Vintage Instruments: Gibson Guitars

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1954 Gibson Southern Jumbo

A quite-wonderful sounding mid 1950’s Gibson SJ that’s just had a neck reset and refret here at Folkway. With excellent playability, classic Gibson tone and a few repairs to help keep the pricing in check this SJ is a perfect choice for someone who wants a whole lot of vintage Gibson for a below-market-value price.

The guitar’s back suffered some damage that was unprofessionally repaired. We’ve left it alone as, apart from the cosmetic hit it represents, it’s not much of a problem. And it’s on the back so it’s easy to ignore. The top and sides are without cracks. There’s some playwear by the pickguard and again by the fingerboard, and the neck finish shows average wear as well. Original tuners, nut, and saddle; original bridge and pickguard. There’s an old brass store-tag on the back-side of the headstock that reads ‘Len Davies Musical Instruments, Toronto, Canada’; presumably installed back when the guitar was new.

Under the hood you’ll find some reglued brace ends and sections of kerfed linings; the original bridge plate is in good shape. We suspect that this SJ was back at the factory shortly after it was built for some repairs, but we can’t say so with any real certainty. The bracing has more of a later 1950’s look to it than we would expect, and the finish on the back shows more crazing than elsewhere on the guitar. Black light shows nothing out of the ordinary though, and we discovered nothing odd through the neck reset process. We’ve down-priced the guitar to reflect that there is some mystery as to its early history.

It’s a very fine sounding SJ, with clarity and focus, bright highs and woody lows. It’s quick to react and effortless to play. Standard rounded neck carve of that era with 1-11/16 nut; 24.75” scale.

With hardshell case

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