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Damaged 1965 Hummingbird, worth buying or is it toast?

#1 User is offline   Ericcccc 

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 01:45 PM

Came across a damaged 1965 Gibson hummingbird for sale. I noticed it had cracks behind the bridge shown in the pics. Ive heard cracks like this are bad news and can't be repaired. Any thoughts on if it is worth buying or if it is a goner?

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#2 User is offline   jedzep 

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 05:08 PM

Top cracks are pretty much always fixable. There are a good five or ten other questions you'd need answered before making an offer or assessing the seller's asking price. I'm not a fan of the adj bridge or the pick guard on these, but if it has the Gibson tone and the neck angle/string height is good you have a starting point. You may want to look at what's on Reverb and Ebay to check out prices on possible similar ones, if there are any up for sale now.

Those cracks line up with the bolt holes for saddle adjustment. I would always remove the whole adj set up, including the bolt sleeves and have a period correct slotted bridge installed.

This post has been edited by jedzep: 16 May 2018 - 05:13 PM

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#3 User is offline   E-minor7 

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 05:19 PM

You should check/post some more pics from different angles. Fx the neck from the side further down toward the bridge and the top in front of and behind ditto.
This could very well be saved and made a fine vintage guitar. 1965 was a good if not excellent year. But U have to focus on the logistics.
And do notice that it probably has the narrow nut-width.

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#4 User is offline   Ericcccc 

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 05:27 PM

View Postjedzep, on 16 May 2018 - 05:08 PM, said:

Top cracks are pretty much always fixable. There are a good five or ten other questions you'd need answered before making an offer or assessing the seller's asking price. I'm not a fan of the adj bridge or the pick guard on these, but if it has the Gibson tone and the neck angle/string height is good you have a starting point. You may want to look at what's on Reverb and Ebay to check out prices on possible similar ones, if there are any up for sale now.

Those cracks line up with the bolt holes for saddle adjustment. I would always remove the whole adj set up, including the bolt sleeves and have a period correct slotted bridge installed.




Thanks for the advice, if the string height isn't good especially around the 12th fret I'm guna walk on this one
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#5 User is offline   j45nick 

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 05:32 PM

It's almost certainly fixable, but the price compared to comparable 'birds of the same vintage that don't need this type of work will tell you whether or not to pursue it.
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#6 User is offline   Jinder 

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 06:28 PM

The rather wonky right-biased position of the strings over the end of the neck, plus the two cracks either side of the neck between the fretboard and the neck would indicate to me that the neck block has moved and the neck angle is off. All of which can be fixed, but itís surgery of a not inconsequential nature and is likely to be expensive.

Iíd leave this one and fly on to other pastures. Mid Ď60s is fine, but donít rule out later Birds, my 1990 (early Bozeman era) is a stellar Bird, the best Iíve played.
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#7 User is offline   E-minor7 

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 09:06 PM

Approx 1976 ~
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#8 User is offline   Ericcccc 

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 09:10 PM

View Postj45nick, on 16 May 2018 - 05:32 PM, said:

It's almost certainly fixable, but the price compared to comparable 'birds of the same vintage that don't need this type of work will tell you whether or not to pursue it.



They are asking $1500 but considering the condition and the things pointed out to me it probably isn't worth anything near that right? Thanks for the reply!
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#9 User is offline   Dash_Starkiller 

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 09:12 PM

The saddle also looks slammed down as low as it can go. Iíd bet for sure itíd need a neck reset at the very least.
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#10 User is offline   Stubee 

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 09:36 PM

I had two Ď65 Hummingbirds, plus a later one. They can be very nice guitars. The best Hummingbird I ever played, and should have bought, was a Ď63 that looked like it had been dragged behind a half ton down a gravel road for a couple days, so looks donít mean much to me when it comes to old Gibsons.

The only real issue with early Hummingbirds to me is top sink, where the bridge rotates down inward above the bridge. From that pic I canít tell if it has that, and the whole thing looks too cockeyed to tell much from the photo angle. Iíd have to see that guitar and play it before giving up on it. Iím not sure at all that thereís evidence of a slipped neck block etc; the picture is too poor to say definitively.,
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#11 User is offline   Ericcccc 

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 09:39 PM

View PostJinder, on 16 May 2018 - 06:28 PM, said:

The rather wonky right-biased position of the strings over the end of the neck, plus the two cracks either side of the neck between the fretboard and the neck would indicate to me that the neck block has moved and the neck angle is off. All of which can be fixed, but itís surgery of a not inconsequential nature and is likely to be expensive.

