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Damaged 1965 Hummingbird, worth buying or is it toast?


Ericcccc
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Top cracks are pretty much always fixable. There are a good five or ten other questions you'd need answered before making an offer or assessing the seller's asking price. I'm not a fan of the adj bridge or the pick guard on these, but if it has the Gibson tone and the neck angle/string height is good you have a starting point. You may want to look at what's on Reverb and Ebay to check out prices on possible similar ones, if there are any up for sale now.

 

Those cracks line up with the bolt holes for saddle adjustment. I would always remove the whole adj set up, including the bolt sleeves and have a period correct slotted bridge installed.

Edited by jedzep
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You should check/post some more pics from different angles. Fx the neck from the side further down toward the bridge and the top in front of and behind ditto.

This could very well be saved and made a fine vintage guitar. 1965 was a good if not excellent year. But U have to focus on the logistics.

And do notice that it probably has the narrow nut-width.

Welcome aboard and keep us informed.

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Top cracks are pretty much always fixable. There are a good five or ten other questions you'd need answered before making an offer or assessing the seller's asking price. I'm not a fan of the adj bridge or the pick guard on these, but if it has the Gibson tone and the neck angle/string height is good you have a starting point. You may want to look at what's on Reverb and Ebay to check out prices on possible similar ones, if there are any up for sale now.

 

Those cracks line up with the bolt holes for saddle adjustment. I would always remove the whole adj set up, including the bolt sleeves and have a period correct slotted bridge installed.

 

 

 

Thanks for the advice, if the string height isn't good especially around the 12th fret I'm guna walk on this one

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The rather wonky right-biased position of the strings over the end of the neck, plus the two cracks either side of the neck between the fretboard and the neck would indicate to me that the neck block has moved and the neck angle is off. All of which can be fixed, but it’s surgery of a not inconsequential nature and is likely to be expensive.

 

I’d leave this one and fly on to other pastures. Mid ‘60s is fine, but don’t rule out later Birds, my 1990 (early Bozeman era) is a stellar Bird, the best I’ve played.

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It's almost certainly fixable, but the price compared to comparable 'birds of the same vintage that don't need this type of work will tell you whether or not to pursue it.

 

 

They are asking $1500 but considering the condition and the things pointed out to me it probably isn't worth anything near that right? Thanks for the reply!

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I had two ‘65 Hummingbirds, plus a later one. They can be very nice guitars. The best Hummingbird I ever played, and should have bought, was a ‘63 that looked like it had been dragged behind a half ton down a gravel road for a couple days, so looks don’t mean much to me when it comes to old Gibsons.

 

The only real issue with early Hummingbirds to me is top sink, where the bridge rotates down inward above the bridge. From that pic I can’t tell if it has that, and the whole thing looks too cockeyed to tell much from the photo angle. I’d have to see that guitar and play it before giving up on it. I’m not sure at all that there’s evidence of a slipped neck block etc; the picture is too poor to say definitively.,

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The rather wonky right-biased position of the strings over the end of the neck, plus the two cracks either side of the neck between the fretboard and the neck would indicate to me that the neck block has moved and the neck angle is off. All of which can be fixed, but it’s surgery of a not inconsequential nature and is likely to be expensive.

 

I’d leave this one and fly on to other pastures. Mid ‘60s is fine, but don’t rule out later Birds, my 1990 (early Bozeman era) is a stellar Bird, the best I’ve played.

 

 

thanks,I didn't even notice those other cracks, I'm still going to check it out but its not looking good at this point [sad]

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I had two ‘65 Hummingbirds, plus a later one. They can be very nice guitars. The best Hummingbird I ever played, and should have bought, was a ‘63 that looked like it had been dragged behind a half ton down a gravel road for a couple days, so looks don’t mean much to me when it comes to old Gibsons.

 

The only real issue with early Hummingbirds to me is top sink, where the bridge rotates down inward above the bridge. From that pic I can’t tell if it has that, and the whole thing looks too cockeyed to tell much from the photo angle. I’d have to see that guitar and play it before giving up on it. I’m not sure at all that there’s evidence of a slipped neck block etc; the picture is too poor to say definitively.,

 

Im for sure going to look at it for a long time, what is some evidence of a slipped neck block? Glue around the block? Thanks for your help!

