5/27/2017

1962 Gibson J-50 Slope Dreadnought Guitar





Gibson flattops in the '60s tend to have a lighter bracing and build than their '50s counterparts, which lends them a warmer, bassier tone that still has good mids but has rolled-off highs and less punch than the older boxes. It's a perfect sound for Americana-tinged folkies, fingerpicking blues-boys, rockers, and the like, who put the tone to great use through the decade. This one, at 1962, is of the "best era" for this type of Gibson tone, as the mids and highs became progressively rolled-off (for the most part) the closer these guitars got to the '70s.

A customer of mine sent this over right after he purchased it and it arrived in pretty darn good health. It only needed a "glorified" setup -- a fret level/dress, saddle slot recut/ and replacement saddle, and a setup. It plays on-the-dot, but like many Gibsons of this era, the neck's truss rod and neck joint fatigue has caused the neck to gain a very, very shallow S-shaped "warp" that makes the treble notes a bit zippy on the GBE strings in the 10-15 fret positions. I see this on about half of Gibsons from the '60s and I think it's mostly due to the neck being thinned-up front-to-back, which causes the truss to sort of buckle-up around the 12th fret and add its own wonk to the "normal" ski-jump of the fretboard extension over time. One can work around it, however, to gain decent results!

Old work on it before I got my hands on it included cleating of the center seam, and old replacement saddle (and pickup) that were installed in the wrong place, and what appears to be a coat of pro-shot overpray on the whole thing. Still -- the original finish is right under it and there's weather-check here and there everywhere, so unless one is very picky it's really hard to tell without sitting with it for 10-15 minutes and scrutinizing.


The old, butter-yellow finish looks great.


Grover tuners were swapped-in at some point. The nut is original, however, and 1 11/16" in width. This has a shallow-ish C-shaped profile on the rear and the usual 12" radius to the rosewood board.




I'm a sucker for the "big" Gibson countrified pickguards.


This originally had an adjustable up/down saddle (probably in the awful ceramic variety) that was replaced by someone with a "normal" plastic saddle. They cut the new slot in the wrong place, however, which meant I had to pull it and recut a slot in the right place for intonation and expand it. Because the slot became wider, I used rosewood for the drop-in saddle in place of bone and compensated it correctly.

Rosewood and ebony were used in the later Gibson adjustable saddles and I, personally, think that those were really successful, whereas the early-60s ceramic saddles gave the adjustable bridges a really bad reputation.

Bottom line on this customer's box, though? Big-sounding, lush, easy to handle, and pretty. I like!













It even has an original, brown, pink-lined, Gibson hard case. That's roughly an extra $300-400 in value right there. Sheesh!


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