1/17/2018

1952 Gibson J-50 Slope Dreadnought Guitar




Update April 2018: The lady who purchased this beaut a while back decided it was just a bit too big for her in the waist, so she recently traded it back to me for other gear. Since taking it back, I've spruced it up a little more with new Gotoh relic Kluson-style tuners and have taken-off, resized, and reglued the bridge to give it a more classic look. I've since entirely updated the blog post with new pictures, a new description, and a new video clip.

adore early-'50s Gibson jumbos. They're the epitome of what I think a "big box" flattop guitar should be -- a good bass but with focus, lots of mids, and a crisp, woody, high-end that can take some real picking. They're a good fit for me because I like that power but I also like that short, 24 3/4" scale and the way the waist of the slope-dread body fits in my lap. Unlike a Martin, I feel like these place my arm a little forward of the widest part of the lower bout, which helps with playing fatigue. Ideally, they're loud as well for country-chomping chord work, too. This one has it all and it looks great, as well.

Per the usual, this J-50 is a natural-finished version of the classic J-45 -- with solid mahogany back, sides, and neck and a solid spruce top. This era of J-50 is lightweight, punchy, and tends to have a lightly-domed build to the top.

Old work on this guitar included an oversize replacement bridge, replacement tuners, some old back-brace reglue jobs, replacement pins, and finish touch-ups. Touch-ups include finish put over nicks and dings on the top, back, and sides -- mostly around the soundhole and a few on the lower bout. The back of the neck and headstock has had total overspray in the past, however, though currently the neck's finish is played-down and buffed-into a semi-satin sort of sheen. The original finish is under all of this, though, so the color is right overall. The fretboard looks like it got hit with a sealer coat at some point, too, but it's not obvious. The important part is that most of the finish is original -- with all of that weather-check we like to see on an old Gibson.

My prior work included a fret level/dress, general cleaning, and a setup. I made two new saddles for it -- one bone and a little lower for fast action and one slightly taller on the bass side for players who pound on their guitars. Since it came back, I installed new, Gotoh relic tuners that look appropriate and have tight, modern, 15:1 ratio tuning. I also pulled the bridge off, recut it to a more appropriate size, thickness, and shaping (rounded-off front edge, etc), and reglued it. There's a bit of mucked-up finish/etc. in front of the bridge (though I yellow-tinted it) but I think having a properly-shaped bridge is less of an issue than seeing a bit of fuss from what appears to be at least two other oversize bridge replacement jobs.

Specs are: 24 3/4" scale, 1 11/16" nut width, 1 15/32" string spacing at the nut, 2 1/32" spacing at the bridge, 16 1/4" lower bout, 11 3/4" upper bout, and 4 7/8" depth at the endblock. Action is spot-on at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret. The neck is straight, the frets have good life left to them, the board has a ~12" radius to it and the neck profile is a slim-to-medium C-shape -- it's quick and easy and classically Gibson. I have it strung with 52w, 41w, 31w, 23w, 16, 12 Martin Retro monel strings, though phosphor bronze gets a bit more boom out of this. I like the even sound of the monels, though.


She's gorgeous, no?








The bridge pins and endpin are all new, ebony ones.


There's about 3/32" saddle left to play with, though string ramps behind it insure good back-angle. In fact, the action is probably a little low for your average chord-banging guitarist. Hence the second saddle...

















Its original case is in great condition except that someone painted it "adobe tan" in that peachy, light-brown way.


2 comments:

Phil Fabiano said...

what a wonderful instrument , as you know I love the gibby slopes as well as is my
country western model...look at the wonderful silking on the top... gorgeous old growth stuff right there

Warren said...

I borrowed a 1953 J-50 for a week once. It was so sweet. What a beast! The rumble of the low end was something else. Someone is going to be lucky to get this one.