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1963 Gibson Johnny Smith
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Serial #: 62164, Orange oval label
Body size at lower bout:17" Scale length: 25" Nut width: 1 3/4"'
Materials: Handcarved quartersawn bookmatched solid spruce top; highly figured tiger flame maple sides and neck; handcarved bookmatched flame maple back; ebony fingerboard with mother of pearl block fingerboard and peghead inlay; 7-ply body binding, 5-ply peghead and fingerboard binding, 3 ply back binding, bound f-holes, bone nut.
Hardware: All original hardware includes engraved gold-plated medallion tailpiece; adjustable compensated ebony bridge with pearl inlay; gold Kluson Sealfast tuners; gold floating Johnny Smith humbucking pickup with mini-jack mounted to pickguard; quintuple-bound tortoise pickguard; "Custom" imprint truss rod cover.
Notes: Introduced in 1961, the Gibson Johnny Smith Model represented the pinnacle of Smith's design creativity, in an instrument that married classic body styling with unprecedented technical innovation. Four decades later, it's hard to envision a time when the only floating pickups available were the DeArmond or the McCarty pickguard pickup. The Johnny Smith debuted the world's first floating humbucking pickup, now the industry standard. Taking inspiration from the past as well as the future, Smith resurrected the classic X-braced top, a design used by Gibson in the 1930's. With it's increased sustain and warm, throaty tone, the X-brace has become the standard as well among contemporary archtop builders from Benedetto on.
While some of Smith's innovations were revolutionary, many more were evolutionary; incorporating a number of refinements designed to improve the playability of the instrument in subtle but significant ways. Feeling constrained by the standard 1 11/16" nut, Smith again reached to past masters and revived the more generous 1 3/4" fingerboard of the early 30's, a favorite of finger-style players. Similarly, Smith introduced a 25" scale, to facilitate stretch voicings without sacrificing response. Finally, the body was slimmed by 1/8th of an inch to an even 3" depth, to make it just that much easier to hold. The result is an instrument unique in playability, tonal response, and aesthetics. The visual appointments of the Johnny Smith are drawn from a number of Gibson paramount models. The 17" Venetian cutaway body and deco tailpiece are those of the L-5C, the neck and peghead are from the Super 400, and the opulent 7-ply body binding recalls the classic Epiphone Emperor.
Presented by the family of the original owner, this rare example was built in just the second year for the blonde finish option, and is one of a mere 13 produced in its model year. Highly figured tiger flame back and neck; all original finish and hardware including original gold JS medallion tailpiece and Kluson Sealfast tuners; solid ebony bridge with inlaid base, orange label. A special plus is the rare original-issue Johnny Smith pickup, which employed a thin strip of tortoise material beneath the polepiece holes, in lieu of the metal polepieces of later models. Well played and well loved, the guitar shows no cracks or repairs; some pickwear is visible on the upper bass bout of the top, a patch of knee wear on the side near the pickguard bracket, and some normal thumbwear is present on the neck. Smooth low action over fresh pro frets, and an elegant light D profile neck with ebony fingerboard. Years of play combine with the X-braced soundboard to produce a rich, resonant acoustic voice, ably transmitted by the warm, quiet floating humbucking pickup. Now unavailable for almost 20 years, the JS is a definitive milestone in the evolution of the modern jazz guitar.
Setup: The frets have been precision leveled, crowned and polished; trussrod tension and neck relief adjusted; bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge foot contour inspected and fit to top as necessary; bridge radius inspected and recurved as necessary; bridge wheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.
This instrument is strung with medium gauge nickel strings (.013-.056). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 5/64" to 6/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.
Case: Original deluxe arched black Gibson hardshell case, wth gold plush lining.