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Hummingbird Scalloped X-bracing


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18 minutes ago, j45nick said:

Ironically, by the time the first Hummingbird was built some 60 years ago, Gibson had stopped scalloping top braces. A 'Bird with scalloped top bracing is pretty much a modern phenomenon.

 

Ren, like pretty much every other chief engineer out there, had his own ideas as to what sounds best.  And that did not necessarily translate into Old School Gibson Tone.  I, however,  like the shorter, tapered bracing Gibson came up with in the mid-1950s.  It was very well thought out.  

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1 hour ago, j45nick said:

Ironically, by the time the first Hummingbird was built some 60 years ago, Gibson had stopped scalloping top braces. A 'Bird with scalloped top bracing is pretty much a modern phenomenon.

Yes, that's rightos, but to avoid confusion the first wave of Birds (square Gibsons) had a light bracing, which generates the same result = the attractive vibrant top. 

And the previous answers are right  - both contemporary True Vintage, Vintage and Standards are scalloped. For some 4-5-6-7 years ago the Standards however had a bit thicker back-braces.                  If you should check up on this 'detail', do report. 

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46 minutes ago, E-minor7 said:

Yes, that's rightos, but to avoid confusion the first wave of Birds (square Gibsons) had a light bracing, which generates the same result = the attractive vibrant top. 

And the previous answers are right  - both contemporary True Vintage, Vintage and Standards are scalloped. For some 4-5-6-7 years ago the Standards however had a bit thicker back-braces.                  If you should check up on this 'detail', do report. 

The first-generation 'Birds I've heard were pretty special. I think I've only played one, but there are really good videos online.  Norm's (I think) had a first- or second-year 'Bird that was in freaky good condition a couple of years ago, and it was pretty amazing all-around.

The combination of light top bracing and light back bracing is unusual in a square dread, but I think it helps give some early 'Birds that ethereal quality that later ones rarely have.

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8 hours ago, E-minor7 said:

For some 4-5-6-7 years ago the Standards however had a bit thicker back-braces.                  If you should check up on this 'detail', do report. 

This line was actually for ANDONI - the Irish thread-host.

8 hours ago, j45nick said:

The first-generation 'Birds I've heard were pretty special. I think I've only played one, but there are really good videos online.  Norm's (I think) had a first- or second-year 'Bird that was in freaky good condition a couple of years ago, and it was pretty amazing all-around.

The combination of light top bracing and light back bracing is unusual in a square dread, but I think it helps give some early 'Birds that ethereal quality that later ones rarely have.

One of the factors, no doubt. 45's have the same thing, but sound like 45s. 

Played a pristine 1960 that sounded pretty good, but had the thinnest neck I ever encountered. Apart from that I have 3 from what I consider the first wave here, 1960 to 64.                                              A ceramic saddled 1963 SJ which originally featured plastic bridge. A 1964 fixed saddle CW and a 1965 old-vase ivory saddle insert in trad broad slot.                                                                                        Can't believe how different they developed, , , or perhaps alway were.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And exactly that is what keeps me so curious and excited about these oldies. Each time you get to try another (and it doesn't happen often) you are presented with a new/other version of something very well-known. And that all original adj. ceramic saddle cherry 1965 I enjoyed last year was the best of them all so far.  Only a shame it had the 5/8 nut.  

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2 minutes ago, zombywoof said:

Oddly the Epiphone Frontier which Gibson's first attempt at a square shoulder dread was designed and built by Wilbur Fuller who ran the repair department in the Parsons Street basement.  

Are there any reports from his lab, , , 'bout his thoughts and ambitions, , , perhaps orders. . 

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28 minutes ago, E-minor7 said:

Are there any reports from his lab, , , 'bout his thoughts and ambitions, , , perhaps orders. . 

Not sure you can call it a lab.  Fuller literally did work in the basement where he was in charge of mandolin building and the repair shop.   The guys doing the experimenting were Chief Engineer Larry Allers and the pattern makers.  Fuller though was interviewed by a Gibson historian.  As best I can recall Fuller recounted that Allers  dropped a Martin dread off on his desk and told him to make a Gibson version.     Fuller recalled he took measurements and did a drawing and then built the body while the wood shop fashioned the neck.  I gather he had to rework the bending machine to make the rim.  I do remember him saying there was not a lot of trial of error in the production of the prototype.   Afterwards he turned the project over to the pattern makers to put the new square shoulder guitar into production.

