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1974 J50------Opinions?


MissouriPicker
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There's a place called Music Gear about 5 miles from me. All they sell is "used" items. They've got a 1974 J50 for $795. I played it on Friday and it sounds strong and has that thump to it. If they were asking anything over a 1000 I wouldn't even look at it. However, Music Gear will deal on a guitar and the price has me intrigued. They had it on Craigslist for several days and it didn't sell. The problem is I know very little about 1970's Gibsons, aside from the dreaded Norlin era. The guitar has a professionally-repaired headstock and it's been played, but not beaten. Neck is straight-as-an-arrow. Nothing noticable with the finish.. I'm thinking of going up and taking another look at it tomorrow (Monday). If it sold over the weekend, I'll live, but if it's still there I'll take another look......Any advice? I like the look of the J50. I know it's very similar to the J45. I just don't know squat about the 70's guitars. I had a 79-80 Hummingbird, but it got slaughtered at a state fair and since then has lived-on as a legend. So how good it was or sounded, I really can't say, except that it's a "legend."..........Any thoughts, let me know.

Also, anyone know what the "Deluxe" means on it?

 

https://kansascity.craigslist.org/msd/5143684469.html

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still kind of a bit much for a repaired headstock 70s guitar.. (deluxe ) means a extra x brace.. :) and a plywood Bridge plate ,at no additional charge .... 450 would be tops for one of those guitars.. ..

 

Norlin messed up Gibson Big time... using secondary woods, and brainless talents to make a Good Guitar, in there opinion.. .. this is one of the reasons Gibson sunk to the bottom at that time..

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My first acoustic was a 1974 J-50 Deluxe, I got it new at a music store. Mine had a hard life, I did not take care of it. Major repairs 30 years ago for a crack in the neck just below the headstock, the bridge split and was replaced then too. Then about 3 years ago it became unplayable again and the luthier did a terrific job of bringing it back to life. Avoided a neck reset by planing the fretboard and doing a re-fret plus patching some cracks on the top. I have to say, I never really appreciated the guitar until then. It has a completely different sound than it did when new.

 

It doesn't sound anything like current Gibson models and doesn't sound like my 1965 J-50 either. For one thing, it's really LOUD. Surprisingly so, much louder than my 2008 J-50. It is kind of a big, bold sound though without the 'complexity" that many people like. I think it's a nice contrast to my other guitars. Funny, while my daughter's family was visiting over Labor Day, the 1974 J-50 was the only guitar my Son in Law wanted to play. Had the 1965 and 2008 J-50s out on stands also, but he just can't get enough of the 1974, he loves that sound.

 

So, for starters, I would take all the "Norlin haters" with a grain of salt. They do make some valid points that you should keep in mind, but you will find plenty of people with 70's J-50s that they like. If you spent some time with the guitar and liked its sound and feel, trust your own instincts. I also like mine because the neck is skinnier than current models. The nut width is the same as my 1965 J-50, but the 1974 is a little thicker (I notice this when I move a capo between them). I would never sell my 1974 J-50, but that is more for sentimental reasons since it's been through a lot with me and is one of the few things I still have from that time in my life.

 

As for price, I just don't know. No matter what you pay there are plenty of people who will tell you it was too much. Guitar Center always has lots of 70's J-50s on their site so that is one way you could get a handle. My personal experience is that they will negotiate 15% to 20% lower than the listed price if it's been around the store for awhile.

 

If you're sure you like the way it plays and sounds, see what kind of a deal you can make. That J-50 looks a LOT prettier than my beat to hell old guitar. :)

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The issues with Norlin era Gibsons are well known and have been for decades so require no further elaboration. I played them when they were new and since that time have yet to run across one I would take home. Then again, to be fair I was comparing them to Gibsons built in the 1940s and 1950s as these are what I have had the most experience with.

 

But "Deluxe" means absolutely nothing. Just a marketing contrivance. No different from a non-Deluxe guitar.

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Take a mirror and look at the big bridge plate and the braces. Then play the guitar. If you like the sound of it and can live with what you saw, the story is over. As Boyd said, take the Norlin haters with a grain of salt. I just posted this picture in another thread of the "only" good 74 Gibson Deluxe SJ ever made that I purchased new, still own and still play to this day. Mine is a Deluxe and that term has nothing to do with the plate or bracing. The plate on mine is not plywood by the way. At that price I would rely on my own eyes and ears and nothing I read pro or con here. Because of the anti Norlin era infamy it will never be salable for any real price and that is the one fact to keep in mind after examing and playing.

 

steve

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The plate on mine is not plywood by the way.

 

How can you tell as the bridge plate is surrounded by bracing? At least it is in all of the ones I have poked around in. According to my repair guy you cannot even replace the bridge plate in one of these guitars without removing one of the braces so you can get at it.

 

Here is the pic of the innards of a 1970s J-45.

 

Gibson%20Double%20X%20bracing_zps0mw8nzdx.jpg

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I wouldn't worry about repaired headstock if I were you.It doesn't have nothing to do with the sound or playability.If repair is good,professionally and if it sounds good to me.I would take it.Make sure action is not too high and plenty of bridge saddle left.Remember it's 40 yrs old guitar and you don't want to deal with the neck reset anytime soon down the road.

