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When did your 'addiction' to Gibson acoustics start?


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For years I played whatever fell into my hands. Musician friends always seemed to leave an "extra" guitar at my house for months at a time. No one wanted a very cheap Yamaha back. I played it till someone stole it (???)

 

I broke down and bought a guitar, many guitars, always as a favor of a musician friend who needed the money and offered me a good deal, with the agreement that if they ever wanted it back, I would sell it back to them for the same price + whatever I'd put into it. Years pass and I still had many of them, so I decided to sell them (after checking with the old owners I could still find) and buy what I wanted. So, I bought a Hummingbird this year. And now all I can think about is another Gibson.

 

Hard to explain to someone who isn't a Gibson person. I've had Martins, Guilds, Washburns, Seagulls, Taylors, Takamines, Ovations, Epiphones, Yamahas over the years. Some real nice guitars, but Gibsons are what resonate beyond logic. I should have listened to myself back then when I first played a friend's J-200 and a Dove and a Bird. Curiously, I don't think anyone ever "left" a Gibson at my house. And no one definitely ever sold me one.

 

Now, I have to find lucrative employment to satisfy the urge.

 

After all this, I'm still a fair-to-middlin' strummer. But all it takes is lots of $$$ and a dream.

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Easy question.

 

In 1994, I walked into a music shop in Birmingham, Alabama, and saw a brand new J-200 on the wall for $800. When I started on guitar in the 70's as a teenager, I had the typical opinion that Gibson acoustics were bad. FWIW, at that time I knew nothing about Gibson going independent again, Bozeman, etc, this was the dawning of the internet/web era, so you would have to be a lot more interested than I was to go through the drill of following this sort of info.

 

Anyhow, I liked the looks of this one, I'm a sucker for what I call "tacky Americana" and played it for a bit. Sounded pretty good, much to my preconceived notions about Gibson acoustics. The shop owner actually didn't know a whole lot about it, he wasn't a Gibson dealer, just had it on consignment for some other shop up in Anniston, Al.

 

Long story short, I bought it, screaming good deal, although I didn't realize it at the time, not for a few years later and to this date I don't know why I got it so cheap - again, brand new Gibson J-200 w/warranty (and I used it) for $800.

 

That turned me on to Gibsons. I then read the Gibson Fabulous Flattops book, I liked the whole narrative of a feisty company, an American icon, coming back from a near death experience at the hands of soulless "scientific" management. Plus, Gibson obviously has a sense of humor, whimsy, just look at some of their guitars. Can you imagine a cherryburst Dove coming out of Martin? The Gibson stuff reminds me of my Appalachian grandparents, small town well to do folks, the sort of things they had around their house.

 

So to me, it is this very American saga, with some tongue in cheek, a bit of swagger, a bit of sexiness, a lot of fun, because, hey, we are just playing tunes here, unlike the grim Cotton Mather seriousness of Martin guitars (I call them "Amish" guitars...).

 

And now that they've decided, since late 1980's, to make them sound good again, you can have all that and be a serious musician with Gibsons, not just an image thing. I also have a 2006 Luthier's Choice AJ which is quite possibly one of the loudest guitars in the world. And other Gibsons I've owned since then have been first rate. The only thing that has been disappointing was a Star Acoustic/Electric, but acoustic/electrics more or less always blow (IMO).

 

Gibson rocks. And I think that the guitars from the last 5 years or so of the Ferguson era are without peer and destined to become sought after classics, this is when they really were firing on all cylinders all the time, 24/7.

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In college in 1964 in Boston. Hanging around the Club 47. A friend had a B25 but I couldn't afford that, so since Tom Rush played an Epi, I bought the Epi equivalent. I always loved how the Gibson neck played. When I finally got into a position to spend real money on a guitar I was playing bluegrass, so everybody had Martins. At least everybody I knew, so I bought an HD28 in 1991.About a year ago I decided I needed. Vintage J45. I searched the Internet and the dealers but couldn't pull the trigger. Just too much money for the real nice ones. Recently a collector friend was selling a few flat top acoustics and I bought his early J55. Better late than never!

 

Now I have to be careful I don't end up like Tom! What a beautiful collection.

 

Rich

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My story is kind of a blend of several other's stories!

 

Grew up around guitars, most of the Gibsons......but I was more concerned with electrics and Rock 'N Roll. My first 'good' guitar was a 1964 Fender Jaguar which I used for years playing in a band.

 

I eventually got a 1965 Fender Jazz Bass, so I figured I was at the top of the heap.

 

On day in 1965 or so, the music store I worked in got a Hummingbird in. When I played it, I simply fell in love. I thought it was the BEST guitar I'd ever played.

