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Gibson C1 Info Question


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I've seen them at vintage guitar shows from anywhere from $200 to $500. In the past few years they seem to have gone down in price. Gibson's classical guitars never really caught on when they were made and have a mixed reputation. They're cool because they're Gibsons, but do not really resemble Gibsons with their wider classical guitar necks and slotted headstocks and, of course, their nylon strings. So most Gibson players aren't really wild about Gibson classical guitars. Likewise, classical guitar players pretty much scorned them because they were not traditional classical guitars and didn't really share well made classical guitar attributes (which apparently only true classically trained guitarists know...I personally have no clue what makes one classical guitar better than the other...being a steel string player, except for occasionally playing my $250 Angelica classical guitar which defies all traditional classical guitar attributes (as it has fret markers, a cutaway, a thin neck...which is why I like it. etc.). But, yet that Gibson decal is on the headstock calling out that its a Gibson (even though it doesn't resemble one)...if you know what I mean. I have toyed with the idea of buying one now for about ten years. I find one, the price gets lower than the last one I came across, and then after ten years of this...I still keep on not buying one. I'm not sure I'd really play it, I guess. Yet, as a playing instrument, I kind of like them.


I wonder if you're similarly vascilating about buying one or not buying one.


QM aka Jazzman Jeff

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When I decided I needed a classical, I too starting wondering about a Gibson brand classical. I came to the same conclusions as QM and bought an Alvarez for $300 with onboard electronics including pickup, EQ, mic input, tuner, notch filters and some other stuff I don't even know what it is. Even new brand name classicals without the electronics can be had for about $200.


Having the modern working man's model allows me to gig with the guitar, as I use it with the jazz combo on Bossa Nova type stuff. I usually use it through an A-B box into the same amp (and settings) as my L-5, and have also DI'd it straight into a PA system.


A Gibson C-1 would be a nice "piece" to own, but I'm not sure how practical it would be as a working man's guitar.

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I considered a Gibson a few times, but when a high-quality new guitar costs the same, I'd rather have something that's not likely to have any damage.


I paid under $500 for my Rodriguez with case. I would have paid the same for an old beat-up Gibson.


Now, the bridge popped off of my Rodriguez, but in an e-mail with Manuel Rodriguez, he promised me a new one when he comes for NAMM. Before that, it was a great-sounding guitar.





Now, if a Martin classical came up, I'd buy it... but mostly because of the Willie Nelson connection. Especially if it had a Baldwin pickup.

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I was actually didn't know Gibson made anything classical back in the 60s until today. I've got this nasty little habit of checking Craigslist even when I know I shouldn't buy anything. I found one for $300 and am thinking about picking it up. The reviews I've read all agree that the sound is amazing. As far as your comment about not being a traditional guitar, I have read that the neck width at the nut is a little more narrow than typical. Like 2 mm more narrow, not a lot, but probably enough to feel a difference. I wonder if that's one of the things that intense classical players picked on.


I'm gonna go check it out tomorrow. For me what it really comes down to is does it play well and does it sound good, although the fact that it's a Gibson is enticing. I hope it sounds as good as the reviews say, although I am a little skeptical.

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I've had a bunch of classicals over the years. I currently have four. A plywood Seresta made by Giannini, a strange heavily inlaid Vietnamese gutar from the 60s, a 1997 La Patrie Collection, and a 1958 Gibson C-6.


It's harder to compare and contrast classicals than it is for modern steel strings. Compare an Esteban to a J-45 and the difference is immediate and obvious. There is less of a difference with classicals. And if you think it's difficult to decide on strings on a steel string, woo-hoo! Try swapping nylons! It can take a few weeks for them to break in and develop their real voice and I'm typically left wondering if they really sound better or worse than the last set.


The La Patrie is probably the 'textbook' best sounding of the bunch. It's Indian Rosewood and QC is top notch. The basses are deep and each note is clear. The Gibson has 51 years under its belt and it's Brazilian Rosewood. It's thicker sounding and more 'in your face'. Still, like the C-0 and C-L I've owned, I think they're a little overbuilt. Makes them tough as a boiled owl but they just aren't that great as far as classicals go. The C-6 was their Cadillac at the time. I believe mine was the 31st C-6 ever built.


Even though the La Patrie is likely the best of my four, and very high in the La Patrie pecking order, La Patries aren't considered all that hot by the classical elite. They're good as far as inexpensive (somewhat) mass produced factory instruments. I think the Collection retails around $800 and can be boughy any day of the week for under $500. I lucked out on ebay and got mine for $160.


I guess my advice to anyone toying with the idea of a classical is this: If you're just thinking of picking one up to noodle on and you'd also like to add a Gibson to the herd, and you can find a C-0 or C-1 for under $300, by all means grab one. If you're thinking about picking up a classical and actually pursuing it as a style, your money will be better spent elsewhere.


One minor point/footnote: Scale length seems to be an even more dramatic difference tone-wise. Some classicals have scale lengths approaching 26" and, all other things being equal, they will sound much better. Anything less than 25" and they tend to sound like toys.

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  • 4 years later...
  • 5 years later...

One of my earliest guitars was an old banged up Gibson C-1. It was stolen from my car in Mexico City when I was  in my 20’s. I pined away for it.  Later when I had more money I bought an Alvarez Yari, then even later, a Martin N-21(?).  Neither made me happy.  The Gibson classicals of the 60’s were really bought more a folk guitars.  It is said that they have a haunting sound.  I bought a lovely 1966 one on eBay for which I paid almost $800.  I wouldn’t have any other classical guitar.   

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  • 3 months later...

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