Thursday, December 11, 2008
1943 Gibson southern jumbo restoration
Several weeks ago I mentioned working on this old southern jumbo. This guitar was left to my client by her childhood friend and I understand her father bought it in a pawnshop in Lubbock TX in 1945. I was able to date this guitar to 1943 because of the maple walnut neck, 4 piece top and poplar blocks. During the war spruce was used in airplane props & components and the whole country was running on limited supplies to help with the war effort. As an aside I once restored a 56' J-45 that belonged to a Vietnam veteran. He grabbed the guitar during the pullout and it had U.S.M.C stamped on the back. I guess he figured he earned it and he probably did!
The southern jumbo had seen better days when it first arrived. The fingerboard, bridge & finish were not original or even close to correct replacements. The top had been sanded under 2mm and someone tried to correct the terrible top distortion by throwing a tailpiece on. Ouch!
I made a form to hold the sides in true until I had the new top ready to go. Then I removed the fingerboard, neck & top. I made a new top out of some Adirondack spruce that had been rejected by Martin decades ago. I was not to worried about the less than perfect bookmatch as during the war they used what they could and I wanted to keep that piece of history, although this top had great taptone. I replicated the bracing to match the original top then glued it up.
After binding and final plate tuning I was ready to spray. I tinted the lacquer to give the binding that vintage appearence.
The folks at Gibson, Montana were nice enough to provide a set of matched inlays. I used Brazilian rosewood for the fingerboard and bridge. After fretwork and set-up she was ready to go. This was a great project. The owner was very emotionally connected to this guitar. She felt that it should be returned to Texas, were it belonged so she flew down there and presented it as a gift to Texas songwriter Eric Taylor http://bluerubymusic.com.
I hope this guitar will bring another 50 years of music and memories. I know Eric is just the one to help, if your not familiar with his music give it a listen. His latest release "Hollywood Pocketknife" is a masterpiece of American storytelling and song.