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Filbert

Is this a decent buy?

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Like many posters here, I am intrigued by the prospect of getting a birth year guitar. All the guitars I currently own are ~5 years old or less, aside from my one vintage 1939 Gibson L-30.

I found the following on Reverb that matches my birth year - obviously, it is a little worn and knocked around; that doesn't bother me that much, after all, so am I!

https://reverb.com/item/20990381-gibson-j45-deluxe-with-original-gibson-case-1980

I was just wondering if some of you knowledgeable people can cast your eye over it and tell me your thoughts and whether the price is right or not.

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IMHO

way overpriced. These Norlin models usually go 800-1400. Also, because of the build during this era it is recommended you try it before you buy it or make sure they have a liberal return policy. It’s in UK, is that where you’re located? If not, returning would be very difficult. Better to change you’re year on your birth certificate or use your mom or dads year. 

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4 minutes ago, Dave F said:

IMHO

way overpriced. These Norlin models usually go 800-1400. Also, because of the build during this era it is recommended you try it before you buy it or make sure they have a liberal return policy. It’s in UK, is that where you’re located? If not, returning would be very difficult. Better to change you’re year on your birth certificate or use your mom or dads year. 

Ah OK, interesting stuff. So the '80's era Gibson acoustics aren't not so bueno then?

Maybe I should go for a 1980 Martin then 🙂

Thanks for the info!

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The guitar might very well sound pleasing to you, despite its Norlin pedigree.

 

Also know that 70s - 80's Martins are also not known as the brand's best years. For example, often the bridge placement was slightly off, leading to intonation issues. 

I have often toyed with looking for a birth year (mid 60s for me), but ultimately came to the realization for me that Gibson's best guitars, aside from pre 60, are actually recent ones. 

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Have fun hunting. I think among the best sounding Gibsons are the fairly recent (last ten year or so) True Vintage series. J45-TV. Southern Jumbo TV.  Hummingbird TV. They all go for about $2300 used, which is cheaper than the new standard series.  Here is one priced higher, but you can get the idea of the guitar :

https://reverb.com/item/26203991-gibson-j-45-true-vintage-sunburst-2012

 

Also the new Vintage series sounds great: J45 Vintage and Hummingbird Vintage. But they are expensive.

But often , one is better off with a Buy Once Cry Once decision.

Edited by ThemisSal

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1980 was considered a good year for Guild. You might want to try one out. I had an '80 D-55 that was the only guitar I'm sorry I let go.

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Never considered a Guild - good shout there.

I am leaning towards a Hummingbird because I like the fret inlays over the bog-standard dot ones. I know that's a pretty pathetic reason for favouring one guitar over the other, but there you are!

Probably will have to get rid of one of my Martins first as the wife will skin me if a courier turns up at the doorstep with another guitar-shaped package!

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19 hours ago, Filbert said:

I am leaning towards a Hummingbird because I like the fret inlays over the bog-standard dot ones. I know that's a pretty pathetic reason for favouring one guitar over the other, but there you are!

On this note, I wonder what people's opinions are regarding the decorative/non-decorative Hummingbird versions. On the one hand, I am a big fan of the minimalist, natural-look finish but on the other hand, if it doesn't have the artwork, it doesn't really scream 'Hummingbird' to me...

Here are the ones I am looking at in my local store:

https://www.guitarguitar.co.uk/product/180412325930008--gibson-hummingbird-studio-antique-natural

https://www.guitarguitar.co.uk/product/180412325911008--gibson-hummingbird-vintage-sunburst

Edited by Filbert

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I don't know much on the studio, so can't say anything, but the vintage is sweet- I've got a hankerin' in that direction.  I started not liking the bling, but it's grown on me.  Back on your birth year, 1980 may not have produced all good guitars, but I wouldn't discount it because of the year, just make sure you can try it and / or there's a good return policy.  

One last thing to note - today is 'wife acquiescence' day so as long as you order before the clock strikes midnight - she'll be happy for your purchase.

 

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On ‎8‎/‎7‎/‎2019 at 6:41 AM, ThemisSal said:

Also know that 70s - 80's Martins are also not known as the brand's best years. For example, often the bridge placement was slightly off, leading to intonation issues. 

 

Martin's issues had less to do with incorrectly positioned bridges (which was due to a worn piece of equipment and quickly corrected) than their transition to an oversized rosewood bridge plate beginning in late-1968.    Both Gibson and Martin cited the same reason for the change - stability.  

Edited by zombywoof

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Can you explain the fascination with "birth year guitars", because I totally don't get it.  Seriously, what's the point? Something to brag about? If you need (or want) another guitar, why not just choose one on its own merits? 

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4 hours ago, zombywoof said:

If I wanted a birth year guitar from that date,  I would  go dig up a Westerly-made Guild. 

Like gearbasher, I also had a lovely Guild of that era (a D-50  from 79-81, I don’t remember exactly which year). It was a heavy sucker, but it was rosewood, after all. It was a great sounding box, and I only parted with it because I had a chance to get my J-100 maple, which I still have and love. 

When I bought the NOS Guild, I was sure I’d be bringing a D-28 home with me, but it was no contest, once I A/B’ed the Guild against two or three D-28s in the store that day. Go fig.

Point is, if you want a 1980 git, you won’t go wrong with a Guild, imo.

