Museum: Gibson Guitars

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1962 Gibson Southern Jumbo

Serial # 96843. Guitars like this SJ make us reconsider our opinions of adjustable bridge Gibsons. No, it doesn't sound like an SJ that's 10 years older, but it does what it does amazingly well and sounds tremendously good. The early 1960's square shoulder SJs are very lightly built guitars, and have a thumpy and dark response like nothing else out there. No, it's not a bluegrass dreadnought, but it's not trying to be one, either. It's a songwriter's guitar, with an invitingly cavernous low-end register, muted trebles, and whole lot of moody overtones.

This is easily the earliest square-shouldered SJ we've ever encountered, and certainly the finest. The SJ took on the Hummingbird's body shape in late 1962, pretty much around the time this instrument was built. However, unlike the hummingbird, the SJ retained its shorter scale length and tastefully good looks. In 1962, Gibson braces were still thin, light, and widely spaced; pickguards were still of thin celluloid, headstocks were still pitched back at about 17 degrees, bridge plates were still smallish and made of solid maple; and, generally speaking, the guitars were well made. The instrument's original bridge is plastic, which, admittedly, wasn't a terribly good choice, but we'll let the buyer decide whether or not to have us replace it with a wooden reproduction.

Completely original but for the bridgepins and tuner buttons, the guitar is in excellent condition. Two reglued top braces are the only repairs, and the guitar is crack-free. Original frets play well, nut has never been removed, and finish is in remarkably good shape and unfaded. Setup is perfect, and the guitar plays cleanly and easily. Round neck, 1-11/16" nut.

With later 1960's Ess & Ess Gibson Hardshell case

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