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I know, even though it isn't "technically" what most would call a good guitar, they do have their attributes, and a good player can get a good sound from them.

 

Looking at the pic, it looks tasteful.

 

But while I can barely see, it looks like the bridge is pretty low.

 

Nothing wrong with paying too much for something you want and will enjoy, but I'm with JIMMYBOY here in that if it isn't good enough right now, you don't want to have to put work into it.

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Thanks for all the tips. I'm not on fire to buy it, but I've got some bucks to spend so I'm looking-around. Rarely glance at "vintage" guitars, but the price on this one caught my eye. I kind of knew the Norlin era played a role in its price. I'll go and look at it again, point out what I see as potential problems and see what they say. I appreciate all the viewpoints........Got this guy about an hour from me and he's got some guitars he wants to shed, so I may get out to see him too over the next few days.....Thanks for the comments and advice.

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Guess I could say, because I know maple when I see it, but that's not entirely the case. It's per Dan Erlewine who had the guitar for six weeks in 2007.. It was a subject of our discussion at that time.

 

steve

 

Figured it out, your guitar does not have an ADJ bridge which, as I have noted before, are the ones that got the laminate bridge plate. They probably needed the stiffness to support those bridges. Even if solid though, that bridge plate is a big old block of wood. And Erlewine is the guy who, if I recall correctly, wrote that the thick bridge pads and double X bracing robbed Gibsons of their tone and responsiveness.

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Figured it out, your guitar does not have an ADJ bridge which, as I have noted before, are the ones that got the laminate bridge plate. They probably needed the stiffness to support those bridges. Even if solid though, that bridge plate is a big old block of wood. And Erlewine is the guy who, if I recall correctly, wrote that the thick bridge pads and double X bracing robbed Gibsons of their tone and responsiveness.

 

Yea, after a bit of fret work he felt I had one with which to be happy. .

 

Steve

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It's interesting, Larry. Since you grew up playing guitar when the now "vintage" guitars were easy to come by, you rarely look at that market and enjoy the fun of recent Bozeman creations. While someone like me (47) still finds so much romance and mojo in landing an older guitar than myself. I've owned several modern Gibsons and the only one I've kept has been the 2011 J-200 (I also own a newish Epi EJ160e and a 2014 Martin M36) and I still daydream about trading it for something older (or maybe newer). Or just to have some $$$ in my guitar fund. I recently added a 1999 Gibson SG, since I love electrics, too, and it's put me back at zero. For now.

 

Let us know how it goes with that J50. Any insights, good or bad. The more we can all share in each other's chases, the more our own GAS should be held in check. (Well, that's my story... [rolleyes]

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Yeah, Rob, I'm just not drawn to the old guitars. I just don't hear the sound that people talk about. I've heard some good sounding old guitars, but I can't say they sound any better than some guitar that's new or fairly new. No doubt there are some old gems out there, but there are a lot of new gems too, so I tend to look for the new ones. Besides, the money they want is ridiculous. Of course, a guitar is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. I understand the history/mojo of a well-traveled guitar, but that and a supposed sound isn't worth the money to me. I think the new Gibsons also have their own mojo and as far as the history goes I'd rather make my own. .,,,,,If the J50 tomorrow looks okay and they'll come down 150 or so, I might do it. If not, I'll live and so will they....One advantage of this J50 is that it's got an old chip board case. I can tell them to keep it and not feel I'm losing money on it. I've got too many guitar cases now, and as you know they take-up a lot of room.

 

Don't know that any of these threads help hold GAS in check though. That's wishful thinking. Nothing actually works. A new guitar eases the GAS pains for a while, but that's about it....It was these guys in here mentioning their J50s that got me interested in going to see that one on Friday. All we do is enable each other in here....lol.....and that's okay with me. [thumbup]

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Wow. I think that might be the exact model my dad owned... 1970's J-50 "Deluxe". :) He loved his, but... the headstock broke off. Ironically. Maybe it was a thing for that era? He hasn't owned a nice guitar since, but one could debate about them being nice, I suppose. I just look at it and think about all the time I spent as a kid watching Dad play his. It broke in 1995 or so, when I was 13. I wish it had survived, because I'd have liked to inherit it.

 

But, that says nothing about the sound... Sounded great to me at the time, but just like the Hummingbird slaughtered at the state fair, Dad's too only lives on in legend. He said the other day that it had been junk (or maybe he just meant compared to my Hummingbird), but he cried and cried when it broke. I don't think he thought it was junk when it was alive...

 

I know nothing really about '70s Gibsons, but if I could talk them down on the price, personally, and I had the cash, I'd go for it. :) But again this relies all on my nostalgia, which I don't think anyone else in this thread would even have.