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Im for sure going to look at it for a long time, what is some evidence of a slipped neck block? Glue around the block? Thanks for your help!

 

 

Jinder rightly points out several potential problems that could involve costly repairs. This is one of those things that if I found it at a bargain price--say, $1000 or less--I might consider it. But unless you have a lot of experience with vintage guitars and their associated problems, you probably won't be able to make a good estimate of what the repairs might cost.

 

At $1500, it isn't really a bargain, as far as I can tell.

 

Unless you have a good, relatively local luthier that you trust to give you a proper evaluation, I'd do a Dionne Warwick and walk on by.

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I am with Jinder. While cracks are no big deal, those running down from the end of the fingerboard should be waving a big red flag in your face. Not an easy repair dealing with a neck block that has rotated toward the bridge.

 

Yeah. Looking at it again, I agree that’s the main area of concern.

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Thanks to everyone who replied, I went and looked at it today and it did have the narrow nut width and the strings were way higher off the fretboard than I expected so I decided to hold off on buying it for now. It is just too big of a risk

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I bought a ‘68 natural ‘Bird in nice condition a while ago. It sounded great but I couldn’t get on with the narrow neck (1-5/8” nut width I believe). It was a nice guitar with an interesting history (purchased in the US by Dylan’s security guy - an Englishman, quite famous, can’t remember his name) during a ‘70s tour and kept, unplayed, ever since. I didn’t keep it long as I just couldn’t get on with it. Wise decision not to buy if you don’t like the narrow necks. The ‘64 and earlier have wider nut widths - the ones the Stones brought back in ‘64 were these ones - maybe ‘63s. I’ve seen ‘68 ones advertised as being “as played on Beggars Banquet” - they weren’t!

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I bought a '68 natural 'Bird in nice condition a while ago. It sounded great but I couldn't get on with the narrow neck (1-5/8" nut width I believe). It was a nice guitar with an interesting history (purchased in the US by Dylan's security guy - an Englishman, quite famous, can't remember his name) during a '70s tour and kept, unplayed, ever since. I didn't keep it long as I just couldn't get on with it. Wise decision not to buy if you don't like the narrow necks. The '64 and earlier have wider nut widths - the ones the Stones brought back in '64 were these ones - maybe '63s. I've seen '68 ones advertised as being "as played on Beggars Banquet" - they weren't!

My 1968 SJ has 11/16 and is absolutely playable.

 

Apart from that the golden era Stones camp contained several Birds, not just the first 2 ceramic saddled cherries seen in the Goddard movie.

There were at least one with rosewood saddle and if I'm not too far off a plastic bridge ceramic saddle version as well.

In fact there are also pics of Jagger with a blonde 68'er on the web. And Richards can be seen/heard with a Norlin Dove to ice the cake.

 

Hope you have checked the oldie Mick uses on stage nowadays. The quintessential Hummingbird in a marvelous state. That guitar shines.

 

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My 1968 SJ has 11/16 and is absolutely playable.

 

Apart from that the golden era Stones camp contained several Birds, not just the first 2 ceramic saddled cherries seen in the Goddard movie.

There were at least one with rosewood saddle and if I'm not too far off a plastic bridge ceramic saddle version as well.

In fact there are also pics of Jagger with a blonde 68'er on the web. And Richards can be seen/heard with a Norlin Dove to ice the cake.

 

Hope you have checked the oldie Mick uses on stage nowadays. The quintessential Hummingbird in a marvelous state. That guitar shines.

 

 

I have played more than a few 1968 Gibson J-45s and SJs and they all had the 1 9/16" nut. But neck carve and nut width are, of course, purely personal preference. The difference in feel between a 1959 SJ and even a 1960 though is like night and day. It does not mean that I cannot play the 1960 Gibson, just that there are other Gibsons I like the feel of better.

By the way, I finally did find a source for a bone a ADJ saddle - Philadelphia Luthier Tools and Supplies. Ironically I found them just before I hooked up with a repair shop that owns a CNC machine and can make me any part I should want or need.

