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1967 Gibson Johnny Smith Double

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Serial #: 891410, Orange "Union Made" Kalamazoo label

Body size at lower bout:17" Scale length: 25" Nut width: 1 3/4"'

Materials: Handcarved 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: Engraved gold-plated medallion tailpiece; solid ebony bridge with pearl inlay in base; gold Kluson Sealfast tuners; twin gold floating Johnny Smith humbucking pickups with mini-jack mounted to pickguard; quintuple-bound tortoise pickguard; "Custom" imprint. truss rod cover.

Notes: Bop master Chuck Wayne was a legend on the NY jazz scene, performing with an all-star roster including Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Sarah Vaughn, George Shearing, Dexter Gordon, Tony Bennett and many more. As a leader, Wayne produced a number of critically acclaimed recordings of his own from the 50's on. Among the instruments he treasured over a long career on stage and in the studio is one very handsome Gibson Johnny Smith Double from 1967, and we are pleased to have the honor of finding it a good new home.

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 ergonomic 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 design 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.

This outstanding example is supplied with documentation from Wayne's estate. One of just 43 built in its model year, it has been preserved in superb condition. Highly figured tiger flame back and neck; all original sunburst finish with no pick, buckle, thumb or fingerboard wear; original gold JS medallion tailpiece and Kluson Sealfast tuners; twin floating gold humbuckers with independent volume and tone controls and rotary selector switch; comfy light D profile neck with ebony fingerboard, solid ebony bridge with inlaid base, orange Union Made label. Apart from some plating wear and a few traces of normal finish checking, this guitar shows little signs of age, except for the warm tone of wood aged over four decades. Now unavailable for almost 20 years, the JS is a definitive milestone in the evolution of the modern jazz guitar. And it'd take some doing to find one nicer than this.

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 black Gibson gold plush hardshell case.

































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Photo: Tom Marcello, 1976