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J-45 Hell A Luthier's Discoveries

#1 User is offline   Leonard McCoy 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 11:29 AM

Recently, I've been more and more into watching luthier footage, specifically of Gibson repair jobs. Here's how a seemingly straightforward repair job on a J-45 reveals to be a massive disaster coming straight from the factory, serving as a potent reminder to always watch out for potential flaws of an instrument when buying.


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"Believe me when I say that some of the most amazing music in history
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#2 User is offline   blindboygrunt 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 11:33 AM

That bear must've been going at some speed when it hit that wall
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#3 User is offline   E-minor7 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 12:34 PM

It's relevant to ask when this guitar is from - what do the double-ring rosette and the pearl-dot-less bridge tell us. .

Plus minus 1990 ?
You just can't keep coincidences down. .
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#4 User is offline   george wooden 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 12:45 PM

View PostLeonard McCoy, on 14 May 2017 - 11:29 AM, said:

Recently, I've been more and more into watching luthier footage, specifically of Gibson repair jobs. Here's how a seemingly straightforward repair job on a J-45 reveals to be a massive disaster coming straight from the factory, serving as a potent reminder to always watch out for potential flaws of an instrument when buying.




Leonard, I have been watching this nightmare unfold for the past couple of weeks. You are spot-on calling this a Gibson disaster. There are four videos to date and I will furnish the links to each. If our members watch for about an hour they will see why we all should question ourselves as to "What is the quality of my instrument?". You will see the curtain rising on the deceit taking place at the factory over an instrument that should be hanging on the wall of the production floor with a warning sign reading "You Let This out The Door, You Will Be Terminated". This starts out bad, gets worse, turns to a disaster, and right now may be the worst guitar Gibson ever made! The sad part is they knew all along what the problem was but refused to pull it out of production and just reject it and start a new build. They actually tried to cover their mistake and they had the audacity to sell it to a customer. What a PR nightmare they created for themselves. I only pray they do right by this customer. Gibson screwed the Pooch on this one at this customers expense.

Video #1 https://www.youtube....k58kn743dvxB8kb
Video #2 https://www.youtube....k58kn743dvxB8kb
Video #3 https://www.youtube....k58kn743dvxB8kb
Video #4 https://www.youtube....k58kn743dvxB8kb

I will continue to watch the progress of this repair and see what unfolds.
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#5 User is offline   j45nick 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 01:47 PM

That was seriously depressing. Apparently there is no label inside, and the only way to determine the serial number to figure out when it was built would be to sand off the finish over the serial number on the back of the headstock. This would leave black paint residue in the number indents, which would contrast nicely with the bare mahogany.

Given that the neck is apparently fractured from the truss rod, it's almost worth trying to find out the serial number. The finish is trashed in any case.

The finish is odd, the way it has lifted off in a sheet from the steam. I'd bet that's a Fullerplast finish, or something similar. This may be a guitar from about the time Gibson changed hands, or even the Norlin/Nashville era. I would lay odds it's pre-Montana, probably Nashville from the late 1980's when the slope-J was re-introduced.
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#6 User is offline   62burst 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 01:55 PM

Yes, Nick- that is what Em7 was probably wondering with his questions to dating the guitar properly first. Wouldn't the Fullerplast finish go with the paddle cut neck?

Certainly a job for a Gibson specialist- best see that the guitar finds it's way to Bungalow Bill's Hillbilly Luthiery shack; he'd know what to do.

Curious that the guitar's owner never noticed that huge upper bout crack in a place that would be right under the player's nose.


I smell fish.

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#7 User is offline   george wooden 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 02:21 PM

View Postj45nick, on 14 May 2017 - 01:47 PM, said:

That was seriously depressing. Apparently there is no label inside, and the only way to determine the serial number to figure out when it was built would be to sand off the finish over the serial number on the back of the headstock. This would leave black paint residue in the number indents, which would contrast nicely with the bare mahogany.

Given that the neck is apparently fractured from the truss rod, it's almost worth trying to find out the serial number. The finish is trashed in any case.

The finish is odd, the way it has lifted off in a sheet from the steam. I'd bet that's a Fullerplast finish, or something similar. This may be a guitar from about the time Gibson changed hands, or even the Norlin/Nashville era. I would lay odds it's pre-Montana, probably Nashville from the late 1980's when the slope-J was re-introduced.



Randy said the owner of the guitar told him it was either a 92 or a 94 but he could not remember which.
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#8 User is offline   j45nick 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 02:25 PM

View Post62burst, on 14 May 2017 - 01:55 PM, said:

Yes, Nick- that is what Em7 was probably wondering with his questions to dating the guitar properly first. Wouldn't the Fullerplast finish go with the paddle cut neck?

Certainly a job for a Gibson specialist- best see that the guitar finds it's way to Bungalow Bill's Hillbilly Luthiery shack; he'd know what to do.

Curious that the guitar's owner never noticed that huge upper bout crack in a place that would be right under the player's nose.


I smell fish.




I suspect that crack really opened up while the neck was being removed. With that Stewmac jig he was using, you tighten up on the neck heel as the steam does its work in the joint. It's entirely possible the cleat on the inside of the rim let go and the crack opened as he cranked on the neck heel.