 

Apparently in 1965 Gibson loaded the Stones up with guitars. They not only gave Keef an HB (which there are photos of him using in the studio that year) but a Firebird and an acoustic Epiphone 12 string as well as giving both he and Brian a matched pair of Heritage acoustics. Smart move on Gibson's part though as back in 1965, if I actually had indulging, well heeled parents (which I did not), I would have tried to get them to buy me any guitar the Stones played. Thing is back then I was still not sure what those guitars were and would have been happy with something like a Silvertone version that looked like the real deal. Never did get one of those either though.

Edited by zombywoof
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Apparently in 1965 Gibson loaded the Stones up with guitars. They not only gave Keef an HB (which there are photos of him using in the studio that year) but a Firebird and an acoustic Epiphone 12 string as well as giving both he and Brian a matched pair of Heritage acoustics. Smart move on Gibson's part though as back in 1965, , , ,

Yeah, as we know Richards and Jagger got a cherryburst each - while white Vox Teardrop playing Jones had a sunburst J-200.

Suited the guys like well decorated rapiers suit a group of musketeers.

Here's Mick with one special bird I don't believe he ever shared with the others. .

 

Year unknown, probably early 80's ~ 8tfYd0s.jpg

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My 1968 SJ has 11/16 and is absolutely playable.

 

Apart from that the golden era Stones camp contained several Birds, not just the first 2 ceramic saddled cherries seen in the Goddard movie.

There were at least one with rosewood saddle and if I'm not too far off a plastic bridge ceramic saddle version as well.

In fact there are also pics of Jagger with a blonde 68'er on the web. And Richards can be seen/heard with a Norlin Dove to ice the cake.

 

Hope you have checked the oldie Mick uses on stage nowadays. The quintessential Hummingbird in a marvelous state. That guitar shines.

 

 

When I had my Bird I compared it with every photo I could find of the Stones with theirs and none matched (I’d post a photo if I could work out how!). I concluded (possibly incorrectly) that none of the Stones’ ones were ‘68s. But maybe mine wasn’t a ‘68 after all? Mine had a Martin style belly down bridge. None of the Stones guitars have this. Not sure when this was introduced - maybe later in ‘68? I don’t think I’ve ever seen Keith with a rosewood saddle one - only Mick. And I’m pretty sure Mick didn’t play any of the guitar parts on Beggars Banquet. The acoustic guitar parts on this album have a very Hummingbird sound but I suspect this was one of the (probably) ‘64 ones they picked up on their US tour in ‘65 (previous error on my behalf when I stated it was ‘64). I haven’t seen anything anywhere to suggest that Keith ever played a ‘68 Bird - but I’m happy to be proved wrong!

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The Hummingbird’s a great guitar with a unique sound. I’d love to have an earlier one with the wider neck. Tried buying a very nice ‘64 one from the US from a dealer who assured me he would do all the CITES paperwork and it would be fine. Further research indicated this wasn’t quite right. You cannot legally import a guitar built on or after 1st March 1947 if it contains Brazilian rosewood - which excludes any ‘64 Bird sadly. They’re not easy to find in the U.K.

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When I had my Bird I compared it with every photo I could find of the Stones with theirs and none matched (I’d post a photo if I could work out how!). I concluded (possibly incorrectly) that none of the Stones’ ones were ‘68s. But maybe mine wasn’t a ‘68 after all? Mine had a Martin style belly down bridge. None of the Stones guitars have this.

 

I am pretty sure that when John Hiatt called the Hummingbird the greatest rock & roll acoustic ever built he was thinking of Keef.

 

As I said, Gibson gave the Stones a bunch of Gibsons when they were on the 1965 tour. There is a well known photo of Keef in RCA studios at the end of the year with the Hummingbird they gave him. The question is this the Hummingbird he recorded Jumpin' Jack Flash with in 1968 or was it one he picked up later.

 

Same thing though happened on the 1969 tour when Ampeg gave them a bunch of their new SVT amps after the Stones had blown their amps up trying to do stadium shows and were borrowing amps from the Who. Everybody wanted them to be seen with their gear. I still have Mick and Charlie's autograph on an ad for Gretsch drums when the Stones were hawking them.

Edited by zombywoof
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