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Advice sought on Gibson Gospel reissue Might be buying one tomorrow

#1 User is offline   dalegregg 

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 07:26 PM

Stumbled on a Gibson Gospel reissue being sold at the store I buy strings from. They want $1000, after new strings, frets touch-up, action adjustment ... whatever they do. Significant checking on the top finish, but otherwise looks good. Sounds nice. I really like it. What should I look for to make sure I'm not getting burned? I've heard these have a plastic nut ... would it benefit greatly from having a bone nut? Is the bridge stable on these guitars? Is $1000 too much? What should I realistically expect to pay for a good-condition, functioning Gospel reissue? Can anybody offer some advice, please?

#2 User is offline   QuestionMark 

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 08:05 PM

I have a 1994 Gibson Gospel Reissue in my collection. Mine is a natural finish. It's a great guitar. Sounds good, plays good, a good work horse of an instrument. Mine has a bone nut and bone saddle. I had to change the saddle on mine...not sure what the material was that was in it when I got it.

The instrument has a laminated arched back...the idea being to form a sound chamber as well as cut some expenses to produce a decent lower priced Gibson at the time. Some Guilds had similar laminated backs as did some New York pre-Gibson Epiphones from the mid-50s. The design works quite well although some purists will argue that the laminated back of the Gospel Reissue takes away from the instrument's value...which it does, that was the plan...to make it less expensive.

Playing wise and durability wise its a great instrument. One interesting characteristic is it does seem to have a slightly wider fretboard than most Gibsons do. This is not a drawback, just something that is a bit different than most Gibsons. I suspect the slightly wider than normal neck was an attempt to produce an instrument that would compete at the time for the tastes of many Taylor players...as, the instrument does have a slight Taylor aura to it, including the plain-ness of the natural model as well its pickguard's shape. At the time Taylor was pro-actively going after the church market and, Gibson resurrecting the Gospel name at the time, kind of leads me to believe there might be a basis to that suspicion. BTW, the Gospel Reissue bears little resemble to the original Gospel model from the 70s and is generally thought to be a much better instrument than the original.

I've only heard great things from Gospel Reissue owners...many who regret ever parting with theirs.

The price seems okay and in-line.

BTW...there's a photo of me playing my '94 Gospel Reissue in this video on YouTube...although I'm actually playing my CS 1964 J-45 in the audio. But, as ya can see from the photo, I at times play my Gospel Reissue at my gigs. It is a workhorse.

Photo of my Gospel Reissue in this YouTube video:




Hope this all helps your decision-making.

QM aka Jazzman Jeff

#3 User is offline   rar 

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 10:30 PM

 QuestionMark, on 23 August 2010 - 08:05 PM, said:

The instrument has a laminated arched back...the idea being to form a sound chamber as well as cut some expenses to produce a decent lower priced Gibson at the time. Some Guilds had similar laminated backs as did some New York pre-Gibson Epiphones from the mid-50s. The design works quite well although some purists will argue that the laminated back of the Gospel Reissue takes away from the instrument's value...which it does, that was the plan...to make it less expensive.


I don't think that the laminated arched back story is quite that simple. I have a Gibson J-190, which is basically an upgraded J-185EC -- the top of the Gibson acoustic/electric line in the early 'aughts -- that has a laminated arched back, so this wasn't just a cost-cutting measure. In the case of the J-190, I believe the idea was to get a more classic jazz guitar tone when playing through the mag pickup. No question that it affects the acoustic tone, but, in my opinion, for the better.

-- Bob R

#4 User is offline   bkharmony 

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 08:29 AM

 dalegregg, on 23 August 2010 - 07:26 PM, said:

Significant checking on the top finish, but otherwise looks good.


I have to wonder about this. I'm not an expert, but I don't believe a mid-90s guitar should have a lot of finish checking.

Otherwise, I've only heard great things about the Gospel series.

