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60s-style Gibson J-50 2020 reissue


TomG76
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Hi everyone.

I posted here a few years ago and got some great advice when I was thinking of getting a Gibson acoustic. I’m now in a position to do so. 

I definitely want a J-50. I was wondering if anyone had tried the 1960s-style reissue that’s come out this year. (I think the nut width will suit me a little better than the 1950s-style they’ve also made this year.)

If so, did it have that authentic and wonderful Gibson thump? 

I know this is typical for new guitars, but the spruce top looks quite pale. Can I expect it to darken to that gorgeous amber so associated with the J-50?

If my last question violates forum rules I apologise. Can anyone recommend a UK shop that sells these guitars with a good set up? Or do they come with one?

The other option is to spring for an older J-50. It will be the great guitar purchase of my life*, so I am open to that. For obvious reasons it is impossible to test drive anything right now.

Thanks,

Tom

*You may end up mocking me one day when it turns out that the J-50 doesn’t cure my GAS.

 

 

 

 

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My advice regarding the '60s J50 is to proceed with caution...this is a real "try before you buy" guitar.

Why? For one simple reason...the adjustable bridge. These things have been a massively controversial and divisive factor since they were introduced. Personally, I have NO problem with them whatsoever. I've owned a few "adj" bridge guitars and I like the system...but, you must consider the following:

1) Tone is likely to be thinner/brighter with the adjustable bridge compared to a standard fixed saddle, with a more aggressive upper midrange push. Sustain can also suffer depending on the guitar in question.

2) You will be limited significantly in terms of pickup choice...UST pickups obviously don't work with these bridges, and SBTs such as K&K suffer poor string balance. You really need to use a soundhole pickup or an external mic if you want to play live.

3) Adjustable bridges aren't hot property for resale. A good friend of mine who deals in guitars has had a stunning, absolutely sensational '60s reissue J45 in cherry for over a year, arguably the best sounding adj bridge guitar I've ever played and a really gorgeous instrument in general, but the adjustable bridge has made it really tough to sell, as people have fixed perceptions of them.

As I said, try before you buy. For some players, the adjustable bridge brings the grail tone...I like them a great deal, but they aren't for everyone. 

Regarding the top, a couple of years with plenty of UV exposure will dull that pale spruce down beautifully. 

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If it's of interest, this is the '60s reissue J45 my friend Glenn has for sale. He is based in Enfield in North London and is the only person in the UK I ever buy guitars from. I trust him implicitly and in the last 15yrs he has never sold me an instrument I haven't loved. Superb dealer. Enjoy getting yourself lost in his website for an hour or two...so many beautiful guitars!

This one is truly sensational, though.

https://www.glennsguitars.com/2007-gibson-1968-j-45-adj-reissue-translucent-orange-1799/

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1 hour ago, Jinder said:

My advice regarding the '60s J50 is to proceed with caution...this is a real "try before you buy" guitar.

Why? For one simple reason...the adjustable bridge. These things have been a massively controversial and divisive factor since they were introduced. Personally, I have NO problem with them whatsoever. I've owned a few "adj" bridge guitars and I like the system...but, you must consider the following:

1) Tone is likely to be thinner/brighter with the adjustable bridge compared to a standard fixed saddle, with a more aggressive upper midrange push. Sustain can also suffer depending on the guitar in question.

2) You will be limited significantly in terms of pickup choice...UST pickups obviously don't work with these bridges, and SBTs such as K&K suffer poor string balance. You really need to use a soundhole pickup or an external mic if you want to play live.

3) Adjustable bridges aren't hot property for resale. A good friend of mine who deals in guitars has had a stunning, absolutely sensational '60s reissue J45 in cherry for over a year, arguably the best sounding adj bridge guitar I've ever played and a really gorgeous instrument in general, but the adjustable bridge has made it really tough to sell, as people have fixed perceptions of them.

As I said, try before you buy. For some players, the adjustable bridge brings the grail tone...I like them a great deal, but they aren't for everyone. 

Regarding the top, a couple of years with plenty of UV exposure will dull that pale spruce down beautifully. 

 

Basing this solely on the only two ADJ saddle bridge Gibsons I have owned which were both pre-1965 twelve strings,  the bridges also increased the amount of attack I heard.  Oddly, I actually prefer the wood saddle to others I have tried..   

My question about the Bozeman version of the ADJ saddle bridge though would be about the bridge plate.  I always thought those installed by Kalamazoo were more of the culprit than the bridge itself as they were oversized often stiff laminate contraptions.    I also assumed  Kalamazoo went this route  because of  the need to support the weight of the ADJ bridge  Has Bozeman gone in another direction to solve this engineering problem?    

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8 minutes ago, zombywoof said:

 

Basing this solely on the only two ADJ saddle bridge Gibsons I have owned which were both pre-1965 twelve strings,  the bridges also increased the amount of attack I heard.  Oddly, I actually prefer the wood saddle to others I have tried..   

My question about the Bozeman version of the ADJ saddle bridge though would be about the bridge plate.  I always thought those installed by Kalamazoo were more of the culprit than the bridge itself as they were oversized often stiff laminate contraptions.    I also assumed  Kalamazoo went this route  because of  the need to support the weight of the ADJ bridge  Has Bozeman gone in another direction to solve this engineering problem?    

Good questions, ZW.

