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Old 06-24-07, 08:15 AM   #1
denwing
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66 Gibson B25 - need advice

Picked up what I think is a 1966 Gibson B25 acoustic at a garage sale the other day for a "song & dance". I uploaded pics here...
www.dgcentral.spaces.live.com

Before I do more damage than good I need some advice.
- bridge has a slight gap in back middle that can be seen in picture. I press down on it &/or lift & it doesnt move so it appears to stable. Should I fix before proceeding to string it up?

- Neck has considerable bow/relief that I tried to get a picture of. I adjusted the truss an 8th turn but I dont want to force it. What size nut is this? I was using an 8mm socket.. the only socket I had that seem to fit. I put a straight-edge on the neck & it just kisses the bridge.. so, If I can get the relief out of the neck I think this will play nicely.

Neck & heel joint is solid .. as is the rest of the guitar. Lots of nice character scratches & dings!

Since this was a student model guitar my expectations are to simply be able to strum out some sing-along tunes. I appreciate any feedback to lead me in the right direction!

Thanks,
Dennis
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Old 06-24-07, 08:26 AM   #2
cherrick
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

XML Parsing Error: syntax error
Location: http://dgcentral.spaces.live.com/
Line Number 3, Column 49:


try a better location for your pictures
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Old 06-24-07, 08:28 AM   #3
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

The bridge on that guitar is one of Gibson's poorest ideas. It is solid plastic, screwed to the top [from below]. I would have a skilled repairman make a matching size wood bridge and replace the whole thing.


No truss rod nut on a Gibson [US made] is metric.
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Old 06-24-07, 09:01 AM   #4
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by TW59 View Post
The bridge on that guitar is one of Gibson's poorest ideas. It is solid plastic, screwed to the top [from below]. I would have a skilled repairman make a matching size wood bridge and replace the whole thing.


No truss rod nut on a Gibson [US made] is metric.
Don't forget to have a new maple bridge plate made the factory ones on these are plywood. They sound great with a real bridge and plate. The trussrod nut is 5/16ths
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Old 06-24-07, 09:18 AM   #5
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

The up side to that bridge is that the finish is likely perfectly in tact below it. Make sure that you replace it with the correct bridge shape. It takes a very good luthier to make an accurate replacement. The correct shape for the wood replacement bridge will be different from the plastic bridge that is already on it. Nothing trashes an old Gibson flat top quicker than putting the wrong bridge on it.

The bridge plates for the screw on bridges are usually plywood but it might not be. They usually have 3 plys if they are plywood and you can see it through the screw and pin holes.
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Old 06-24-07, 02:09 PM   #6
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

Guys,

I don't know about where you live, but around here a bridge removal and custom replacement is probably around $400. The owner might not want to sink that kind of dough into a B25.

I'd try to get the neck straight, string it up, and see what you think before spending any money. If you see the gap increasing, you know you have to do something, but for now maybe not.
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Old 06-24-07, 07:11 PM   #7
denwing
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

Thanks guys.. .
I'll get a 5/16th socket & see if I can the neck straight. As Treeofpain stated , I dont want to spend 400$ on it... however, since I got this guitar so cheap, I would consider a couple hundred if it would be the right thing to do & was done right & would improve the tone. I might be able to make a connection with a luthier thru somebody I know.

Before I have it worked on I want to make sure I understand exactly what kind of bridge design is supposed to be on it.

Jwalker or anybody.. can you elaborate more on what you mean when you stated:
"The correct shape for the wood replacement bridge will be different from the plastic bridge that is already on it.

Can you point me to a picture of what the bridge should look like? Should it be rosewood or other hardwood.. along with a maple plate?
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Old 06-24-07, 08:02 PM   #8
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

To your research, I think you should add a call to Gibson. Ask them what pictures and information they have available.

There's nothing wrong with adding a bit of value. A rosewood bridge would be in keeping.
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Old 06-24-07, 08:49 PM   #9
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

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Guys,

I don't know about where you live, but around here a bridge removal and custom replacement is probably around $400. The owner might not want to sink that kind of dough into a B25.

I'd try to get the neck straight, string it up, and see what you think before spending any money. If you see the gap increasing, you know you have to do something, but for now maybe not.
This was my thought before I got to this post. Incredibly, B-25's are bringing up to $1000 and more on Ebay and if you were to let it go "as is" you should be able to get far more than you paid. These are not particularly great guitars and if you did get it for "a song and a dance", you could put anything over towards a better guitar. I would let someone else fool with it before putting any more money into it at al. Once you start on something like this one thing can lead to another and all the sudden you'll have a money pit. It is very easy to get buried in a guitar like this very quickly, before you realize what's happening. You start to fix one thing but turns out that repair can't be completed unless another is done which opens up even another can of worms and all of the sudden you have to go the whole nine yards before you can even put it back together in order to get rid of it. Unless B-25's have special meaning to you, let someone else out there who does have fond memories for them have it. If it were a pre-war or maybe an SJ, J-45, or some other more desirable model you could go for it but in this case you may be better off cutting your losses by not even starting.
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Old 06-24-07, 08:58 PM   #10
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

