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Jumpsuit Jamey

70's Hummingbird - worth the trouble?

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I was recently given a Hummingbird that appears to be a 70's model (I couldn't discern a serial number on the back of the headstock, but the sound hole label suggests it). The price was right, of course, but it has some cracks on both sides of the neck at the body. My luthier says the rest of the guitar is in good shape, and he can deal with the cracks. I've heard unflattering things about 70's Gibsons, though. Think it's worth it to repair these cracks and put a good pick-up in it? I front a 50's/60's country honky tonk band. Also, I would appreciate your opinion on what year model it is. Many thanks, here are the picks: https://www.icloud.com/photos/#0LTLcwsk28fu9fCGgLxrH34rA

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It looks like the neck block has moved which has caused the cracks. I'd absolutely get the work done. In fact, I'd go the extra mile and have my luthier reset and refret the neck, replace the brass saddle with bone, take the top off and remove (or at least shave or scallop) the extraneous bracing that all '70s Gibsons have. 

It's absolutely worth putting some time and money into...it's a 40+yr old Gibson and, whilst perhaps not exactly collectible, it's potentially a fantastic player guitar.

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Wow, thanks for your input! That's a lot of work, but I'll pass that on to my luthier today. I think he was going to replace the saddle with bone, and use cleats or something to reinforce the neck (I may not have that quite right, way above my paygrade), but I'm sure he didn't mention anything to do with the bracing, I'll ask him about that. But reset and refret the neck? He thought it looked in good shape, was there something in the photos that you saw that dictated that? BTW, was I right about it being a 70's model? That was my best guess.

Thanks for responding so quickly!

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How big is the bridge plate?  That's an area to improve sound by reduction of the monster.  And so that is a 70ies Bird, huh?    I have a 74 SJ that I will not part with because  ….. because it sounds fine to me, plays like a dream and always has done so.  Looks just like your guitar.    I doubt if many folks here will think a large investment in a Norlin era Gibson is the way to go, and the resale value at present would back that stance.   How much do you dig the guitar?

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Truthfully, and I hate to say it, but not much - so far. I took it straight from the gifting to my luthier. Strummed on it a bit, not too impressed; but then, it needs new strings and some work done - who knows what it may yet become? Don't know the size of the bridge plate, but I'll pass that notion onto my luthier as well. Remember, that 70's notion is my best guess, it may not be accurate. But that's how it looks to you, too? Many thanks for your feedback!

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I think keeping old  gits going is allways a good plan, if you can afford it,if not pass it to someone who can...

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The solid fret markers date the guitar to no earlier than 1970.   I am a bit hazy on this but I do not think Gibson went to the now infamous Double X bracing until 1971.  So there will be a noticeable difference in sound between a 1970 Gibson and those that came after.   

The reference to changing the bridge plate is well made.  The bridge plates on these era Gibsons were made of laminate and were not only  incredibly stiff but large  enough to qualify as a piece of furniture.  

On the neck as noted those cracks could indicate that the neck block has rotated.  if so then the only fix is going to be re-positioning the block back into position which will require the neck be removed or possibly lust loosening the top from the block.  .

Edited by zombywoof

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15 hours ago, jvi said:

I think keeping old  gits going is allways a good plan, if you can afford it,if not pass it to someone who can...

I agree w/what everyone said, especially this...if you want to part w/it how about giving one of us first crack?

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18 hours ago, Jumpsuit Jamey said:

Wow, thanks for your input! That's a lot of work, but I'll pass that on to my luthier today. I think he was going to replace the saddle with bone, and use cleats or something to reinforce the neck (I may not have that quite right, way above my paygrade), but I'm sure he didn't mention anything to do with the bracing, I'll ask him about that. But reset and refret the neck? He thought it looked in good shape, was there something in the photos that you saw that dictated that? BTW, was I right about it being a 70's model? That was my best guess.

Thanks for responding so quickly!

 

As the cracks in the top run right along the neck to the upper bout, there is a strong chance that they're there because the neck block has moved, and repairing that properly will require the neck to come off. The saddle is very low so whilst the neck is off, it makes sense to reset it to address that issue. 

Removing the top of a guitar isn't THAT big a job for a competent luthier. Whilst the guitar is apart it makes sense to do the job properly and address the fact that it's likely overbraced (post '71, Gibson started double-X bracing their acoustics which tended to come at the expense of volume and top end) and is likely to have a honking great bridge plate in there which is also holding back the top.

The fact remains that it's old, good wood and with some work could be a remarkable sounding instrument which would serve you for life. I recommended a refret too as the '70s frets tend to be wide, low profile things that don't help with the slightly dull tone that some of these guitars can be prone to in stock trim. 

I think the guitar deserves the work to be done properly-the difference will be astounding and will put the guitar somewhere near an early '60s example tonally.

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Hey guys, sorry I haven't been back on to thank y'all for all your input, but I've been working a lot of hours, and I got kicked off the forum over password trouble, which proved troublesome (clearly, I solved that one).

I love the idea of doing the work y'all have suggested, and making this into a super guitar; however, my luthier was less that enthusiastic. His response was, why would you wanna put 2K into a guitar that's only going to be worth 1K when you get finished? (before y'all let the steam boil out of your ears on that one, I don't think he meant those numbers literally; he was more making a point: that the squeeze wasn't worth the juice).  And passing it on is not an option. It was given to me by someone I hold dear, and I don't wanna take a chance on hurting their feelings by giving it away or back.

So I think that my luthier is going to come up with some sort of cobble that will allow me to play it on stage, but that won't be super expensive. I'm not as thrilled by that course of action, but I have to be realistic with my money.

Again, many thanks for so much input. You guys are awesome!

 

 

 

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I don't think he's too far off on the numbers. I had a 76 Hummingbird - it didn't have any personal meaning to me other than i bought it at a shop thinking it was a good buy. i spent a good deal of money getting it fixed up for similar issues to yours and i ended up never really bonding with it, the sound, the looks, the feel of the neck - it just never worked for me.

I sold it for about what i paid for it ~$2k and essentially ate the cost of the repairs (~<$2k). I took it as a good learning opportunity.

My guitar needed a neck reset, and fretboard leveling (the neck had a twist to it), a refret, a new bridge/saddle, and a number of top, back,side cracks glued and cleated. It hadn't been abused, it was just an old guitar from an era that didn't necessarily produce great instruments consistently.

As someone who just likes to play and sometime purchase guitars (i'm not buying and flipping them) i'll just stay away from the Norlin era. It's not that i wouldn't get a guitar from that time period again if the opportunity was there - but i wouldn't put anything into it outside of a setup.

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All I can say is my 1977 Hummingbird was one of the worst acoustic guitars I’ve ever owned - and that includes a Chinese Dean. They were heavily overbraced and dull. If you play it and it sounds light and chimey, then it is a good one. If it goes Thud Thud Thud, leave it be. 

Edited by drathbun
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