#5 User is offline   onewilyfool 

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 10:31 AM

Are these laminate back and sides????
"The sole of my shoes is thin, and I'll soon be on my feet again" Lonnie Johnson

#6 User is offline   nid2007 

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 01:07 PM

I have one. Mine is a great guitar. It has lam back and sides. Mine is very loud, especially for the listener sitting in front. Compares quite nicely to any H-Bird I've played. In addition to being blue, mine has the nicest finish I've ever seen on that rosewood fretboard area of the neck (where the white binding would be on a Bird..don't know what that is called). I've seen them on sale for cheaper than a thousand, though usually $800 or above. I know I would not sell mine for less than a thousand.

trivia: I bought mine from Matthew Sweet--it is featured in the artwork on his cd "in reverse."
Nid2007

'46 J-45 (script logo); 44 LG-2 (banner logo); Jackson Browne Model 1; 1976 Martin D-35 (sunburst); CA Cargo.

"...and a thousand compromises don't add up to a win."

#7 User is offline   zombywoof 

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 03:21 PM

 rar, on 23 August 2010 - 10:30 PM, said:

I don't think that the laminated arched back story is quite that simple. I have a Gibson J-190, which is basically an upgraded J-185EC -- the top of the Gibson acoustic/electric line in the early 'aughts -- that has a laminated arched back, so this wasn't just a cost-cutting measure. In the case of the J-190, I believe the idea was to get a more classic jazz guitar tone when playing through the mag pickup. No question that it affects the acoustic tone, but, in my opinion, for the better.

-- Bob R



A pressed laminate arched back is alot less work and therefore cheaper than a carved arched back..
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#8 User is offline   rar 

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 03:26 PM

 zombywoof, on 24 August 2010 - 03:21 PM, said:

A pressed laminate arched back is alot less work and therefore cheaper than a carved arched back..


True. But not significantly cheaper than a flat back which was the claim I was responding to.

-- Bob R

Added later: D'oh!! I forgot my own original point! Which was ... Even if they do cost less than a flat back, it doesn't follow that they were used because they cost less. Obviously, there was some other motive in the case of the J-190. So maybe there was some other motive in the case of the Gospel too.

#9 User is offline   QuestionMark 

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 06:35 PM

According to the book "Gibson's Fabulous Flat-Top Guitars"...it says of the Gospel Reissue:

"The reissue is an attractive-guitar far superior to the original. By using a multi-ply, arched back Gibson produced a deep-sounding guitar inexpensively, with the relatively low cost passed to the customer. In addition, the Nashville Division for years has made a similar back for its ES-175 hollobody electric model, so a ready supply of backs for the Gospel has existed."

I don't normally consider the "Gibson's Fabulous Flat-Top Guitars" book a factual reference resource...there always seems to be too many opinions mixed into the book. However, on this topic of the Gospel Reissue's back...the book seems to have some credibility with what its saying.

QM aka Jazzman Jeff

#10 User is offline   rar 

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Posted 26 August 2010 - 12:39 PM

It's interesting -- I read "By using a multi-ply, arched back, ... to the customer" quite differently, as saying that the laminated back was selected as means of getting a desired tonal improvement (viz., "deep-sounding") over what use of a flat back would produce because it was inexpensive compared to other means of getting the tonal improvement, not because it was inexpensive relative to a flat back. In other words, that the object was to produce a relatively inexpensive "deep-sounding" guitar, not to reduce the cost relative to a hypothetical flat-backed Gospel reissue. And so it seemed to me that this just tends to confirm my suspicion that maybe the back was used to improve the tone of the Gospel, while holding down cost, rather than as a cost-cutting measure.

I bet we've put more thought into this now than Gibson did when making the decision!

-- Bob R

#11 User is offline   QuestionMark 

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Posted 26 August 2010 - 07:10 PM

 rar, on 26 August 2010 - 12:39 PM, said:

It's interesting -- I read "By using a multi-ply, arched back, ... to the customer" quite differently, as saying that the laminated back was selected as means of getting a desired tonal improvement (viz., "deep-sounding") over what use of a flat back would produce because it was inexpensive compared to other means of getting the tonal improvement, not because it was inexpensive relative to a flat back. In other words, that the object was to produce a relatively inexpensive "deep-sounding" guitar, not to reduce the cost relative to a hypothetical flat-backed Gospel reissue. And so it seemed to me that this just tends to confirm my suspicion that maybe the back was used to improve the tone of the Gospel, while holding down cost, rather than as a cost-cutting measure.

