hard Rock
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Country
Strengths & Weaknesses
Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45
  • Made in United States
  • Expensive Wood
  • Bone Nut
  • Top Brand Pickups
  • Electronics
  • Bone Saddle
  • Solid Side Wood
  • Solid Back Wood
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • No Locking Tuners
  • Laminated Top Wood
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Strap Lock

Price Overview

Its average competitor's price is $3550, which means that the Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45 is within the average price asked for this kind of guitar. This takes into account all instruments of the same category in our database with 6 strings and Fixed bridge that are made in United States.

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Your feedback

Not all instruments are created equally. That's why it's important to have different opinions. Here's what our users who have played this instrument say. If you've played it before, help others by voting below!

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Is it Easy to Play?

The Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45 meets 5 out of our 8 criteria items for beginner friendliness, which means that it's a good guitar to start with as a complete beginner. This takes into account the type of frets, scale length, nut width, bridge type, fretboard radius, and neck profile to determine the easiest combination for new players to get used to.

New Player Friendliness

Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45
  • Easy-to-use bridge
  • Tall frets
  • Narrow nut
  • Comfortable neck
  • Soft Strings
  • Comfortable shape
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Short scale
  • Locking tuners

Hand Size Comfortability

After taking into account the neck profile, scale size, fretboard radius, and nut width, we can conclude that the Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45's construction favors people with relatively small hands.

Nevertheless, this comes down in the end to personal preference. Make sure you test this guitar—or another one with similar characteristics—before buying.

Big Hands
Small Hands

Scale Length

Scale length is the distance the strings will span between the bridge and the nut. It can tell you a lot about the overall playability and tone of the instrument. A longer scale length means longer distance between frets, brighter tone and more string tension—which means lower action, but more difficult bending of the strings.

Here's the Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45's 25" scale length compared to other common sizes:

Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45 Scale Length Comparison
Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45's scale length (at the top) compared to other popular sizes

This is the scale found in most PRS guitars, and it's right between the length of most Stratocasters and Les Pauls.

The scale length will affect the separation of the frets, the string tension, and even the tone of the guitar. The longer the scale, the more separated the frets are, which makes it a bit harder to move fast on the fretboard. Also, the higher tension of the strings will make them feel stiffer, so bending will require more strength. However, a longer scale also allows you to lower the action of the strings and make them closer to the fretboard, which makes them easier to press. Finally, the tone will also sound brighter with a longer scale.

A 25'' scale makes all of this feel right between a Stratocaster (longer scale) and a Les Paul (shorter scale).

Don't forget that you can also affect the tension of the strings by changing your string gauge.

More with the same scale length:

Neck Profile

Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45 Neck Profile
Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45's neck profile

The neck profile tells you the thickness (neck depth) and shape in cross section. Every difference will completely change the feeling and comfortability of the neck. This is a highly subjective thing, but most players indeed prefer certain types of necks (like Cs and Ds) because they feel nice in most hands.

It has a C type neck. C-shaped necks like this have been the most popular for the last years. The reason is that they feel good in most hands. It's generally a thin neck that doesn't get in your way when playing fast, but that also has enough mass to give your hands a comfortable grip for chords if they aren't too big.

Thin necks like this make it easier to move your hand across the neck and it helps when playing fast solos, especially if you like to leave your thumb free while playing high on the fretboard. However, thinner necks are also weaker and will need adjustment more often than a thicker neck.

However, Gibson tends to be inconsistent with the shape and thickness of their necks. So two instruments, even if they're the same model, might have necks that feel different. It's been like this for a long time, and other brands don't have this problem.

More for different hand sizes

Fretboard Radius

When it comes to fingerboard radius, personal preference will dictate which one is better for you. However, most people seem to agree that a more curved (lower) radius will make it easier to play chords while a less curved (higher) radius is better for soloing and bending.

The Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45 has a 12" fingerboard radius.

Here's an image comparing this fretboard radius to other popular choices:

Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45 Fretboard Radius Comparison with Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul
Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45's fretboard radius compared to others

This is the same radius that Gibson uses in most of their guitars. When compare to the other popular radius of Fender Stratocasters, you can see that it's a lot flatter. Guitars with this radius are usually made to bring a good balance between single-note and chord playing.

Compound radius fingerboards give the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45 has the same radius across the board.

More with the same fretboard radius:

Playability compared to main competitors

25'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
Multiscale Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.725'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.725'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.725'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.725'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius

Frets

It comes with nickel silver frets, so they won't last as long as stainless steel frets. If you use your instrument a lot, you might need to replace the frets after a few years. But this is unlikely as most people change instruments before this happens.

