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Archive for February, 2012

Resonance

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

This is the center block (cut away and right side up) of a 335. The bottom piece is maple, the top is kerfed (slotted) spruce and on top of that is the plywood that is the top of the guitar. Somehow it works. Thanks to Dr. Vintage for the photos.

As a writer, I appreciate it when words are spelled correctly. As a writer who is a terrible typist, I’m guilty  of plenty of spelling and punctuation errors but that’s not actually what this post is about except to say that when a guitar rings out, it is resonant NOT resonate. It resonates (verb) but it IS resonant (adjective). This is probably the most misused word among guitar enthusiasts. So let’s talk about it. By design, a 335 isn’t terribly resonant. That was kind of the idea-to make what looked like a hollow body sound like a solid body and thus avoiding the bugbears (great word) of the hollow body electric; those bugbears being feedback and lack of brightness for the kids playing that rock and roll music. It helps to understand that a pickup isn’t a microphone. It doesn’t exactly “hear” what your hear when you play the guitar unplugged on the couch, annoying your wife while she’s trying to watch “Dancing with the Stars” which you only watch for the women’s costumes anyway.  The pickup “feels” a disturbed magnetic field and turns that into the tone sound of the guitar. The concept behind pickup function is based on Faraday’s Law of Induction.  Simply put because even I don’t quite get it, a changing magnetic field causes an electric field to be set up in a nearby wire, causing a current to flow.  And I am not one to go around breaking laws.  That brings me to the idea of how resonance in a 335 affects the amplified tone of the guitar. It also brings me to a more common question which is why some 335s are pretty resonant and others aren’t. As I’ve discussed before, the center block of a 335 exists in two forms (for the early models anyway). They either have a cutout under the bridge pickup or they don’t. This was started as early as 1962 (although I swear I had a late 61 that had it)  but the transition occurred over the course of 3 or 4 years. I had a 65 stoptail that had no cutout. All 345s and 355s (even monos) have the cutout to accommodate the Varitone chokes. The reason they added the cutout to the 335 was to make it easier to get the harness installed without having to stuff it through the f-holes (don’t try this at home). There are other factors that will affect resonance in a 335 as well. The qualities of the wood involved are another. Some wood simply vibrates better than other wood. Fortunately, maple seems like a fairly consistent wood and 335s are, if nothing else, fairly consistent in resonance, at least in the early days. But what about the difference between a cut out center block and a non cut out one? My personal preference was for the ones that weren’t cut out until recently. I thought they sustained better. Now that I’ve owned a larger number of 335s/345s and 355s, I find that to be less true. In fact, I’m not even sure I can tell the difference between a cut center block and an uncut one every time. What I can hear is when a guitar  vibrates and, yes, resonates more than another. Folks talk about “woody” and “airy” tone and some 3×5’s have it in spades and others less so. They all have it to some degree-most would agree that a vintage 335 is a pretty “woody” guitar (insert joke here). I don’t think that little air pocket under the bridge pickup has much, if anything to do with it. I think the physical properties of the wood itself is more responsible. And by the wood, I really mean the center block; the guitars “box” doesn’t really resonate all that much. I’ve played  Les Pauls that are louder unamplified than some 335s. There just isn’t that much moving air in a 335 due to the center block (and perhaps some crude construction).  Sit on the couch next to your wife playing an unamplified ES- 330 (no center block) and she’ll tell you to turn it down. The larger question is how the pickups actually perceive this resonance since they aren’t microphones. For the answer to that, you’re going to have to consult a physicist or Seymour Duncan, who I’m sure knows. I do know that a resonant 335 generally sounds better to me amplified or un than one that is less resonant. More complex, more articulate, more, uh, woody. And that resonates with me.

No wonder these things don't resonate that much-there's almost as much glue as there is wood. Glue is not terribly resonant and probably does more damping than anything else. Fortunately the tone generated by the "box" of a 335 has little to do with what comes through the little wire. And you thought these were made by master luthiers with care and precision. They were essentially hand assembled mass produced guitars and yet, they sound great. That tells you how great the design is.

