5/08/2014

c.1964 Gibson B-25 Sunburst 00-size Guitar




Update 2015: I've added new pictures and updated some of the information in this post.

Ever since I played a friend's B-25 in 2007 I've been hooked on them. This one, at least for the moment, is mine to enjoy! It's really hard to find one of these guys in any sort of state that it'd be worthwhile for me to pick up and restore for resale, but this fellow popped up with an entirely-burst back seam and I grabbed it up. After fixing that I also gave it a fret level/dress, tightened up the bridge, intonated the B-string slot on the saddle, cleaned it up, and gave it a setup. Ready to roll!

Note: I've replaced the original ceramic saddle with a rosewood, compensated one. This has improved the sound a bunch and cleaned up some overtones, too.

These guitars hit a sweet spot for me: I've always been fond of the "ADJ" (adjustable bridge) model Gibsons from the 60s as they have a distinctive sound... sort of mildly dark and "thucky" sound on the low end but with an airy sort of response in the mids and highs. Combine that with the shorter Gibson scale and you get something that flirts with both flatpicking and fingerpicking extremely well. The smaller body size, rounder shoulders, and waist location make it "tuck right in" to the lap, too.

For those not in the know: Gibson's B-25 model is essentially the same guitar as an LG-2. It gives you that "slightly more midrangey version"of a  J-45 sound to a T.


Amazingly, there are no cracks on the guitar. There's tons of weatherchecking and wear and tear in the finish (as well as the disrupted area where the pickguard used to be... but I like it this way) but the wood is in great shape. Aside from the back seam and all the back braces coming unglued, there wasn't much really wrong with the instrument aside from the usual age-related woes: frets, cleaning, setup... that sort of stuff.

Note: I've added a nice lightweight "30s-style" pickguard to the top with a shape traced from a 50s LG-2. This gives the guitar some protection and some countrified style back in the equation. It looks even better in person.

The top is x-braced and compared to something like a 70s-90s Gibson, it's pretty lightly built. This is part of the reason the guitar pulls so much tone even out of a fairly light set (I like a 50w-40w-30w-22w-16-12 gauge set on guitars like these).


A nice treat with this guy is that all the hardware is totally original. The truss works perfectly, too.


Faux-pearl dots... and surprisingly... it has a 1 11/16" nut rather than the skinny-bo-binny 1 5/8" nut profile of slightly later 60s models and the back profile of the neck is more 50s-feeling than the same skinny feel I'm used to on these guitars. For me? Plusses, no doubt! It's not quite as fat back/front as an early 50s LG-2 or similar but it's not wrist-killing thin like the later-60s ones.




Gotta love the cherryburst finish...


This is the original plastic bridge. These are bolted in 4 places to the top so all you have to do to snug them down is adjust them tight from underneath with a socket. I actually have no problem with these bridges despite the plastic because all the energy is being pretty much transferred directly to that adjustable (in this case rosewood) saddle.

Being a practical sort, I really enjoy this configuration because I don't have to have a 2nd saddle to replace the "regular" (shorter) saddle when winter strikes and the wood shrinks per the usual Vermont weather.

Note: When I wrote this up I hadn't yet found out that the bolt location on the center rear of the bridge was stripped out and so I simply removed it to keep it from randomly rattling. There's still 3 bolts holding the bridge nice and tidy (wings, center), so there are no worries, but I like to be thorough.


Solid mahogany is used for the back and sides and it sure is pretty with the medium-red finish.



Thankfully, the original Klusons aren't dead yet.






The "B-25" designation back-seam reinforcement strip was unglued on arrival...


...and this bit was missing so I replaced it with a bit of thin cherry.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Enjoy!!!

Frank

Anonymous said...

Does the seam repair effect the tone of the instrument at all?

Jake Wildwood said...

Nope... back (and top) center seams spring open all the time on guitars... so it's nothing to worry about.