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Pre-War Guitars Co. J Model


bayoubengal1954

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Last month I was lucky enough to open for a great band out of North Carolina called Mipso. Their guitar player was a cool young man named Joseph Terrell. Before the show he noticed my 1948 J-50 that I was going to play during my set, which then commenced us geeking out on old Gibsons. Later I was watching the band's sound check and he seemed to be playing a Pre-War Jumbo, either a J-35 or an Original Jumbo which sounded spectacular to my ears. Upon closer inspection I noticed there was no logo on the headstock. Later he told me he actually owns a 1938 J-35 but he doesn't bring it on the road. Instead he plays a Pre-War Guitars Co. J Model. The company is headed up by a couple of guys in North Carolina who are hand building guitars in the tradition of mostly Pre-War Martins, but they do make the aforementioned J model and have made a prototype of a Pre-War Nick Lucas model not yet for sale.

 

You can order the guitars at different "distress" levels from "no distress" or up to Level 3. As an old guy I find the distress phenomenon silly, but some like it. Threads about these guitars on AGF and the UMGF have tended to dwell ad nauseam on the "distress issue". I don't really give a flip. If I ever ordered one it would either be at 0 distress or 1. The real question is how does it sound?

 

Here is a video of Molly Tuttle demoing one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdOmgFxuKPk&feature=youtu.be

 

Also here is a facebook link of Joseph from Mipso with a short demo as well (I'm pretty sure you don't have to have a Facebook account to view it):

https://www.facebook.com/prewarguitars/videos/623167817875904/

 

At $5000 it ain't cheap, but still very interesting. Here is the company website where you can see all the models and videos:

https://www.pre-warguitars.com/

 

FWIW Gibson in 2013 made a limited release of 100 of an Original Jumbo 1934 Reissue and there is at least one used one for sale on Reverb for $3300.00, so there is that.

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All hyperbole! For $5000 you can get yourself a pretty decent real thing that may at least hold its value. The market will never be flooded with originals. Time for a wakeup call, 'lesson ya' gut' the bucks to blow and will never be happy with what's in hand.

 

 

I hear ya, but a 1938 J-35 will run you more like $10,000. But I do have a '48 J-50 that I love in which I have a little over $3900 invested. Suits me fine. However if someone wants a late 30's Jumbo and doesn't have the $10,000, this alternative at $5000 (assuming they can spend that much) may work for that person.

 

Also it has those magical torrified tops and a braces. [biggrin]

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I admit I did go and look. My first thought was the comment that the Pre-War Guitar Co. J model was based on multiple instruments, If you are talking J-35 that could mean two or three tone bars which would be scalloped or not. Gibson was all over the place with that guitar trying to get the right formula. As far as the asking price, you are going to be into the same kind of money (if not more) to get into a Walker or a Kopp guitar. I am not sure, howwvere, they give you a choice of "distress level."

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I admit I did go and look. My first thought was the comment that the Pre-War Guitar Co. J model was based on multiple instruments, If you are talking J-35 that could mean two or three tone bars which would be scalloped or not. Gibson was all over the place with that guitar trying to get the right formula.

 

I was wondering the same thing, zw so I sent an inquiry to the company asking which Jumbo (Original or J-35) and what year was used as a template or inspiration for its J Model. I got this very detailed response from co-owner Ben Maschal that may be of interest to only you and me, but here it is:

 

"Patrick-

Thanks for your email. Our J Model is based on the second iteration of the J-35, with two tone bars, and a tapered body (3 7/8" at the neck, 4 7/8" at the tail). The primary guitar we studied was a 1939 J-35. The brace pattern is remarkably similar to Martin's during that brief window, as is the carving style. I see that era J-35 as being 1937-1939/40, with major changes coming in '41 and on down the line.

 

I will admit to taking some liberties with our J model tops that make them a little more like a Martin top, the main one being that we "let in" all the braces (notch the ends into adjacent braces). We also use a much higher grade hide glue, and put a fabric patch over the X.

 

In some ways we've had to revise the J model design more than the D and HD, as we sort of have to save Gibson's design from itself to ensure the guitar's longevity as a players instrument. Most J-35's from that era have had substantial repair.

 

Let me know if your have any other questions, and thanks for your interest."

 

So there you have it. [smile]

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Thanks for the thread Bengal.

 

I have been interested in the concept of these guitars, and am open minded.

 

However, I have reservations. One is at the end of the day I probably would not opt for distressing from a "i aint no poser" perspective. But their response makes me think quietly... and wonder if their expertise is really making good sounding Martin clones, and not Gibsons to begin with. They want to use Martinesque features, ostensibly because they want to protect consumers from the poor design of Gibsons from a longevity standpoint, but maybe its because its cheaper to do what they already know how to do.

 

I cant help but wonder, that if one wanted an old Gibson tone, and didnt want a Gibson for some weird reason, then maybe this "pre-warish" niche might better be accomplished by some boutique fellas who already have that expertise (Kopp, Walker etc)

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I was wondering the same thing, zw so I sent an inquiry to the company asking which Jumbo (Original or J-35) and what year was used as a template or inspiration for its J Model. I got this very detailed response from co-owner Ben Maschal that may be of interest to only you and me, but here it is:

 

 

 

Thanks for the info. I think if there is anything that puts me off about this company it is their rather over-the-top marketing gimmickry on the website. Going toe-to-toe with a Loar or Mastertone? That is some mighty tough talk.

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Thanks for the thread Bengal.

 

I have been interested in the concept of these guitars, and am open minded.

 

However, I have reservations. One is at the end of the day I probably would not opt for distressing from a "i aint no poser" perspective. But their response makes me think quietly... and wonder if their expertise is really making good sounding Martin clones, and not Gibsons to begin with. They want to use Martinesque features, ostensibly because they want to protect consumers from the poor design of Gibsons from a longevity standpoint, but maybe its because its cheaper to do what they already know how to do.

 

I cant help but wonder, that if one wanted an old Gibson tone, and didnt want a Gibson for some weird reason, then maybe this "pre-warish" niche might better be accomplished by some boutique fellas who already have that expertise (Kopp, Walker etc)

 

Sal, I wasn't too concerned about the "distress" issue since one could opt out of it, but your concerns regarding the response where liberties were taken with bracing are shared by me.

 

They seem like very earnest and capable guys, but it seems odd to say "We are faithfully building these guitars to the original specs except...when we don't."

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there was a pre war j model at carter vintage when i was there on june 01. Even though i am an unrepentant lefty, i played it best as i could - that low e bass thump was all there, i enjoyed it, good neck but not substantial like my '46 sj, lightweight, only wish i could have given it a thorough audition. It did not have distress marks, just the foggy finish like on my j45 vintage model (which i rubbed out soon after acquisition). Had it been a lefty i might have bought'n it, but made off with a '57 country western instead...

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