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Old 02-05-2009, 01:43 PM
Tboney4 Tboney4 is offline
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Question Gibson J40??

Hello all - I've had in my possession for sometime now my mom's old 1970...something Gibson J40. I know nothing about it, just that it was around when I was growing up before I knew how to play and now I have it in my house. It's got terrible action on it, I think I've taken it to one or two places in the past and they said there wasn't anything else they could do for it. Maybe it's for pickin'!
Just curious if anyone's ever played one or owned one? Were they only around for a season? What's it worth? Thanks!
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Old 02-05-2009, 09:24 PM
OleGibby58 OleGibby58 is offline
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I'm new here but have been around Gibsons since I got my first one about '72.

As I recall, the J-40 was brought out in the early '70s, a square shoulder dreadnaught. It might have the "double-X" bracing Gibson introduced a bit before that. Kind of like a lot of guitars they did in the early '70s: J-45 Deluxe and similar. Not bad guitars at all, really, and some sounded pretty good in spite of the heavy bracing. I owned a early '70s J-45 Deluxe that sounded darned good, actually. But it needed a neck set (read on).

I thought the J-40 was a mahogany backed guitar but have read references to it as walnut. Also thought it had a standard pinned bridge, but have heard "pinless". Regardless, if what you mean by "terrible" action is "high", there are things that can be done, and mostly likely a neck reset. You may or may not want to do that. Any problem is fixable, given enough intent, skill and/or $.

As a reference, the book "Gibson's Fabulous Flattops" talks about this model, maybe you can get a copy or find it in the library. Or call a dealer like Elderly, etc. and ask for the repair shop and describe your guitar and discuss the issue. A lot of knowledge in the bigger vintage shops.

You can also find info on-line and do a serial number search to narrow down, a bit, just when it was made.

Glad you've got yer mom's guitar!
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Old 02-05-2009, 09:48 PM
zombywoof zombywoof is offline
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The J-40 was introduced in 1971 which is the same year Gibson started using the double X bracing in their guitars. They do have a pinless bridge. You still see this type of bridge used today on various guitars.

Monetary value is, I am sorry to say, not all that high. But the heck with that - the sentimetal value is far more important. I would take it to a decent repair guy and see what he says. Might just need an adjustment or it could require a neck reset.
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Old 02-06-2009, 01:03 PM
Tboney4 Tboney4 is offline
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Thanks for the info. I figured it was mahogany back/sides. It definitely is pinless in the bridge (Not sure what that does for the sound). I'd love to get it playing better one of these days though. When you say the value isn't high - you mean it isn't in the thousands or what? I probably wouldn't get rid of it and pass it down to my kids.
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Old 02-06-2009, 02:03 PM
beach bob beach bob is offline
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Originally Posted by Tboney4 View Post
When you say the value isn't high - you mean it isn't in the thousands or what? I probably wouldn't get rid of it and pass it down to my kids.
Without discussing actual prices [not allowed at this forum], overall, the value of 70s era Gibsons isn't as high as some other eras, or certain models. It all goes to design and era... For instance, any 60s era Gibby with the height adjustable bridge [screws on the bridge], isn't going to be as collectible as an earlier era 60s Gibby with the nonadjustable bridge. And the price will reflect that.

Collector value on older guitars primarily goes to 1] condition, 2] design features, and 3] originality, which is to say, whether the guitar has been modified in some way. Depending on the make & model, originality can trump functional mods that actually make the item play or sound better, when it comes to collectibility (= dollar value). In the above example, some people will take a mid 60s Gibson, and replace the adjustable bridge to a good, nonadjustable height bridge with a bone saddle. Looks better, almost certainly sounds better, and the net effect is, it's value has been lowered. Weird, huh? But, it's an improved instrument,from a playing standpoint...

Severe mods, like drilled holes for installed electronics in acoustic guitars, can significantly reduce the item's value, unless it's professionally repaired. In the case of a proper repair, it's only somewhat reduced in value ...

Generally, for your 70s J-40, it isn't going to command the price of, say, an early 60s era Gibby, or of a more recent [2000s] era Advanced Jumbo. The 70s generally, were not the best era for either Gibson or Martin acoustics, though some good to excellent examples from that era do exist.

I agree with the others here, find a good repairman, and have them evaluate it... Think of the $$ invested in a possible neck reset, etc. in terms of making the guitar enjoyable and usable, and less in terms of, is it worth sinking this amount of $$ into this guitar... At any rate, a neck reset won't drop it's value. Other than declared value for insurance, if it's a family keeper, get the needed maintenance done, forget what it's worth, and enjoy it!
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Old 04-04-2009, 01:58 PM
Bikerdoc Bikerdoc is offline
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I have a '77 J-40 and it's a wonderful Mahogany guitar. As for value; it's like anything else. Depends on who wants one badly enough. There's no reason it wouldn't command a grand. If there's "nothing more to be done" you've not taken it to the right luthier in my opinion.
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Old 05-01-2012, 01:33 PM
The Giant The Giant is offline
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Hi All, incredibly late reply here...

Tboney4, just wondering if you ever had the J-40 looked at? I ask because I recently came into a 1979 J-40 that my wife's stepdad has had hid away for years. Guitar is all dried out, has a few cracks on the back, and a real nasty crack between the pickguard and bottom of the neck. I've heard this is caused by the pickguard shrinking with humidity loss, and the guitar top gives way before the adhesive. This crack is causing the neck angle to come in too low, meaning very high action (almost unplayable, even though someone tried to sand the saddle down to compensate).

My first step was to get a new case (old cardboard one had all but disintegrated), and put some Dampits in the soundhole to get some much needed moisture into the thing. Unfortunately that about exhausts my guitar repair skills...

I called a local luthier who a few people mentioned as being the best around, and he actually told me this is a fairly simple (and economical) fix that is common in those 70s Gibsons. Bringing it in tomorrow to have the guy take a look. I was wondering if you had any luck getting it corrected, and if this was the same issue.

I don't want to sink a lot of money into this fiddle, and am hoping I can at least get it playable and stable on the cheap.
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