10/19/2015

1961 Gibson B-45-12 Slope Dread 12-String Guitar




This is a consignor's nice old 12-string and it happens to be the early, rare version of the B-45-12 with the standard J-45/J-50 slope dreadnought body rather than the flattened-shoulder standard dread shape. This is a plus! It sounds enormous and has a good "Leadbelly thump" to its voice. Due to the x-bracing, however, it's also a bit more sophisticated tonally and has a creamier top-end and good, gelled chordal sound. The owner of the guitar shared this video with me, which features not one but two of these guitars in the natural-top version:


There's really nothing not to like about it -- it's very clean, sounds awesome, and has that classic cherry sunburst finish -- gleaming and gorgeous. Everything on it is original, too, right down to the Kluson Deluxe tuners and "diamond" trapeze tailpiece. It's in good shape and only has one 2" tight hairline crack on the lower bout and a 1" tiny hairline (invisible) at the very top "left" of the pickguard next to the fretboard extension.



How about that, right?

Work included regluing 3 top braces, a fret level/dress, full compensation of the ebony saddle, glue-job on that one top hairline crack next to the tailpiece, cleaning, and setup. The guitar plays perfectly with 3/32" E&A and 1/16" DGB&E string action at the 12th fret.

The neck is straight, the truss functions, and this has a 2" nut width but a mild-feeling C-shaped neck profile and radiused board. The top is solid spruce (two-piece) and the back, sides, and neck are solid mahogany. The board and bridge are both Brazilian rosewood and the binding at the top edge is multi-ply like a J-50.


The headstock, massive as it is, has a cool two-diamond pearloid inlay. Note original synthetic nut and truss cover.




The neck feels great -- you'll notice in the soundclip that I chuckle a few times as I'm not used to being able to play a barred D chord at the 10th fret on a 12-string -- among other things. This plays quick and easy and the generous spacing means chords up and down the neck feel great.

The standard 24 3/4" Gibson scale helps, of course.




Gibson was really smart to use this adjustable-saddle/glued-base bridge. I love the design. It takes the good of a tailpiece setup and mixes it with the additional warmth and richness provided by a bigger glued bridge. The adjustability meant that, of course, action height was a breeze to dial-in and will be easy to adjust as the seasons change. The ebony (rather than synthetic or ceramic) and rosewood variants of these adjustable saddles are always decent but the others -- ick.

I also admire Gibson for not building these as a pin-bridge design to begin with. 12-strings always sound livelier and louder with a tailpiece setup and the tops (as well as bridge areas) of the guitars are generally thankful for it. The peculiar edge this particular guitar has over a Guild or Martin 12 of the same dimensions is that it maintains that volume but also retains the sort of creamy top-end sound and warm bottom that a Martin D12-20 might have.


Note the now-entirely-compensated saddle. It's not perfect (this is a 12-string) but it's a zillion times better than your average 12-string saddle in playing in-tune up the neck.

I've got this strung with standard 12-string 10s (47w-10) and tuned to pitch with zero issues.



Gosh I love that cherry!

The finish is bright, shiny, and has just the right amount of minor checking and weather-crackling here and there that you'd want to see.





Here you can see some of the minor use-wear on the back.






There's the "usual" Gibson finish cracking at the heel...


...and some playwear-induced chipping at the bass side of the neck.


This is the only "real" crack -- a 2"-ish hairline that I've glued-up. It's good to go and somewhat hard to see in general, though if you catch the light just right it pops out and sometimes you can see a little spiderwebbing in the finish around it.


The other "crack" is a tiny 1" hairline on the top next to the fretboard extension. It's buried under the pickguard and can only be felt inside between the "popsicle" brace and main upper bout brace. No worries.

The upper bout brace has a 1" section of it where there's a small "chomp" out of it. It's not structurally-worrying and I'm guessing that someone had a pickup mounted there. An old glue job was attempted on that brace, by the way, but it was among the 3 that I reglued to be "good for the road."


The guitar comes with a nice, flat-top, older hard TKL Canadian case.

1 comment:

Michael Mulkern said...
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