I bet we've put more thought into this now than Gibson did when making the decision!

-- Bob R


#12 User is offline   QuestionMark 

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Posted 26 August 2010 - 07:13 PM

I can see it being read that way...

Whatever...I think its a great guitar...a keeper in my collection.

QM aka Jazzman Jeff

#13 User is offline   dalegregg 

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Posted 26 August 2010 - 10:52 PM

Thanks for all your input. Now, I've discovered another Gospel. It will cost me $1000 to acquire also, but is newer and in better cosmetic condition. It is a 1995, while the previous one is a 1993. Is there a significant difference between the two production years that should play into my decision? Are they structurally identical? If so, I'll buy the newer one. I have played the 1993 and it sounds like a Gibson should, very nice. I would not have the opportunity to play the 1995. Was there many "lemons" among the Gospels that I have to watch out for, or can I trust that this guitar, if undamaged, will sound like a Gospel should? I know that the '93 has a dove on the headstock, while the '95 might have the Fleur-de-lis on the headstock. I don't care, but only mention for identification purposes. I must say, I am infatuated with the '93 that I played, but the '95 looks nicer, less used, and priced the same, so ...?Any ideas, opinions, or reactions? Thanks in advance!

#14 User is offline   nid2007 

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Posted 27 August 2010 - 10:08 AM

I'd go with infatuation over looks. (so says the guy who bought a Gospel because it is blue [biggrin] ).
Nid2007

'46 J-45 (script logo); 44 LG-2 (banner logo); Jackson Browne Model 1; 1976 Martin D-35 (sunburst); CA Cargo.

"...and a thousand compromises don't add up to a win."

#15 User is offline   Doug Edwards 

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Posted 27 August 2010 - 10:16 PM

I have a '93 Gospel I bought new in '93. They listed for $1,200, I got mine for $600. It has the dove on the head stock. Really good guitar.

Posted Image
'53 Gibson J 45
'93 Gibson Gospel
Hill Country Stringworks

#16 User is offline   nid2007 

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Posted 28 August 2010 - 06:36 AM

The "Smurf"

Posted Image

Posted Image
Nid2007

'46 J-45 (script logo); 44 LG-2 (banner logo); Jackson Browne Model 1; 1976 Martin D-35 (sunburst); CA Cargo.

"...and a thousand compromises don't add up to a win."

#17 User is offline   AudioPhlake 

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:46 AM

This thread is old by now, but I joined this forum just to proclaim my love for my '93 Gospel's sound, playability and beauty. Whenever my buddy with his more expensive Martin and I get together, he bums my Gospel out of his love for it's sound. Laminate sides and back can be debated academically, but top is solid and of excellent selection, at least on mine and does it ever sound great! Dove top bracing if I recall correctly. This is a keeper for life in my collection- I stumbled on it when a friend's Uncle died and it was found in a closet. I paid $1,000 for it in 2010- it was unused, new in the case, no cracks, stored well.
1993 Gospel Reissue * 2004 Epiphone Les Paul Standard

#18 User is offline   QuestionMark 

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 09:52 PM

 AudioPhlake, on 17 December 2012 - 11:46 AM, said:

This thread is old by now, but I joined this forum just to proclaim my love for my '93 Gospel's sound, playability and beauty. Whenever my buddy with his more expensive Martin and I get together, he bums my Gospel out of his love for it's sound. Laminate sides and back can be debated academically, but top is solid and of excellent selection, at least on mine and does it ever sound great! Dove top bracing if I recall correctly. This is a keeper for life in my collection- I stumbled on it when a friend's Uncle died and it was found in a closet. I paid $1,000 for it in 2010- it was unused, new in the case, no cracks, stored well.


Welcome to the forum...and, glad to meet another Gospel Reissue owner!

QM aka Jazzman Jeff

#19 User is offline   onewilyfool 

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 09:30 PM

Just FYI...no affiliation with seller:

http://sfbay.craigsl...3483531901.html
"The sole of my shoes is thin, and I'll soon be on my feet again" Lonnie Johnson

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