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Restoring my Grandfather's 60s J45


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I recently started to learn the guitar and my dad mentioned we had a old Gibson guitar that belonged to my Grandfather sitting in the garage. I picked it up, but it had no strings, was dinged up abit and I couldn't use it. So I thought nothing of it until a friend of mine said that it might be a 60s J45. I started researching the guitar but I couldn't find any serial number on it by the headstock. It just says "made in the USA".  I only found  two markings inside the guitar that might give an idea of what it is.  One by the sound hole, where the sticker should be, that looks like it says "16 1". The other is where the neck is attached to the inside of the guitar and says "5733 34". I have attached pictures of the markings. I have no idea how to date the guitar.

I would like to restore the guitar if it is sensible to do so. The guitar is missing its capstans, bridge pins, the tuning pegs have disintegrated and the plastic cover that hides the nut is gone. The guitar has a fair number of dings, a large scratch on one side and damage at the bottom where a strap may have gone. Overall it looks like a guitar that was played a lot. Attached some images of the damage.

What year do you guys think it is and is it worthwhile restoring? Any help will be extremely appreciated!

Profile.jpg

Back side.jpg

Made in the USA.jpg

16 l.jpg

5733 34.jpg

Tuning pegs.jpg

Big strach.jpg

Damage at the end of the guitar.jpg

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Awesome high value guitar, in the time period they are at their best. Pre-50's. Do whatever it takes to restore without changing anything. It'll be well worth much more when restored than you have to put in to get it playable. You'll just need a qualified vintage luthier, so that's where I'd start.

Edited by jedzep
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There real expert Gib nerds here, and they will step up soon. That 'Made in USA' stamp throws me off, and I'm truly no authority, but I would value it according to researching similar ones as found on Reverb or Ebay. If it's from the era I believe, maybe 5-8K.
 

You'll need an experienced pro vintage aware luthier, maybe referred by a good music shop. Many of these repairs are fairly minor and authentic parts are available.

Edited by jedzep
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Thank you so much dude. I found a music shop near me that's registered Gibson dealer and they are so excited to see it. Also they said they have an amazing vintage luthier that can restore it.

 

Edited by Markino
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This does not appear to be a J-45. The stamp on the inside back appears to say LG-1, which is also supported by the lack of an inside centerline backstrip.

Measure across the widest part of the guitar. If it is an LG, that measurement will be about 14.25" (just over 360mm). If it is a J-45, the same measurement will be about 16" (about 406mm).

If the first four digits of the number stamped on the neck block are 5733 or 5233, the guitar is a 1950.

Generally, the guitar appears to be in very nice condition, and does not require any restoration. Everything I see is original. The crumbled-off tuner buttons are easily replaced, and the tuners themselves are easily reconditioned,

The broken -off heel pin--really common, as these were just plastic-- is easily punched out from the inside with a pin punch by just pushing on the end of the pin from the inside, and identical replacements are readily available. Do not try to remove it from the outside. The hole for that pin is tapered, and the remains of the old pin must be pushed out from the inside.

Do not let anyone talk you into any "restoration". A qualified luthier can inspect it and determine what repairs, if any, are required to put it into good playing condition. We can help guide you through that.

The Made in USA stamp on the back of the headstock indicates an export model, which is supported by your location. A surprising number of Gibsons were exported to South Africa in the years after WW2.

This is a family heirloom, and looks like a nice guitar. An LG-1 is not on the same level of value as a J-45 from the same period, but still has significant value as a family treasure and a really nice guitar.

 

Edited by j45nick
correction
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To reiterate, a guitar of this age will have bumps and bruises. These are all part of its character, and do not detract from either its value or its functionality as a musical instrument.

The only apparent damage is the crack in the top across the corner of the lower bout. That is fairly common, and often results from the guitar being dropped or falling onto its side. Structurally, it is in the best possible place, as the kerfing that supports the top on the inside gives a lot of support to that corner. At the most, a repair guy will clean that crack out and glue it. It may or may not require a small backing cleat in the inside.

The missing plastic trussrod cover on the front of the headstock is easily replaced. A close-up photo of the front of the headstock will tell us what parts you might need for repair and re-installation of the tuners (the capstans, as you call them).  Period-correct bridgepins and heel pin are also easy to come by.

Direct, period-correct replacements for every missing or damaged part I see on that guitar are readily available, and we can give you sources for them.

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Thank you so much for your help Nick! It is definitely a LG-1, I measured 360 mm at the widest part of the guitar. Aslo it makes sense that he bought a LG-1 because he didn't didn't play guitar often.  help 

I am just going to get it to the point where it's playable. Like you suggested. I will take it to get checked and see what they can do here because ordering parts from the USA right now, with our Covid crisis, will take 6 months. Also I am still a student so saving some money here and there will go along way. I think it would make a great first guitar because at the moment I am borrowing my brother's classical guitar. Although do you think it would make a good guitar to learn how to play on, because in all honesty I only started learning the guitar on sunday. However, I have played like 8 hours since then and I am enjoying it so much. My fingertips are ruined 😂

I have also attached a picture of the head stack and a couple more ones of the guitar. Again thank you so much Nick

20210201_140243.jpg

Bridge pins .jpg

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This is an excellent guitar to learn to play on, and is a really good guitar in general.

