This is probably the best player grade vintage acoustic guitars we’ve ever listed – an iconic guitar owned by one of Sydney’s busiest session players of the last 20+ years. It has been played on countless sessions and recordings by –
Rick Price …. and many more
In fact back in the day when John from PREMIER GUITARS was producing albums in the 80s & 90s, this guitar was the go-to acoustic instrument for this wonderful player who was booked on numerous occasions.
And this one has quite a back story. It was originally bought in Memphis by respected Sydney luthier Piers Crocker in 1991. While the guitar definitely had some mojo, it had some issues which needed attending to back then. But if anyone could bring the old girl back to life it would be Piers.
Mr Crocker repaired the existing crack in the top below the bridge and reglued some of the original scalloped bracing. He also gave it a typically professional refret, and carefully tweaked it over some time until her former sonic glory was restored.
One of Piers’ clients fell under spell of this guitar and gently hassled him to sell it, but that was not to be – for a while at least. Eventually the client’s powers of persuasion must have worked on Piers because in the end his J-50 did change hands.
Essentially a blonde or natural finish J-45, Gibson first introduced the J-50 in 1942.
The slope-shouldered dreadnought body shape, with its spruce top and mahogany back and sides, is identical. There’s nothing fancy on the inlay or pickguard fronts either, so in essence, the J-50 is a J-45 with a different finish.
- BUILD - Solid spruce top, mahogany back and sides,
- NECK - Set mahogany neck with Brazilian rosewood fingerboard, 22 frets
- INLAYS - Pearloid dot markers
- BINDING - Multi-ply body binding on front, single-ply binding on rear,
- HARDWARE - Kluson single line 3-on-a-plate tuners
- ELECTRONICS - no pickup
- SCALE LENGTH - 625mm / 24.6″
- NECK WIDTH - 43.2mm at nut, 53mm at 12th fret
- NECK DEPTH - 21.1mm at first fret, 24mm at 12th fret
- STRING SPACING - 37mm at nut, 52.7mm at bridge
- WEIGHT - 2.15 kg / 4.7 lbs
- FINISH - Natural gloss nitrocellulose
Wartime shortages forced a hold on production shortly after, but the J-50 became an official part of Gibson’s core product line as early as 1947. Its specs would always largely mirror that of the J-45. If the J-45 changed, so did the J-50.
But there are a few important historical differences that do set the lesser known blond apart. In 1950, Gibson added a triple-bound top to the J-50, further differentiating it from the J-45.
Five years later, Gibson altered the bracing in the lower bout and introduced a 20th fret as well as a larger pickguard with a point toward the upper bout, replacing the conventional teardrop.
As the 1950s began to wane and production of the J-50 entered a new decade, Gibson introduced an adjustable saddle to the bridge, which became standard in 1961. This ceramic saddle allowed the action to be adjusted.
On this guitar the original ceramic saddle has been replaced with a modern Tusq unit from Graph Tech which has been hand shaped to suit the exact same fingerboard radius of the guitar following the refret. The original saddle is in the case.
Also, the original inline Kluson Deluxe tuning machines have been replaced with a new set of the same model tuners. Again, the original tuners are in the case.
The guitar is showing its age, but in a good way. And you can see evidence of the running repairs that will always be needed on a vintage acoustic such as this – one that that somebody actually wants to play rather than hang on a wall.
The neck profile has a medium depth, with the soft shoulders that grace Gibson’s finest necks. This one eases into your hands and makes the guitar feel like you’ve been playing it for decades. There is some fret wear in the lower areas, but no new refret is required for now.
The dry, warm and mellow tones are even more familiar than the neck profile. It doesn’t do airy harmonics, or thunderous bass. Instead the focus is on the midrange, with a gentle punch and clear string separation.
From a player’s perspective, this J-50 is not especially loud, but it projects into a room very nicely and won’t overpower a singer. The shorter sustain also provides rhythm parts with a percussive drive and brings superb clarity to intricate fingerpicking.
All the cosmetic and previous structural issues have been professionally attended to as described above, and this guitar just sings now.
A vintage Gibson acoustic is many a producer’s secret weapon and this gorgeous example certainly has ‘that’ sound. Which is why it has seen serious studio time on albums for the artists listed earlier.
It has a charming old-school tone, but doesn’t sound dated at all. The warmth, intimacy and gentle dynamics are extremely player-friendly and it’s one of those guitars that is almost impossible to put down.
Comes with its later Gibson hard shell case in OK condition.