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J50 Deluxe


TellyzGuitars

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Hi folks..

 

New to the forum and thought I'd give the lowdown on my J50, 1970'ish since purchasing it 6 months ago.

 

The J50 Deluxe...

 

Looks like a dogs breakfast but plays like a gem....As you can see it's had a lot of play and heavily gigged for many years apparently. The neck was snapped and re-glued 30 odd years ago.

 

When I got it the setup was all wrong everywhere. Somebody, in an attempt to widen the saddle slot by hand maybe with a knife, I guess to fit a bigger saddle, but did it unevenly both in the width and the depth, consequently the saddle was loosely fitted. With continuous heavy use the slot widened, the saddle getting a good slant on it while the bridge started to crack either side of the slot with string pressure pushing the saddle forward in the slot. Had to make up a jig to re-route the saddle slot evenly, glue the splits either side of the bridge and custom make a saddle from a blank that ended up being 3.6mm wide. The nut was a mess, a new one custom made from camel bone and set up. The bridge pin holes inside on the bridge plate were chewed out, the ball end of the strings pulling half way up the pin holes under string tension, a plate mate fabricated out of brass sorted this out. Relief set, cleaned, polished (wouldn't know to look at it) a good oiling on the fretboard and bridge, new Elixir PB 12's and bob's your uncle....I did say the setup was all wrong in every way!

 

I swapped out the Gibson tuners in favour of new Gotoh open back and the bridge pins for Camel bone. The exposed spruce on the top I touched up with a few coats of gun oil.

 

When I got it you could tell the tone was there but just seriously restrained. The work was fairly simple but made a huge transformation on the way this guitar played with a very light playing feel. It is up there as one of the nicest guitars to play and especially responds well to blues/folky/bluegrass flavours....

 

Playing this guitar, and the Gospel I have, review to follow, just makes me shake my head in disbelief at the negative attention the Double X bracing gets. This guitar is fantastic.

 

vOR1yzPl.jpg

 

mMwrA3jl.jpg

 

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Beautiful! There are some real gems out there from the Norlin double-X era. The original ‘70s iteration of the Gospel (looking forward to your review!) is one of my favourite guitars. I’ve missed out twice on owning really sweet examples and I don’t intend to let that chance pass me by again!

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Nice! Very similar to my 1974 J-50 Deluxe that I got new. Sat in the closet many years and about 5 years ago it became unplayable. The luthier did a great job fixing everything and I was surprised how good it sounded - much better than when it was new. Whenever my daughter came to visit, the '74 J-50 was the only guitar my son in law wanted to play, so last year I gave it to him on a semi-permanent loan. But you will not find much love around here for these 70's Gibsons. One of our esteemed forum members frequently says they sound like they are "stuffed with old t-shirts". ;)

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As long as you like it that is all that matters. If I listened to the opinions of others I would not own a couple of the guitars I do. I actually own a guitar that has the same double X bracing as the post-1971 Gibsons - a pre-War Regal jumbo 12 string. I love that guitar but I admit every time I play it I cannot help but wonder what it would sound like without the second X brace.

 

The one thing I would consider though is getting rid of that humongous laminate bridge plate that fills in the entire space between the two X braces and replacing it with a traditional maple plate. That thing just dampens the vibration passing through the bridge.

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Looks to have some mojo on it. The bridge appears to be shaved..........quite low and relatively flat profile..........or is that typical of the era?

 

I wondered the same when I got it. There's no obvious sign of that. Compared it to my mates Blueridge from this era and it's identical so I'm assuming typical for this era.

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Looks to have some mojo on it. The bridge appears to be shaved..........quite low and relatively flat profile..........or is that typical of the era?

 

I wondered the same when I got it. There's no obvious sign of that. Compared it to my mates Blueridge from this era and it's identical so I'm assuming typical for this era.

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I wondered the same when I got it. There's no obvious sign of that. Compared it to my mates Blueridge from this era and it's identical so I'm assuming typical for this era.

 

Both Gospels i’ve played from that era have skinny bridges too. A shallow neck angle and skinny bridge are typical of the Norlin aesthetic.

