6/22/2012

c.1973 Gibson J-50 Deluxe Dreadnought Guitar




This J-50 was just traded in to me from my buddy Rick Redington who'd used it for some time himself and, as he likes to say, it's been "Redingtoned" over time -- nicks and dings, playwear, stuff like that. He's constantly on the go (just left for California shows yesterday) and the instruments are, too!

At any rate, after cleating up some top hairline cracks, recutting the saddle, doing a light fret level/dress, cleaning, and setup, -- and some new ebony bridge pins -- the guitar came back to life with that typical 60s/70s Gibson light touch and sweet tone.

Nice, worn-in Gibsons aren't getting easier to find in decent shape, and this guitar makes a great recording or gigging buddy. The sound is lush and full with a ton of well-defined warm bass... sort of a Gibson trademark in terms of the tone game!


Unlike the 50s and 60s J-45s and J-50s with their longer bodies and sloped shoulders, this J-50 is essentially a Gibson-necked D-18 clone with a longer, more Martin-ish scale length and the squared-off shoulders associated with 14-fret Ds. In addition to those changes, the neck also gained a "volute" at the back of the headstock for strength, a different heel shape (more Martin-y), and also the bracing changed to the Gibson "double-x" type which, while I think it awesome because it's so stable, has had many critics over the years.

I think most double-x braced Gibsons tend to have the bad reviews more because the tops were so thin and tended to deflect when used with medium strings (similar to late 60s Guilds). For this reason, and for the longer scale, I've tended to suggest to customers that own these types to use light or "custom light" gauge sets.

Then again, I think medium sets are evil anyhow, if you care about long-term survivability of a flattop guitar.


The headstock bears the original keystone-style Kluson tuners and they (fortunately) work quite well. The trussrod cover has been replaced with a koa one and the nut is bone, which I'm pretty sure is not original.


Rosewood board, pearl dots.


Martin-shaped belly bridge with compensated (non original?) saddle. While this looks similar to a Martin bridge, Gibson ones tended to be thinner and less sculpted with a higher saddle to compensate for the thinner height.


There's pickwear around the soundhole, for sure. I loves me them big old showy pickguards.


The finish has aged-in to a good medium-yellow-orange.


Right, this guitar is a solid spruce top over solid mahogany back, neck, and sides.


There's tortoise binding on the top and back edges, though the top also has some extra purfling vs. the "standard" J-50 of the times.


Cute old Kluson Deluxe tuners.


Here's that more Martin-ish heel shape. The neck is also a 3-piece type with "wings" at the headstock, vs. the earlier one-piece mahogany necks. I actually think that's a boon, because more laminations in a neck make a more durable neck in general, though one-piece necks sure look pretty.




When I got the guitar it had a fancy Fishman blender system (mic+undersaddle) installed. I tried it out and liked it, but when I did the repairs to the hairline cracks near the pickguard I needed to remove part of it, so in the end I swapped it out for a good K&K pickup which doesn't require the battery I'd always forget to recharge or replace, anyhow.

2 comments:

Zac Pelo said...

Very nice! Speaking of your personal collection, I always thought it would be interesting to see a gallery of sorts of your personal instruments.

Antebellum Instruments said...

Hi Zac, sounds like a good idea to me, though I'd have to constantly update it... :D ...it's always rotating but there's a good base of "keepers" in the mix.