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Should I buy this 70s J-55?

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Hey folks. I’m on the market for a new acoustic and found this thing on consignment today- a 70s J-55, serial number A500574. Looking for any thoughts or feedback since I am new to Gibson’s and old acoustics in general. Waiting to talk to the owner to see if I can get any more info.

Overall the thing was in pretty good condition except for a serious crack near the sound hole (pictured) that appears to have been repaired as there is a cleat just inside the sound hole. It played easy, and had a nice tone despite old strings. I couldn’t tell if anything had happened to the neck and the back looked good. 

It’s been marked down to the sub-1000 price range and I may be able to bargain lower. I’m also looking at a 1961 LG1 at another shop in the same range. 

Any major red flags or thoughts on this guitar? I’ve read that some people dislike the Gibson’s of this era. Based in pricing I can see online, this seems like a good deal, but it may be due to the repaired crack. How worried should I be about that? 

 

 

 

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The saddle looks really low so it probably needs a neck reset soon to stay playable, even though it may play easy now. The crack is definitely going to decrease the value, how much depending on whos buying (very subjective). Its only worth what someone would pay for it, and as you stated this is not a good era for Gibson, the worst in fact, so that also is going to limit the market. Looks to be arched back laminate mahogany so personally I wouldnt give much for it, as you can find a used Gibson j15 for around $800-900 from guitar center quite often, and its likely to be a much better guitar. But, if it sounds awesome to you, and plays just like you like, then it may be worth it for you. YMMV

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I would pass if I had to pick.  The lg1 would be good if the top is not sucked in.  Or buy a nice J35 or along those lines like mentioned above 

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Good point about the neck reset, TheLeadFlatpick. I hadn't thought about how low the saddle was. 

slimt, the LG1 is actually getting belly bulge repaired right now by the shop before they put it up for sale, so I'm waiting to go back in and see how it sounds afterwards. My only concern with that one is the small neck, but I think I could get used to it, and I love the tone.

Thanks for the input!

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Belly bulge is not a easy fix that usually means the sound hole area will get sucked in. And that would be a ladder braced top  

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Everything is fixable, other than tone. If you like the J55, go for it. A '70s Gibson is never going to be worth Megabucks, but they're a good cheap introduction to the world of vintage guitars. There are plenty of wooly sounding examples out there, but some very good ones too. The action looks good on this one which is a plus, and a crack is just a crack. It's over 40yrs old and under $1000 so you can't be too picky at that price point. I'd buy it-you can always move it on if you don't get on with it.

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Pass.

It may be old but it's not a vintage guitar. From a collector's standpoint (I'm not a collector), Gibson guitars from the seventies have virtually no value or collectible appeal. This example here has nothing in common with the original Jumbo 55 model from the forties. Its materials and production quality are substandard, its appointments bare bones—that's the seventies for you in terms of guitar manufacturing by the conglomerates.

It's already badly in the market for a neck reset. The saddle has been sanded down to the bare mininmum (there's hardly any saddle material left; the strings are almost touching the bridge) to make the action somewhat playable. The shrinking pickguard put so much stress on the soundboard that it ripped it right apart. The back looks mighty warped but that could just be a weird photo angle.

You're only in the market for a bad purchase. Don't go window shopping for preowned guitars with little to no knowledge. Instead, go read up on what to look out for when buying second-hand guitars in general (these are the bare basics you need to know), then read up on vintage guitars and specifically on the models you are interested in, which is a wide field requiring lots of experience and/or good advisors. Dan Erlewine's books are a good starting point. Good luck!

Edited by Leonard McCoy

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Pass, unless the tone completely knocks you out.

The warped looking back mentioned above is not an issue, as this is an arched & laminated back.  But not yet mentioned is that the neck heel appears to be separating a bit from the body - which in conjunction with the low saddle, is a recipe for a neck reset.

Also, if they're telling you that the soundboard crack has been repaired, the job was poorly done.  This type of crack is common, and is typically caused by shrinkage of the plastic pickguard material.  Repair is relatively easy, but the repair should make the two sides level & draw them more evenly together.

There just isn't much to recommend spending good money on this particular instrument.

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6 hours ago, slimt said:

Belly bulge is not a easy fix that usually means the sound hole area will get sucked in. And that would be a ladder braced top  

Some of these 70-models have treated better than good by time and is definitely worth considering.

It would surprise me if it was ladder-braced - rather you'll see (and hear) the controversial double-X-bracing.  The extra X was introduced to fortify the box. Add that the braces themselves are thicker for the same reason, and you'll have the crucial difference between the cool looker above and the versions which gave vintage acoustic Gibsons their reputation and legendary status. But again - if this old square appeals to you, then great. It could very well be a splendid guitar full of character and woody warmth.  

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I like the pickguard.

 

E- I believe OP Golucian and Slim were talking belly bulge and ladders when Golucian mentioned the '61 LG-1 in his 2nd post.

When is a crack not just a crack? When it's in the soundboard, and the repair person let it get out of his shop with the crack not closed up better than in the above crack-pick. Usually, the braces under the crack need to be removed or separated from the area first, top re-hydrated as far as it will allow the crack to close, then maybe a sliver of spruce put in, once stable. It should then be visible only under close inspection.

