1973 Gibson J-50 Deluxe Dreadnought Guitar

It's been a while since I've worked on a '70s Gibson dread. This one came in via a customer and it got a new bridge, a fret level/dress, a new saddle, and a setup.

Unlike the traditional, slope-shoulder J-45s and J-50s, this '73 J-50 is the "renovated" version of the '70s. That means that the tone is almost entirely changed and so folks looking for "that J-45 sound" will be sorely disappointed when they pick up one of these latter-era Kalamazoo boxes. This thing is much more like a Martin D-18 or Guild D-35: it has square shoulders and a long, 25 3/8" scale length vs. the 24 3/4" length Gibsons are known for. Combine that scale change with a bracing change to a stiffer, double-X-braced pattern, and there you have it -- a sound that's much more "bluegrass punch and shuffle" than it is chunky, folksy, woody chord-master.

One might expect it to sound something like a Hummingbird due to the looks but -- no -- those changes make it different. It's not different in a bad way, but it's just different. The guitar still handles and performs like a solid, well-built instrument... which it is. Folks tend to knock this era of Gibson guitar and I can see why -- just like at Martin, production changes are evident. To me it's just different from peoples' expectations. If someone picked this up while hunting for a D-18 vibe, he or she might be totally wowed. It really does punch an the double-X-bracing has kept the top intact and stable for its entire life.

Old work on the guitar seems to have included a neck reset and some cleats/seal jobs to hairline cracks on the top, but my new work has brought it into spec and it plays perfectly with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret. The neck is straight and being of 3-piece construction, it's also stable. The top is solid spruce and the back and sides are solid mahogany.

These tuners are just placeholders. The owner has a set of Kluson-style repros to put on it so these are just freebies fished from my parts-bin for use during setup