 

Tired of Telling the Joke

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

The name of the guitar business was supposed to be a clever play on the old joke about the piano tuner , Opporknockity, who tunes but once. I’m really tired of trying to explain the joke, not only to readers for whom English is a second language who will never easily understand a joke based on a twist of a cliche but also to native speakers of English who just never heard it. So, you can kiss “Opporknockity Tunes Guitar” goodbye and just call me OK. And no, I don’t live in Oklahoma but CT Guitars doesn’t sound that good. So, I’m OK now. I hope you’re OK too. It’ll take me awhile to change it everywhere but I’ve made a pretty good dent. By the way,in case you want to get here via the back door, you can go to www.okguitars.com. It gets you to the same place but its easier to remember. When searching Gbase, OK will still get you to me as will the old way. It’ll still probably have to say it on my tax forms but I can live with that. The IRS has no sense of humor anyway and they wouldn’t get it. I do, however, still own www.opporknockitytunes.com in case somebody else wants to use for their music publishing company or something.

Another Road Trip, Part Two

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

 

No rash, no scratches and a very attractive sunburst. Cool guitar played by a guy with nine inch nails.

I don’t even get to the table when the guy with the guitar case and the ever present friend (just in case I’m the one with the gun, I guess) walk in. I’m pretty sure they were in the parking lot when I got there and were just waiting for the guy with the Yankee hat to go in. It’s a nasty world out there and you can’t be too careful. Yankee fans can be dangerous, I hear. I head to a table and wave them over and a few handshakes later, everybody seems calm and ready to close the deal. The owner, a self described “hillbilly” has already launched into his pitch. He has a drawl that speaks perhaps of a more Southern upbringing. “Bought this git-tar in 2001 from a farmer who bought it from another guy who was the original owner. I haven’t played it much.” I opened the case and it looked pretty good. And out come the screwdriver, magnifier and flashlight and I start pulling the pickups and loosening the strings. “Not yer first rodeo, is it…the friend says.” “Nope”, I says.  The pickups checked out, there were no extra holes anywhere, the ABR-1 was the correct era and the neck was a bit  flat but the truss was tight, so I know it would come back to a little relief. Generally, the monetary end of the deal is made before either of us show up -made with the stipulation that if anything isn’t as described, the deal could be undone. I once drove 5 hours to New Hampshire and turned around and drove home empty handed because the guitar was a refinish. I don’t like to start negotiating at this point but there was one issue that concerned me and it was an unusual situation. The fingerboard was pretty rutted at the first few frets but there was virtually no fret wear.  Who played this guitar? Freddy Krueger? Edward Scissorhands?  How do you rut a board like that and not put any wear on the frets-which were absolutely without a doubt, original. The ruts don’t really affect the playability, they’re just unsightly. I’m going to guess the farmer never trimmed his nails and played a lot of cowboy chords. Sometimes, asking for a few hundred dollars off the negotiated price for an issue like this just doesn’t make sense. I’m sure I could have gotten the guitar for less but I was also sure it was still a good deal as is.  Folks appreciate a man of his word. Would I perhaps have to price it a couple hundred less due to the ruts or pay to have them repaired? Probably but here’s the thing. People are appreciative when a deal goes exactly as planned. Everybody’s happy and you shake hands and walk away new friends-promising to stay in touch if something cool comes along. Guitar people are tuned into the guitars in their communities and sometimes can be a big help. Once the payment was made, my new friend said, “ya know, I know a guy who has a 58 Les Paul. He just went into a nursing home and his sons have it now and don’t know what to do with it.  He’s also got a 55 goldtop.” I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have known this if I had decided to try to knock off a few hundred for the ruts. Maybe something will come of it and maybe not. But this is why a dealer acts honorably and reasonably. The guitar world is a very small place. After half an hour, we drained our coffees, shook hands and were on our ways back home. I  had a few hours to kill, so I had another conversation with the  disembodied voice in the Fiesta-telling her about my experience. “Please speak a command” she said. “I command you to listen and not talk,  and give me a foot massage, while you’re at it,” I said. On the way back to O’Hare, I stopped at the offices of Gelber Group in downtown Chicago,  the financial services firm owned by my little brother where 3 other brothers work as well and had a nice visit with brothers Brian, Frank, Mike and Bob.  They made a lot more money than I did that day but I’m guessing they didn’t have nearly as much fun. I got back to O’Hare in plenty of time to start my my begging, pleading and cajoling to get them to let me take the guitar on the plane. A few hours in the cargo hold is not good for an unchecked guitar. It can get pretty cold in there. Fortunately, they were very nice about it and let me carry it on and didn’t even charge me the $45 bag fee. So, a tip of the Yankee hat to Spirit Airlines. No frills but no surprises either. Sixteen hours after leaving my house, I was back home with a “new” 64 ES-335. I spent an hour on setup and adjustment and restrung it and went to bed. Sixteen hours later, it was sold.  I never even got to photograph it. Turned out to be an awesome player with a perfect neck angle. I did get back one of my favorite SGs ever in trade though.

