Gibson Guitar Board: I thought I had a J-35 - Gibson Guitar Board

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I thought I had a J-35

#21 User is offline   zombywoof 

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 06:05 PM

So would a 1936 Trojan be identical to a the first J-35s which is what I had always thought?
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#22 User is offline   String-along 

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 08:37 PM

Hi Willi,

I emailed you about my guitar and thought it was a J-35 and it was you that told me it was indeed a Trojan. BTW, I am a 62 year old drummer from Vancouver, BC.. I as I said, Willi, your the man! Thanks again.

Dave
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#23 User is offline   String-along 

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 08:41 PM

As far as hearing the guitar, I play almost as badly as I sing. I am going to see if I can find someone who could do this guitar justice because I don't play well at all....
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#24 User is offline   fredcapo 

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 06:05 AM

Can someone comment on the interior photo that seems to show the X brace with a gap and not wrapped... Is that factory? Also what appearbto be pencil marks... Thanks

#25 User is offline   willi 

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 06:16 AM

You are very welcome, Dave - the pleasure is on my side!

View Postzombywoof, on 21 October 2013 - 06:05 PM, said:

So would a 1936 Trojan be identical to a the first J-35s which is what I had always thought?

"Trojan" is just a name that surfaced in the ledgers. With the batch number 960B showing up in the ledgers along with the name Trojan and guitars with the same batch number known the existence of the model could be deduced. Till then these guitars commonly were known as early J-35 models with L-00/Jumbo features. With the existence of the only Trojan listed in the ledgers with the full number 960B-12, the one owned by Tom, the existence of the Trojan and how it looks like has been proved finally.

Now batch 960B and 961B look identical, this is what is call Trojan now: no back binding, French heel, (almost) non-tapered body, small soundhole, otherwise a regular J-35 of 1937. There might be an earlier batch than this but I was not able till then to verify the number for sure. A later batch 1078B meanwhile is documented, too.

When considering the difficult market situation in 1936, we can understand why the more expensive Jumbo was slimmed down ijn 1936 showing period L-00 features while some Jumbo construction features made it into the new model. I also can say that the models I have seen all have the so-called open book plate end Grover tuners. These tuners were used on Gibsons shipped in the second half of 1936.

The first Trojan shows up in the ledgers in October and others were shipped until mid December along with a number of Jumbos. From mid December the J-35 could be found in the ledgers while the Jumbo and Trojan disappeared. However, the actual numbers have be determined in detail further on.

We do not now how the guitars looked like that were listed from late December 1936 as J-35s. We only can tell what a Trojan is. The next batch(es) of "J-35s" show mixed features meaning a sort of transition Trojan to J-35. Figuring out more details without knowing the batch numbers is difficult. In the end we even do not know if "Trojan" only is a nick name since it only shows up in the ledgers and there were short terms or nicknames also used in the ledgers.

Taking this into account I would consider all Trojans are J-35s or sort of ;-), or maybe a short living transition creation somewhere between Jumbo and J-35 with an L-00 look. Otherwise there are "transition" J-35s with back bindings but with a French heel, a non-tapered body but with a larger soundhole ...

This is what I tried to gather with the J-35 registry, tracing back as much examples as possible to get some more information about the different faces of the model and their FONs.

Now this Trojan this thread is about still is unique since it has non-standard features and the question is what it is: a custom model, a prototype, a forerunner or just an untypical example that passed the regular number system and the books.


willi

#26 User is offline   String-along 

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 10:19 AM

What make and size of strings would be best to put on this guitar, to make it sound as good as it was made to? It has a rich and thick tone that is fairly loud, but I would like to change the strings to see if there is a big difference. It has been years since the old girl has had new strings.
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#27 User is offline   JuanCarlosVejar 

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 10:45 AM

Wow what a beautiful Trojan !















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#28 User is offline   Martin 1940D28 

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 12:34 PM

Hi Sring-along, Thanks for jumping in there about "62 year old drummer", I thought for sure I was losing my mind. That is one sweetheart of a "Trojan". That, to me, is the ultimate guitar of my dreams. Good luck with it. DJ

#29 User is offline   String-along 

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 02:14 PM

Thanks, DJ...when Willi told me that my guitar was a Trojan when I was trying to find out it's history, I almost fell out of my chair!! I've heard that when it comes to old Gibson guitars,..Willi is like E.F. Hutton...when he speaks, everyone listens!
I wish I could play my guitar well enough to do it justice!

#30 User is offline   String-along 

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 03:26 PM

Willi Henkes, with the help of Andre Duchossoir, was kind enough to track down my guitar in the Gibson ledger book. This guitar was one of the 2 Trojans listed on November 25, 1936 shipped to the Hudson Bay Co. which is where my mom had her first job and bought the Trojan guitar and "118" soft shell case. I am thrilled to see the history of this beautiful guitar right back to the day it was shipped along with the only other Trojan out of the U.S.A.. Wow, this guitar is just getting more and more interesting. I wonder if the other one is still around.??

Thanks again, Willi!

