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A J200 on the bench


ksdaddy

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I had posted about a horrific dream where I sold a J200 and then got it back, only to find some severe abuse and shoddy repairs. A few days later an old dude (and friend of my father's) called and asked if I'd work on his J200....which my father had bought new in the 70s.

 

Premonition? I don't know.

 

Here's Dad with it around 1980:

 

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He sold it in '84 and THAT guy sold it maybe ten years later. It stayed local however, and all owned by friends.

 

So he brings it over tonight and as soon as I opened the case my jaw dropped to the floor. Good God, HOW does a top get worn like that???

 

The truss rod was completely out of whack, the bridge split, there's a chunk missing between the bridge pin holes, the holes need to be ramped too.

 

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In addition to the bridge cracking, the glue under the forward section had softened at some point and that portion of the bridge shifted, then the glue re-hardened. So in spite of it being a mess, it wasn't nearly as unstable as you might imagine. I placed a block of wood against the front of the bridge and gave it a couple sharp raps with a brass hammer. That section of the bridge popped loose and I was able to easily draw it back together and clamp it up.

 

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I haven't decided a plan of action as to the missing chunk; tomorrow's another day.

 

A little minutiae as to dating. It is "A" followed by six digits. A long time ago I was told 1973 was the only year for that. Since then, the popular info says 1973-75. This one has the 14 degree peghead, which I believe stopped in 1973. It has waffle back tuners while many other early-mid 70s J200s had regular Grovers. It does have the double X bracing but it does NOT have the paddle type neck joint. It also has a THREE SCREW truss rod cover.

 

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It does not have the structural problems I would have expected to see on a 70s Gibson. The neck is not twisted, the neck set looks fine and the bracing hasn't exploded.

 

I will not charge for the repair because he was a friend of my fathers and I will ask that he give me right of first refusal if a day comes when he's done with it.

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Unclamped it this morning before I left for work. I cleaned up the area where a chunk is missing and grafted in a piece of rosewood. Tonight I'll shave it flush and do any necessary shaping to blend it in with the pin holes. I'll also do a little rosewood dust/super glue filling in the repaired crack as needed. it's in the ugly stage right now but it'll be fine.

 

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Thanks for sharing these pics. Great story, too. Is this commonly done? Or do most luthiers trash the old bridge and slap a new one on there? My dad, rest his soul, used to tell me there are craftsmen and there are part replacers in every field. This is cool to see.

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Did the 1970s J-200s still have that large floating brace that was screwed to the top?

 

I think I mentioned that Gibson put one of those in my 1948 J-45 when they re-topped it in 1968. I took one look at that when the guitar came back, and out it came. The final remains were removed when Ross Teigen did the million-mile tune-up on it a few years ago.

 

It was a very strange idea, presumably superseded by the double-X brace. Talk about a tone-killer!

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Gibson started putting that big screw on brace in the J-200 the same time they made the ADJ bridge standard. I have seen two versions of that brace in 1960s Gibsons. Saving grace is that they were easy to remove. It is amazing that they would have put one in your J-45 though.

 

Now here is the question. Did 1970s J-200s have Triple X bracing? They got the wide angle X brace above the soundhole in the mid-1950s. So if that one remained and they threw in another X brace below the bridge plate that would make 3.

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Gibson started putting that big screw on brace in the J-200 the same time they made the ADJ bridge standard. I have seen two versions of that brace in 1960s Gibsons. Saving grace is that they were easy to remove. It is amazing that they would have put one in your J-45 though.

 

 

I wish I had saved the parts for reference. I can't remember all the details, but probably would if I saw a photo. When I looked inside the guitar and saw the brace, I though it was some installation jig that had accidentally been left in place. Ross Teigen took the last of it out--the wood side stays glued to the sides, which supported the actual cross-brace--when he removed the 1968 adj bridge and the big fat plywood bridgeplate that went with it.

 

It was all very strange, and it took me a few minutes to convince myself that it was actually my guitar.

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As goofy as some of that stuff seems, I never discount a guitar out of hand.

 

My '70s Heritage Custom sounded great, even with the double-X bracing.

 

My only complaint was the Martinish pickguard !

 

Mine too. A really great guitar I probably never should have let get away.

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Good looking work on the bridge. I have the same plate on that 74 SJ I hold on to ... no matter what. Again, nice touch on the bridge![

 

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And here's the bridge, 90% done.

 

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2 things

 

#1- Dude you have some skills!!!! Luthier work always amazes me. Props to you sir.

 

#2- It is awesome to see the pic of old Dude playing the J 200. I started late. I am 48 and started a few years back after a looong hiatus from the guitar. I hope to still have it and still be on my guitar journey for the next 30 0r 40 years. Gives me inspiration.

 

 

thanks for posting this.

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