Vintage Instruments: Gibson Guitars

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1957 Gibson Southern Jumbo

The first Long & McQuade retail store opened in Toronto in 1957, the year this Gibson SJ was built. Today Long & McQuade is a retail chain of some 82 music stores across Canada and continues to grow by the year. And yes, Folkway Music is across the street from our town’s local store. We can imagine this headstock decal being applied to this Southern Jumbo sometime in those first months of the company’s existence and wonder whether it was Jack Long or Jack McQuade who took care of such details at that first L&M store! While not your typical ‘Banner’ headstock logo, we think this L&M decal is still pretty cool, even if that store is today amongst our competitors in the new instrument biz. We’re okay with that!

The guitar is a total beauty and has all the tone any of us want in a Gibson J. It’s bass is strong, present, defined but thumpy, and full of warmth, mids are classic 50’s Gibson, and the trebles are lively and thick. It’s a great sounding guitar with excellent volume and string balance.

This SJ is completely original but for its saddle, bridge pins, first 7 frets, and tuner buttons. It has a few repaired back cracks and a repaired top crack at the pickguard’s inside margin. Finish is original and shows its age very attractively. There’s no excessive playwear, but there are plenty of craze-lines in the lacquer, some belt rash on the back, and areas of flaked-off finish on the headstock. It looks great. The neck has a typical rounded feel, a nut width of 1-11/16, and 24.75” scale.

The guitar’s neck has been cleanly reset, and the first 7 frets have been replaced. The setup is excellent, and the guitar currently plays with 4-6 action and regular light strings. There’s an older passive top-sensor pickup in the guitar as well with a standard endpin jack.

With hard-shell case

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