There are few guitars in the period starting with the turn of the 20th century that have captured our imaginations as has the Gibson J-50. The primary choice of Jorma Kaukonen when he recorded "Embryonic Journey," Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Lightnin' Hopkins - it's sound rings long and unmistakably in our collective memories. While a simple design, this slope-shouldered jumbo produces enough sonic energy to power a large auditorium.
This instrument, whose nut width at fingerboard is a full and willing-to-please 1 11/16th", is stamped with a very small "2" on the back of the headstock just below the peak - because when it left the factory in 1957 it was designated a "Factory Second" meaning it had a small cosmetic flaw, and Gibson gave the original dealer a discount to pass on to the first purchaser. It is widely known that after an instrument has been played and owned for half a century or more, as has this; there is no possibility that anybody could ever in a million years find the early cosmetic flaw. Its location, like that of Mrs. Amelia Putnam, the beloved aviatrix, is lost to history.
When this guitar came in it, like so many other tens of thousands of flattop guitars from the turn of the century to the ‘60s, needed a neck reset. The action was high, the bridge saddle was low. Our dedicated nest of crackerjack necromancers have nuanced this restoration of the correct neck angle so deftly that one cannot virtually not tell that anything has been done. But now it plays sublimely. And it has a fresh bridge saddle, fresh frets, a fresh nut, and a fresh set of D’Addario EJ16 light gauge Phosphor Bronze strings. It plays without physical effort; its large, rounded ‘50s neck connects to the paw as a tenacious and confident handshake, last felt when you were hired for that advanced position with the firm. Now it has the correct downward angle from the saddle to the bridge pins which is what conveys power, punch and pop to the acoustic experience. Having been geometrically brought back to its original specifications this guitar now performs with the boisterous, dynamic and room filling sound as so richly deserves.
This highly favorable vintage year J-50 has the large tortoise shell color pickguard with a single point facing east, 10” measured diagonally, and this particular ‘guard has a sort of bubble in the middle. There is a small area of missing finish at the top of the pickguard, so the celluloid must have shrunken over the years. The headstock is black overlain and bears the “Gibson” burnished gold decal logo and some nicks and small chips from normal use and string changing. The tuners are replicas of Kluson Deluxe sealed backs, with striped backs and small metal oval buttons, but are not original –the originals were three-on-a-plate and probably with plastic buttons. If one ever locates ‘50s plastic three-on-a-plate Klusons, the purchaser may wish to eventually swap them out. Its headstock retains an original black bell-shaped truss rod cover held in place by two oxidized Phillips screws.
The unbound fingerboard, which is inlaid with 7 dotmarkers in 6 positions, is Brazilian rosewood and so is the carved, belly-up bridge with the twin inlaid pearl dots and six crème pins. The end pin is crème as well. The soundhole rosette is trim and tasteful with thin crème and black and then thick crème on the inside; the bass side of the fingerboard likewise has 7 white dots inlaid in 6 positions. This guitar shows finish checking, dings, small nicks and some very light buckle marks on back that do not penetrate the finish. There are some small nicks on the neck. All this is, as my psychologist says, quite normal. We Thank Heaven for the fact that this guitar has never had a strap button on or near the neck. This guitar plays magnificently easily and sounds like a philharmonic orchestra.
Was $6181 with a Cash Discount Price of $5995 but presently this is "on hold" for a gentleman from Texas.