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7 hours ago, Boyd said:

Can you explain the fascination with "birth year guitars", because I totally don't get it.  Seriously, what's the point? Something to brag about? If you need (or want) another guitar, why not just choose one on its own merits? 

Not necessarily a bragging rights thing, but when just getting curious as to what all of the talk of the tone was about with respect to old guitars, and not having yet discovered the range of differences, both sonically and in build quality, across the years that a model was offered, then the "might as well get a birth year guitar" idea would seem to be a convenient coincidence between guitar and player.  

A birth year guitar was something I'd considered at one point . . . then the more I'd looked into it, guitars from that era were more likely to have a sound that wasn't what I was looking for.

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4 hours ago, AnneS said:

Like gearbasher, I also had a lovely Guild of that era (a D-50  from 79-81, I don’t remember exactly which year). It was a heavy sucker, but it was rosewood, after all. It was a great sounding box, and I only parted with it because I had a chance to get my J-100 maple, which I still have and love. 

When I bought the NOS Guild, I was sure I’d be bringing a D-28 home with me, but it was no contest, once I A/B’ed the Guild against two or three D-28s in the store that day. Go fig.

Point is, if you want a 1980 git, you won’t go wrong with a Guild, imo.

 

Not to go off topic, but Anne is right about the weight. I traded my D-55 for a '94 J-45 Hog. When I lifted the J-45 out of it's case, I couldn't believe how light it was. I know this is a Gibson forum, but the D-55 for the J-45 was a huge mistake on my part.

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Without wanting to turn this into a Guild love-in, they're the only big name guitars I'd roll the dice on buying sight unseen from the late '70s/early '80s. 

I've played some great '70s Martins but most of them had been worked on, had the bridgeplates replaced etc. Chances are that any of the mid '70s Marts that had the intonation issue have been sorted by now...I can't imagine playing a guitar that doesn't intonate for 40+yrs without getting it looked at. 

Guilds are built like tanks but usually sound fantastic-I've played very few bad ones. I was very tempted recently by a maple '85 F20. Played like a dream, the sort of neck that plays itself, but I couldn't quite make it work financially.

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11 hours ago, Boyd said:

Can you explain the fascination with "birth year guitars", because I totally don't get it.  Seriously, what's the point? Something to brag about? If you need (or want) another guitar, why not just choose one on its own merits? 

It's just kind of cool.

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11 hours ago, Boyd said:

Can you explain the fascination with "birth year guitars", because I totally don't get it.  Seriously, what's the point? Something to brag about? If you need (or want) another guitar, why not just choose one on its own merits? 

 

I've never understood it.  I used to work with a guy that spent a crap ton on a birth year strat, back when vintage was at the top.   Serious POS guitar, half the frets shot on the treble side, like I couldn't get him a decent set up on it.  Two pickups shorted or parted, but not at all in a good way.  One rotten machine, one almost.  Just in bad shape and he spent thousands on it because it was his birth year.

I don't get it at all, never have.

rct

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32 minutes ago, billroy said:

It's just kind of cool.

 

Sure, that makes sense. Spend a couple thousands dollars on a guitar made in some arbitrary year just because it's kind of cool.  😎

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I'm not irretrievably wedded to the idea of a birth year guitar by any means; I just thought it would be nice to get a guitar of the same approximate age as me so we can grow old gracefully together like a mature wine! However, as has now been pointed out to me, there are potential quality issues with Martins and Gibsons from that era; a bit of a barrier to the whole idea is that there are no vintage guitar shops near where I live (at least, not that I know of) that are likely to stock guitars from this era so the concept of try before I buy is not an option; the only major guitar shops near me here in the West Midlands, UK are a couple of 'big box' guitar stores in Birmingham.

So with all that said, I am actually leaning towards getting a new Hummingbird instead and ditch the whole idea of getting an older one.

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34 minutes ago, Filbert said:

So with all that said, I am actually leaning towards getting a new Hummingbird instead and ditch the whole idea of getting an older one.

That sounds like a good way to go, Fil- even a lightly used Hummingbird (~2010->2012'ish) would fit the bill, and would already be sounding more opened up, and you'd be getting around the increased cost of a new guitar. 

Looking forward to seeing pics of your new, or newish, Hummingbird. . . they're a beautiful thing.

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Well, there are a couple on Reverb that I am wavering on - a 2015 Washed Cherry model and a 2017 Heritage model - both at or around a nice price point it seems.

https://reverb.com/item/25661096-gibson-hummingbird-2015-washed-vintage-cherry

https://reverb.com/item/26054018-gibson-hummingbird-2017-heritage

The alternative is to pay another £2000 and get a 66/67 model...

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The burst on the 2015 has become my favorite bursts that Gibson does, and they do some beautiful sunbursts. 

Oh yeah, nice string break at the saddle, and well-cut nut. Seller advertises little wear, so what's not to love? 

You can always change the tuners out to the tulips for a classic Hummingbird look and feel. Good luck.

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That sounds like way too much $$$ to me...as far as Norlin-era Gibsons, my "First love" was a '77 Dove Custom that I wish I'd never parted with...as for the appeal of birth year guitars, my first father-in-law was wont to say, "A good price is all in how bad you want something"....

I had one of those square-shoulder j45's..I like it, but it wasn't my Dove...sigh...

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