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4 hours ago, zombywoof said:

Not sure you can call it a lab.  Fuller literally did work in the basement where he was in charge of mandolin building and the repair shop.   The guys doing the experimenting were Chief Engineer Larry Allers and the pattern makers.  Fuller though was interviewed by a Gibson historian.  As best I can recall Fuller recounted that Allers  dropped a Martin dread off on his desk and told him to make a Gibson version.     Fuller recalled he took measurements and did a drawing and then built the body while the wood shop fashioned the neck.  I gather he had to rework the bending machine to make the rim.  I do remember him saying there was not a lot of trial of error in the production of the prototype.   Afterwards he turned the project over to the pattern makers to put the new square shoulder guitar into production.

Intriguing stuff indeed - and I remember hearing the "Give me one of these" while throwing a Mart dread on the table -anecdote before.                                                                                                                        What I know for a fact is that the square Gibsons ended up with an adjusted body size and completely different neck'n'scale. A performance in itself.                                                                                                        While it remains unclear whether the body of the square Epiphones are something third, , , similar to the Gs or perhaps closer to the actual Marts presented by Allers. 

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The Frontier details are fascinating! That's a new one on me. As a Dove player I'm intrigued to know when the design of the Frontier morphed into the Dove, which of course sports essentially the same design tenets (maple, long scale, high end).

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21 minutes ago, Jinder said:

The Frontier details are fascinating! That's a new one on me. As a Dove player I'm intrigued to know when the design of the Frontier morphed into the Dove, which of course sports essentially the same design tenets (maple, long scale, high end).

Without knowing the exact year of the Frontier birth I believe the model paved the path for the 1960 Hummingbird. As the Bird grew into a success Kalamazoo got the obvious idea to mix that new hit on the block with one of the old dittos, the J200.  Thus the precious long scale maple, but square Dove saw light of day in 62.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If the story needs a piece, please speak up anybody. . 

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4 hours ago, Jinder said:

The Frontier details are fascinating! That's a new one on me. As a Dove player I'm intrigued to know when the design of the Frontier morphed into the Dove, which of course sports essentially the same design tenets (maple, long scale, high end).

The first Epiphones Texans were pretty much leftover Epi necks grafted onto J50 bodies.  So the Frontier was the first Gibson-designed Epiphone.  Epiphones were not actually built side by side with Gibsons in the Parsons Street Plant  but at first in a start up facility with tooling moved from NYC to Kalamazoo  and then in a new factory built in 1960 off to the side of Gibson plant.  

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I have a couple of early birds -- 62 HB and 65 Dove.  I have 50 old Gibsons and the birds and a 1965 F25 are actually the newest Gibsons ones I have. 

The history of Gibson from the early 30s to the late 60s is one of generally building less and less powerful guitars over time.  There are clear indications of this effect in the way the guitars were used in the various genres -- remember this was going from the kerosene circuit to the near total use of electrified instruments and sound reinforcement by the end of the 50s. 

I was always addicted to traditional American roots music, which was revolutionized by powerful guitars of the 1930s.  Gibsons from 1926 to 1954 were on my "desirable" list but after that on average I found them too weak for hard core traditional stuff.  In the 30s, I think Gibson and Martin were a lot alike for power -- not tone of course -- if there had been more of them it might have been the AJ that drove the bluegrass world.  They began to diverge for power during WWII -- both Martin and Gibson went downhill in that regard, but Gibson did it more quickly. 

I LOVE old Gibson tone, but I don't use them for the same things I use old Martins for.

BUT -- their is a another me -- a folk revival me.  I was 17 in 1960s, and "folk music" was my first passion.  So in addition to pre 1954 stuff, I also have some passion for folk revival era instruments.  My main guitar was a late 50s LG-1 at the time.  I did sort of what everyone else did -- I strummed a lot and also did (at that time) some bare finger picking (it was my fingers that were bare😎).  I knew lots of songs -- 100s I guess -- and I could strum along with with all of them and finger pick a few.  I participated in many, many sing-a-long I would say -- here is a picture with my LG-1 from maybe 1963.

b8Dk3Uz.jpg

 

Tomorrow I'll put up a post about the two Birds -- now I need to go to bed.  I'll just say to me they provided exactly the kind of tone that fit the folk revival strumming era.  For me that makes them wonderful.  But not the same.