 

It was too expensive for me at the time, so life went on.

 

When I got out of the army in 1971, I went looking for an acoustic guitar, since my other guitars had been sold off or given away.

 

Found my 1969 Jubilee.

 

When I got married, in 1978, I told my wife about my run-in with the Hummingbird years ago. She surprised me with my 1979 Dove for Christmas one year.

 

You see, she know I always loved a Gibson "bird" guitar, she just couldn't recall which one.

 

I became very fond of my Dove, and it's still my 'go to' guitar. The Jubilee is reserved for times when mistreatment could occur.

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I wanted to add a few thoughts.

 

For many years, I would look at Gibson guitars admiringly and then see the prices and be shocked back into looking at other brands. I have been cheap and lazy in my procurement of instruments. However, a conversation with a good friend helped me see the light. He simply said that the real waste of money is buying an instrument you only halfway love. Why spend ten years playing a guitar that's just ok in your book? Why not spend those ten years playing something that excites you 100% every time you pick it up? No one sits down at a mediocre instrument and thinks "Wow, just think of the $800 I saved!"

 

It has been an adjustment of priorities. And I do try to find my guitars discounted and broken in when I can. I like living, breathing animals. I also don't look down on "cheaper" guitars, since I own a few electrics that are plenty cheap that play nicely. But you can get more out of a cheap electric by playing through a nice tube amp and having the pedals that float your dreams. Acoustics don't lie.

 

I admit to loving Gibsons, partly, because of the name and the heritage. Maybe some people love their Gibsons or their Martins or their Taylors or Santa Cruzes purely because of the tone, but I think there's a touch of identity involved. That said, I wouldn't pay a $1000 premium just for a name. I pay it because I love the design and I love the sound and I love the way it inspires me and a lesser guitar sounds cheap or doesn't excite me.

 

I've sat around Guitar Center and played everything from I could squeeze in during a three hour visit. My ear doesn't even wake up until somewhere around the $800 range and if a guitar is a cutaway, it could sound like Leo Kottke gone to heaven and I wouldn't be able to get into it.

 

But I fully understand that everyone comes to an instrument differently. My heroes were mostly rock 'n' roll guys growing up and a Hummingbird was everything (think Keith!) and a J-200 makes me think of Brian Jones and Pete Townshend.

 

I never understand other boards where people trash Gibsons. Yes, I've played a few that didn't do it for me, but the same can be said for every brand. I own a Taylor, despite thinking it's a bit of a brand for doctors and dentists. :) I enjoy it as a kickaround and I think it's quite fun. But when I go to record for posterity (my posterity, no one else's), I pick up the Hummingbird and thrill to the sound of that E major chord filling up the room.

 

Just thought I'd share these thoughts. I'm glad I found this board. You've all inspired me to play more than ever.

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In college in 1964 in Boston. Hanging around the Club 47.

 

Now I have to be careful I don't end up like Tom! What a beautiful collection.

 

Rich

 

I got there a couple of years before you. So you should be safe until 2014?

 

Best,

 

-Tom

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In college in 1964 in Boston. Hanging around the Club 47. Rich

 

In college in Providence (Brown) in 1965, making the occasional pilgrimage up the road to Club 47 when I could scrape up the money. As I recall, Tom Rush was a regular at Club 47 back then, about the time he signed with Elektra.

Still had my $5 Mexican steel-string conversion then, a year away from buying my sweet old J-45.

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Tom

 

Were you in Boston too? That picture looks like ones I remember from my frat house at NU, only a little more upscale!

 

Nick. I still have a place mat schedule from the Club 47 from the summer of 65 with Tom Rush, Kweskin Jug Band, Stone Ponies, Lovin Spoonful and others. Those were the days that cemented my guitar addiction. I am so glad I finally got my own Gibson. I play in a jug band now and the other guitar player has a J50 from the early 60's but he doesn't usually play it at gigs because we have to plug in and he and I both have other acoustics with electronic we use. I'd rather play through a microphone, but I have to admit it is easier to plug in.

 

I actually played once at the Unicorn Coffee house in Boston in 1967 or so when I sat in with some friend's who had a decent Jug Band before they sold out and went electric!

 

Sitting out the hurricane on the south shore of LI right now. We should be ok. Not close enough to the water to worry, I hope. Save the guitars first!!

 

Rich

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Tom

 

Were you in Boston too? That picture looks like ones I remember from my frat house at NU, only a little more upscale!

 

Hi Rich,

 

I was there from late 1961 to mid 1970 -- being educated. That picture was from an MIT frat house on Beacon at Mass Av. -- probably 1963.