Don't get a cheap job done. If you do it, do it right.
There are guys skilled at replacing that very bridge. They are commonly replaced with [normal] fixed saddles, instead of the adjustable ones that Gibson used on the wooden bridges of that time, and that model in the 60's.
For a picture, just do a search for B-25s and look for a bridge with a wider saddle, and two adjustment screws at each end of the saddle.
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Old 06-24-07, 10:00 PM   #11
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

TW59 is right don't do it unless you can get an accurate replacement bridge made. The replacement should look like the stock wood reverse belly, (flat edge of bridge towards the end pin), that you would find on mid 60's J-45's and J-50's with an adjustable saddle except you want it made with a fixed bone bridge saddle. Look at some pictures of 1964 J-50's and J-45's they should all have reverse belly bridges but with an adjustable saddle. The plastic bridges like yours, although reverse belly, have a different shape than a wood bridge and the don't have the MOP dot on either side of the pins. If you watch Ebay long enough you may find a NOS reverse belly bridge that has a slot for the adjustable bridge saddle. I bought one last year on Ebay for $45.00. A skilled luthier could fill the slot. It might be the cheaper way to go and you would be assured an accurate bridge shape.

The trick with getting a repro bridge made is that although the bridge looks very simple there are subtleties that all but the most thorough luthier might overlook. For example there is a slight slope to the flat part on top of the bridge that you would want replicated. The original Gibson bridges are precisely machined and extremely consistent. It is harder that you would think to duplicate one.

The temptation many have is to buy a Martin bridge and slap it on the guitar. Although it will play and sound fine it will trash the value of the guitar. I think your best bet is to use the existing bridge and hold out for an original wood bridge and have the adjustable slot filled when you find one. I think an accurate repro bridge will be pricey and will still have a bit of a crap shoot element to it unless the luthier can show you an example of one he has already made.

A good B-25 is a great sounding guitar and is certainly collectible.
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Old 06-25-07, 01:33 AM   #12
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

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A good B-25 is a great sounding guitar and is certainly collectible.
Yes, the odds would dictate there would be some good ones. To put it into perspective, the average hand carved top model Gibson production was about 20- 30 units per year or less throughout the 1950's and 1960's. Gibson was sometimes pumping out as many as 5,000 or more B-25's a year. Well over 30,000 in the 1960's. It would be hard to think possible the type of quality control and consistency would have been maintained as you would find in many other Gibson models of that era. Even J-45's are spotty due to the heavily increased production. I love the "L" body Gibson's and have seriously collected pre-war as well as 40's, 50's, and sometimes 60's Gibson flat tops for over 25 years now. It can be frustrating trying to find a great sounding guitar in this era. Although possible to find a good one, they aren't nearly as consistant as the slightly earlier version. I would still think twice before pumping a bunch of money in one of these and make sure you do in fact have a good one. For just a few hundred more a 50's LG-2 can be had which is quite a different sounding guitar on average. I think your expectations and plans just to make it a sing-a-long strummer are wise without going the full blown, costly route. Either that or sell this one, add in the money you would have spent on repairs and step up to a 50's LG-2 and you will probably come out way ahead for about the same money.
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Old 06-25-07, 07:47 AM   #13
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

I have been collecting mid 60's reverse belly flattops since I was in high school and there are a few things that will increase the odds greatly of having a fine sounding guitar. First negative is the plastic bridge and the likelihood that it will have a plywood bridge plate. If it does have a plywood bridge plate it is not a guaranteed stinker but it increases the odds. Secondly there are two types of cuts that Gibson used for the bracing. I can can tell from the photos that you have the bracing I personally prefer. Another trouble spot is how thin the top may be. Often tops from this era are too thin and the guitar often could use a neck reset. However of the ones I have the most severely bellied is the best sounding, thankfully it does not need a neck reset. But if you look at the top if this guitar you can see the braces keeping the top from imploding. Things like how narrow the nut is have no effect tone. The bracing on these guitars is unchanged since the mid 50's. As long as the adjustable bridge has a ceramic saddle the biggest difference in tone between one with a bone saddle is mainly lower volume with the adjustable saddle. The other differences are neither good or bad but IMO. The reverse belly bridges are preferred. Just having properly fit bridge pins will greatly improve the tone of these guitars. I have the bridge slotted so the string pressure is all on the bridge plate which makes a huge difference in tone and volume. This also helps save the bridge plate from getting chewed up by the string moving around due to a poorly fit bridge pin. One last thing if you are dealing with an original Gibson flattop from this era you can just expect that the bridge will be pulled up. Almost all of the bridges on the guitars are glued to the nitro. This of course means the bridge will pull up in short order. Sometimes it results in cracking of the top where the bridge screws. Scraping the nitro off and regluing the bridge is another Huge improvement in tone.

