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Is there toner on my Gospel top?


Lee M

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The top of my 1993 Gospel is quite dark. I got it in 1998 so I can't remember if it was this dark when I got it. I know it was never really light like a lot of spruce tops. Gibson seems to like sunburst and darker finishes on their tops. Just wondering if the Gospel reissue tops had toner added to the finish or is this color just natural darkening. You can't tell from this picture but the top is almost as dark as the back/sides. It has never been exposed to direct sunlight since I've had it and spends its time in the basement, either in its case or in very low light about 20-22 hrs/day.

 

gospel2.jpg

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This could very well be toner - especially if it never left the case.

Had it started pale and lived a life out in broad daylight, the result might have been the same. 1993 is a long time ago, , , kind of anyway.

Almost as dark as back'n'sides, now that's dark. No matter what you should be happy - it's a nice warm hue to have in your arms.

 

Remember the lacquer yellows down over time also - then again the bindings looks very white.

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Gibson referred to this top as AN = Antique Natural.

I dont think that this top does have toner applied.

It is like my AN j-45 from the same year.

I have had it almost 20 years and looking back on photos,

It has darkened a great deal. The binding has also gone from white to yellow.

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Gibson referred to this top as AN = Antique Natural.

 

 

To me, "antique natural" implies something other than the natural color you would get from spraying clear nitro, which is virtually transparent. I suspect there could be some type of toner added, but probably not as much as in Martin's "vintage toner" tops, which try to replicate the look of a 30-year-old guitar right out of the box.

 

Here, for example, is what Martin's "vintage toner" looks like on a five-year-old 000-28 EC:

 

plain000-28.jpg

 

You can compare that to the 1970 clear nitro "J-50" look of my old J-45, here photographed in about 2009, before it returned to it's original-style sunburst. That's 40 years of clear nitro aging in this photo. When I shot that top in 1970, it was virtually white, as I used no toner. If you want to know what a new, clear nitro top with no toner looks like, wet your finger and rub it on one of the spruce back braces inside your guitar's soundhole. Untoned nitro is almost as clear as water when you put it on, unless you put on a lot, which defeats the purpose of a nitro finish.

 

blondeonblonde.jpg

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Wanted to post a picture in natural light so you could see the top and back. Inside or in lower light levels, the contrast is even less than what you see here. What appears to be a discoloration under the bridge was just due to the way the light hit it, there isn't anything there.

 

I should add that at my favorite open mic, this is the only one of my 4 guitars that always elicits a "nice guitar" comment from the host.

 

gospel-out.jpg

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The term "Antique Natural" means that Gibson adds just a bit of color to the laquer. That is the "Antique" in the name. Natural tops look just a bit to white for most folks taste. The binding is pure white so if it has a gold cast to it when the guitar is new it is a Antique Natural top. Some guitars,think Montana Gold here, have a double antique or more golden cast to them.Gibson thinks that it gives them a richer look. I agree...

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The old 'new' top aged beautifully Nick - and I never knew the guitar still had the adjustable saddle.

 

 

Both the J-50 look and the adjustable saddle went away as part of the "million-mile re-fit" last year. New bridge is a dark piece of Brazilian, original belly-up style, to match the very dark Brazilian fretboard on this guitar. Still have the old bridge and adjustable saddle in my spare parts box, in case anyone ever needs one.

 

J-45pins2.jpg

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Have a couple of adjustables already, thank you.

As you might know I know a lot about that guitar and its metamorphoses over time.

What I don't recall though, is how the sound changed after the new top/finish.

 

You couldn't isolate any difference as a result of the re-finish. I am absolutely convinced, however, that the second heavy top sanding (the neck and bridge were off, so it could be machine sanded), coupled with the reduced mass of the new bridge, new small maple bridge plate (getting rid of that huge, nasty 1968 Gibson plywood monstrosity), fixed bone saddle, plus the addition of bone pins, made a significant difference for the better.

 

Oh yeah, not to mention removing the remains of the infamous late-60's adjustable top brace.

 

With all those changes, it came back sounding like a new creature, more like the really good late-40's J-45 that it originally was. The trebles suddenly seemed to jump out of the guitar, and the mids seemed to separate better as well. The guitar always had the big, thumpy bass that is characteristics of slope-J's of the late 40's and early 50's.

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Oh yeah, not to mention removing the remains of the infamous late-60's adjustable top brace.

 

A very happy ending - especially as it still has the Gibson tone.

I have an appointment with my luthier, who's now installing a new top on a crushed J-200 about checking it before it goes back to the owner.

Don't know the 200 sound that good, but enough (I guess) to hear if the new top and braces have changed anything important. It should be ready within a week.

Adjustable top brace ?

 

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To me, "antique natural" implies something other than the natural color you would get from spraying clear nitro, which is virtually transparent. I suspect there could be some type of toner added, but probably not as much as in Martin's "vintage toner" tops, which try to replicate the look of a 30-year-old guitar right out of the box.

 

Here, for example, is what Martin's "vintage toner" looks like on a five-year-old 000-28 EC:

 

plain000-28.jpg

 

You can compare that to the 1970 clear nitro "J-50" look of my old J-45, here photographed in about 2009, before it returned to it's original-style sunburst. That's 40 years of clear nitro aging in this photo. When I shot that top in 1970, it was virtually white, as I used no toner. If you want to know what a new, clear nitro top with no toner looks like, wet your finger and rub it on one of the spruce back braces inside your guitar's soundhole. Untoned nitro is almost as clear as water when you put it on, unless you put on a lot, which defeats the purpose of a nitro finish.

 

blondeonblonde.jpg

 

Mmm.. I guess you're right Nick. Antique natural could imply ageing with toner.

Your 000-28EC looks darker still than mine.

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Mmm.. I guess you're right Nick. Antique natural could imply ageing with toner.

Your 000-28EC looks darker still than mine.

 

 

I suspect that's just the photo: outside, overcast, no flash. The "Vintage Toner" Martins I've looked at are all pretty similar in appearance, and it's actually a pretty good job of replicating the look of a 40-50 year old natural finish. What worries me is what it might look like in another 30 years or so, not that I will necessarily be around to have such concerns. Although I might.

 

Whenever possible, I try to shoot things outside with no flash for more realistic color, but it's hard to get exactly the right lighting conditions. Shooting indoors with direct flash can wash colors out and give unwanted reflections, but I didn't have a decent outdoor picture of the "J-50".

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