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Thread: Gibson J45 top repair

  1. #1
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    Default Gibson J45 top repair

    I am not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I know there are several people posting that have repair experience.
    I have a J45 that is playable but the bridge was coming off so I decided to try to clean up some of the repairs to the top. Attached are some photos that show the extensive damage that someone did removing the original pick guard. I Covered most of it up with a hummingbird pick guard in the past, but would like to go back to a J45 style guard if possible. Any suggestions on how to approach this (or should I just cover it up with a large pick guard again. It also apparently had at one time one of those huge country pick guards screwed into the top. I had tried patching the worse holes and filled the smaller ones since the color match for the patches did not come out well. If I attempt to replace them, the spruce I have would have to be colored. I have some cedar bracing material that matches fairly close but am not sure if using cedar is a good idea. Otherwise can matching the spruce patches with dye work? The guitar is late 40's or early 50's from what I can determine. The other issue I would like to address is the black cracks (there are several). They are functionally sound but when I repaired them many years ago I used CA glue and the glue is showing black. They are all cleated.
    Sorry for the length of this, but there are quite a few issues on it I would like to address.Click image for larger version. 

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    Bob Schmidt

  2. #2
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    That's rough...
    I would either re-top the guitar (assuming the back and the rest of the guitar are worth it) or just let it be ugly and get it playable if possible. Trying to get a top in that condition too look good is just not reasonable.

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    Thanks John, That is perhaps a reality check. It has apparently been through a lot before I got it but it does sound good. I guess replacing the top is an option, but it will make it a different guitar. It has been playable and ugly for a lot of years.
    Bob Schmidt

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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    Sometimes ugly is beautiful

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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    In the past I have chosen ugly instruments over nicer ones of the same brand. I chose the ugly one because it sounded much better. I would put whatever pickguard on that you want, and play it. If in the future the top becomes compromised, then replace it.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  9. #6
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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    Any time you splice new wood into spruce, the repair will show.
    If you use dyes, you will probably get a dark line where new wood meets old, especially if you overcoat the area.
    As far as the guard is concerned, just try to stabilize any loose spots where the wood is torn. Since it will be covered with a new guard, Titebond will be fine.

    As far as hiding the damage from the removal of the old pickguard, no way, even if you're a wizard and you can find a new piece of spruce to graft in that has a good color and grain match.

    Just cover up the worst of the sins, re-glue your bridge, and enjoy it. I wouldn't re-top it if it sounds good and is structurally stable. If you did, it would indeed be a different guitar.

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  11. #7
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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    Wassup with that "rosette"?

    Practice this in the mirror so you have it down when the customer returns: "No thank you."

    If not, you are going to need a big can of this:
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  13. #8
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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    I got this guitar around 1970. it was sitting in the back of a music store I was working for. The "rosette" is a piece of black plexiglass I used to fill out the broken out sound hole and the missing rosette. It may have been a novice repair, but it does not look that bad once it is polished and finished. Like I said, this guitar apparently had a real tough life before I got it.
    Thanks everyone for the sanity check. It may be time to go back to the hummingbird pick guard.
    Bob Schmidt

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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    The rosette is an easier fix than the rest of the top, but still not really worth the effort considering everything else.

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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    Do those mother-of-pearl dots on the bridge cover bolt or screw heads? Not sure when G went to attaching bridges with bolts.
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  18. #11
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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    Gibson began bolting bridges on by 1935 or 36.

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  20. #12

    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    I would just enjoy it as is. You have the sound of a $5-8,000 guitar and you don't have to worry about scratching it!

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  22. #13
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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    Allen, I have always wondered about that. When I got the guitar it did have bolts and a steel bar of some sort along wit a small bridge plate. I had assumed it was an attempt to repair the bridge, but I have never had any exposure to other J45's. Was that really a factory install? At some point I did remove that hardware and installed a larger bridge plate.
    Bob Schmidt

  23. #14
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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    Quote Originally Posted by irishmando View Post
    ...I had assumed it was an attempt to repair the bridge, but I have never had any exposure to other J45's. Was that really a factory install? At some point I did remove that hardware and installed a larger bridge plate.
    Gibson bolted otherwise normal bridges to guitar tops starting in the 30s, as rcc56 said, and they continued that until they quit using otherwise normal bridges in favor of bridges with "adjustable saddles" and other strange hardware. The bolts would have been original, but I don't think there would have been a metal bar. Bridge plates were about the width of the bridge or perhaps slightly wider.
    In the past I've usually not replaced the bolts when working on them, but the bolts/nuts are small and don't really make any noticeable difference in sound, so if originality is a concern, I generally replace the bolts after bridge work.
    I'm working on a 50s LG2 of my own right now and I'm debating whether or not to replace the bolts...

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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    Thanks for the history. I never would have thought a company like gibson would use bolts on their bridges. So it sounds like what i had was half factory and half repair.
    Bob Schmidt

  26. #16
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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    Being a J45, this was originally a sunburst? If so, a new sunburst may help hide some of your restoration or at least minimize them.
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  28. #17
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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    Yes, J45's had sprayed 'bursts. Often very dark to hide streaks of color in the top and things like that. Some tops were even mahogany and the 'burst was so dark it was hard to tell from spruce until close inspection.
    That is an option; "paint over it" with a dark burst... or even make it a black top.

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  30. #18
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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    Yes, J45's had sprayed 'bursts. Often very dark to hide streaks of color in the top and things like that. Some tops were even mahogany and the 'burst was so dark it was hard to tell from spruce until close inspection.
    That is an option; "paint over it" with a dark burst... or even make it a black top.
    +1 on that.
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  32. #19
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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    I'll mention that this guitar has muti-ply top bindings, which makes me think that it is actually a J-50, which originally would have had a natural top, rather than a J-45.
    But with a guitar in this condition, it probably doesn't matter much.
    I'd like to see a full front picture of the guitar, just to get a better idea of how extensive the damaged areas are.

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  34. #20
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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    It did not have a sunburst when I got it. Here are more pictures.Click image for larger version. 

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    Bob Schmidt

  35. #21

    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    Knowing nothing about this model, looked it up. Interesting that Gibson didn’t get ordered to do war work, which affected an amazing number of businesses, large and small. There was an exhibit at the NY Historical Society a few years ago that really showed how organized and pervasive the production was.
    Anyway, is there a row of filled nail heads along the left side of the top, and if so, are fasteners still there?

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  37. #22
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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    For reference is a photo of a Gibson J45 and a Gibson J50. The J45 is around 10 years old while the J50 is a 1953. It belongs to a friend who has it being repaired for loose and cracked bracing.
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  39. #23
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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    IMHO---Irishmando's guitar is in relatively pristine condition if compared to Willy Nelson's "Trigger." It now has the honorable well earned patina that makes it more desirable to some.

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  41. #24
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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    Hey, nobody wants to hear stories about a pristine white top on a 70 year old instrument. As it is, just look at the interest generated here. "Honorable well earned patina" only happens to the strong, the survivors! If anything, I might opt for a repro tortoise guard w/ sparse coloring, to let the grain show thru.

    Quote Originally Posted by irishmando View Post
    ... never would have thought a company like gibson would use bolts on their bridges.
    For far too long, Gibson bounced between investors wth little clue about sound, but great faith in engineering. "We can build that guitar in 28 fewer steps than the last bunch of bozos did, AND have fewer warranty claims from their silly glue & woodworking."
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  43. #25
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    Default Re: Gibson J45 top repair

    What would Willie say about all this fuss over a few scratches in your guitar?????????
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