Recently Acquired old Gibson

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Recently Acquired old Gibson

Postby Ben Caracello » Mon Oct 10, 2016 5:48 pm

Hello,
I recently acquired a guitar when my uncle passed away. It belonged to my grandfather, and near as I can tell using serial numbers, it's a 1959 Gibson J-50. I really love how this guitar looks (finish is super crazed, but gives it character to me) plays, and sounds. I'm writing this post because I've never dealt with a guitar like this before, and I'm concerned with some things about it.

1. The area between the bridge and the sound hole looks to be a bit concave. How can I tell if this is a problem?

2. Is the area behind the bridge supposed to be this domed, or is it getting a bit of a belly?

3. I don't know what strings it has on it now. I suppose I could measure their thicknesses with a caliper to get similar strings, but is there a better way to keep things the way they are?

4. There seems to be a little ooze of superglue around one of the bridge pins, so at re-stringing time, I may be back to ask questions about this.

5. The finish seems to extend onto the bridge, is this normal for Gibsons of this vintage, or is it a sign of funny business?

The action on this guitar is great, and I would love to keep everything as-is. I've built a case for it because the original Tolex case is almost completely useless. It will stay in storage, but I want to keep this guitar in a durable case and pull it out frequently.

Thanks in advance for your guidance
Attachments
Guitar 7.jpg
Guitar 5.jpg
Guitar 3.jpg
Guitar 1.jpg
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Re: Recently Acquired old Gibson

Postby Mark Swanson » Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:23 pm

Your photos don't show a lot. the top looks fine to me as far as I can tell. That's a cool guitar! Post a few photos of the bridge, the things you said about the superglue and the finish on the bridge concern me.
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Re: Recently Acquired old Gibson

Postby Ben Caracello » Tue Oct 11, 2016 12:55 am

Thanks, I really love this guitar. It comes to life with the lightest touch, and I can picture how effortless my grandpa's playing always looked. Anyway, I tried to take some pics of the top with a piece of posterboard as a straightedge, and they made me feel better about it, actually. There's something weird about how the edge of the soundhole looks from where I can see it while I play. Anyway, I included pics that I think show what I'm talking about with the bridge and the superglue. Let me know what you think. I'm guessing I should peek inside with a mirror and see if there are any horrors under the bridge.
Attachments
Whole Body.JPG
Superglue.JPG
Soundhole side of bridge.JPG
Shiny Bridge.JPG
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Re: Recently Acquired old Gibson

Postby Mark Swanson » Tue Oct 11, 2016 10:31 am

It looks like someone may have tried to glue the bridge back down by running a bolt through that pin hole. Maybe not, but it looks odd. Have a look inside.
I don't think it is as old as 1959 because of that adjustable bridge. many of us replace those bridges with non-adjustable standard ones. There is a lot of metal and mass under there to accomodate those bolts. They kill the tone. But you don't have to do anything, and if you went that way, make sure that you get a competent luthier to do it.
That's a nice guitar. There isn't anything wrong with the top as far as I can see. make sure all the braces are glued down, not loose.
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Re: Recently Acquired old Gibson

Postby Joshua Levin-Epstein » Tue Oct 11, 2016 1:43 pm

It might be that someone tried to tighten up that pin hole with superglue. Gibson did not typically finish their bridges so maybe someone tried to "improve" the appearance of the bridge.

But, that bridge is lifting and that's not a good thing with a bridge that is bolted on (there are machine screws under the pearl dots).

Show the guitar to someone who knows what's what. If you want to keep the guitar as is, the bridge should be reglued. There are also ways to get rid of the ceramic saddle without replacing the bridge, but some people like the originality.
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Re: Recently Acquired old Gibson

Postby Bob Gramann » Tue Oct 11, 2016 2:10 pm

On my childhood Gibson B-25 (purchased in 1962) which had the ceramic saddle, the screws that supported the saddle went into large threaded metal sinks attached directly to the top. The bridge was merely a decoration and served no structural purpose. There was no physical connection between the saddle and the bridge. Under those pearl dots on the bridge are small screws that hold the bridge on with nuts under the bridgeplate. So, it doesn't matter much if it isn't firmly glued everywhere. About 1990, I removed all of the heavy metal hardware, and made a new bridge with a bone saddle. It greatly improved the guitar.
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Re: Recently Acquired old Gibson

Postby Ben Caracello » Wed Oct 12, 2016 1:57 pm

Thanks for the guidance, everyone. I got a mirror in there last night. I was afraid I'd see a bunch of glue ooze on the bottom of that bridge pin, but it looks okay. I also noticed a crack in the top, right in line with the edge of the pickguard, that has been repaired. Now that I've seen it, I can see where there was some glue squeeze out on the top. none of the braces look loose, but the brace between the soundhole and the neck looks like someone got sloppy with the glue. I think that was from a repair, since squeeze out on the other braces looks much more minimal. But it all looks like it's holding. I took a closer look at the bridge itself, and I don't see it actually separating from the top, I think that was a finish flaw that looked extra bad in one of the other pictures. I've included a pic of the Serial Number, in case one of you is an amazing Gibson Cryptographer and can date it better than I did with some googling.
Attachments
IMG_8865.JPG
Serial Number
IMG_8873.JPG
Overgooped brace
IMG_8867.JPG
Crack on the top
IMG_8866.JPG
Bridge pin that doesn't seem to be glue gooped
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Re: Recently Acquired old Gibson

Postby Mark Swanson » Wed Oct 12, 2016 5:22 pm

That looks like superglue on that brace. That is too bad, it is not the right glue for that at all.
You can see the huge metal hardware on the last photo there. As Bob says, they really sound better when all that is removed.
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Re: Recently Acquired old Gibson

Postby Barry Daniels » Wed Oct 12, 2016 5:26 pm

It looks like the pins are very close to the back edge of the bridge reinforcement plate. It would be better if it extended towards the bottom of the guitar a bit further than the bridge. But this may also be normal for a Gibson of this vintage. I have also removed bolts from Gibsons with considerable improvements in sound.
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