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Bad idea to replace adjustable plastic saddle on '63 Southern Jumbo with Tusq?


Robbie1299
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I don't want to permanently make my '63 SJ "un-original." It seems like if I leave the original plastic bridge, and I just pull out the plastic saddle and replace it with a Tusq one, I can swap them back if I want to sell the guitar some day. Does that sound right? Is it a bad idea? I also plan on putting in Tusq bridge pins and keeping the originals for later.

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I'd be surprised if it was a plastic saddle, as I thought it would be ceramic, bone, or rosewood.

I understand your logic in keeping it original, but if it were mine, I'd have that plastic bridge off and replaced with a RW fixed saddle slot bridge so fast Zomby's head would spin.

Can you hook us up with a photo?

Dave

Edited by jedzep
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Get rid of the plastic bridge. Your guitar will thank you. Plastic bridges -- original or not -- were a bad idea at the time (hey, it was the '60s...) and the concept has not gotten better. A guitar should sound as good as it possibly can. 

Tusq saddles are ok, although I've never warmed to Tusq saddles or nuts. My unsolicited advice would be to go with bone.

 

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Yes

9 hours ago, jedzep said:

I'd be surprised if it was a plastic saddle, as I thought it would be ceramic, bone, or rosewood.

Yes, it sounds like a misjudgement. 

9 hours ago, jedzep said:

Can you hook us up with a photo?

Yes - do post a few close-ups. We need to see the actual thing - even though it may be original thus more than well known. 

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The original saddle, if it is still on there, would be ceramic.  If the plastic bridge is structurally sound and you like the tone, my advice would be to leave it as is.

We’ve seemingly had this discussion here a million times, but it’s worth repeating:  The adjustable plastic bridge was a goofy idea, but an unintended byproduct is that it can create a slightly metallic & unique tone that some folks are quite drawn to.  In my case, it’s a tone that I actually crave.

If the guitar’s current tone doesn’t work for you, then by all means, experiment away - but I’d do the reversible stuff first!

Edit:  After watching the posted luthier’s video, I have to disagree with a few key points.  The NON-adjustable plastic bridge does indeed represent a tonal kiss of death scenario - but the adjustable version is a whole different ball game.  The two adjustable metal posts & metal seat for the saddle create somewhat of an archtop-like bridge arrangement - thereby delivering that unique tone (and relegating the plastic bridge to no more than a seat for the six pins).  Additionally, as for the luthier’s generalized concerns regarding structural stability, some examples of the adjustable plastic bridge have remained stable for decades.  My own from 1966 is in perfect structural condition after 56 years, which I dare say is longer than many traditional bridges have survived!

Edited by bobouz
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Personally, I would leave it alone.  The point is  to add power,  but it will never be a powerful guitar.  Gibson built power guitars in the 30s, but it was downhill after that.  They had sort of collapsed by the 70s, but the acoustic music of the 60s -- the music of my youth -- was very comparatively and mild inclusive.  I still love that stuff, and I have a 62 HB which is an acoustic jewel for that stuff.  It is old enough to have picked up a lot of tonal clarity -- you would lose that -- or most of it -- with a new bridge modification. 

 

Now since the 60s, I have played a lot of more power genres -- bluegrass, mountain folk, ragtime, traditional gospel.  I use a lot of old Gibsons to do that, but never mind what you do to that 63, it will never really compete with the 1934-1954 stuff.  And my HB is generally very useful -- it records better than the older stuff and to me it is a perfect match to the folk revival era.  For all these reasons, I think the collector/player divide may well be dominated by collectors, so there is a good chance such a modification will ultimately depress its value.

 

Here are most of my J Gibsons -- 1935-1965. 

LBRbUuJ.jpeg

The 62 and 65 up front will never do what all the high $$ stuff behind will do, but the opposite is also true.

Here is the 62 HB as folk revival acoustic instrument.

A full you bluegrass band would overpower this room -- but the HB, 1/4 Kay and the 30 Larson Brothers makes it work acoustically while preserving the vintage tone.

Of course whatever you decide to do must match your agenda -- not mine.

All the best,

Tom

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5 hours ago, bobouz said:

The original saddle, if it is still on there, would be ceramic.  If the plastic bridge is structurally sound and you like the tone, my advice would be to leave it as is.

We’ve seemingly had this discussion here a million times, but it’s worth repeating:  The adjustable plastic bridge was a goofy idea, but an unintended byproduct is that it can create a slightly metallic & unique tone that some folks are quite drawn to.  In my case, it’s a tone that I actually crave.

 

Couldn't agree more – and absolutely follow that deeper need for adjustable burned white clay.

Not totally off to claim there are 2 basic schools here : The one that passionately digs and therefor supports the adjustable bridge/saddle                                                                and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        the one that finds the concept completely unacceptable and regard it as perhaps the biggest mistake in the realm'n'history of acoustic instruments, therefor always shouts "FIX IT !".

Have to say I if not belong in both, then feel a strong connection with 1 as well as 2.                                                                                                                                               Would be waste just to out-count the adj. - and of course silly not to understand and praise the virtues of the modern conventional version with ordinary sized saddle.

Now the hollow plastic bridge is a weird class in the first category. Vulnerable and easy to shoot down with a few shells of fast drawn logic.

