The Jumbo was Gibson’s first ‘Dreadnought’ 14 fret flat top model. It was introduced in 1934, sold poorly, and was replaced by the J-35 in 1936; with a small number of transitional variants in between. With an incredibly clean 1935 Gibson Jumbo and a 1938 Gibson J-35 on hand, Mark discusses the Jumbo model in detail and compares it to the later J-35. Enjoy!
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In order to properly fix an open crack, or center-seam that stubbornly doesn’t close up enough when humidified (as was the case with this 1930 Gibson L2) I like to use a modified version of TJ_Thompson’s Top Crack Corrector Kit.

The kit is designed for Martin guitars, which are built with flat tops; but Gibsons are built with domed tops, so using TJ’s Martin-specific FLAT gluing cauls on a NOT-FLAT Gibson can cause unintended damage.  However, TJ’s cleat design and repair process work really well at swelling an open crack closed and locking it in place all while keeping the crack perfectly aligned, so I devised this hack to be able to use the cleats on a radius-topped Gibson.

Photo 1. Mapping the top braces and measuring the top’s radius.  The radius gauges were designed by me and are manufactured by Lewis at @eastcityguitarco (you need these if you work on Gibsons and other radius-topped guitars).

Radiused Top Guitar Crack Repair Hack



Photo 2. 12.5’ radius block roughed out.  This will become the inner caul.

Radiused Top Guitar Crack Repair Hack


Photo 3 – 5. Marking and cutting the caul with the brace positions and dimensions.

Radiused Top Guitar Crack Repair Hack

Radiused Top Guitar Crack Repair Hack

Radiused Top Guitar Crack Repair Hack


Photo 6. Adding the TJ-made cleat holder and cleat stock. The stock is genius in design with its semi-cylindrical cut and double-rift grain orientation.  The cleats are light and can be oriented parallel with the top’s grain without causing other issues.

Radiused Top Guitar Crack Repair Hack


Photo 7. NeoD magnets are used to locate the caul while working blindly inside the guitar.  The magnets are strong enough to keep everything in place while you position the clamps.

Radiused Top Guitar Crack Repair Hack


Photo 8. All clamped up.  The crack is glued and the cleats are applied simultaneously.  The system is designed to be used with hide glue, which is fabulous at swelling wood and then shrinking everything tightly together.

Radiused Top Guitar Crack Repair Hack


Photos 9 and 10. The finished product.  Tightly closed and level.

Radiused Top Guitar Crack Repair Hack


Radiused Top Guitar Crack Repair Hack

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1940-1942 were transitional years for Gibson’s Jumbos, with specs changing rapidly.  These J-35s are very unique, and come in many variants.  They each have their own sound and are therefore difficult to compare on equal ground.   I had this wonderfully clean and original 1941 Gibson J-35 on the bench that is an excellent example of its kind.

Photo 1.  The natural finished 1941 body.

1941 Gibson J-35

Photo 2.  1930s-style sawn neck pocket.  Look closely and you can see the model name pencilled on the side right next to the mortise.
1941 Gibson J-35
Photo 3. Lacquered bridge with drop in saddle. The saddles on Gibsons were always glued in place, even the drop-ins, right up until the adjustable bridges came along in the mid/late 1950s.
1941 Gibson J-35 bridge & saddle
Photo 4.  Lacquered over ebony nut.  The Ebony nut was standard on the J-35 and L-00 models.  They have this shape from around 1935 until 1942, thereabouts.
1941 Gibson J-35 ebony nut
Photo 5.  Transitional ‘scalloped’ 2 bar bracing.  When Gibson went to a 2 tone bar design they tightened up the X brace angle, used a larger bridge plate, and shorter braces.  The top thickness appears to have been increased as well.  Notice the single finger braces, as well.
1941 Gibson J-35 bracing
Photo 6.  Banner 1944 Bracing, for comparison.  Notice the wider X, smaller plate (just like on a 3 tone bar J-35, and on post war J-45s), as well as taller and more robust braces.
Interested in learning more about Gibson J-35s from this era?  Check out this post we shared about a 1940 Gibson J-35 
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We’ve had a number of requests for more photos of the black 1940 L-00, so here is a little photo-essay for you.