Maybe this guitar was dropped on a concrete floor during construction, cracking the body and the neck block. It never should have been sold in the first place, but there are some interesting comments in Fabulous Flat Tops about Gibson in the period I suspect this guitar was made. Something to the effect of "there were not enough guitars going out the factory door, and too many guitars coming back in".

I know nothing about Gibson first-hand from that period. You think of Fullerplast with the paddle joint neck, but I doubt all the changes were necessarily made at the same time. You do see lacquer clear coat separating from base coat like that on the face of some headstocks, but I've never seen it do it like that on the body.

The other thing I noticed is that it's not a very good sunburst on the top, so I'm guessing pre-Montana.
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#9 User is offline   duluthdan 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 02:57 PM

I've been on that factory tour a number of times, and they only have like 2 or 3 people that fit the necks on. Skilled. Remember the past discussion of mounting holes? In addition to the ones located to assist bridge location and intonation, there are two up near the neck - beats me how anything like the video guitar could have been off-centered like that. Headscratcher for sure - but I am in the camp that looks at that thick finish as probably Fullerplast, certainly not something used for at least 2 decades.

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#10 User is offline   george wooden 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 03:00 PM

View Postj45nick, on 14 May 2017 - 02:25 PM, said:

I suspect that crack really opened up while the neck was being removed. With that Stewmac jig he was using, you tighten up on the neck heel as the steam does its work in the joint. It's entirely possible the cleat on the inside of the rim let go and the crack opened as he cranked on the neck heel.

Maybe this guitar was dropped on a concrete floor during construction, cracking the body and the neck block. It never should have been sold in the first place, but there are some interesting comments in Fabulous Flat Tops about Gibson in the period I suspect this guitar was made. Something to the effect of "there were not enough guitars going out the factory door, and too many guitars coming back in".

I know nothing about Gibson first-hand from that period. You think of Fullerplast with the paddle joint neck, but I doubt all the changes were necessarily made at the same time. You do see lacquer clear coat separating from base coat like that on the face of some headstocks, but I've never seen it do it like that on the body.

The other thing I noticed is that it's not a very good sunburst on the top, so I'm guessing pre-Montana.


When did the Montana facility start-up?
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#11 User is offline   Leonard McCoy 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 03:28 PM

I can only imagine that J-45 was a refurbish of some kind or a salvaged factory reject. I'm interested in where that's going. Tough luck for the luthier, though.

On another note, I can only recommend watching Rosa String Works if you're interested in luthier work (it's also entertaining). Jerry Rosa does hands-down one of the best luthier repair work I've seen to-date and he also films it very well (nothing compared to StewMac's short clips). I wish I was living in the States just to have access to that luthier...
1990 Ovation Legend L717 (A-bracing)
2009 Gibson Les Paul Standard Left-handed Ebony

Finely transcribed Cat Stevens Guitar Tabs (fan project)

"Believe me when I say that some of the most amazing music in history
was made on equipment that's not as good as what you own right now."óJol Dantzig, founder of Hamer Guitars
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#12 User is offline   j45nick 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 03:29 PM

View Postgeorge wooden, on 14 May 2017 - 03:00 PM, said:

When did the Montana facility start-up?


1989, I believe.
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#13 User is offline   OldCowboy 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 04:04 PM

I belive 1989 is about right for Montana. I've seen a few from that pre Montana interval that were rather bizarre.
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#14 User is offline   george wooden 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 04:21 PM

View PostOldCowboy, on 14 May 2017 - 04:04 PM, said:

I belive 1989 is about right for Montana. I've seen a few from that pre-Montana interval that were rather bizarre.


That would make this guitar a Montana build then.
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#15 User is offline   JWG4927 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 04:46 PM

Lacquer or Fullerplast, that finish damage around the fretboard extension was caused by using a steam CLOTHES IRON to heat the neck joint instead of a neck heater. What a yahoo.
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#16 User is online   ksdaddy 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 04:53 PM

Suddenly I feel like making popcorn.
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#17 User is offline   j45nick 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 05:06 PM

View Postgeorge wooden, on 14 May 2017 - 04:21 PM, said:

That would make this guitar a Montana build then.



Not sure about that. The repair guy said the serial number was unreadable. If you can't read the serial number, you don't know what year it was built, no matter what the previous owner told the current owner.
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#18 User is offline   OldCowboy 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 05:09 PM

 george wooden, on 14 May 2017 - 02:21 PM, said:

Randy said the owner of the guitar told him it was either a 92 or a 94 but he could not remember which.

If the owner has it straight. A surprising number of people I've dealt with over the years have dated their instruments incorrectly. They can be really adamant about it, too😠
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#19 User is offline   bobouz 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 05:33 PM

View Post62burst, on 14 May 2017 - 01:55 PM, said:

Curious that the guitar's owner never noticed that huge upper bout crack in a place that would be right under the player's nose.

He says in the video that the crack opened up during the process of removing the neck, with the cleat failing.

It would be extremely helpful to accurately know when this guitar was made!
> Gibsons: '22 "A" Mandolin / '66 ES 125T / '90 Tennessean / '00 J-100 Xtra
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#20 User is offline   sbpark 

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 05:57 PM

Has anyone questioned the guitar's authenticity? Is it in fact a real Gibson or a knockoff? I'm not saying something like this isn't possible from the factory. I've seen pieces of junk from other big manufacturers as well that I can't believe were allowed to leave the factory, but this one looks fishy to me. The burst doesn't even look like something that was sprayed by Gibson.
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