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I passed on it, Jesse. I took the guitar over by the window and took a good look at it in the sunlight. It does have some miles on it. More than I saw when I played it last Friday. Held it toward the light and the inside looked ragged with some splinters, so I'm suspecting there's been some inside work done. I'm definitely not a guitar tech, but even my old Oahu (1941) square neck looks smooth inside. They were willing to deal on it, but I lost interest after about 25 minutes of playing around with it. Then, after they came down on price they told me someone else had been looking at it. I said "I hope so,"...lol.......Hell, I don't want it... The sound was good, but nothing I was dying for. I just don't want to spend money on an old guitar that in all likelihood is going to need more money spent on it. There are some old and awesome J50's out there, but this wasn't one of them...... Figure I'll use the money on something I actually want. And I imagine that "something" isn't too far away. Not a major rush. Could happen next week or next month. I do have this guy I'm acquainted with from the music scene around here. He lives some 35-40 miles from me and he has a huge guitar collection. He told me a few weeks ago to come out and take a look at what he has. I might. But then again, I might have to walk the dog on that day...lol.......

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The Norlin-era guitars get a lot of guff; probably deservedly, as there were a lot of stinkers. But as with most everything else, I like to evaluate things on a case-by-case basis. I had an early '70's J-50 and a '70's Heritage Custom. Both were just fine; the Heritage more than fine - it was a great guitar. One might think I just didn't know any better, but then I wasn't the only one who thought so. To each his own, but I wouldn't let reputation - good or bad - make my decisions for me. JMO.

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I've had a quite a few Norlin guitars over the years--especially when I first got into collecting and was enticed by the prices. I've never had one I wanted to keep for long or play much. I played a Norlin J-45 once that I thought was pretty good, but it was no match (in my opinion) for a WM-45 which could be had for a couple of hundred more.

 

Some of my Norlin's sounded fine and had a decent dry tone, but none of them had that "feel it in your chest" thing for me that I get from a Bozeman Gibson.

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The Norlin-era guitars get a lot of guff; probably deservedly, as there were a lot of stinkers. But as with most everything else, I like to evaluate things on a case-by-case basis. I had an early '70's J-50 and a '70's Heritage Custom. Both were just fine; the Heritage more than fine - it was a great guitar. One might think I just didn't know any better, but then I wasn't the only one who thought so. To each his own, but I wouldn't let reputation - good or bad - make my decisions for me. JMO.

Indeed.

 

Lots of very good musicians have made good music, and had good SOUND from "bad" instruments.

 

Even an instrument that could honestly be judged as a bad one, can produce good sounds with the right guy who knows how to use it. And if that guy chooses his tool, who is to judge that guy's choice?

 

Case-by-case applies to all instruments, good or bad. At times when a bad instrument happens to do as well as a good one is only ONE part of the picture. There is also times when a case-by-case isn't just how good a particular guitar compares to another, but depends on the musician making the choice, and what HE judges to be used as a tool for his craft.

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I passed on it, Jesse. I took the guitar over by the window and took a good look at it in the sunlight. It does have some miles on it. More than I saw when I played it last Friday. Held it toward the light and the inside looked ragged with some splinters, so I'm suspecting there's been some inside work done. I'm definitely not a guitar tech, but even my old Oahu (1941) square neck looks smooth inside. They were willing to deal on it, but I lost interest after about 25 minutes of playing around with it. Then, after they came down on price they told me someone else had been looking at it. I said "I hope so,"...lol.......Hell, I don't want it... The sound was good, but nothing I was dying for. I just don't want to spend money on an old guitar that in all likelihood is going to need more money spent on it. There are some old and awesome J50's out there, but this wasn't one of them...... Figure I'll use the money on something I actually want. And I imagine that "something" isn't too far away. Not a major rush. Could happen next week or next month. I do have this guy I'm acquainted with from the music scene around here. He lives some 35-40 miles from me and he has a huge guitar collection. He told me a few weeks ago to come out and take a look at what he has. I might. But then again, I might have to walk the dog on that day...lol.......

 

Woops, I guess I wasn't subscribed to this thread. Didn't see this.

 

Yeah, I don't blame you for passing either. Would not be my cup of tea were it not for Dad!

 

I shot them an e-mail, and they told me they wanted to stay firm on the price. I was not the other person that they mentioned was looking at it though because I think I e-mailed after you had been in to check it out. And after all of my fuss, I am thinking maybe Dad had a J-55 anyway, not a J-50. :)

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Jesse, I know you were not the other person looking at it....lol...and it wouldn't bother me if you were. I'm sure they'll sell it to someone. I thought the guy I was talking to seemed a bit eager to sell once I pointed-out some potential problems. Maybe it was just me not wanting that particular guitar, but someone earlier said something about not paying more than 400 or so and I think I was agreeing with that,

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Jesse, I know you were not the other person looking at it....lol...and it wouldn't bother me if you were. I'm sure they'll sell it to someone. I thought the guy I was talking to seemed a bit eager to sell once I pointed-out some potential problems. Maybe it was just me not wanting that particular guitar, but someone earlier said something about not paying more than 400 or so and I think I was agreeing with that,

 

It's a shame they won't let it go for $400. I would probably go for that (except for the fact I think I had my models confused and might not want it after all!).

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