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1959 neck profile

Tragg

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Dec 31, 2005
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The neck shape of the 59 Burst is regarded by many as being close to perfect. So to what extent did Gibson use this neck profile across its range of electric guitars? Does a 59 ES-335 have a similar same neck shape (allowing for the fact that the neck to body junction is at a different fret)? What about a 59 Jnr or Special? Its seems hard to believe that Gibson would have reserved a specific neck profile for one model...
 

Don

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I thought the neck on my '59 ES-225TD felt pretty small so I measured it. It's over an inch thick at the 10th fret, but feels much smaller because the shoulders are so small- it's almost a soft V. It feels much smaller than the necks on the few Historic LPs that I've played, the '50s Juniors that I've played, the ES-135 that I had.

It's a damn nice neck!
 

Tom Wittrock

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The neck shape of the 59 Burst is regarded by many as being close to perfect. So to what extent did Gibson use this neck profile across its range of electric guitars? Does a 59 ES-335 have a similar same neck shape (allowing for the fact that the neck to body junction is at a different fret)? What about a 59 Jnr or Special? Its seems hard to believe that Gibson would have reserved a specific neck profile for one model...

Welcome to Burst mythology. :ganz

As Banker indicates, there is not a "59 Burst neck profile".
They were all hand done and vary from guitar to guitar.
 

duaneflowers

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Indeed... the rare case where the reissues/replicas as much more consistent than the originals... :hee
 

53Goldtop

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Mine, 9 0289 is a very nice neck and I have somewhat small hands. I have played several that were HUGE! There is no norm I believe.
 

sunburst1

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Have a '57 Jr. with an absolutely huge neck , never felt a neck that big on any other 50's Gibson guitar I've played & played a few. :jim

Agree neck profiles were indeed all over the place as said. :salude
 

j45

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Indeed... the rare case where the reissues/replicas as much more consistent than the originals...

Yep, and also consistently irrelevant and nothing to do with the years they are "supposed" to represent. But I think the OP's question does have merit. Even though the '59 profile is a total myth and "all over the place", the 50's necks as an entire decade share some consistency in profile and taper relative to other decades.... and especially when you take the neck as a whole, as the necks goes up the entire length of frets and the exceptionally graceful proportions of a 50's Gibson neck in doing so. Since mid - late 60 and on into the 60's the profiles do have some common characteristics as well. But the 1950's Gibson neck, as a whole, not just '59, shares a consistency of feel, profile, and taper than hasn't been duplicated since. I do love what happened in '61 with the flat necks and even though they are "all over the place" as well, the approach is much different. Even though Gibson has tried to imitate the "60" profile with RI's, they miss the whole thing. 62/63 is even more "all over the place" to me... some of the tapers are odd but good necks compared to modern, '64 was a great year IMO, somewhat like a D shape morphed from and retaining '59 (50-ish) C shape proportions. You just have to play a bunch...and I mean A BUNCH... to get a feel for what the craftsmen at Gibson were doing back then... Whatever they had... it has not been recaptured since IMO and the art is near lost. Also to answer the OP's question, yes 335's do have similar / same profiles but they range from very small to fat. Widths at the nut vary a lot too but it's the shoulder and taper that separate the 50's necks from all others. But as far as '59 being some kind of magical year, I guarantee you can find a profile from any year in the 50's to match any other year in 50's including '59...depending on the guitar and the profile that was carved that day. There are literally thousands of variations every year but the approach to the guitar neck or philosophy held by Gibson of what a guitar neck should feel like has a common thread throughout the entire decade... IMO. I believe it really does take playing hundreds to get a feel for what the 50's Gibson neck profile is all about and the mystique as a whole and as an era...not just a "year".
 

Luke Gibson

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Yep, and also consistently irrelevant and nothing to do with the years they are "supposed" to represent. But I think the OP's question does have merit. Even though the '59 profile is a total myth and "all over the place", the 50's necks as an entire decade share some consistency in profile and taper relative to other decades.... and especially when you take the neck as a whole, as the necks goes up the entire length of frets and the exceptionally graceful proportions of a 50's Gibson neck in doing so. Since mid - late 60 and on into the 60's the profiles do have some common characteristics as well. But the 1950's Gibson neck, as a whole, not just '59, shares a consistency of feel, profile, and taper than hasn't been duplicated since. I do love what happened in '61 with the flat necks and even though they are "all over the place" as well, the approach is much different. Even though Gibson has tried to imitate the "60" profile with RI's, they miss the whole thing. 62/63 is even more "all over the place" to me... some of the tapers are odd but good necks compared to modern, '64 was a great year IMO, somewhat like a D shape morphed from and retaining '59 (50-ish) C shape proportions. You just have to play a bunch...and I mean A BUNCH... to get a feel for what the craftsmen at Gibson were doing back then... Whatever they had... it has not been recaptured since IMO and the art is near lost. Also to answer the OP's question, yes 335's do have similar / same profiles but they range from very small to fat. Widths at the nut vary a lot too but it's the shoulder and taper that separate the 50's necks from all others. But as far as '59 being some kind of magical year, I guarantee you can find a profile from any year in the 50's to match any other year in 50's including '59...depending on the guitar and the profile that was carved that day. There are literally thousands of variations every year but the approach to the guitar neck or philosophy held by Gibson of what a guitar neck should feel like has a common thread throughout the entire decade... IMO. I believe it really does take playing hundreds to get a feel for what the 50's Gibson neck profile is all about and the mystique as a whole and as an era...not just a "year".


Excellent reply Kerry! Can you explain more in detail about the shoulder and taper that you feel separates the 50's necks from all others?

I have a '58 DC Jr. that has a great vintage Gibson feel, which may be more what we're talking about not really a year like '57-'58-'59 but more how the necks feel from that era.....
 
Last edited:

jrock1

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Jul 3, 2004
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438
Agreed...from my experience it's in the shoulders...as in too much shoulder today vs the 50's...and the taper as well...same goes for strats in that there is just this difference in 50s and also early 60s neck shapes vs today's...in the case of the Gibson's, I think the thinner binding plays a part as well...and of course just the more played in feel and wearing off of some of the lacquer...they just don't seem to be able to replicate the feel of the neck today...a big part of why I play vintage guitars only...(and of course the tone).
 

Tragg

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Dec 31, 2005
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So, if I understand you correctly, there's no overall difference between a 58 and 59 Burst - apart from the latter's jumbo frets. Why the price difference then? BTW I've owned lots of vintage Gibsons and understand that neck shape varies from one guitar to another. I wanted to know whether there was a general trend towards slimmer necks across the entire range as the decade (the 50s) progressed.
 

Tom Wittrock

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So, if I understand you correctly, there's no overall difference between a 58 and 59 Burst - apart from the latter's jumbo frets. Why the price difference then? BTW I've owned lots of vintage Gibsons and understand that neck shape varies from one guitar to another. I wanted to know whether there was a general trend towards slimmer necks across the entire range as the decade (the 50s) progressed.

The reasons behind the different prices are many, and part of that is also mythology.
There are a few 58 Bursts with large frets, and even more 59s with small frets.


As for a progression, my favorite 50s neck is my 56 Goldtop, which is slim compared to many later 50s Les Pauls.
I think the decision [as to 'how thick'] was made by the guy[s?] shaping the necks, with input from foremen and management when necessary.
 

BurstWurst

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Jan 24, 2008
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565
The neck shape/size on my 57 junior is so close to the neck on my 59 burst, I doubt I could feel the difference with my eyes closed. It's what drew me to the junior. After playing that burst for so long, it's neck shape is home for me. Was lucky to come across the junior, which quickly became my "vacation/second" home..
 
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