Shop Talk

Comparing four early-1940’s Gibson J-35s

July 7th, 2021

Mark guides us on a casual and impromptu tour of four 1940’s Gibson J-35s that are all at the shop at the same time. The differences and the similarities between these four guitars are pointed out and discussed. The guitars were all built by Gibson in 1940, 1941, and 1942.

A Gibson-made 1930 Recording King Model 807 Nick Lucas Special

May 27th, 2021

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.

Jackson Cunningham 1933 L-00 played by Jason Fowler

May 20th, 2021

Jackson Cunningham is among the most quickly up-and-coming guitar builders of this decade. Hailing from Southwest Virginia, Jackson draws obvious inspiration from the vintage Gibson guitars that are and were played by his musical heroes. His own creations are exquisitely crafted recreations of some of the most iconic designs of the 1930s.

His L-00 – played here by Jason Fowler – is a faithful reproduction of a 1933 L-00, complete with solid linings, thinner top construction, firestripe pickguard, and lightly built body; but unlike a ’33, this one was built with a rounded neck carve more similar to the 12-fret 1932 shape. Just like an original L-00, the guitar features an unbound back and one-ply top biding, a simple 3-ply rosette, and a light non-scalloped bracing.

The guitar captures the tone and quick response of a great L-00 – the characteristically warm and supportive midrange, the thick and meaty trebles and the flowering overtones. It doesn’t have 85 years under its belt, but as it was blueprinted quite accurately, it’s about as close in tone as a new guitar can get.

Sorry, this guitar has sold but you can still see our listing details here.

Gluing & Cleating Back Cracks

May 20th, 2021

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.

Top deflection due to a loose X brace on a 12 fret Gibson

March 25th, 2021

Your guitar’s X brace is a crucial part of the top’s support system. An X that is loose in front of the lap-joint can promote a spectacular top failure, so it’s best to check on it every now and then, particularly on a 12 fret Gibson flat-top from the 1930s like this 1932 L-00.

1940’s Regal X-Brace Conversion

March 11th, 2021

Body of 1940's Regal guitar after X-brace conversion

Here’s the 1940s Regal X brace conversion that I finished up earlier this winter. I’ve finally managed to convince my daughter to let me take it back! The guitar started as a ladder-braced instrument with Regal’s ‘Small Jumbo’ body that measures 15.5″ at the lower bout and has a fairly deep body depth. It’s a […]

Read more

An L-00 isn’t just an L-00…

March 8th, 2021

In this video Mark discusses some of the unique construction details of an early sunburst 14 fret L-00 from 1933.  An L-00 isn’t just an L-00… there’s always more than meets the eye!

Regluing Gibson Braces

February 18th, 2021

Vintage Gibson guitar brace reglue details

A clean brace reglue is all about taking the time to set things up precisely.  Gibson brace ends are notorious for popping loose, and getting them back down again can take some real coaxing.

In the case of this early ’50s J-45, the shrinking pickguard had cupped the top so badly that the upper soundhole brace, X brace, and a finger brace were all loose from the top and tightly sprung. The pickguard was removed, the top ‘ironed’ flat, and the braces are now getting reglued one-by-one.

It’s not uncommon to need to make custom brace-end gluing cauls that are specific to the guitar being worked on.  It’s a lot of extra work, but a well-fit caul is critical to a clean end-result and a repair that will hold in the long run.

Vintage Gibson guitar brace reglue details

Custom brace-end caul

Acoustic guitar top cracks – How they happen, which ones are concerning, and what to do about them.

February 2nd, 2021

Mark offers some thoughts on cracks in the tops of vintage guitars. You’ll learn why they happen, which ones are more concerning than others, how to spot them, and what to do about them.

Bridgeplate Positioning

February 1st, 2021

Photo of the inside of a vintage Gibson J-45 guitar, showing the misplacement of the bridgeplate.

This kind of bridgeplate positioning is a regular sight in a 50’s Gibson.

Someone didn’t like their job all too much, I figure.

A lifetime later, these sort of idiosyncrasies are partially responsible for the tonal variation between otherwise similar Gibson flat tops.

This is a 1951 J-45 that’s on the bench for a neck reset and some requisite brace regluing.