So in short, look for wood reverse belly bridges with ceramic saddles. Avoid guitars that need a neck reset. Avoid the ones with cracks coming from the bridge screws. Expect to reglue the bridge and fit the bridge pins. A new bone nut does wonders also. If you have all of these you likely will have a good one.
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Old 06-26-07, 09:45 AM   #14
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

That is an LG1, it and the LGO are the ones that came with the not adjustable saddle on a plastic bridge, notice there is no center seam pad on the back just inside the soundhole. The B-25 had a center seam pad and came with the adjustable saddle. Some did come with the plastic bridge but not in 66. The LG1 is the Ladder braced the B-25 is X braced.
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Old 06-26-07, 04:37 PM   #15
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

http://www.lutherie.net/B-25_bridge.html
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Old 06-26-07, 07:06 PM   #16
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

The problem with that how to is that Gibson never made a wood bridge like the one being created to replace the plastic bridge. So you are devaluing the guitar from a collectors standpoint. I went through this with a J-50 of mine with the exact same plastic bridge with adjustable saddle. I first removed the plastic bridge and replaced it with a NOS Gibson rosewood bridge with the slot for the adjustable saddle. This alone improved the tone quite a bit and it looked absolutely kosher as a vintage Gibson. But I kept thinking that if the wood bridge improved the tone so much just think how much a fixed bone bridge saddle would improve the tone. So I found some very accurate replacement bridges from and old Kalamazoo Gibson repair guy. The result was that the guitar was louder but the tone was not really any better IMO. Just a little closer to a Martin in sound. In fact the chunky sound that these guitars have with the adjustable bridge was lost. For me the better route is to keep it an adjustable saddle and just make sure you can get your hands on a ceramic saddle.
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Old 06-26-07, 07:15 PM   #17
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

Quote:
he result was that the guitar was louder but the tone was not really any better IMO. Just a little closer to a Martin in sound. In fact the chunky sound that these guitars have with the adjustable bridge was lost. For me the better route is to keep it an adjustable saddle and just make sure you can get your hands on a ceramic saddle
Yes that rumble bass sound from the ceramic bridge insert is unique especially on the Hummingbird, the plastic bridge was a bad idea as for making this guitar sound bad, it probably doesn't. Being a LG1 i would just tune it down and play it. It would probably cost you half the value of the guitar to get a professional bridge on it and will probably not sound much better.
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Old 06-27-07, 05:38 AM   #18
denwing
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

Thanks for all the info guys.. and thanks for correcting me on the model!
It looks like it's going to take more effort & money than I'm willing to put into it to make it a playable guitar at this time. It's such a cool looking piece it's hard to let go.. but, I'll have to take some time to think it over & make a decision.
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Old 06-27-07, 11:36 PM   #19
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

George Gruhn touches on this subject in the current Vintage Guitar with Joe Bonamassa on the cover.

How do I tell the difference between a B25 and LG1 again? I'll have to go back and review that stuff I just skimmed over.

I've had a Gibson of indeterminate model that I bought used in Ann Arbor MI about 1977. No label- LG1 or maybe B25? Natural spruce top/mahog back and sides,had a replaced bridge when I got it with replacement Grovers,pickguard and thick top finish gone. I've gotten plenty of use out of it. Over the years the top bubbled up too much.About 10 or more years ago the late, great Dale Bluebond brought the top back down for me. Guitar lost a bit of volume but was easy to play. If you find the right one these Grand Concert size Gibsons can sound fine, mass produced student model regardless.
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Old 06-28-07, 02:19 AM   #20
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

The quick check would be to stick your finger in the soundhole and feel between the hole and the bridge. If you can feel the wood cross in a "V" on the top right below the soundhole it's an X braced guitar which will be a B-25 or LG-2. If you feel no crossing V brace it will be an LG-1. An LG-2 took the B-25 designatio in late 1962.
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Old 06-28-07, 09:03 PM   #21
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

LG1. Thanks.
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Old 07-02-07, 01:26 PM   #22
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Re: 66 Gibson B25 - need advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by jim_anderson View Post
That is an LG1, it and the LGO are the ones that came with the not adjustable saddle on a plastic bridge, notice there is no center seam pad on the back just inside the soundhole. The B-25 had a center seam pad and came with the adjustable saddle. Some did come with the plastic bridge but not in 66. The LG1 is the Ladder braced the B-25 is X braced.
Here's a view of my son's 1962 B-25, showing the centre seam and the model name 'B-25' stamped on it.



Bone saddle replaced the original, brass nut fitted, and replaced tuners. Every single player who has picked this guitar up has asked my son how much he wants for it! Its tone and projection is incredible, and it blows away my Taylor on both counts.

Here's a couple more views of it:



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