Iíd leave this one and fly on to other pastures. Mid Ď60s is fine, but donít rule out later Birds, my 1990 (early Bozeman era) is a stellar Bird, the best Iíve played.



thanks,I didn't even notice those other cracks, I'm still going to check it out but its not looking good at this point [sad]
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#12 User is offline   Ericcccc 

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 11:56 PM

View PostStubee, on 16 May 2018 - 09:36 PM, said:

I had two Ď65 Hummingbirds, plus a later one. They can be very nice guitars. The best Hummingbird I ever played, and should have bought, was a Ď63 that looked like it had been dragged behind a half ton down a gravel road for a couple days, so looks donít mean much to me when it comes to old Gibsons.

The only real issue with early Hummingbirds to me is top sink, where the bridge rotates down inward above the bridge. From that pic I canít tell if it has that, and the whole thing looks too cockeyed to tell much from the photo angle. Iíd have to see that guitar and play it before giving up on it. Iím not sure at all that thereís evidence of a slipped neck block etc; the picture is too poor to say definitively.,


Im for sure going to look at it for a long time, what is some evidence of a slipped neck block? Glue around the block? Thanks for your help!
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#13 User is offline   j45nick 

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 06:37 AM

View PostEriccccc, on 16 May 2018 - 11:56 PM, said:

Im for sure going to look at it for a long time, what is some evidence of a slipped neck block? Glue around the block? Thanks for your help!



Jinder rightly points out several potential problems that could involve costly repairs. This is one of those things that if I found it at a bargain price--say, $1000 or less--I might consider it. But unless you have a lot of experience with vintage guitars and their associated problems, you probably won't be able to make a good estimate of what the repairs might cost.

At $1500, it isn't really a bargain, as far as I can tell.

Unless you have a good, relatively local luthier that you trust to give you a proper evaluation, I'd do a Dionne Warwick and walk on by.
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#14 User is offline   OldCowboy 

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 07:51 AM

For me, the width at the fingerboard nut would be the deciding factor. If narrow, forget it. It needs work, but that has never put me off with a potentially good player. Of course, don't pay more than you have to.
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#15 User is offline   zombywoof 

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 10:27 AM

I am with Jinder. While cracks are no big deal, those running down from the end of the fingerboard should be waving a big red flag in your face. Not an easy repair dealing with a neck block that has rotated toward the bridge.
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#16 User is offline   Stubee 

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 02:09 PM

 zombywoof, on 17 May 2018 - 10:27 AM, said:

I am with Jinder. While cracks are no big deal, those running down from the end of the fingerboard should be waving a big red flag in your face. Not an easy repair dealing with a neck block that has rotated toward the bridge.


Yeah. Looking at it again, I agree thatís the main area of concern.
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#17 User is offline   Ericcccc 

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 02:21 PM

Thanks to everyone who replied, I went and looked at it today and it did have the narrow nut width and the strings were way higher off the fretboard than I expected so I decided to hold off on buying it for now. It is just too big of a risk
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#18 User is offline   Charlie99 

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 04:34 PM

I bought a Ď68 natural ĎBird in nice condition a while ago. It sounded great but I couldnít get on with the narrow neck (1-5/8Ē nut width I believe). It was a nice guitar with an interesting history (purchased in the US by Dylanís security guy - an Englishman, quite famous, canít remember his name) during a Ď70s tour and kept, unplayed, ever since. I didnít keep it long as I just couldnít get on with it. Wise decision not to buy if you donít like the narrow necks. The Ď64 and earlier have wider nut widths - the ones the Stones brought back in Ď64 were these ones - maybe Ď63s. Iíve seen Ď68 ones advertised as being ďas played on Beggars BanquetĒ - they werenít!
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#19 User is offline   E-minor7 

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 06:08 PM

View PostCharlie99, on 17 May 2018 - 04:34 PM, said:

I bought a '68 natural 'Bird in nice condition a while ago. It sounded great but I couldn't get on with the narrow neck (1-5/8" nut width I believe). It was a nice guitar with an interesting history (purchased in the US by Dylan's security guy - an Englishman, quite famous, can't remember his name) during a '70s tour and kept, unplayed, ever since. I didn't keep it long as I just couldn't get on with it. Wise decision not to buy if you don't like the narrow necks. The '64 and earlier have wider nut widths - the ones the Stones brought back in '64 were these ones - maybe '63s. I've seen '68 ones advertised as being "as played on Beggars Banquet" - they weren't!

My 1968 SJ has 11/16 and is absolutely playable.

Apart from that the golden era Stones camp contained several Birds, not just the first 2 ceramic saddled cherries seen in the Goddard movie.
There were at least one with rosewood saddle and if I'm not too far off a plastic bridge ceramic saddle version as well.
In fact there are also pics of Jagger with a blonde 68'er on the web. And Richards can be seen/heard with a Norlin Dove to ice the cake.

Hope you have checked the oldie Mick uses on stage nowadays. The quintessential Hummingbird in a marvelous state. That guitar shines.


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#20 User is offline   E-minor7 

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 06:11 PM

Btw. wonder if the one in question is a long scale model. As we discussed here recently many longies saw light of day in '65.
My CW from that year isn't.
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