The headstock details confirm the rest of it.

You are missing four of the six ferrules or bushing in the headstock. Those are easily replaced, but getting the right size is important.

You may be able to get the required missing parts from Germany, if that is easier than the US for you. International shipments are still moving every day, however, so that should not be  too much of an obstacle.

Since a fair number of Gibsons were exported to SA, there may also be one or more luthiers or repair technicians there who have not only experience with them, but access to vintage and new parts.

You should use light gauge strings on this. They are typically listed by the gauge of the lightest to heaviest string, and will typically  be .012-.053 for light strings. Start with either phosphor bronze or 80-20 bronze to get the feel for the tone you like, once you get the guitar in playing condition

I don't know if there is a good guitar repair person in Pretoria or not, but there is probably an online guitar community in SA that can help you out in locating someone. You do not want someone with little or no experience in vintage Gibsons doing any work for you if possible.

You may be surprised to find a fairly large community of owners of vintage Gibsons in SA. Whether it was because of aggressive marketing or an importer who really stepped up, I'm not sure. There are actually members here with a fair amount of knowledge about the history of vintage Gibsons and Martins in South Africa.

Good luck with this. You will find helpful folks on this forum.

Family guitars are great heirlooms. You would surprised at how many stories we hear similar to yours. In your case, you are lucky because it is a good guitar, and appears unmolested and in generally good condition.

Do some parts research online. stewmac.com and elderly.com. Elderly carrys some of the best repro vintage parts for your guitar. Ironically, they are made in Germany.  by Antique Acoustics.

On the Elderly website, the tuner buttons you want are  their SKU  AAB1-cream. They are exact repros of what is missing on your tuners. They are by Antique Acoustics

Your tuners (capstans), as you call them are Klusons. I have two 1950 J-45s from early in 1950, and both originally had the same tuners as your guitar. They usually need flushing out with a mild solvent to clean them, followed by a shot of dry lubricant through that lubricating hole in the back cover of each tuning mechanism.

The bridge pins could be anything you find locally in the short run, provided they fit all the way down into the pin holes, but are not really loose. The correct pins and endpin from the Elderly website, once again by Antique Acoustics, are their part number AAPS2-PS. the original pins might have been black or white, but that doesn't matter.

Elderly does not carry the correct headstock bushings for your tuners, These are a bit harder to find , but a luthier or repair person who has been in business  for more than a few years proably has some, or has access to them.

On stewmac.com, the correct headstock bushings for your tuners are part number 0738-N. 

Stewmac.com also has truss rod covers (the missing bell-shaped pate on the front of the headstock) that will fit, but the original on yours would be black with no white border. The size is the same. For reference, their part number is 1210.

There are other sources for most if not all of these parts.

 

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Wow! Thank you so much Nick are amazing. 

I took the guitar to a music shop to get it checked and see if they can help me out . Luckily they do a lot of work with Gibsons. Also the owner loved the story behind it and he wants to keep things as they are but make it playable. 

I will let you guys know how things progress!

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I need your help guys.

So I had my guitar at shop so that they can check for spare parts and so on. The biggest issue they have is finding new tuners. Apparently you can't just put new tuner buttons on you have to buy a whole new tuner. They did find tuners that would work but they aren't the same ones. Instead of being one complete part for each side its a tuner for each individual string. They don't look good. If I do take them then they have to drill new holes at the headstock for them to fit.  I do not want to do that.

Do you guys recommend I find a new set of original  tuners or find a way of getting new buttons on to the old tuners? 

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On 2/22/2021 at 9:11 AM, Markino said:

I need your help guys.

So I had my guitar at shop so that they can check for spare parts and so on. The biggest issue they have is finding new tuners. Apparently you can't just put new tuner buttons on you have to buy a whole new tuner. They did find tuners that would work but they aren't the same ones. Instead of being one complete part for each side its a tuner for each individual string. They don't look good. If I do take them then they have to drill new holes at the headstock for them to fit.  I do not want to do that.

Do you guys recommend I find a new set of original  tuners or find a way of getting new buttons on to the old tuners? 

Your guitar shop apparently doesn't know much about vintage tuners. Those plastic buttons on your tuners are easily replaced, as are the missing headstock bushings.

Suitable replacement parts are found at stewmac.com.

Suitable tuner buttons are their item #0111 or 0112. There are videos online on how to install these.

The correct headstock bushings  are their item # 0738-N or 0738-RN

Stewmac ships worldwide.

stewmac

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Jup they are useless. I am ordering the parts from stewmac.com. Luckily I meet up with Luthier, had some tea with him and spoke about restoring my guitar. He said there are no parts in SA and if there are you have to do some serious digging to find them. 

Also hes a pro and he is excited to set up my guitar!

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