8/03/2012

c.1969 Gibson Classical Guitar


This odd bird certainly is a Gibson, but matches no regular model that I know of. In specs it's like a C-0 with solid spruce top and solid mahogany back, sides, and (3 piece) neck with rosewood bridge and fretboard. Unlike a C-0 there's no binding and the rosette is even more austere -- just one black ring, which reminds me of the LG-0 steel string models.

The serial on the back of the headstock gives it a date of 1969 -- a year when Gibson was definitely changing up their line -- so maybe that happens to be the explanation? Browsing online only yielded one other example of this type, with a "G" stamped on the heel block internally, just like this one has.

...but initial reactions? I like it. It feels friendly -- not an arrogant or uppity guitar at all.


At any rate, it was played a bunch and then left alone, so it's in pretty decent shape, with no cracks but much playwear and a few tiny surface hiarlines at the bass side of the bridge. My work included cleaning, fret level/dress, saddle shave, and setup. I didn't have any classical strings on hand (they're on order) so I made up an ultra-light set of steel to put on it at the same tension (85lbs) as a medium nylon set. There are some Brazilian guitarists who do a similar thing with their guitars, and like them I popped on flatwound basses. This setup sounds like a more robust version of a typical gypsy-jazz guitar sound, and the slinky feel of the really light gauges (42w-09) with a wide fretboard makes fancy up-the-neck chords a breeze.

This sounded pretty good with the 30+ year-old nylons that came with it, but they were truly dead, tuning and stability-wise, so they needed to go.


Note the zero fret -- and Gibson didn't quite "get it" either (so few makers who use zero frets actually understand them), with the installation. They used an oversized fret rather than one of the same type as the others, so action was pretty high at the nut. So... I slotted the zero fret down to the right height and now it plays nicely. I slotted this to fit classical strings just fine, too, so the setup will be spot on for either type.


No position dots on the rosewood board, but there are side dots on the bass side. This has a standard classical width at the nut bu the neck's profile is a comfortable and thin (front to back) D shape.


Spartan rosette.

The top is ladder-braced rather than fan (classical) braced, which imparts more of a vintage tone to this guitar. It sounds an awful lot like a much bigger-toned "parlor" guitar from the 1920s.


This classical bridge actually has a compensated saddle like on a regular steel-string acoustic, which combined with the ladder bracing makes me wonder if this was sort of intended as a mixed-use guitar from the get-go, since compensation is simply not needed with nylon strings.


This is also a pretty hefty guitar for a classical, with rather thick solid mahogany back and sides. I'm wondering if this was intended to increase projection...? ...this guitar does have good volume, so maybe so.



Bare-bones slotted-headstock tuners as well.





Joint is still good and sturdy.




Typical Gibson-style screwed-on strap button.

4 comments:

Rolfyboy6 said...

The only constant with Gibson guitars is that there will be big variations from their catalog descriptions. This guitar was made in that period when Gibson was trying to make a "folk" guitar and cover all bases.

Anonymous said...

That bridge is definitely a replacement. I have one exactly like that one except all original. It has the original bridge which is a composite cast (plasti-wood) material. The nut is black plastic. I think it sounds VERY good as far as classicals go. Plenty of volume and surprising sustain.

Scott Englund said...

It's a Gibson C-L.

Anonymous said...

It is a C-L with black nut and plastic bridge. I bought a 1969 a few years ago.