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Serial #: 518221, stamped in headstock
Body size at lower bout:17″ Scale length: 25″
Nut width: 1 3/4″‘ Neck depth, 1st/10th frets: .76/.90
Materials: Hand graduated bookmatched carved spruce top;
highly figured tiger flame maple back, sides and neck; 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: Original hardware includes engraved gold-plated
signature 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 under pickguard; “Custom”
imprint truss rod cover. Vintage correct bound tortoise pickguard
installed, adapter cable included.
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
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 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
One of just 71 examples from its model year, this outstanding
instrument has been kept in magnificent original condition, complete
with original case and canvas cover. Highly figured tiger flame back and
neck; lustrous deep 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. Apart from
some fogging on the pickup covers, this gleaming pre-Norlin guitar
shows few signs of age, except for the warm tone of a finely graduated
soundboard aged over half a century.
Now unavailable for over 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. One only: call now.
(Note: this guitar may be converted to single pickup operation here on request.)
Setup: 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
conditioned; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.
This instrument is strung with medium gauge nickel flatwound strings.
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
Case: Original black deluxe Gibson Faultless gold plush hardshell case, with original zippered canvas case cover.
100% unconditional 48 hour buyer approval on all instruments. (Many Reverb items are sold ‘as described’, with restricted return privileges. This instrument is fully returnable, for any reason.)
For more info, or an in-hand demo on any instrument, please contact us at archtop.com
Fine vintage instruments since 1989. Reverb 5 Star Preferred Seller. We ship internationally, CITES certified.
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