All told, this was a “normal” old Gibson restoration… but with a twist. There’s been no finish repair, no cleaning of the original finish, and the neck set was done with the original fretboard and saddle untouched. Our customer requested that the guitar look exactly as found, but made functional. It was a fun job.

Body of a 1940 Gibson L-00 guitar in restoration

The guitar had the following work done:

– neck reset
– first 8 frets replaced with reclaimed fretwire from a 1941 J-35 (unworn upper frets from the J-35 become the lower frets on the recipient – we keep all of our old fretwire!). The fingerboard patina was untouched, no grime removed, no sanding etc.
– pickguard was partially reglued
– bridge was removed, top reshaped (with custom made Gibson top shapers from TJ Thompson’s Pro Luthier Tools)
– bridge bottom was reshaped /unwarped and reglued
– numerous back cracks were glued
– major side cracks were aligned and glued
– side puncture was repaired
– nut and saddle slots were rebuilt
– treble side tuner buttons were replaced with buttons salvaged from other 40’s Klusons
– tuning machines were restored

Images of the 'firestripe' pickguard and fretboard extension on a 1940 Gibson L-00 guitar in restoration Images of the neckjoint on a 1940 Gibson L-00 guitar in restoration Images of the tuners and headstock on a 1940 Gibson L-00 guitar in restoration Images of the binding and body on a 1940 Gibson L-00 guitar in restoration Images of the fretboard on a 1940 Gibson L-00 guitar in restoration

This is a client’s guitar and is not available for sale.  

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Folkway Music is proud to present an in-person book signing with Greig Hutton, Martin Guitar Historian and author of “Hutton’s Guide to Martin Guitars: 1833-1969.”

Saturday, November 26th, from 10:30AM until 1:00PM at Folkway Music

We have a limited number of copies available for purchase. If you already have your own copy of the book and would like to meet Greig, feel free to join us and get your copy signed, too.

Hutton’s Guide to Martin Guitars: 1833-1969

Greig Hutton has spent the better part of two decades compiling data for this seminal work on the history of Martin Guitars. He singlehandedly digitized most, if not all of the original archival documents in Martin’s museum and North Street attic, and has created a 436 page recount of every last detail of note that he unearthed. From tonewood purchase records to decal suppliers, the first X braced instruments to the list of pre-WWII left-handed instruments, this book has more information packing its pages than just about any other guitar reference book ever created. It’s a must-have for any vintage Martin guitar enthusiast or scholar.

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Q:  What do you get when you put three 6119s together?

A:  18,357


But, yeah, this is pretty cool.  The single pickup Gretsch 6119 Chet Atkins Tennessean was introduced in 1958 and existed for about a year before the model was revamped into the Tennessean we’re more familiar with (ie George Harrison’s guitar).

The single pickup 6119 is a rare bird, and having three of them in one place likely won’t happen around here again!

Essentially a dressed-down 6120 Chet Atkins hollowbody with a single pickup, these early 6119s feature the same trestle-braced body, PAF Filter’Tron, neck dimensions, and hardware as the fancier 6120.  Kind of like the Les Paul Jr is to the Special.

All three of these guitars were shipped in 1960 (as almost all one-pickup 6119s were).  Notice the color variation.  It’s not UV exposure, but differences in the color of the original finish.  Strange stuff!

Great guitars, fun picture to take!

Three 1960 Gretsch 6119 vintage electric guitars.
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A structural issue we often discover on instruments that have had a bridge reglue in the past is a separation of the X brace and top directly under the bridge wing. This can happen as a result of the heat that’s used to remove a bridge, or can happen from improper clamping when the bridge is reglued. It’s easy to miss, but can spell eventual top collapse if it’s not fixed.

This ‘37 J-35 is a perfect example if this issue. It’s flawless inside except for one sneaky loose section of X brace right under the bass side bridge wing. The challenge with this otherwise simple glue up is that the clamp landed right at the seam of the slope of the bridge wing and the top, and there was no good way to to safely clamp.