 

 

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7 hours ago, tpbiii said:

I have a couple of early birds -- 62 HB and 65 Dove.  I have 50 old Gibsons and the birds and a 1965 F25 are actually the newest Gibsons ones I have. 

The history of Gibson from the early 30s to the late 60s is one of generally building less and less powerful guitars over time.  There are clear indications of this effect in the way the guitars were used in the various genres -- remember this was going from the kerosene circuit to the near total use of electrified instruments and sound reinforcement by the end of the 50s. 

I was always addicted to traditional American roots music, which was revolutionized by powerful guitars of the 1930s.  Gibsons from 1926 to 1954 were on my "desirable" list but after that on average I found them too weak for hard core traditional stuff.  In the 30s, I think Gibson and Martin were a lot alike for power -- not tone of course -- if there had been more of them it might have been the AJ that drove the bluegrass world.  They began to diverge for power during WWII -- both Martin and Gibson went downhill in that regard, but Gibson did it more quickly. 

I LOVE old Gibson tone, but I don't use them for the same things I use old Martins for.

BUT -- their is a another me -- a folk revival me.  I was 17 in 1960s, and "folk music" was my first passion.  So in addition to pre 1954 stuff, I also have some passion for folk revival era instruments.  My main guitar was a late 50s LG-1 at the time.  I did sort of what everyone else did -- I strummed a lot and also did (at that time) some bare finger picking (it was my fingers that were bare😎).  I knew lots of songs -- 100s I guess -- and I could strum along with with all of them and finger pick a few.  I participated in many, many sing-a-long I would say -- here is a picture with my LG-1 from maybe 1963.

b8Dk3Uz.jpg

 

Tomorrow I'll put up a post about the two Birds -- now I need to go to bed.  I'll just say to me they provided exactly the kind of tone that fit the folk revival strumming era.  For me that makes them wonderful.  But not the same.

 

 

 

I am also a child of the Folk Revival.  As I did not know a good guitar from a can of tuna  back then it did matter much what I played but I went roughly from Harmony to Gibson to Guild and then back to Gibson.   I did not really hit my stride though until the second folk revival wave in the 1970s.  And then it was not really as much about the guitar as I had taught myself to play blues violin and fiddle  and was good enough at it to play in bands and teach.  When came to guitars though I was also had became more inclined to snag Kay Krafts and Oscar Schmidt Concerts,

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My uncles dad bought him a brand new Hummingbird in 1962. 

I first played it in the 80's, just when I visited him.  He had a band and played out almost for a living.  He knew all the right people to keep the guitar in tip top shape.  To this day at least in my mind it played better and sounded better than any guitar I have ever held in my hands.

The last time I touched it was sometime in the 90's.  He has sense gifted it to his daughter, she of course will never part with it.  She even learned to play on it.  She lives some distance away, I will most likely never get to touch it again.

I spent a long time chasing that tone.  Played every hummingbird I got lucky enough to touch, but have yet to find one like it.  I of course never will, I only have my memory to go on.  So it will always remain the best I ever played.  I'm not sure I will ever give up the search, but I have at least for now settled on a J-45 I think a lot off.  But only had it a few weeks, so  we are  still on a honeymoon for now.

Tom, that's a great picture.  Love the ties, sweaters and of course skirts.

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9 hours ago, zombywoof said:

 

I am also a child of the Folk Revival.  As I did not know a good guitar from a can of tuna  back then it did matter much what I played but I went roughly from Harmony to Gibson to Guild and then back to Gibson.   I did not really hit my stride though until the second folk revival wave in the 1970s.  And then it was not really as much about the guitar as I had taught myself to play blues violin and fiddle  and was good enough at it to play in bands and teach.  When came to guitars though I was also had became more inclined to snag Kay Krafts and Oscar Schmidt Concerts,

Oh, me either!  I bought the LG-1 only because they did not have a LG-0 which would have been cheaper.  My wife had a MWard Kay strange "folk" guitar that was suppose to take steel or nylon -- HUH.  After I went to work in 1971, we bought new guitars -- in my case a Gibson J-40 second.  My wife loved to point out in later years that the LG-1 was better than the J-40, and the MWard was better than either.  Here she is playing her MWard.

