The J was patterned after the famous Gibson
J-185. A 16 inch wide body with a 4.25 inch depth makes this guitar ideal for finger picking. The sound is very balanced, almost like a steel string classical guitar. A superior recording instrument for its even tone and balance.
It excels backing up a singer as illustrated by this clip of Mary Chapin Carpenter at a recent performance. Her number one, go-to guitar is her 1983 Greven maple J model. She has owned and played it for almost 30 years. Again, it amplifies well but is extraordinary live, acoustically.
Mary Chapin Carpenter writes:
I found it at The Guitar Shop on Connecticut Avenue in DC, a place owned by Steve Spellman, a somewhat eccentric guitar collector and shop owner. I did not have to talk him into selling it to me; in fact, I determined I could not buy it as I had no money. I left the shop.
A few weeks later, Gary Oelze, the proprietor of the world famous club The Birchmere, heard me talking about this wonderful guitar that I had seen at the shop. He told me to go get a bank loan, which I laughed at the idea of, because I had never done anything like that and would have to get someone to co-sign it. I had no money or collateral.
A few more weeks went by. Then Gary hired me to open for someone at the club. When it came time for me to get paid, he took me into the dressing room, stood in front of the closet and opened up the door, and pulled out a guitar case. I was dumbfounded. There in the case was the Greven. He said he had made arrangements with Steve Spellman to take it out on loan for a few weeks, because he said that if you are going to buy a guitar, you need to be able to play it a bunch. Gary theorized that if I could just play it for a while, then I would not be able to part with it and then I would be motivated to figure out some way to pay for it. AND that night he paid me for my opening slot with something like $400 dollars, as a way to get started for my Greven Fund. He literally forced me to take the money. He would not let me hand it back. It was a gig that I should not have been paid more than $40 dollars for.
I took the guitar home, played it every night after I got home from my day job, stared at it on the guitar stand, and then proved Gary right. I could not part with it.
My father agreed to co-sign a loan, I went to the bank, took out a loan for $2000. The price of the guitar was, I believe, $2500. I applied that $400 dollars to it, came up with the last $100 on my own.
So thanks to John who made it, Steve Spellman and Gary Oelze who made it possible, and the original owner, whose misfortune I unwittingly benefited from, I have been the proud owner of this instrument ever since. Everyone who has played it, from David Crosby to Jackson Browne, has remarked on how special it is.