Museum: Gibson Guitars

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1935 Gibson Roy Smeck Stage Deluxe

FON Illegible. Here's a player's Gibson Roy Smeck Stage Deluxe that was converted to Spanish-style a couple of decades ago. The workmanship - while not historically accurate - is very nice, and the guitar has a good look and feel.

The Smeck Stage Deluxe was Gibson's first Jumbo-bodied Hawaiian flat-top. It featured the same 16" wide body as the 14 fret Jumbo, but was fitted with a huge 12-fret neck. The bridge and soundhole were positioned lower on the top, which resulted in an x-bracing pattern with two, instead of three tone bars. Mahogany back and sides, spruce top, single-ply body binding and small-center sunburst finish. Like the Jumbo, the Smeck Stage Deluxe has a nearly un-tapered body depth; the guitar measures 4.5" deep at the endpin, and 4.25" at the heel of the neck.

The guitar's neck is original to the guitar, but was modified in the process of converting it to play Spanish style. The neck's barrel was carved into a nicely rounded and very comfortable late 1940's shape, with a nut width of 1-23/32" and a flat fingerboard. The fingerboard was replaced with ebony, and a Nick Lucas style set of fingerboard and headstock inlays were added. The pearl-work is very cleanly done. The neck was refinished very professionally, and matches the body's original finish very well. Frets don't show much wear and play cleanly up to about the 13th fret where some slight buzzing shows up. The guitar's action is set at 5-6 64ths at the 12th fret.

There are three filled holes in the top (old pickup controls), a filled jack-hole in the side, and a replaced pickguard; the bridgeplate is a 70's oversized rosewood replacement, and the bridge is a Martin-style ebony replacement with a pin spacing of 2-1/8". There is a repaired crack along the bass-edge of the fingerboard that extends to the soundhole, and a second top-crack stemming from the lowest filled hole in the top. There is a repaired crack through the endpin hole, and three screw holes remain from where a tailpiece was once fastened. The body's finish is largely original, with touchups to the hole repairs on the top and side and seamlessly blended localized overspray. Finish touchups to the top along the edges of the fingerboard's extension, and on the sides adjacent to the heel of the neck. The back's finish is completely original and unmodified, as is most of the top's and sides' . The headstock has been drilled for Schaller tuners. We have installed Gotoh Kluson style tuning machines, which look a lot better.

Despite the long list of repairs and modifications, this is a lovely guitar. No, it doesn't sound like an unmodified original Smeck, but its tone is certainly along those lines. It has that brash, punchy, and aggressive midrange that we like in these kind of guitars, lots of volume, and some great definition. If you felt like something of a project, we'd offer to replace the bridge and bridge plate with more period-correct reproductions - which would really open up the bass and add back a whole lot of warmth and overtones to the guitar's voice. The instrument's body is in excellent shape with no bracing repairs or issues, and there's no top distortion.

As it sits, this vintage Gibson doesn't have any Brazilian rosewood on it, and can be shipped freely out of Canada without the need for CITES permits.

With higher-quality fitted hardshell case.

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