'65 Gibson J-45: Needs some lovin'. advice?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by retroLS1, Mar 30, 2015.

  1. retroLS1

    retroLS1 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    773
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2015
    Location:
    Norton MA
    I inherited a '65 (or '64, can't remember) Gibson J-45 (I believe - will post photos tomorrow for you folks to confirm) acoustic from my mother a few years ago. I absolutely love it and it sounds wonderful. It is my main "around the house" guitar, but I would love to be able to use it out at acoustic gigs I do with my singer. The main issues I have with it is staying in tune, and the intonation. Individual strings can get in tune but when playing say, a G chord, a couple strings (usually G and B) are out of whack. On electrics first thing I usually do is swap out the nut for a Tusq or similar to help alleviate most of those issues but I am not eager to swap anything out on this as it has a lot of cool mojo. Any advice? Like I said I will try and snap some photos tomorrow.
     
  2. ronbo1

    ronbo1 Member

    Messages:
    212
    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2012
    Location:
    Broomfield, CO
    Most tuning problems are related to intonation at the saddle, or a poorly cut or worn nut, or a combination of both, occasionally a tuner won't hold, but it's more rare than most folks realize. I would take it to a trustyworthy luthier or guitar tech for a good setup and compensated saddle and I'll bet it all gets worked out....

    Sounds like a sweet guitar....
     
  3. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Member

    Messages:
    5
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2015
    Or a warped neck.

    Yes, take it to a trustworthy luthier. A sixties J-45 is well worth the cost of maintaining, and you're right to avoid unneeded irreversible changes.

    But if it actually needs surgery (like a neck reset) to play well, do it. A good player is its own reward!

    cb
    www.thefullertons.net
    ( •)—:::
     
  4. 56Tweed

    56Tweed Sub-Octave Member Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    980
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2003
    Location:
    Cary, NC
    I agree completely. Reasonable repairs that keep the instrument playing well will not ruin a guitar's value, and will only increase your enjoyment of the instrument.
     
  5. H. Mac

    H. Mac Member

    Messages:
    1,468
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2015
    Location:
    Altanta Georgia
    A trustworthy luthier is a good idea.

    But strings - specifically their gauges, core types, and alloys - also have intonation characteristics.

    My old Gibson acoustic had poor intonation, especially in the first three frets. I tried a few different brands (differing gauges, alloys, and cores) and there was no real change in intonation.

    But when I tried a set of DR Sunbeams, there was a noticeable improvement in the intonation. And I like the way the sound and feel too.
     
  6. G Man

    G Man Member

    Messages:
    1,013
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2009
    Location:
    W. MA.
    New nut and saddle, keep the old ones in the case, should not cause any depreciation in value, but will improve both tuning and intonation. Well worth the money spent.
     
  7. retroLS1

    retroLS1 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    773
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2015
    Location:
    Norton MA
    Thanks guys. I'll see if I can find a good luthier in my area that I can bring it to to get a check-up. I am not overly concerned about the value per se as this is going to stay in my family forever, but just want to keep it as original as possible. Maybe I'll see if they can install a min-E-tune system and add a 7th string :bonk
     
  8. royd

    royd Member

    Messages:
    1,995
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2004
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    the advice is good... a new saddle that is correctly compensated (most important), some new strings of the correct gauge (equally so), possibly a nut (much less of an issue) and a good set up should fix things for you. Of course, there are guitars where the bridge was incorrectly placed and needs to be moved to the correct position (70's Martins were notorious for that problem) or that need a neck reset... either of which is serious surgery but either of which is necessary if it is necessary.

    Stay away from Tusq on this guitar and get good bone. As for impacting the value, moving a bridge (if it needs that) would make the guitar worth less than one that played in tune but hadn't had the bridge moved... but one that won't play in tune is worth less yet. Ditto for a neck reset. Yes, keep the old saddle and nut in case you ever sell the guitar to a collector (assuming they are original) but for normal use, replacing them is no different than replacing strings and nobody expects them to be original.

    I should say though that in tempered tuning, the third is always a little out of tune and some instruments just show that more than others. You can compensate by making everything a little out of tune or put up with some notes being more so. It is the nature of the western music scale. Add that playing on the first three frets puts a little more pressure on the strings when you fret them and that makes some fretted notes go a little sharp there. Schemes like the Buzz Feiten tuning attempt to address these issues.
     
  9. zombywoof

    zombywoof Member

    Messages:
    4,164
    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2006
    The only answer is to have the guitar checked out by somebody who knows what they are doing.

    This guitar will, of course, have the adjustable bridge and massive laminate bridge plate. If it were mine, I would not simply worry about replacing the saddle but remove all the adjustable stuff, put it away, and have a fixed saddle drop-in inset made. You can always put it back in its original form if you want.

    On the nut, I do not think it will matter a fig whether it be bone or tusq. Big consideration would be if it is a 1965 the guitar may have a 1 9/16" nut (depending on when it was made during the year). If so it would be worth replacing the nut only if to try and get a smidgeon of extra space in the string spread. That is unless you are a fan of narrow nuts.
     
  10. retroLS1

    retroLS1 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    773
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2015
    Location:
    Norton MA
    Here are some photos I just snapped. Please correct me if I am wrong on the model or year. I researched it a handful of years ago but haven't looked into it recently. Has plenty of mileage on it I am sure. Certainly not a perfect guitar by any means but I love it. Serial # reads 359507.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  11. G Man

    G Man Member

    Messages:
    1,013
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2009
    Location:
    W. MA.
    She's a looker for sure. I would definitely remove all of that adjustable stuff and have a set in compensated saddle. Based on how high that saddle looks, I would say that a neck set is not a worry.
     
  12. zombywoof

    zombywoof Member

    Messages:
    4,164
    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2006
    The saddle is high because early to mid-1960s Gibsons are known for having over set necks and thin bridges.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2015
  13. teleman1

    teleman1 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    13,394
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2006
    Location:
    AIRY ZONY
    Everything Zomby said. Especially the bridge removal. Should be a nice overall tone improvement.Find an expert.
     
  14. rickenbackerkid

    rickenbackerkid Member

    Messages:
    5,373
    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2005
    Get a new bridge on that thing! have a slightly oversize bridge put on it so the luthier can position it right.
     
  15. Fonz13

    Fonz13 Member

    Messages:
    52
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2013
    Man, what a beauty!
    Ditto on the experienced luthier recommendation. Then I would recommend learning how to set up acoustic guitars properly so you can do minor adjustments seasonally. Take care of it and it will take care of you (musically). I am jealous!
     

Share This Page