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Old 10-19-2018, 03:28 PM
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justonwo justonwo is offline
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Default Build Thread: Fairbanks SJ Kalamazoo Gals

I've always wanted to make a foray into the vintage Gibson world. I recently made John Thomas's acquaintance and have been discussing his rather iconic 1943 Gibson Southerner Jumbo. I also read his great book, Kalamazoo Gals, about the women who were involved in making the "Banner Era" Gibsons from WWII. The story itself is quite intriguing as it appears many unsung female heroes were involved in the making of Banner Gibsons, which I've come to learn are prized for their responsiveness.

I've also had a chance to play a number of vintage Gibsons as well as a Fairbanks at Schoenberg - my local haunt for all things guitar. I was impressed by Dale's work as well as his reputation as a real guru in the art of recreating vintage Gibson guitars.

Since he is very familiar with John Thomas's SJ, having borrowed it for some months to study it, I asked him to simply build me the closest facsimile he can of that particular guitar. I believe for the most part, the Southerner Jumbo is simply a dressed up J-45 with some fancy parallelogram inlays.

This guitar will also feature a special "Kalamazoo Gal" treatment that is being offered in collaboration with John Thomas. The guitar will have a special banner inlay that reads "Only a Kalamazoo Gal Is Good Enough" (an homage to the banner slogan "Only a Gibson is Good Enough") as well as a label inside the guitar that is signed by one of the Kalamazoo Gals, Irene Stearns.

Specs:

Top - Red spruce
Back and Sides - Mahogany
Scale - Standard 24.75"
Nut spacing - 1 3/4"
Saddle spacing - 2 5/16"
Fret wire - EVO 55090 (I like it tall)
Fingerboard inlays - Parallelogram
Pickguard - Dark tortoise
Finish - Sunburst
Case - Hoffee

A special thanks for John Thomas for answering all my vintage Gibson questions!




Last edited by justonwo; 10-19-2018 at 03:40 PM.
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Old 10-19-2018, 03:29 PM
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Here's an example of the Kalamazoo Gals inlay and label.



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Old 10-19-2018, 03:37 PM
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Wow, congrats on a really cool build!!!! I love paying homage to history like this will.
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Old 10-19-2018, 03:52 PM
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You will adore this guitar!
Congratulations!
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Old 10-19-2018, 04:19 PM
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Sides being meticulously, lovingly, and oscillatingly drum sanded.



Side bending jiggery.



Fingers far away from this.



I assume he's trying to extract some kind of government secrets out of the sides with this machine. I pity that poor mahogany.

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Old 10-19-2018, 04:20 PM
Jamiejoon Jamiejoon is offline
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Juston, this is such a cool project. Congrats!
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Old 10-19-2018, 04:22 PM
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By the way, here's a video of JT playing his 1943 SJ along with a similarly-appointed rosewood SJ.

I love the sound of both.

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Old 10-19-2018, 04:26 PM
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Love Daleís take on the great guitars of Kalamazoo.
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Old 10-20-2018, 05:49 AM
wezzywest wezzywest is offline
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Wow, looking forward to following this build. Dale`s work is brilliant, I have one of his Roy Smeck guitars. I think it is the best guitar I have ever owned, and since I have had this, I have not had any of my other guitars out of the case. Is that a good or bad thing?
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Fairbanks SJ Kalamazoo Gal No 3.

Last edited by wezzywest; 10-20-2018 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 10-20-2018, 11:24 AM
rlxnply rlxnply is offline
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So cool, looking forward to checking this out. Iím getting more in more interested in adding a vintage piece to my collection.
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Old 10-20-2018, 12:05 PM
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Juston,

So cool! Oh, and thanks for the kind words.

I'm really looking forward to following this build and, with your permission, sneaking up to Dale's shop to check it out.

I've no financial interest in these guitars. I just really like what Dale does, think he's THE builder to do this, and have asked that he put a bit of the proceeds toward a women's history non-profit of his choice.

Oh, and that banner? Made from a chunk of maple taken from the factory during WWII.
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Old 10-20-2018, 12:49 PM
wezzywest wezzywest is offline
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Hi again Juston.
Could you tell me what the differences are, between the original run of the Fairbanks Gals and yours please.
jt1 Loved reading about the project first time round, just revisiting again.
Cheers.
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Old 10-20-2018, 01:51 PM
SJ VanSandt SJ VanSandt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jt1 View Post
Oh, and that banner? Made from a chunk of maple taken from the factory during WWII.
How cool is that? I'd love to have one of those - maybe someday!
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Old 10-20-2018, 02:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wezzywest View Post
Hi again Juston.
Could you tell me what the differences are, between the original run of the Fairbanks Gals and yours please.
jt1 Loved reading about the project first time round, just revisiting again.
Cheers.
There isnít any difference. I believe there are 25 signed labels and Dale will make them until theyíre used up. I believe the bridge plate also uses maple reclaimed from the old Kalamazoo factory.
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Old 10-20-2018, 02:55 PM
jt1 jt1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justonwo View Post
There isnít any difference. I believe there are 25 signed labels and Dale will make them until theyíre used up. I believe the bridge plate also uses maple reclaimed from the old Kalamazoo factory.
Right on both counts.
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