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I wish I could play my guitar well enough to do it justice!

#31 User is offline   duluthdan 

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 07:10 PM

My eyes aren't as good as they used to be - left side, about two-thirds of the way down? This is such a great story, especially for Gibson guitar geeks!
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#32 User is offline   LPDEN 

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 04:55 AM

What a great thread! I (probably foolishly) passed up a Trojan a few years back at a guitar show in PA mostly because as it was on the heels of my SJ-200 purchase. It too was in very nice condition in what the seller was the original case. What made me think of it recently as I was shopping for a new J-45 and the J-35 came onto radar that a local shop has. And then to see this thread really ties it in! The info here about the Trojan is very interesting indeed, especially the ledgers. Thanks for sharing the knowledge and images Willi.
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#33 User is offline   tvguit 

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 06:06 AM

View PostString-along, on 23 October 2013 - 03:26 PM, said:

Willi Henkes, with the help of Andre Duchossoir, was kind enough to track down my guitar in the Gibson ledger book. This guitar was one of the 2 Trojans listed on November 25, 1936 shipped to the Hudson Bay Co. which is where my mom had her first job and bought the Trojan guitar and "118" soft shell case. I am thrilled to see the history of this beautiful guitar right back to the day it was shipped along with the only other Trojan out of the U.S.A.. Wow, this guitar is just getting more and more interesting. I wonder if the other one is still around.??

Thanks again, Willi!


The confirmation I was waiting on. That's great!

So, this is the second confirmed Trojan (after Tom's)?
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#34 User is offline   String-along 

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 10:08 PM

For all the guys who wanted to hear what this beautiful guitar sounds like ....I finally got someone who can play...and who was nice enough to let me video him playing my guitar at a local music store...hearken to...

My link
I wish I could play my guitar well enough to do it justice!

#35 User is offline   Fullmental Alpinist 

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 10:18 PM

View PostString-along, on 26 October 2013 - 10:08 PM, said:

For all the guys who wanted to hear what this beautiful guitar sounds like ....I finally got someone who can play...and who was nice enough to let me video him playing my guitar at a local music store...hearken to...

My link


Wow!Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

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#36 User is offline   tpbiii 

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 11:06 PM

View Posttvguit, on 24 October 2013 - 06:06 AM, said:

The confirmation I was waiting on. That's great!

So, this is the second confirmed Trojan (after Tom's)?


No, it only means a couple of Trojans were shipped to where this one was bought -- probably right, but no fon in the shipping record. The case is even stronger because of the made in the usa label --the guitar went to Canada.

To me this guitar is shocking because of the bracing -- I have never seen anything like that from anything like that period.

Best,

-Tom

#37 User is offline   duluthdan 

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 09:16 AM

That is one fine sounding guitar. Nicely played. I note with a small bit of curiosity that the pick guard does not impinge on the rosette. The sound is really balanced and proud. "Magnificent" comes to mind. [thumbup]
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#38 User is offline   String-along 

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 10:44 AM

At the time this guitar was built Gibson was trying to make the transition from the Jumbo and Advance Jumbo models to something more affordable, so I'm sure they tried various setups before they settled on what was to become known as the J-35...the "Trojan" period. I have been told by Gibson historians that the bracing used in this guitar more closely resembles the Advance Jumbo than either other Trojans or period J-35 models. The other "oddity" is the ebony nut, which was pretty common in guitars of that era.

As far as the rest of the guitar goes, it has all the ear markings of the Trojan...period. The open Grover strip tuning pegs, French heel and "V" neck, 3 3/4 " sound hole, no back binding etc.. As far as the fon goes, somebody dropped the ball there...maybe a Friday afternoon, on the way to the party...or Monday morning following it! Custom order? Prototype? Who knows?

As I have said, my mom bought this guitar at the Hudson Bay Co. dept. store where she worked when she was 16 years old. Her 16th birthday was Jan. 6, 1937 and the only 2 Trojans in the Gibson ledgers that were shipped outside of the USA were shipped on November 25, 1936 to the Hudson Bay Co. It doesn't take Sherlock to connect the dots here.

Willi Henkes is one of the most knowledgeable and respected vintage guitar guys anywhere.
If Willi says this is a Trojan...
I wish I could play my guitar well enough to do it justice!

#39 User is offline   zombywoof 

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 11:37 AM

View PostString-along, on 27 October 2013 - 10:44 AM, said:


Willi Henkes is one of the most knowledgeable and respected vintage guitar guys anywhere.
If Willi says this is a Trojan...



If Gibson had kept more detailed records life would be a lot easier. I will always be thankful to the bunch of guys over at UMGF (and my repair guy) who figured my oddball Banner J-50 out. It went from being a guitar I thought just had the worst looking mismatched halves of top wood of any Gibson ever being made to a story of the halves of the book matched pieces being put together wrong and a burst being applied to cover up the screw up. It just endears the guitar to me that much more.
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#40 User is offline   tpbiii 

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 01:37 PM

I love your guitar and the story that goes with it -- for so many reasons! What a wonderful find!!

