1973 Gibson J-45 Deluxe Dreadnought Guitar

This customer's guitar gave me some grief when repairing it!

It's one of those '70s Gibson J-45s... which means it's basically nothing like the '60s round-shoulder J-45s they replaced. Everything is different -- it has square shoulders, a long 25 3/8" scale length, and double-x-bracing compared to the earlier round shoulders, 24 3/4" scale, and lightly-cut standard x-bracing seen on the old models. As you might expect, these changes make it play much more like a Martin D-18 but with more of that folksy, woody, straightforward Gibson sound and faster neck feel.

The trouble with this instrument is that the repairs called for a neck reset and new bridge... but I found-out it had a tremendously-damaged neck block and side area hiding under that need. One could flex the whole neck out of position, unfortunately, due to a slippery block. To make matters worse, once I was actually in the joint and working on it, I found that there was a hidden hairline crack along the treble shoulder (just below the kerfing) that, once the joint was loose with the neck detached, sprang finish along its length just to drive me crazy.

Happily, once the repairs were finished and the neck reset at a good angle to receive a tall, Martin-style replacement bridge (the original Gibson one was low, shallow, and split) with a tall saddle, the guitar sounds a million times better and the top is engaged-enough to show-off the usefulness of its interesting bracing. I like double-x-bracing but Gibson used a fairly stiff form of it in the '70s and so a lot of these sound a little boring because the top isn't driven enough with the lower bridges and saddles that come "stock" from the factory. I think with the extra leverage on the top with the new bridge and saddle on it, it's come a lot more alive than it otherwise would be. It certainly punches-out a lot more.

Repairs included: neckblock reglue, neck reset, side crack repair, seam repairs, fret level/dress, replacement bridge, new bone saddle, cleaning, pickguard re-application (double-sided sticky-film), setup.

Top wood: solid spruce
Back & sides wood: solid mahogany
Bracing type: double-x
Bridge: rosewood
Fretboard: rosewood
Neck wood: mahogany
Action height at 12th fret: 3/32” bass 1/16” treble (fast, spot-on)
String gauges: 54w-12 lights
Neck shape: slim C
Board radius: ~12"
Truss rod: adjustable
Neck relief: straight
Fret style: wide/low
Scale length: 25 3/8"
Nut width: 1 5/8"
Body width: 15 7/8"
Body depth: 4 7/8"
Weight: 4 lbs 8 oz

Condition notes: it's a bit beat-up -- there's a hairline crack on top that's near the board extension, the binding is all rotting/broken-up but mostly still there and good to go (for now), and there's plenty of usewear/playwear throughout, though the finish still looks great in its weather-checked way. The bridge and saddle are also replacements. It had some pretty massive neck joint trauma and so there's mucked finish right around the heel and a repaired hairline crack on the treble shoulder. The truss rod cover is also chipped-out.


Burnsey said…
I used to own one of those guitars. I purchased it brand new. I hung on to it for way too long. It developed the typical crack between the fretboard and the pickguard, bridge lifted loose, neck needed reset, and just got more and more difficult to play. It had a great sound, but that was about its only redeeming quality. Oh yeah, the binding started to come apart, then the top warped.

Yup, those 70's Gibson J-45's were a product of the dark ages of Gibson.