Still my 1963 J-45 will keep its plast/ceramic combo and I play it with faded steel daily in this phase.                                                                                                                                                     Believe it or not, it sounds better and better the further we get in rounds like this. .

5 hours ago, bobouz said:

If the guitar’s current tone doesn’t work for you, then by all means, experiment away - but I’d do the reversible stuff first! 👍

Edit:  After watching the posted luthier’s video, I have to disagree with a few key points.  The NON-adjustable plastic bridge does indeed represent a tonal kiss of death scenario - but the adjustable version is a whole different ball game.  The two adjustable metal posts & metal seat for the saddle create somewhat of an archtop-like bridge arrangement - thereby delivering that unique tone (and relegating the plastic bridge to no more than a seat for the six pins).  Additionally, as for the luthier’s generalized concerns regarding structural stability, some examples of the adjustable plastic bridge have remained stable for decades.  My own from 1966 is in perfect structural condition after 56 years, which I dare say is longer than many traditional bridges have survived!

The 54 years old bridge mentioned before is immaculately intact.                                                                                                                                                                                                       And I kept the bolts in - PLUS ! , , , chose nylon when ordering neutral blocks for a new self-carved wider spaced nut.                                                                                                           Trust me - that too is a crucial part of the magical original once envelope-pushing Gibson sound. 

Big question is. What to do if only having 1 guitar ?

Answer = Listen-feel, listen-feel and listen-feel again. It's you and no one else who shall play the dear Southern Jumbo.

Edited by E-minor7
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Thank you everyone for your advice. I can clearly see the purist/functionalist debate going on here. I've been mostly playing electric, and in researching pedals, it's kind of crazy how devoted some people are to analog pedals. I have a Boss MD-200 multi-mod pedal that I think sounds awesome. But it doesn't sound exactly like Hendrix or Gilmour, so it sucks. I can see where some gear objectively sounds bad (e.g., muddy, losing headroom), but I think most judgments about gear really are just subjective.

I took this Gibson to Guitar Center along with my x-series (formica?) Martin, and compared them to their Martins, Taylors, and Gibsons, becasue I was thinking about selling the Gibson and downgrading and keeping some cash for other music-related endeavors.

I honestly thought that they cheap Martin sounded as good as the new $2,500 Gibson at GC. But when I compared it to the similarly-priced Martins, and Taylors, it sounded really muddy. You could almost hear the formica. I'm sold on the idea of upgrading the Martin to real wood one (though I actually liked Taylor's feel better).

But then I pulled out the Gibson with plastic bridge (and 2-year-old strings), and I thought it smoked the $3k Martins and Taylors. It most definitely sounds clear and resonant. I liked it a lot. I decided not to sell it. If it really does have a ceramic bridge, I'm not messing with it. Especially after reading all of these responses.

By the way, and I anticipate getting jumped for this one... I tried the Fender acoustasonic, and absolutely loved it. When I perform, I'm not risking damaging this Gibson or getting it stolen. And I love the acoustasonic's acoustic sound and how it would enable me to bring just one guitar. Let the ritual murder begin.

 

Edited by Robbie1299
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Love my acoustasonic, miked for voice, dobro, and my old acoustics, in the living room arena, so there you go,  another schizophrenic old-schooler.

Glad your ears are digging the SJ.  Many of those plastic bridges eventually warp, but I could never figure out why, unless sunlight and radiators were involved, so maybe you'll end up revisiting this conversation down the line.

Edited by jedzep
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40 minutes ago, Robbie1299 said:

But then I pulled out the Gibson with plastic bridge (and 2-year-old strings), and I thought it smoked the $3k Martins and Taylors. It most definitely sounds clear and resonant. I liked it a lot. I decided not to sell it. If it really does have a ceramic bridge, I'm not messing with it. Especially after reading all of these responses.

Exciting - you obviously didn't start yesterday and though primarily been playing electric, the acoustic guitar isn't foreign to your ears.                                                                                                                            It should be possible to make a short recording of the SJ - would be kool. I'm actually after a plastic bridge square and would like to hear it. Guess a few spectators, who don't know what we are talking about, would like that as well. If too complicated, then please post some pics.

 

P.S. - I actually have a 1963 S Jumbo with replaced bridge. A well made rosewood replica with the original ceramic saddle. 

                               ch7cqN3.jpg

 

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1 hour ago, Robbie1299 said:

 And I love the acoustasonic's acoustic sound and how it would enable me to bring just one guitar. Let the ritual murder begin.

Sorry to disappoint, but the Fender Acoustiwhatever is in such a different category, I don't think anyone cares enough to give you a hard time about it

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I had the adjustable bridge removed, put a rosewood saddle on a fixed rosewood bridge ('62LG2). Amazing sound. Slotted the bridge holes and used ebony unslotted pins.  Amazing improvement. Could have stayed with bone, but I love the deep warmth of the rosewood saddle. Easy to swap out too. 

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41 minutes ago, E-minor7 said:

P.S. - I actually have a 1963 S Jumbo with replaced bridge. A well made rosewood replica with the original ceramic saddle.

It does look a lot nicer with the rosewood bridge. I just want to keep it original in case I ever really need that Acoustasonic or if I decide that I need a good (but not this good) acoustic for playing out, and I need to sell this one.

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