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Riddle me this...


AnneS

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So I am in Charlotte, NC yesterday, and I ask to see/play this guitar:

 

1959 J-50?

 

Can this be what they say it is?

 

In addition to what looks like a re-done headstock overlay, It is heavy-ish and has the adjustable saddle, but it had NO MARKS OF ANY KIND on it. No crazing, no belt marks, no scuffs, no binding chips, no fret wear, no indentations/marks on the neck--the top, back and sides were mark-free. I could hear/see no evidence that the top was 50+ years old.

 

And the salesman said he went over it inside and out with a blacklight, looking for?? He said the FON stamped on the neck block "checks out," but he agreed that "it looks odd" and said that probably explained the low asking price.

 

So either it's a genuine 1959 in unplayed, mint condition (and boy, isn't the price a steal!) or it's something else altogether (and boy, isn't the price a different kind of a steal).

 

And the tone? Not there in the least.

 

Anybody out there heard of such a thing?

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Can't tell much of anything from the one photo.

 

But the adjustable saddle bridge became available as an option in 1956 (it became standard in 1961) so there is no reason to believe there is something inky about it being on the guitar.

 

These ADJ bridges weighed about three times more than a standard bridge so could account for a bit of extra heft to the guitar.

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If the tone isn't there in the least, I don't know that I would spend much time fretting about it (pun alert).

 

It needs an "S" FON on the neck block to be a '59.

 

The logo should be a gold stencil/silkscreen decal, and it looks (from that poor quality image) to be Mother of Pearl?

 

Fred

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From the single photo everythings looks right. Then again I'm not really sure what 'checks out' means.

 

Remember they made these all up to '69 (though the bridge was turned around at some point, there might be exceptions).

 

But if you say the tone wasn't there - do I understand that correct - then nothing was there. . .

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I agree that everything looks right, and if it were a fake, then it would be a superb one.

 

What I can't figure out is how it could've survived 55 years, without so much as a belt scratch or a fretboard indentation.

 

So assuming a complete refinish happened quite recently, it was a splendid job, but the riddle remains: how could a 55yr old guitar show no wear and no evidence of repair work of any kind? That's what I can't make sense of.

 

(The headstock overlay was not original...it had mop script, which looked pretty good, too, actually.)

 

But yes, if it had had the sound, then I'd be in a real quandary--as it is, it's just a mystery.

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Got back to the US and was able to view the photo. It looks legit to me, despite the inlay in the headstock. People do funny things to guitars, like inlaying headstocks and fretboards and other mods. It is entirely possible this is an under-the-bed special. They do exist. As has been pointed out, the FON should tell the story, and you should get that to be sure.

 

These adjustable bridges add several ounces to weight, and the un-scallopped top bracing from this era is also a bit heavier. It is not at all unusual to find a late-50's or early 60's J-45/50 that weighs as much as 4 1/2 pounds.

 

The lack of board wear doesn't bother me. I have a 1947 L-7 that has virtually no board wear, fret wear, or neck wear, even though the body itself has some hard miles on it.

 

I wouldn't give up on it tone-wise if it is indeed largely unplayed. It may just need strings, a set-up, and someone to love it by playing it in. For that price, it may be worth taking a chance if the FON can be confirmed.

 

Personally, I think a modern Bozeman J-45 TV--with scalloped bracing and an Adi top--may have more potential for tonal development over time than some of these late 50's to mid 60's versions.

 

And, by the way, my avatar is the headstock of my 1948 J-45, which has had a few mods........

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But yes, if it had had the sound, then I'd be in a real quandary--as it is, it's just a mystery.

You actually need to ask yourself how much you know about adjustable ceramic saddles compared to normal sized bone in wood ditto before making your final decision.

 

The sound would shift significantly if you exchanged the porcelain and went straight.

 

Not sure it would be louder, but it wound get a more earthy voice where the ceramic - that little special amp - sends a clear riiing into the tone.

 

Now some like it, others don't, but you have to consider this factor when evaluating the instrument, AnneS.

 

Even though it has become rather unpopular the recent years, I maintain that the ceramic flavor is one of the 3 or 4 classic Gibson sonic signatures.

 

You don't seem to hear this in the one above, , , but is there a way out with this vintage 50'er. . .

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I wouldnt be too suspect on the price- im a frequent ogler in the 3-4 guitar centers near me, and their pricing on used stuff is really reasonable. I think as big as they are, they aren't as amazed to see something rare come through as the customer might be. I agree with nick it might just need some tlc and some strings- guitar center generally (read: imo, ymmv) throws those things up with whatever strings are on there in whatever condition they come in.

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