Showing a loose brace under the bridge on a 30's Gibson guitar

This wing/top caul took 10 minutes to make, and ensures a safe and accurate glue up. The notched caul on the brace itself is cut to fit snugly over the brace and is specifically made for 30’s Gibsons, which I work on a lot.  It’s drilled on the back side to index with a Stewart MacDonald clamp, and it’s small enough to allow for easy clean-up of glue squeeze out.

When gluing a loose brace you get one chance to fix it properly.  It’s never guaranteed to hold if the repair fails and you have to glue it again, so it’s worth the extra time to give it its best chance of holding tight.

Showing a caul used to glue loose braces under the bridge on a 30's Gibson guitarShowing a caul used to glue loose braces under the bridge on a 30's Gibson guitar

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Gibson’s EM-150 is an electric mandolin that was introduced at the outset of Gibson’s Electric instrument production, back in 1936. It was offered alongside the ES-150 guitar, EH-150 Steel, and ERB-150 banjos and was originally fitted with a “Charlie Christian” style pickup. The design of the EM-150 evolved similarly to the ES-150 guitar, and by the late 1940s was built with a P-90 pickup and plywood maple body.

This example is one of 51 built in 1962. The EM-150’s highest production years were 1953 and 1954, when 158 were built in each year. In total, about 1950 EM-150s were built during the model’s post-WWII production run.

Full body and close up of a vintage Gibson Electric Mandolin: 1962 Gibson EM-150 Bridge, pickup, f-holes and tailpiece of a vintage Gibson Electric Mandolin: 1962 Gibson EM-150

This particular instrument has sold.

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Pre-WWII left-handed Gibsons are phenomenally rare, but they do exist! Here’s a look at a few that are currently at Folkway.

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Ever wonder what those plastic bridges that Gibson used in the early 60s were all about? Most Gibson flat top acoustics built in 1962 and 1963 had this style of injection-moulded plastic bridge with adjustable ceramic insert, but perhaps you’ve not seen one of them up close and personal…

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I love it when a plan comes together.

This 1940 Gibson J-35 needed the usual repairs to get it up and running perfectly – reset, refret, pickguard reglue, new nut, saddle, pins, etc.

It’s unique feature is that the bridge and fingerboard are made of what looks to be Cuban mahogany rather than rosewood, and I knew it would be hard to match the patina, colour, and wear-patterns if I were to sand the fretboard at all during the refret.  Like a maple-board fender, the trick was to do the levelling on the frets instead of the wood.  That’s routine work in our shop, but setting the neck without the safety-net of being able to tweak the neck angle with a refret is always a fun challenge.

Some guitars are cooperative, others less so, but this guitar seemed pleased to do its part in helping things go smoothly.

1940 Gibson J-35 guitar

1940 Gibson J-35 guitar

1940 Gibson J-35 guitar




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1930s B&J Romeo & Juliet Serenader guitar

Hanging on the walls of our repair shop, you’ll find some of our favourite decorative vintage instruments. We love the decals of this 1930s B&J Serenader Romeo and Juliet! Notice the convenient hole through its peghead for you to hang it by!

This item is not for sale.

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Presented by the Old Town School of Folk Music

Join Fretboard Journal‘s Jason Verlinde and acclaimed luthiers TJ Thompson (Pro Luthier Tools) and Mark Stutman (Folkway Music) for this informative class on the care, feeding and collecting of vintage acoustic guitars.

Over the course of this discussion, Mark and TJ will discuss variations between pre-war and collectible Martins and Gibsons, some of the most common issues they find on their repair benches and how to avoid them. We’ll talk about restoration work, neck resets, proper storage and shipping. At the end of the class, we’ll field questions from the audience on the buying, selling and preserving of these unique instruments.

08/12/2021 (1 meeting)
Thursday · 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM (Central)

Details and Registration HERE

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Mark tours us through an incredibly rare Gibson-made Recording King 807 from 1930.

Built for Montgomery-Ward, the 807 is essentially a Gibson Nick Lucas Special with different appointments. This model wasn’t produced in significant numbers and very few remain in existence today.

Mark has just finished an interesting restoration to this guitar and describes the steps involved in detail.

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Mark shows the process of gluing a hard-to-reach back crack in a ‘32 Gibson L-00 using a cleat system designed and marketed by TJ Thompson.

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