I just pulled out of my parts box the remains (about 80%) of a 1968 laminated bridgeplate for an ADJ bridge (which I also have in my parts box) which was on a J-45. That plate is a 3-ply laminate--wood species indeterminate, but the outermost (exposed face inside the guitar) looks like maple. Thickness is just under 5/32" (4mm, .16") net of glue. Typical thickness of solid maple plates, for comparison,  is 1/8" (3.18mm). Area of laminated plate is roughly twice that of the small plate in my all-original 1950 J-45.

I believe Gibson made their own plywood, and I suspect this might the same material that would have been used for the bodies of plywood electric guitars, where the tone and volume is not a function of body resonance.

The plate has to be substantially larger than for a non-adj  bridge in order to accommodate the adj mechanism, which requires two fairly large  holes (19/64", 7.5mm) through the top and bridgeplate, well offset from the pin holes. The adj saddle loads the top in an entirely different way, since all of the bending moment of the strings on the saddle is transmitted to the top solely through the adj mechanism, and that moment has a long lever (the adjusting screws) trying to deform the top and bridgeplate.

With the non-adj bridge/saddle, the bending moment is applied through the entire footprint of the bridge to the top and bridgeplate, rather than locally via the adj screws.

This particular adj bridgeplate measures  2 1/4" along the string axis, as opposed to about half that for a non-adj plate.

Details, details.

As you say, I would like to see the bridgeplate on a modern J-45 with an ADJ bridge/saddle.

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22 minutes ago, j45nick said:

Good questions, ZW.

I just pulled out of my parts box the remains (about 80%) of a 1968 laminated bridgeplate for an ADJ bridge (which I also have in my parts box) which was on a J-45. That plate is a 3-ply laminate--wood species indeterminate, but the outermost (exposed face inside the guitar) looks like maple. Thickness is just under 5/32" (4mm, .16") net of glue. Typical thickness of solid maple plates, for comparison,  is 1/8" (3.18mm). Area of laminated plate is roughly twice that of the small plate in my all-original 1950 J-45.

I believe Gibson made their own plywood, and I suspect this might the same material that would have been used for the bodies of plywood electric guitars, where the tone and volume is not a function of body resonance.

The plate has to be substantially larger than for a non-adj  bridge in order to accommodate the adj mechanism, which requires two fairly large  holes (19/64", 7.5mm) through the top and bridgeplate, well offset from the pin holes. The adj saddle loads the top in an entirely different way, since all of the bending moment of the strings on the saddle is transmitted to the top solely through the adj mechanism, and that moment has a long lever (the adjusting screws) trying to deform the top and bridgeplate.

With the non-adj bridge/saddle, the bending moment is applied through the entire footprint of the bridge to the top and bridgeplate, rather than locally via the adj screws.

This particular adj bridgeplate measures  2 1/4" along the string axis, as opposed to about half that for a non-adj plate.

Details, details.

As you say, I would like to see the bridgeplate on a modern J-45 with an ADJ bridge/saddle.

 

Bridge plates in the early 1930s 12 fret Advanced L Body guitars could clock in at  around  .040" (1 mm) which is scary thin,.   Gibson though was making their own laminate in the 1950s.  But it,  consisted of even layers of the same wood such as that used on the bodies of the J200.. Gibson  claimed it actually cost them more than using solid wood.  I do not know, however, whether they continued the practice through the 1960s and 1970s when they came out with arched back models such as the Gospel and J55.   

The thing is, no guitar builder made changes purely for sound.  They did it to solve an engineering problem.  And the main one was to avoid warranty issues which were a drag on the bottom line of any company.  This really started to plague Gibson in 1968 when they made the first bracing change since 1955 going with a wider bracing which  just kept getting bulkier culminating in the now infamous Double X bracing in 1971.  .  But I just find it had to believe that Bozeman is installing bridge plates large enough to qualify as a piece of furniture.

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On 6/8/2020 at 12:12 PM, Jinder said:

If it's of interest, this is the '60s reissue J45 my friend Glenn has for sale. He is based in Enfield in North London and is the only person in the UK I ever buy guitars from. I trust him implicitly and in the last 15yrs he has never sold me an instrument I haven't loved. Superb dealer. Enjoy getting yourself lost in his website for an hour or two...so many beautiful guitars!

This one is truly sensational, though.

https://www.glennsguitars.com/2007-gibson-1968-j-45-adj-reissue-translucent-orange-1799/

 

Hot DAMN that guitar looks gorgeous, Jinder. Thanks. I’m going to explore.

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On 6/8/2020 at 7:12 AM, Jinder said:

If it's of interest, this is the '60s reissue J45 my friend Glenn has for sale. He is based in Enfield in North London and is the only person in the UK I ever buy guitars from. I trust him implicitly and in the last 15yrs he has never sold me an instrument I haven't loved. Superb dealer. Enjoy getting yourself lost in his website for an hour or two...so many beautiful guitars!

This one is truly sensational, though.

https://www.glennsguitars.com/2007-gibson-1968-j-45-adj-reissue-translucent-orange-1799/

That's and interesting guitar, for sure. That one has a conventional Gibson belly-up adjustable bridge.

The one Gibson put on my first 1950 J-45 when they re-topped it in July of 1968 was a belly-down (Martin style) version with a rosewood adj saddle. I think both bridge configurations were used at the same time, for some reason. 

It also came back with a screwed on thick tortoise batwing guard with a Gibson logo, but not the boob logo. And a cherryburst top, of course.

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