[Slowhand] 1970's guitars

John Broholm jbroholm at sbcglobal.net
Fri Jan 4 21:17:13 EST 2008

I second the opinion of those who don't think much of
'70s Gibsons. My perspective: I ran the LP/tape
section at a music store near Denver that sold
guitars, which meant that once in a while I'd sell a
guitar myself (even a banjer or two, wonder of
wonders). I sure played a whole lot of guitars. This
was 1975-6.

The Gibson acoustics were primarily trash. I saw J's,
super-J's, Gospels, Doves & others. (No comment on the
electrics -- I just didn't pay them as much

The company produced a whole lot of "seconds" in those
days -- guitars that didn't pass the quality
inspection, so they were wholesaled at a discount. (Of
course, our rapacious owner went ahead and put full
retail price on them.) Talk about flaws. Bad finish.
Bad neck joints. Clunky tone.

In those days, Martins were over-priced but nice.
Guild, as a company, was on the ropes. Taylor hadn't
really gotten going yet. Guitar-building was not
exactly in a golden era. But there were hopeful signs.
Takamine was just coming on the market with its
Martin-copies, and everybody was amazed at how good
they were considering the price. Around the same time,
Yamaha was producing mediocre but consistently
reliable folk guitars (and classicals, too). Never
exactly loved them, but they were dependable.

I picked up a used '70s Gibson Gospel (maple, before
they went to mahogany plywood) a few years later.
Loved the playability, loved the sound, had to have
the neck COMPLETELY re-set TWICE. The top had cracked,
too, but somebody had done a really nice repair on it.

I have an early- '70s Martin 0-18 now, and the
pickguard is pulling up. That's a common problem on
many '70s guitars, not just Martins. (That is a dandy
little guitar, regardless of the pickguard.) Chris
Martin IV, by the way, has said locally (Lawrence,
Kan.) that he cares not a whit for vintage guitars.
Good thing lots of other people do.

Gibson changed hands several years later. The first
thing the new owner did (according to a feature I saw
in National Geo Traveler Magazine) was put a stop to
the selling of seconds. They put those guitars through
a bandsaw instead, and the company shipped only
first-quality guitars. Made a real difference. They
always had good designs. But, boy, did the quality in
the '70s stink. Take it from somebody who worked for a

There used to be such a thing on this list (at least
in theory) as mandatory EC-content. So, here's
mandatory EC content: never have seen him playing a
Gibson acoustic. Wish he would buy back that ES-335
and get rid of everything else.

Back to my longstanding lurk mode.

jbroholm at sbcglobal.net

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