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NG 1967 Gibson Johnny Smith "CES" -- The Model That Wasn't!

Sam Sherry

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,244
The Gibson Johnny Smith model was designed as a combo player's instrument, not for spanking a big band. 17" but 3.0" deep, 25.0" scale. Feedback-resistant because it's X-braced, with the fingerboard raised above the body (like all top Gibson archtops) but onboard a solid block glued to the top. 1.75" + at the nut. If you recognize those measurements it may be because Robert Benedetto used them as the basis for most of his top-of-the-line models and his build-it book. That fact alone makes the GJS the most influential modern archtop of its day.

I will never afford a crisp first-line Gibson archtop. But somewhere along the line somebody carefully routed out all the collector-value and dropped in a set of humbuckers. Hence the Model That Wasn't -- the Johnny Smith CES.



And then they played this guitar, night after night.




So far, I have moved it from V-V-T-S over to the traditional V-V-T-T-S. Yet to come:
> Spruce circle to fill the extra hole, with color courtesy of my daughter Samika (who is a nail tech and can make colors in lacquer I can't see)
> Try a Brazilian RW bridge-top sourced from EBay
> Install the standard giant rubber grommet provided by a pal on the Belgian archtop site
> Play it every day until it falls apart



And it won't be falling apart any time soon. When Johnny Lutherer chopped the holes s/he doubled-up the braces to support the arch. The result is a guitar with a rich, subtle, quiet acoustic sound but the full, robust, commanding electric voice of a CES instrument.

Gotta run, gearheads. It's time to play!
 

RhytmEarl

Member
Messages
12,487
Ya, I dig it. I'd worry about playing a brand new pristine top of the line archtop but one that's broken in like that one - ya, gimme!!!
 

telephone

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
909
Been following this on JGF. I think you made all the right decisions. I'd be real happy with a guitar like this. Enjoy!
 

WordMan

Wax Rhapsodic
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
9,880
That looks like a smart guitar - hey, sometimes mods go right!

It sure got played - always a great sign!!

Enjoy it!
 

Sam Sherry

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,244
Love it. I like the basics of the mods.
In a different world that same guitar is a WesMo, with just a neck pickup, or people did the work to figure out that the bridge pickup is so tall it doesn't stick through the hole. And the braces weren't cut so they weren't doubled. And it puts out more acoustic sound.

. . . and I can't afford it because of all that. So I still say, 'It is what it is and it ain't what it ain't, and I am a tremendously lucky gearhead."

Ya, I dig it. I'd worry about playing a brand new pristine top of the line archtop but one that's broken in like that one - ya, gimme!!!
Spot on. With you all the way.

Nice guitar - I bet it is fun to play.
Ohhh yeah. Dig in. Dig in more!

Out of curiosity, how much does it weigh?
8.0 pounds. According to this unscientific survey that's about as much as a 1999 L5CES.

What kind of humbuckers are in there?
Gibson 57 Classic on the neck; GFS generic Super D on the bridge.
When I saw that mostly-peeled-off "IED FOR" sticker it was a moment, but no. It's wax potted and somebody put "57" in Sharpie on the bottom.

Hey, sometimes mods go right! It sure got played - always a great sign!!
Thank you, maestro. We see it the same way.
But seriously . . . 'Don't try this at home, kids.'
Put your hands in the air and step away from the router, please!

Nice one! Johnny Smith is my favourite model from all archtops. Enjoy that beauty and keep us posted about your progress!
I have spun so many guitars over the years . . . I cannot picture losing this guitar. It's not replaceable. And that leaves me with three archtops that are not replaceable: This guy, an Eastman El Rey 4 which is 'outlier good' and a Charles Paddock one-off small-thin archtop. It's a lot to carry but I am up for the challenge:



No normal guitars.
One happy gearhead!
 

6ringing

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
516
Just wanted to add that I recently watch an old YouTube by rich severson where he demos a guitar much like yours. And the story is that in the late 70s Johnny smith was done with gib’s n and son they had some extra JS bodies left over that they didn’t know what to do with so they put a Set humbucker in the neck position and called it a super V on the label!
 

Danny W.

Member
Messages
939
Just wanted to add that I recently watch an old YouTube by rich severson where he demos a guitar much like yours. And the story is that in the late 70s Johnny smith was done with gib’s n and son they had some extra JS bodies left over that they didn’t know what to do with so they put a Set humbucker in the neck position and called it a super V on the label!
Unlikely!

JS was with Gibson until the late '80s.

Here's a 1987 JS:

Front 2.jpg



1987 JS on left, '69 on right:
Front w JSDN 30th.jpg


Additionally, the Super V had the deeper L-5 body.

I bought both the '87s from JS himself.

Danny W.
 

asintoras

Member
Messages
2,076
I once played a Super V in Houston, TX, which was fitted with a Bartolini pickup. Really, really nice guitar! It was out of my reach though, in the region of $7,500 back around 2009 or so.
 




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