More with the same amount of frets:

Fret Size

Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45 Fret Size Comparison
Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45's fret size (in orange) compared to other popular sizes

Finally, let's talk about fret size. Some people prefer tall frets because it's easier to press the strings and perform bends since there's less friction against the fretboard. On the other hand, some people like shorter frets because they like to touch the fretboard when playing, or because they got heavy hands and tend to press too much on the string and alter the of the note pitch accidently.

The Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45's frets are Medium size. With medium frets, you can feel the fretboard more than with jumbo frets, but it's still easier to press the strings cleanly than with small frets; notes might change their pitch just slightly if you press hard on the fret. Also, if you need to do some fret leveling after years of playing, you'll have some room to sand them down without having to replace them.

Playability Score

Bending & Vibrato Ease 80
Chord Playability 80
Solo Playability 70
Playability 77

Tone Analysis

The type of wood and even the shape of the body will have a lot of influence in the final tone of an acoustic guitar. Here's we'll talk about what kind of tone you can expect from its specs.

Wood

Spruce wood pattern used for guitar building
Spruce Top
Mahogany wood pattern used for guitar building
Mahogany Back, Sides, Neck
Rosewood wood pattern used for guitar building
Rosewood Fretboard

Spruce Top: This wood has a light color with tight grain patterns. It's very stiff but relatively light. It's known for producing a well-rounded tone with a broad dynamic range.

Mahogany Back, Sides and Neck: This is the type of wood found in many top-of-the-line guitars, so that's a positive point for the build quality. This red-looking wood Mahogany is found in Africa and Central America and has great sustain and a warm tone due to its high density. The downside about this type of wood is that it's relatively heavy.

Rosewood Fretboard: Since the ban of Brazillian Rosewood, this has become a rare and expensive wood. It's not usually used for guitar bodies because of this, and also because it's heavy. Instead, it's used mainly for fretboards. Sometimes it's also used for necks because it's an extremely hard wood (even harder than maple). Its tonality tends to favor warm tones.

Pickups

This guitar comes with pickups from one of the top brands: LR Baggs. So you can expect well built pickups with great sound that shouldn't need an upgrade anytime soon.

Sound Score

Sustain 85
Versatility 75
Tuning Stability 70
Sound 83

Build Quality Analysis

Country of Origin

Knowing where the instrument is produced is a good way to know how well it's built. Some manufacturing countries are known for having higher quality standards. For example, most expensive instruments are made in the US or Japan, but there are some exceptionally great countries—like South Korea—that are building a good reputation.

The Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45 is made in United States. Guitars made in the USA have the reputation of being the best instruments you can get. This statement isn't as accurate as a few years ago, but you should still expect top-quality from a guitar made in this country.

Bridge

Belly Down, Closed Slot, Rosewood: The advantage of fixed bridges is that they don't require any kind of set-up. This makes it extremely easy when changing strings because you don't need to adjust anything besides tuning the guitar. Also, the fact that the bridge is directly attached to the body will help to increase sustain. The disadvantage is the lack of versatility since you can't create the same vibrato effects as with tremolo bridges.

Nut Material

Another important thing to analyze is the nut material, as it's one of the most important aspects that can affect the sound and playability of your guitar. A well-cut nut will make sure it stays in tune and will make it more comfortable to play.

In this case, the Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45 has a Bone nut. This material is one of the highest quality you can get. It provides excellent sustain and tune stability if cut well. The only disadvantage is that it's an organic material, so it's not consistent. Two different bone nuts, even if made from the same bone, will probably sound slightly different. However, bear in mind that this is only relevant when playing open strings.

More with the same nut material:

Build Quality Score

Quality of materials 81
Features 85
Quality Control 100
Build Quality 89

All Specs

Gibson Keb’ Mo’ “3.0” 12-Fret J-45
General
Brand: Gibson
Year: 2023
Configuration:
Strings: 6
Made in: United States
Series: Artist Collection
Colors:
Left-Handed Version: No
Body
Type: Hollowbody
Body Material: Thermally Aged Sitka Spruce
Bridge: Belly Down, Closed Slot, Rosewood
Neck
Neck Joint: Set
Tuners: Grover Open-back
Fretboard: Rosewood
Neck Material: Mahogany
Decoration: Mother of Pearl dot
Scale Size: 25"
Shape: Acoustic Keb' Mo' Neck
Frets: 19 Medium
Fretboard Radius: 12"
Nut: Bone
Nut Width: mm ('')
Electronics
Switch: 0 Way
Knobs:
Volume Controls: 0
Tone Controls: 0
Bridge Pickup: LR Baggs VTC (Preamp / Active)

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