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The Famous Gibson J-55 That Once Belonged To J. Geils


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I thought everyone here would love to see this guitar and hear the story behind it. My friend Rich - Gibson Forum Member RichG - now owns the guitar and here's what he has to say:


The whole story is Jay collects arch tops both electric and acoustic. He had this J-55 along with a J-100 and an ES-250 because they were the only three Gibson models with the "stair step" headstock and only in 1939 or maybe a few 1940, but not sure. He had them as a set. Somebody made him an offer he couldn't refuse on the ES-250 so then the other two became not so important to him. He put the J-55 and the J-100 into Mr Music in Boston and that's probably where you saw them on eBay.


At about that time I was GASing for a vintage J-45 and I had been seeking his advice. I have known Jay since 1964 when we were at Northeastern U in Boston. He told me about the J-55 and I made an offer which he accepted. He had it for many years and it had been refinished long before he got it. The price didn't break the bank because of the refinish.


The link has a story from a few years ago with a picture of the three guitars together. Also, the good news is Jay has slimmed down since then!


Jay Geils - Vintage Guitar Magazine




Mustache bridge with "individual bone bearings" is what Gibson called them at the time according to the book "Fabulous Flat Tops."



Here's the famous 'Stair-step' headstock







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That's wild ! Individual Bone Bearings - I wonder how long those stuck around? Neat guitar, neat story.



I have seen that individual saddle on J-100, SJ-200 and J-55 in pictures. Apparently you could order it either way. There is a picture of a J-55 in an ad that I think is from 1939 that shows them. The book "Fabulous Flat Tops" says that the first "Jumbo" had them, but only a few were made. Could they be talking about what is called the Original Jumbo? I don't think you see them after 1940. The J-100 and J-55 went to the batwing bridge in 1941.

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Funny, I saw that guitar at Mr Music in Allston the last time I was in there. An absolute stunner, including the price tag (not crazy but enough to keep your hands off), so all I did was look [biggrin]


congrats on the new acquisition! would love to hear it

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If I remember correctly from the ebay ad didn't this guitar have a thinned down neck?





That was the J-100 that they were selling along with this one. It had many "mods".


The J-55 has a few repaired top cracks and an old refinish, but no side or back issues.


I have had this guitar for almost a year now. Toby just discovered it [biggrin]


When I got it, the people on this board helped me learn some things about the bridge. Thanks to tvguit and tj (I think) and others.


It sounds very balanced, but does not have that bass "thump" like my SJ.. It is loud and light. Not as light as an L-00 though!

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