 

 

 

We never followed the move to plugging in -- either actually or philosophically -- we were bonded to acoustic music for the rest of our lives.

Everything changed starting in the late 70s when we found the bluegrass community in the Georgia highlands.  The folk revival narrative was that traditional music was fading away and it was being preserved by college kids with guitars.  Nothing could have been further from the truth -- it had not gone anywhere! I had spent the 60s in Boston, but my family was from western NC, so no culture shock except perhaps for my wife.  It was two different worlds -- the mountain music was loud, strong, and there were many virtuosos on guitar and the other acoustic bluegrass instruments,  It was/is compelling music, but it took us maybe 15 years to enhance out pitiful folkie skill set to become even marginally adequate.  But they are very nice people, so we were accepted anyway.

They were into the power guitars -- mostly Martins -- and their features were needed and indeed defined that genre.  The rest of our lives my late wife and I tried to keep a foot in both camps -- we remained too weak for bluegrass and became way too strong for folk.  There are a lot of cool interesting musical worlds out there, but that was ours.

So my observations about Hummingbird and Dove as folk guitars are all in retrospect -- no way I could have owned them in the 60s.

We did start acquiring guitars in the 1970s, mostly from flea markets and pawn shops -- but our first old Martin or Gibson was until the 1980s.

Kay Kraft

UEvSo7w.jpg

Best,

-Tom

Edited by tpbiii
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3 hours ago, Seagull said:

My uncles dad bought him a brand new Hummingbird in 1962. 

I first played it in the 80's, just when I visited him.  He had a band and played out almost for a living.  He knew all the right people to keep the guitar in tip top shape.  To this day at least in my mind it played better and sounded better than any guitar I have ever held in my hands.

The last time I touched it was sometime in the 90's.  He has sense gifted it to his daughter, she of course will never part with it.  She even learned to play on it.  She lives some distance away, I will most likely never get to touch it again.

I spent a long time chasing that tone.  Played every hummingbird I got lucky enough to touch, but have yet to find one like it.  I of course never will, I only have my memory to go on.  So it will always remain the best I ever played.  I'm not sure I will ever give up the search, but I have at least for now settled on a J-45 I think a lot off.  But only had it a few weeks, so  we are  still on a honeymoon for now.

Tom, that's a great picture.  Love the ties, sweaters and of course skirts.

Good tale - and yes, you can chase a sonic myth for decades without really getting close. In your case however, it's more than important to recall the set-up.                                                                          tpbiii's Bird fx has the rare combination of plastic bridge with rosewood adjustable saddle. As you know the one you talk about could have had plastic bridge with ceramic saddle or rosewood b. with rosewood s. and so on. . 

All I can assure you is that the difference between these variations is huuuge - and if you don't remember what the 62'er had then see if the daughter would be kind enough to send a picture. 

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23 hours ago, E-minor7 said:

                                                       tpbiii's Bird fx has the rare combination of plastic bridge with rosewood adjustable saddle. As you know the one you talk about could have had plastic bridge with ceramic saddle or rosewood b. with rosewood s. and so on. . 

All I can assure you is that the difference between these variations is huuuge - and if you don't remember what the 62'er had then see if the daughter would be kind enough to send a picture. 

Well maybe.  I was an acoustics researcher by trade -- I even wrote a book on human audio quality perception in the 1990s.  And we always tried to only buy excellent sonic example of the different models, so we walked away from probably 90 percent -- you could do that in the 80s and 90s.   Because of that, we always took a reference guitar to compare so as to hear what we were listening too.  The reference was usually 40s or early 50s Gibsons -- we did not bring out the 30s stuff.  Mostly we did not buy 60s stuff -- kissed a lot of frogs but did not find a Prince by 30s or 40s standards.  There is one exception to this which I'll talk about shortly.  When we bought the 62 HB, there were two other 60s HB there -- they quite possibly were later 60s, I don't know.  Well this was clearly the best HB in the room regardless of its features and our hidden folkie bias came out because we loved that tone.  We had no illusions about its relationship to older Gibsons.  In the 1990s I had Jay Rhyne install an ivory saddle in it which I  kept there for a couple of years -- it hardened the sound but did not make it louder is my memory, so I took it out.  I had plenty of louder, harder Js to play.  I did not change the bridge -- I saw no adequate reason to do that to an all-original exe example that we loved.

a1qEaZG.jpg

The Hummingbird guitar played a major role in our life, but it never went out.  That was because it sounded so good strumming folk revival songs and because it recorded so well in our faithful reproduction video/audio studio that we used to demo vintage guitars.  Many old ethereal  acoustic monsters (AJs, Herringbones, etc) are notoriously hard to capture and record.

