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sbpark

Seeking info. on 1970-1972 Hummingbirds...

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I was recently offered a trade for a 1970 Hummingbird. Pics are below. Guitar looks to be in really nice shape. Owner says it's never had any repairs, no cracks, damage, etc. Original case as well. May go check it out, but was wondering if anyone could shed any light on the Hummingbirds from '70-'72. (The SN# is 734639 and comes back as a '70-'72) I know that there are duds and great examples from all eras, but without ever really playing any Gibson acoustics from the 70's, I know many aren't really into these because some had the double-X bracing and suffered in the QC department. Any info on specs or things to look out for would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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Action looks a bit high, but there is plenty of saddle. All Gibsons in this period are mere shadows of their former selves. In the case of the 'bird, the parallelogram inlays are gone, replaced by the clunky block inlays.

It looks to be in nice condition.

Play it to see what it sounds like, but it isn't worth a lot of money. My guess would be $1500. 

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This guitar definitely fell victim to Norlin Era changes, but due to it's apparently clean condition, it would be interesting to give it a test drive.  The key thing I would look for is structural integrity.  If you like the tone & playability, and if the price is right, it would be compelling.  Remember that this Bird was still made in Kalamazoo by people who knew how to build a quality instrument - even though management made decisions that unfortunately compromised best construction practices.

Fwiw, I owned two '70s Gibson acoustics back in the '70s - a Dove and a Heritage Custom.  They were both quite satisfying tonally.  I later entered a period where I migrated towards smaller bodied guitars, so they eventually became part of deals to land other instruments.

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It looks to be in very good condition. Not to be cute or flip, those are the ones that worry me. It usually means they haven't been played much and for good reason. I don't think the double x is as much a factor as the huge plywood bridge plate that encompasses the entire diamond made up by the x braces (inaccessible). As a hobbyist guitar repairman and builder they have always piqued my interest. Bracing is easily modified or scalloped. However, I find the asking price of them to not easily fall into the realm of "experimental" pieces. 

Condition alone makes it worth a look. Good luck I hope it turns out for you. Either way, should you check it out, I would be interested in your impression.

Edit: Also if I am not mistaken this era would be the longer 25 1/2" scale as opposed to the 24 3/4". Although there have been both iterations since the beginning the short is probably the more sought after.

Edited by aliasphobias
Clarification

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I would get it for the wood alone.  Beautiful 50 year old mahogany and spruce. Might just turn out to be a wall hanger, but  I'm sure there are ways to modify the bracing.  Might appreciate  significantly in value if done by a well-regarded luthier. 

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 If you want to know if it is a 1970 or 1972 just look under the hood.  The '70 should still  have a single X brace. albeit it will be bulkier than what you saw in 1967 and earlier Gibsons .  If a '72 the guitar will have now infamous Norlin-era "Double X" brace.  

 

 

Edited by zombywoof

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I've played some surprisingly great Norlin era acoustics. Some duds too, but it's really a "suck it and see" scenario. It is stunningly clean and looks to have a good neck angle. Even if the double X is a bit restrictive, being that minty it would be worth having the top taken off and re-braced along with a new bridge plate, or at least having the braces scalloped. But, there is every chance you will enjoy it as is.

I REALLY want to own a great Norlin era acoustic one day. Gospels are my favourite, but I would absolutely entertain a square block inlay Hummingbird.

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What is the Trade?   I would be taking a mirror and checking all the bracing inside.  The bracing is thin in those. Check the bridge plate at well.  

Edited by slimt

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5 hours ago, slimt said:

What is the Trade?   I would be taking a mirror and checking all the bracing inside.  The bracing is thin in those. Check the bridge plate at well.  

 

Have an '18 D35. He offered the Hummingbird and $600 cash on his end. The D35 is an incredible guitar, I just prefer mahogany back and sides. 

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3 hours ago, sbpark said:

 

Have an '18 D35. He offered the Hummingbird and $600 cash on his end. The D35 is an incredible guitar, I just prefer mahogany back and sides. 

Bold move. But the preference for the mahogany is understandable. 

The photos of the Hummingbird show good detail- the current action height looks fine to me, but don't expect to hear that guitar's best voice: that side view closeup hints that the strings might be as vintage as the guitar. Love that it comes with the old owner's manual.

Two things Aliasphobias mentioned- bring a pocket measuring tape to check the scale length. . . the short scale plays a part in what makes the Hummingbird sound as it does. And the caution about old guitars in pristine shape can be valid, too. . . but just remember- there are also plenty of under-the-bed 6-string time capsules that are the result of would-be players finding out it's not as easy as it looks. 

If you have a lighted mirror, an interior pic would satisfy some curiosities around here.

Edited by 62burst

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You could probably swap your D-35 even for a modern Hummingbird, which is likely to be a better guitar than a 1970-'72 Hummingbird. There are good Norlin era Gibsons, but on average, they don't hold a candle to modern Bozeman guitars. Older isn't always better.

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31 minutes ago, j45nick said:

You could probably swap your D-35 even for a modern Hummingbird, which is likely to be a better guitar than a 1970-'72 Hummingbird. There are good Norlin era Gibsons, but on average, they don't hold a candle to modern Bozeman guitars. Older isn't always better.

A good point, and something to consider.

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2 hours ago, j45nick said:

You could probably swap your D-35 even for a modern Hummingbird, which is likely to be a better guitar than a 1970-'72 Hummingbird. There are good Norlin era Gibsons, but on average, they don't hold a candle to modern Bozeman guitars. Older isn't always better.

 

I ended up respectfully declining the guys offer. I'd rather just hold out and sell the guitar or wait until someone makes a trade offer on something I'd really like. A newer Hummingbird would be great. I also wouldn't mind just selling the guitar. It really is an incredible D35 with a huge sound, I just love my D18 and always reach for it before reaching for the D35. 

Edited by sbpark

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Guy still ended up buying the D35. Apparently he put the Hummingbird up for sale and sold it in four hours and he just left my place with the D35. 

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