For a few fateful reasons, I have more interest than most.

My special interest in Trojans started in maybe 2006. I had just retired, and I was watching the Canadian version of Antiques Road Show in Nova Scotia, and a guy was evaluating an old J-35. He said it was very old, and and "it might even be a Trojan." Well, I had never heard of a Trojan -- but we did have an old J-35, one that had been local to Atlanta since the 1930s.

Well I found Lynn Wheelright article, and read it. It was a fascinating detective story but it ultimately caused massive burst of confusion that continues somewhat until today. What Lynn had found was essentially that "Trojan" was the internal working name for what eventually became the Jumbo35, and then the J-35. He found the name 39 times in the shipping ledger. He found only one -- 960-12 - that included the actual guitar number.

What was obvious to me -- and Lynn too actually -- was that this did mean they had built 39 unique guitars called Trojans (which was believed by a scarey number of guitar people) and it did not mean the Trojan was somehow different from the early class of Jumbo 35s. Now the J-35 did evolve to new specs, but it was never clear how many similar "Trojan" spec guitars were built. Well "Trojans" begin to pop of everywhere for what should have been an obvious reasons -- there were a lot of them. But the shipping ledgers in no way show the totality of the guitars in and out of Gibson and it certain did not show what the name evolution meant -- so there are always a lot more than shown in the ledger.

Well Lynn had said Trojans had no taper -- more like the Jumbo. Well that did not make sense either because Jumbos do have a taper -- just not much. So when I came home from Canada I measured ours, and it did not have a taper -- so in my mind, that was that.

Now the first fateful part -- it turns our guitar had a misread number recorded in our spread sheet. Some years later I was taking some pictures inside our J-35, and I noticed I had misread the number, and it was actually 960. I got very excited, because I remembered that FON, but I had to reread Lynn's article to discover that I actually had 960-12. Notice that reading by reading the hype, I had "proved" this was not a Trojan -- actually it is the only totally documented Trojan. This is a object lesson you should note I think.

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As I have said, my mom bought this guitar at the Hudson Bay Co. dept. store where she worked when she was 16 years old. Her 16th birthday was Jan. 6, 1937 and the only 2 Trojans in the Gibson ledgers that were shipped outside of the USA were shipped on November 25, 1936 to the Hudson Bay Co. It doesn't take Sherlock to connect the dots here
.

I totally think you are right! -- but you need to be very careful when reasoning about guitars on partial knowledge. For example the "only 2 Trojans in the Gibson ledgers shipped outside of the USA" does in no way mean that there were not more -- because a lot more instruments were made than those shown in the ledger. This is the kind of error that has led to much noise and confusion in the past. But when you add the shipping destination, you have a really strong case I think.

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I have been told by Gibson historians that the bracing used in this guitar more closely resembles the Advance Jumbo than either other Trojans or period J-35 models


Now part B of my fateful story. Fast forward to 2007 and we have finally decided to buy an Advance Jumbo from Gruhn -- a 1936 that was also an export guitar, in this case to South Africa. Well I bought it after talking to Walter Carter, and I was delighted when it got here -- a truly spectacular guitar and a true competitor for our 1935 D-28. But when I looked inside, I found a shocking situation -- it had three tone bars! I called Walter and ask why he had not mentioned this -- he said "what? AJs have two tone bars!" He asked if I wanted to send it back, but I am a sound guy and it was everything I wanted!

Here they are together

Posted Image

Trojan

Posted Image


Posted Image

Advanced Jumbo

Posted Image

Posted Image

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For all the guys who wanted to hear what this beautiful guitar sounds like ....I finally got someone who can play...and who was nice enough to let me video him playing my guitar at a local music store...hearken to...

My link


It is indeed a spectacular sounding guitar!!! I would have expected nothing less!

It is hard to compare guitars -- or judge them -- from posted videos of course. To my ears, it seem be a bit less raw and more refined in sound than the Trojans I have played. In any case, that is what I would expect from the guitars bracing. You probably can't tell much from this, but here a recording of 960-12 from about four years ago.

I think involving this guitar in the gobble-fest that is the Trojan definition mess is doing it a disservice. I think you have the 2nd stongest case ever that it left the factory under the Trojan name -- second only to 910-12. But to have that simplistic fact somehow define your guitar would miss the point. Because of the bracing -- the heart of a guitars sound -- what you have is incredible rare and unique. Every time I think Gibsons from the 30s can no longer shock me, something like this happens. There are a lot of 3 unscalloped tone bar "Trojans-like" things -- I have never seen anything like your guitar from that period. That is what makes it special.

I have a conspiracy theory for you[rolleyes]. The AJ above was built at the same time as your guitar -- maybe someone switched[thumbup] the tops.

We spend summers now on the south shore of Nova Scotia in our old family home. Do you ever come east in the summer? We do bring guitars north with us sometimes, and we could bring the Trojan and AJ if there is a chance they could meet your guitar. It would be such a kick to hear them face to face.

The combination of historical import and family history is a rare thing. You are very lucky.

All the best,

-Tom

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