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1987 Gibson Hummingbird quality?


Robzoid
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My local guitar shop has a 1987 Gibson Hummingbird for only $1,275. It's recently been set up and plays well. My problem is that I've never owned a nice acoustic, so it's hard for me to tell whether it's good or a lemon. I've heard that 1980s Gibson acoustics aren't too great and that they are over braced. Is the bracing issue the only problem they have or are there other issues from that time period like low quality wood, poor craftsmanship, etc?

Lastly, if too much bracing is the only problem, couldn't I have a luthier just remove the top and either sand away some of the bracing or replace it with lighting bracing? It seems like that would resolve the issue. 

 

Screen Shot 2022-01-09 at 1.49.13 PM.png

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Im not sure whats holding you back from this  Hummingbird.   Where do you find one with a price like this elsewhere? 
 

Hummingbirds were never a loud guitar.  They  have a soft tone. But if set up properly can have everything you require in a guitar. 

as for Bracing. Leave it. It was designed that way.   

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On the downside the Nashville plant did not have the proper environmental controls to build acoustics.  While it is only anecdotal evidence, questions have also arisen as to the build quality (or lack thereof).  But more importantly a possible upside (and it would be a big upside) is I believe Gibson had returned to building guitars with the 1/4" non-scalloped single X bracing.  The J30 (which was pretty much an HB without the bling) had a single X brace but am not sure whether that applied to the entire catalog.  So for me it me it would all come down to what bracing footprint is under the hood.   

Edited by zombywoof
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My understanding is that in the waning years of the Daylight Plant Gibson plant manager Jim Deurloo attempted to resurrect the acoustic line and tasked Abe Wechter with producing a J45 prototype.  That guitar debuted in 1984 marking the first time a round shoulder J45 had appeared in the catalog for some 15 years.  If the '87 HB does have the non-scalloped single X brace it would be closer to the guitars built in the 1960s than those coming out of Bozeman.

Edited by zombywoof
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If you like the guitar, get it. 
But sir, you set us in an impossible situation. How can we advice you when we don't know your preferences, , , and you haven't yet figured them out yourself. 

Try to find a person you trust and let him play and review it for you. It may be a fine guitar, but there are so many factors in the air here that most guidance would end up absurd. 

slimt and 75Hummingbird are on the right track. The key is the top bracing. But for the holy mackerel's sake don't think in terms of lifting the veil altering it. Much too big a challenge, , ,  and don't forget bracings are highly sensitive thus need top-experts in more sense than one to get it right. You wouldn't wanna pay the bill - perhaps couldn't find the artisan. 

That said, it's an intriguing situation. Whatever happens, Best of Luck - have a continuous good hunt 

Edited by E-minor7
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P.S. - I assume you are attracted to the Hummingbird sound, not only the look. The chance a craftsman near your would be able to bring that forward or emphasize it is close to nil.                                                                                                                       

No other brand on the planet, nor the king's or emperor's luthiers have ever been able to it. A magician tried but broke down and lost his powers, , ,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       he's now selling grapes in the streets of Vienna..  

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Knowing little about the structure of this H'BIrd, how it's been kept  and less about your preferences and how much $ you have available, or where you live ... 

If I were me, I would buy it and give it at least 4  months.  Sort of like going out on a blind date.   Then, regardless of what you paid for it, or could sell it for - you can answer the question you really didn't ask - "Is this MY Holy Grail" ?     If it turns out to be a Holy Mackerel,  a la  Em7 -  you should certainly be able to flip it.    And, we all would appreciate feedback on what you find if you go that route.  So the collective knowledge of The Hive can be expanded to include this niche guitar.  G'Luck. 

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I had a Gibson acoustic from 1987 - it was an odd-ball J180 but also unique as a Nashville built guitar.  Like this one, was priced as a bargain due to it being from a less desirable era also the sound was just okay.  I wish I kept the guitar as it was a workhorse and built like a tank - racked a lot of mileage and memories... was never afraid to take it out to gigs in the cold winter months and experiment with different pickup types. I say give it a chance!

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I say buy it.  You said it plays well and it's still in one piece 24 years after being built so it can't be too bad.  As long as you like the sound and feel of it that is all that matters.  And it's at a bargain price so go for it, these opportunities don't come along very often especially in today's environment where most used guitar prices are high.

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An ‘87 won’t be double X braced. Unless I’ve been very much misled, all models had lost the double X by 1984. The price is killer and it looks lovely, if you like it I would absolutely recommend that you buy it and see how you get on. 
 

If you don’t like it, at that price you can sell it and make money on it…absolutely risk free purchase in my opinion!

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19 hours ago, Jinder said:

An ‘87 won’t be double X braced. Unless I’ve been very much misled, all models had lost the double X by 1984. The price is killer and it looks lovely, if you like it I would absolutely recommend that you buy it and see how you get on. 
 

If you don’t like it, at that price you can sell it and make money on it…absolutely risk free purchase in my opinion!

Go with what Jinder says...I have no place for another guitar in my house...but I'd buy it in a heartbeat!

 

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On 1/9/2022 at 4:52 PM, 75 Hummingbird said:

Hi Robzoid ,  take a mirror with you ...a small mechanics mirror that will fit in sound hole ...examine the top bracing .

If it is Single X bracing ..buy the guitar ...if it is Double X bracing and sounds good ,plays fine with low string height ,no belly bulge etc ...buy it !

Thanks! That's exactly what I was looking for. I'll give that a try. 

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5 hours ago, Dave F said:

If the OP hasn't made his mind up by now, it's probably gone. I would not had hesitated. 

I'll check on it and see. If it is gone, no worries. I'm primarily an electric player and wasn't exactly looking to buy an acoustic, but it is a great deal and I've never owned a "real" acoustic before. Fingers crossed.

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On 1/11/2022 at 8:25 AM, fortyearspickn said:

Knowing little about the structure of this H'BIrd, how it's been kept  and less about your preferences and how much $ you have available, or where you live ... 

If I were me, I would buy it and give it at least 4  months.  Sort of like going out on a blind date.   Then, regardless of what you paid for it, or could sell it for - you can answer the question you really didn't ask - "Is this MY Holy Grail" ?     If it turns out to be a Holy Mackerel,  a la  Em7 -  you should certainly be able to flip it.    And, we all would appreciate feedback on what you find if you go that route.  So the collective knowledge of The Hive can be expanded to include this niche guitar.  G'Luck. 

Very good point about selling it if it doesn't work out. Thanks for the response! I think I'm going to go for it this weekend if it's still there. 

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