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1966 Gibson Hummingbird


CharlesinMaine
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They would have been either 1-5/8 or 1-9/16.

I still haven't figured the logic or system behind this, but as an overall rule Bozeman left the attractive 11/16 behind while entering 1965.                                                                                                                                             Not by midnight New Years Evening but circa.

The 11/16 returned in 1968. Now on differently heavier braced guitars. 

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The logic was that Gibson seemed to be on a quest to make their acoustics feel more like electric guitars.  They started in 1960 with what they advertised as "low action, fast playing necks" (or something) and then moved to the ADJ saddle bridges with those bridge plates large enough to qualify as a piece of furniture.  Not coincidentally the narrowing down of the nut occurred the same year parent company CMI was taken over by college educated bean counters rather than somebody who knew enough to leave the design and building of guitars to those who knew what they were doing.  The heavier bracing at the end of the decade had nothing to do with sound and everything to do with avoiding the major drag on the company bottom line caused by guitars being returned for warranty.  

Edited by zombywoof
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Meant the logic behind introducing  both 5/8 or 9/16. But if 'narrow' was considered hip and electrish , guess they came in that order.                                                                                                                                                            Well, who knows, some could have found the 9/16 went too slim - or was 1 for men , 1 for ladies (excuse me for entering woke-territory here).😵

In short the CNC-machines had just arrived and Bozeman knew what they were doin'. Perhaps the keen urge to play around with their new-tool-of-precision took over.  

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1 hour ago, E-minor7 said:

Meant the logic behind introducing  both 5/8 or 9/16. But if 'narrow' was considered hip and electrish , guess they came in that order.                                                                                                                                                            Well, who knows, some could have found the 9/16 went too slim - or was 1 for men , 1 for ladies (excuse me for entering woke-territory here).😵

In short the CNC-machines had just arrived and Bozeman knew what they were doin'. Perhaps the keen urge to play around with their new-tool-of-precision took over.  

The story I had always heard was that it was Bob Taylor who convinced Bozeman of the wisdom of going with CNC machines.  No argument that guitar building is a precise process and the CNC is a precision machine.  

Gibson though was always interested in innovation in the build process,   At one time they had an experimental engineering department which was located in the basement of the Kalamazoo plant.  This department developed and patented stuff such as a high-speed gluing machine which must have been convenient as all get out for producing something like the two piece Les Paul bodies.  Around 1960 they also started using a high speed finishing system (with only the high dollar guitars such as the J200 and Super 400 still being finished in the old spray booths) and in 1965 new automatic neck making machines which might have had something to do with the narrower nuts.  Whether Gibson actually patented these or purchased existing tooling I do not have a clue.  

Edited by zombywoof
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Uhhh ... wait.  We're talking 1960s, right?  Bozeman and CNC machinery were a couple of decades away.  In the '60s Gibsons were all built in Kalamazoo, Michigan - Gibson shut that plant down in the '80s when they moved everything to Nashville.  Bozeman doesn't crank up until c.1989, with a stated mission to build guitars much more like pre-1965 instruments.

As far as skinny necks go, they were fashionable.  I am sure the bean counters and marketing guys WERE involved in that, as to a less-experienced player, skinny neck = fast neck.  I think much of the industry was right in there with them - '60s Fender necks feel skinnier to me than earlier ones, think of all those Hagstroms and Voxes with skinny necks, etc.  Gibson for a while there built guitars that at first touch "felt" like they'd be easier and faster to play (if you didn't know better), and they were less likely to require expensive warranty work, and besides, people will pay more for the name on the headstock no matter what we charge or how badly we build it.  The bottom-line guys were in charge industry wide, we've got a production quota to meet, let's keep these things flying off the shelves, blah, blah, blah.

The skinny necks were regarded as what the market wanted, what was hip and cool, until they weren't any more.  And after the combination of cost-cutting moves that led to clunky square-shoulder J-45s with binding that rotted in a decade or so combined with bridge plates you could sit on and double X-braced tops, combined with the desperate chase for the latest, greatest, newest - Mark Series and Marauder guitars, anyone? - Gibson followed Fender in the realization that their best marketing choice would be to reproduce their past - which has been VERY lucrative.  And some of it is driven by the realization that the earlier instruments had features that were better and should be emulated, and some of it was because old guitars are cool.   Skinny necks and high-gloss finishes and overly-braced tops were part of fashion meets warranty claims decisions, for the same reasons people pay MORE money for a new guitar that has been made to look old and beat up, or a guitar built with red spruce that would have possibly been rejected 80 years ago, or even "torrefaction" - which as far as I can tell is a refined form of the kiln-drying that 40 years ago we were told was BAD for guitar wood.

Fashion.  Bah, humbug.