The Dove also does not get high marks for power by traditional standards either.  Laminate maple B&Ss ( our 30s L-Cs and 40s maple J-45s too) and the tune-o-matic bridge -- this one came with a pickup -- but nonetheless this is a good "Dove."  My Sister has a 72 she bought new, and this one blows the doors off of it.

We really had two yard sticks for power and tone -- one for the 30s-40s-50s traditional genres and one for the folk revival era.  Your yard stick will naturally vary of course because that is how humans work.  We had none for electrified instruments.

So which frog turned into a Prince -- this 65 F25.  Go figure.

rzF1rHq.jpgvNO32lu.jpg

It at least ties this 1939 HG-00 -- both can peel paint!  I gather from on-line discussions that there were some feature changes in the middle of its short run, so perhaps there are two kinds?

dTxhSVE.jpgHusRhOS.jpg

Even this is all about Gibsons, perhaps this kind of discussion is more appropriate elsewhere?

All the best,

-Tom

 

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Thanx tpbiii - No secret to me that you (and your wife) were serious from the start. But what is surprising is that the ivory saddle didn't bring more volume to the old Bird. The 1965 CW here has an old-vase-ivory insert and though this mellower material provides a mellower sound than the ceramic version, it surely pulls the volume up compared to the even softer rosewood.                  Ouh, , and do not misunderstand my post. I have a plastic bridge 1963 J-45 with ceramic insert plus all the original nuts, washers and spring - and definitely like if not lOVE that guitar a lot. 

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1 hour ago, E-minor7 said:

Thanx tpbiii - No secret to me that you (and your wife) were serious from the start. But what is surprising is that the ivory saddle didn't bring more volume to the old Bird. The 1965 CW here has an old-vase-ivory insert and though this mellower material provides a mellower sound than the ceramic version, it surely pulls the volume up compared to the even softer rosewood.                  Ouh, , and do not misunderstand my post. I have a plastic bridge 1963 J-45 with ceramic insert plus all the original nuts, washers and spring - and definitely like if not lOVE that guitar a lot. 

Well what you said is certainly conventional wisdom and it seems like it should be right.  Maybe it is -- all I really remember for sure is that we liked it better without the ivory.  I guess I was trying to say I don't have enough experience with 60s guitars so I have a strong opinion  based on experience, so I just recounted my individual experience with this one guitar.  It certainly had a unique place in our lives -- it is probably the most recorded guitar we had because it so loved the microphones at home.  Because if we brought a full up bluegrass band into the studio, it would overpower the room and muddy up the sound.  Some of my friends laugh at me because instead of damping the room, I chose (still old) instruments that did not have the problem.   My wife had a 1/4 Kay bass she used.  When we wanted to hear what our vocals sounded like, we used the small bass, the HB, a 30s Larson, and a 23 RB-4--a trap door banjo.  We never used that combination when we played out.

Thanks for your comments and your experience!

Here is an example with HB, small banjo and small bass.

 

.

Best,

-Tom

 

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10 hours ago, tpbiii said:

Well what you said is certainly conventional wisdom and it seems like it should be right.  Maybe it is -- all I really remember for sure is that we liked it better without the ivory.  I guess I was trying to say I don't have enough experience with 60s guitars so I have a strong opinion  based on experience, so I just recounted my individual experience with this one guitar.  It certainly had a unique place in our lives -- it is probably the most recorded guitar we had because it so loved the microphones at home.  Because if we brought a full up bluegrass band into the studio, it would overpower the room and muddy up the sound.  Some of my friends laugh at me because instead of damping the room, I chose (still old) instruments that did not have the problem.   My wife had a 1/4 Kay bass she used.  When we wanted to hear what our vocals sounded like, we used the small bass, the HB, a 30s Larson, and a 23 RB-4--a trap door banjo.  We never used that combination when we played out.

Thanks for your comments and your experience!

Here is an example with HB, small banjo and small bass.

.

Best,

-Tom

 

Tom,

That 'Bird is perfect in that small-group setting.

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