 

Boston was a magic place in those days -- students everywhere and folk (revival) music was king. In addition to Harvard Square, folk venues abounded on Charles Street, Copley Square and even at Symphony Hall sometimes. You did not need to be very good to draw an audience.

 

In 1968 I married a folk singing Skidmore girl. Later, in the Georgia mountains, we went over to the dark side -- traditional bluegrass. I think I am right in saying she is the only woman born in Manhattan ever inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame -- if you can't sing, marry someone who can!

 

I was totally into "folk" music and I was raised in Florida, but my family came from western NC. Because of this, a Wellesley student from western NC got me to escort her to the legendary "Hillbilly Ranch" in the combat zone to hear the Lilly Brothers. That was really the tap root of New England bluegrass, and we know a lot of people today in that community. In fact, every time we pass through Boston (once or twice a year), we play the late bluegrass show at the CanTab in Central Square -- sort of a full circle.

 

Music is such a marvelous glue for life don't you think!

 

Best,

 

-Tom

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Tom

 

Yes, music has given me much joy and lasting friends. The Gibson I just acquired came from a collection of a guy I met at NU in 1964 and have been close with ever since.

 

Have you seen the book "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" by Eric Von Schmidt and Jim Rooney? I'm sure you must have, but if not you should. Sounds like you might be in it.

 

Another resident of the West Dorm on Forsythe Street in the Back Bay was Matt Umanoff. I have not seen him since but I do check out his web site on occasion.

 

Sorry to get off topic on this thread, but I enjoyed the trip down memory lane.

 

Rich

 

BTW, Bluegrass is not the dark side as far as I'm concerned! I loved the Charles River Valley Boys. I always thought that was a great name for a band in Boston. I enjoy playing bluegrass but only for fun at this time. There is quite a good bluegrass scene on Long Island.

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In 1964 the Trio was on the wane and I swapped my D-28 for a blond J-200, thanks to a Dave Van Ronk album cover. Out with the folk, in with the blues.

 

Yikes! There's lots of old timers here, including me! [biggrin]

 

I figure anyone who's being playing Gibsons since the 60's falls into this group. I actually wanted a D-18 (like my room mate had), but when I found my beat up old J-45 for $50, it was love at first sight, bruises and all. Still "married" to her more than 45 years later, although I'm two decades into my second wife.

 

Van Ronk got a lot of us going on a lot of things.

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For me it was awhile back not sure what year. But buying and selling gibsons really took over my life. Now my wife has it on lock down "for now"

A close friend of mine had an sj200 and a hummingbird first strum on the sj and I was hooked. I later owned both those guitars.

I wish I could have them all back some I miss more than others but I have been a gibson whore definatly.

It started with

J45

Hummingbird

Sj200

Firebird acoustic

Montana gold sj200

Sj super 200

J45 tv

J45 mystic rosewood

Gibson L00

J60 bonecrusher walnut

Hummingbird koa

Wm45

Sj200 tv

Soon to be JB model 1

I'm sick with gas but I'm almost satisfied I now own four

And plan to keep it that way for awhile.

 

Jamie

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In the late 70's I had the possibility to buy a serious acoustic. Though most of my heroes played Martin, I decided on a Gibson as I had met a couple that sounded and projected real sweet in the past. Went to town and picked up a new square shouldered J-50 with chrome tulips (might have been called De Luxe also). Little did I know this was in the Norlin era and the guitar totally disappeared between the other cheap acoustics in our little 4-piece (1 bass) band. Soon exchanged it for must have been a burst sq. sh. J-45 instead. The same. It didn't open up the slightest and had to be passed within 6 months or so. These 2 disappointments gave me what I often described as
a trauma
. A state that only increased up through the next decade. Every time I reached for a Gibson during the 80's, it said nothing but 'socks' and eventually from approx. 1986, I even stopped looking at them.

But things change
!

Around the millennium my brother phoned and asked if I would like to check a Sheryl Crow he had a chance to buy. That guitar got me from the first strum. Projective, gibsonesque voiced and willing as it was. He chose to keep it and I often played the thing when visiting him until he sold it for financial reasons.

The second beginning had shown – but not before 10 years later my own personal storm broke loose. . .

Now the trauma has evaporated (what an achievement). Not sure I've found the exact mythological core-sound I was looking for since back then, but it's very close. A few weeks ago I told my good Santa Cruz/J-45 friend that it felt like I had finally landed on the right island and now dug very close to the treasure.

Maybe it's time to enjoy the beautiful environment instead of sweating behind that glowing shovel. . .

 

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