 

If that turned away label in the hand-holding-the-neck shot says "$900", then add the money for a neck set, plus this guitar would sound it's best if that top was a unified piece of vibe'ing spruce. For a little more savings and patience, a more recent J-45/J-50 would be a nice thing to consider.

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4 hours ago, bobouz said:

The warped looking back mentioned above is not an issue, as this is an arched & laminated back. 

Interesting thing to be reminded of, and added to the other things to keep in mind when looking at Gibson acoustics from this era.

Also-  greened-out rosette in a few pics is cool thing to note.

. . . and the "2" on the back of the headstock. Could've been just a cosmetic thing, but the 2nd stamp does mean a closer look would be a wise thing to do.

Edited by 62burst

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I'm in agreement with all the comments. Although age-wise it may be vintage, but not as a collectible vintage. Regardless if the '2' is a non issues at this stage of its life, it does affect value. Personally I would value it between 800-1000 then subtract any needed repairs. The neck and crack  repairs could get up into the 500-600 range, then when you're done you still have an $800 guitar.  If it talks to you go for it, but I would suggest trying out other options as suggested.  If you want to stay in the 800-1000 range a used J15. The 1000-1400 range a J45. Other brands that are vintage guitars such a Harmony can be had fairly reasonably.  I picked up a Kalamazoo for $250. A Harmony Cremona for $350. Some of our members are really big into the older other brands. As with anything, do your homework, analyze the condition in relationship to it's value and repair cost and listen to your ears. Just on what you showed us, I would pass on this one unless I could get it for $400.

Have fun with the search!

Dave

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The one thing in favor of the J55 is the arched back which helps compensate for the heavy top bracing and oversized bridge plate.   But $1K would be about top dollar for that guitar.  The problem with instruments on consignment is there is generally very little wiggle room on price.  And in the case of that guitar I would want a whole lot of it as I would probably not even come close to paying 60% of the asking price.

 

The LG-1 with around the same price tag is a whole lot more reasonable.  1961 would also be before all the nonsense started with Gibson.  With me it would come down to the neck carve.

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32 minutes ago, Dave F said:

I picked up a Kalamazoo for $250. A Harmony Cremona for $350. Some of our members are really big into the older other brands. As with anything, do your homework, analyze the condition in relationship to it's value and repair cost and listen to your ears. Just on what you showed us, I would pass on this one unless I could get it for $400.

Dave

 

A Cremona at $350 is a heck of a deal.  And if it was the cutaway version it enters the Valhalla of great deals.  That model was Harmony's only post-War carved top archtop.  I am currently talking to somebody about snagging his 1938-39 Kay Television archtop which I have been wantging for a very long time now,

Edited by zombywoof

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2 minutes ago, zombywoof said:

 

A Cremona at $350 is a heck of a deal.  And if it was the cutaway version it enters the Valhalla of great deals.  That model was Harmony's only post-War carved top archtop.  I am currently talking to somebody about snagging his 1938-39 Kay Television archtop.  

 

 

I took it to my Luthier to get a couple things fixed. He fell in love with it and talked me out of it. He added a pu and uses it for gigging. It was a closet queen, looked brand new.

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1 hour ago, 62burst said:

E - I believe OP Golucian and Slim were talking belly bulge and ladders when Golucian mentioned the '61 LG-1 in his 2nd post.

You are of course right ^ thx

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3 hours ago, zombywoof said:

 

A Cremona at $350 is a heck of a deal.

How about a Cremona for $25?  Of course, that was procured at a flea market back in the '70s!

This one was from the '30s, with a carved top & ornate vertical art deco "Harmony" headstock inlay that looked like a theatre marquee.  The word "Cremona" was done in a 45-degree banner style, running through the midpoint of the vertical Harmony.  The bound fingerboard had six block inlays, with a center stripe inlay running the length of the fingerboard & dividing the blocks.  And although my fuzzy old Polaroids don't show it clearly enough, as I recall, the binding around the top had a rope pattern inlay.

It's tone was very nice, but the chunky neck profile, which I'm sure would be Zomby-Approved, didn't work so well for me!

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15 minutes ago, bobouz said:

How about a Cremona for $25?  Of course, that was procured at a flea market back in the '70s!

This one was from the '30s, with a carved top & ornate vertical art deco "Harmony" headstock inlay that looked like a theatre marquee.  The word "Cremona" was done in a 45-degree banner style, running through the midpoint of the vertical Harmony.  The bound fingerboard had six block inlays, with a center stripe inlay running the length of the fingerboard & dividing the blocks.  And although my fuzzy old Polaroids don't show it clearly enough, as I recall, the binding around the top had a rope pattern inlay.

It's tone was very nice, but the chunky neck profile, which I'm sure would be Zomby-Approved, didn't work so well for me!

Here's the one I had.

Solid carved Spruce top, even the braces were part of the carve, maple back and sides. Still had the Lifton case in great condition. It looks like they used great material but the workmanship was not always the greatest. I doubt if you can find one without a loose neck. The dovetails joints were very loose, they relied on the glue. It was great sounding guitar. I was going to have the neck joint rebuilt and rest and steam press the neck straight. I loved the look and sound. If you ever look for one, check out the neck joint and neck bow. No truss rods. 

 

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