 

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2 hours ago, rustystrings said:

Uhhh ... wait.  We're talking 1960s, right?  Bozeman and CNC machinery were a couple of decades away.  In the '60s Gibsons were all built in Kalamazoo, Michigan - Gibson shut that plant down in the '80s when they moved everything to Nashville.  Bozeman doesn't crank up until c.1989, with a stated mission to build guitars much more like pre-1965 instruments.

 

 

Nowhere does E-minor7 use CNC and Kalamazoo in the same sentence noting only that Bozeman knew what to do with the machines when they arrived.   The history of Gibson though is pretty well documented to the point you can find information such as the kilns were last used to dry wood in 1959 after which Gibson started to buy dried wood.  But you also cannot give Bozeman full credit for returning to building guitars more like those which appeared in past catalogs,  Just prior to removal of the acoustic division to Nashville, Gibson had already started turning out flattops based on earlier specs resulting in the re-appearance of slope shoulder guitars with single X bracing and such.  I believe these new models were unveiled at NAMM around 1984 or so.  Abe Wechter produced the prototypes of at least the J45.

Edited by zombywoof
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7 hours ago, rustystrings said:

Uhhh ... wait.  We're talking 1960s, right?  Bozeman and CNC machinery were a couple of decades away.  In the '60s Gibsons were all built in Kalamazoo, Michigan - Gibson shut that plant down in the '80s when they moved everything to Nashville.  Bozeman doesn't crank up until c.1989, with a stated mission to build guitars much more like pre-1965 instruments.

As far as skinny necks go, they were fashionable.  I am sure the bean counters and marketing guys WERE involved in that, as to a less-experienced player, skinny neck = fast neck.  I think much of the industry was right in there with them - '60s Fender necks feel skinnier to me than earlier ones, think of all those Hagstroms and Voxes with skinny necks, etc.  Gibson for a while there built guitars that at first touch "felt" like they'd be easier and faster to play (if you didn't know better), and they were less likely to require expensive warranty work, and besides, people will pay more for the name on the headstock no matter what we charge or how badly we build it.  The bottom-line guys were in charge industry wide, we've got a production quota to meet, let's keep these things flying off the shelves, blah, blah, blah.

The skinny necks were regarded as what the market wanted, what was hip and cool, until they weren't any more.  And after the combination of cost-cutting moves that led to clunky square-shoulder J-45s with binding that rotted in a decade or so combined with bridge plates you could sit on and double X-braced tops, combined with the desperate chase for the latest, greatest, newest - Mark Series and Marauder guitars, anyone? - Gibson followed Fender in the realization that their best marketing choice would be to reproduce their past - which has been VERY lucrative.  And some of it is driven by the realization that the earlier instruments had features that were better and should be emulated, and some of it was because old guitars are cool.   Skinny necks and high-gloss finishes and overly-braced tops were part of fashion meets warranty claims decisions, for the same reasons people pay MORE money for a new guitar that has been made to look old and beat up, or a guitar built with red spruce that would have possibly been rejected 80 years ago, or even "torrefaction" - which as far as I can tell is a refined form of the kiln-drying that 40 years ago we were told was BAD for guitar wood.

Fashion.  Bah, humbug.

 

 

4 hours ago, zombywoof said:

Nowhere does E-minor7 use CNC and Kalamazoo in the same sentence noting only that Bozeman knew what to do with the machines when they arrived.   The history of Gibson though is pretty well documented to the point you can find information such as the kilns were last used to dry wood in 1959 after which Gibson started to buy dried wood.  But you also cannot give Bozeman full credit for returning to building guitars more like those which appeared in past catalogs,  Just prior to removal of the acoustic division to Nashville, Gibson had already started turning out flattops based on earlier specs resulting in the re-appearance of slope shoulder guitars with single X bracing and such.  I believe these new models were unveiled at NAMM around 1984 or so.  Abe Wechter produced the prototypes of at least the J45.

Pardon - I of course meant Kalamazoo when zooming in CNC in 65. Thx for setting this straight. Blame it on the heat here 🙄 it should be fixed now.

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5 hours ago, Holiday Hoser said:

That's why I love my '64 bird newer ones never really fit my huge pecker clamps. If I wanted it to feel like an electric I would play one of my electrics.

Based on my experience Gibson necks did get a bit heftier in 1963-1964.  But still not near as much meat on their bones as necks from even the late-1950s.   The only HB neck specs I have been able to dig up were for a '63  with a neck which clocked in at .82" at the 1st fret and did not exceed  1.0" at the 12th fret.  This would be very typical of a 1960s slim taper neck carve,  Gibson certainly was not alone though as more than a few builders believed skimpier necks were what the guitar buying public wanted.  And their job was to sell guitars,

 

Edited by zombywoof
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