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Looks to have some mojo on it. The bridge appears to be shaved..........quite low and relatively flat profile..........or is that typical of the era?

 

Someplace in the deep recesses of my mind, I recall something about bridges on 1970s Gibsons, for whatever reason, being inlayed into the top. Could just be a fig newton of my imagination though.

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[

Most of these XX's actually grew to sound very good - yet in their own way. Glad you dig yours and will await the A/B.

 

Love the qualifier. But I am thinking a more favorable opinion has as much to do with the rising cost of 1940s and 1950s Gibsons as anything else. Same thing happened with 1970s Teles and Strats. Again, I think comparing guitars is bad business. You either like a guitar for how it sounds and feels at the moment you buy it or you do not. No way you can go wrong and it is a whole lot better approach then buying a guitar that you think you should own or worse yet one that I think you should buy.

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Back in the late '70s, I owned a early '70s Dove & Heritage Custom, and both had double-X bracing.

 

Likewise, both guitars had a sound that I found quite appealing. Unfortunately, the Dove had a very low saddle & I didn't feel like doing a neck reset. The Heritage Custom got traded away for something - been way too long to remember what it was, but it must have been something good, because I really did like that Heritage a lot!

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Both Gospels i’ve played from that era have skinny bridges too. A shallow neck angle and skinny bridge are typical of the Norlin aesthetic.

 

My 1972 SJ Deluxe has the same and I bought it new in 1974 so it's unchanged.

 

Mine has a smaller and much lower original saddle than the one in the J50 Deluxe photo in this string.

 

QM aka Jazzman Jeff

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Here's the bridge/saddle on my 1974 J-50 Deluxe. The original bridge split and was replaced sometime during the 1980's however. The saddle seemed very low to me but the luthier who repaired everything recently felt it was fine. He avoided a neck reset by planing the fretboard and doing a re-fret.

 

74_saddle.jpg

 

 

 

This neck crack was also repaired back in the 1980's.

 

 

74_neck.jpg

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But you will not find much love around here for these 70's Gibsons. One of our esteemed forum members frequently says they sound like they are "stuffed with old t-shirts". ;)

 

 

I just finished reading the history of Gibson and as I understand it Norlin very nearly destroyed the company so I get the sentiment. One theme that did stand out in my reading though is how innovative Gibson has been from the start and how that theme weaved throughout their history. The way I view it the XX fits right in the pocket of Gibson being innovative and based on my experience playing these guitars, I'm no expert but I like em!

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I just finished reading the history of Gibson and as I understand it Norlin very nearly destroyed the company so I get the sentiment. One theme that did stand out in my reading though is how innovative Gibson has been from the start and how that theme weaved throughout their history. The way I view it the XX fits right in the pocket of Gibson being innovative and based on my experience playing these guitars, I'm no expert but I like em!

Tellyz - not to put salt in your sugar-pie, but the trouble with the double-X is that the 2 cross-constructions take too hard a grip on the top.

The sound of an acoustic to a high and vital degree is connected to the zone between the lower bouts (the hips of the guitar if U like). The freer the better.

Another aspect about this theme is the actual size/thickness of the braces. Again the logic is the same - the lighter the freer the more sound.

These virtues - the light either scalloped or thin sliced bracing plus the single X - were major factors behind what we know as the classic Gibson sounds, , , and were reintroduced after the Gibson-ship was kept from sinking and regained its masts'n'flag in later half of the 1980's. (Though no extra-X Martin went through something similar).

 

The reason for the double X and thicker bracing was warranty. They simply wanted to fortify the instruments in order not to get too many back for repair.

The Norlin(era) in reality stands for the names of the 2 company-leaders back then. No secret these men didn't know much about acoustic guitar-making.

Some even claim they were into house-building and had their expertise in concrete and bricks. Time to look into that, he he. . .

 

Please promise not to let all this stuff bring you down or burden your feast.

But now you know and can follow the dialog here and elsewhere closer, , , almost from inside. You are welcome. Enjoy ^

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