Another Road Trip, Part One

Friday, February 17th, 2012

 

This is the guitar I was after. Supposed to be close to mint but I could see that there was plenty of tarnish on the nickel but not much wear to the finish

I love going out into the great wide open to pick up guitars from sellers-especially the higher end stuff that I don’t want to have shipped. It’s always a crapshoot, it’s always interesting and it’s always a little scary. This time it was a fly/drive affair going from New York to Chicago and driving to Indiana-where I seem to find a lot of guitars, although I have no clue why. Getting to and from a major city the same day can be a little tricky. I don’t stay over because the expense of all of this travel gets paid for by the guy who buys the guitar and I don’t want to make it any more expensive than it needs to be. The guitar in question is an all original very nice 3 owner 1964 ES-335 in sunburst. I considered just driving but it’s 800  miles so each way so if I could get a cheap flight, I could do it. I found a flight to Chicago for $110 round trip on something called Spirit Airlines.  This was less than the gas for my old Volvo would have cost for 1600 miles of driving. Even if I borrowed my son’s Prius, it would have been a big investment in time and gas and a place to stay. Well, actually, the place to stay would have been easy-I have 4 brothers in Chicago. I had never flown Spirit Airlines and was a little apprehensive, given the low fare. It’s kind of like a Greyhound bus with wings and extra charges. Got a bag? $45. Want some water? $3. You get the idea. No frills, although I never considered a reclining seat a frill but apparently, on Spirit, it is. Anyway, I didn’t need frills and dragged myself out of bed at 0 dark :30 and headed to LaGuardia and got on the plane. Once at O’Hare, I would rent a car and head to a predetermined public location. That’s in case the guy decides to stick a gun in my ribs and rob me. This would be a problem for the would be criminal since I usually pay by check and I normally carry around $20. The public location is usually a Starbucks. This one was in Schererville, Indiana on route 41. I think every state has a route 41. I think it’s one big strip mall that runs from Washington State to Florida. This 41 was no different-I could be in Arkansas for all I could tell from route 41 .Ya know, it’s hard to tell what someone is like even after you’ve spoken on the phone and emailed back and forth and dozen times. It’s also hard to tell what’s wrong (or right) with a guitar from the photos most folks send. So, I bring a tiny screwdriver, magnifier, truss wrench, flashlight and dental mirror. These things will not help if someone sticks a gun in my ribs unless maybe I could aim the magnifier at the sun, temporarily blinding the robber and stabbing him with the screwdriver or hitting him over the head with the truss rod wrench.  There are thousand things-OK not a thousand but at least 50 things that can be wrong with a guitar that don’t always show up in the photos. Things like wrong pickups, changed pots, extra holes under the bridge or stoptail or Bigsby, bad fret jobs, cracks, repairs, rutted fingerboards even refins. So, it’s always a bit of a crapshoot, especially after spending many hours traveling and hundreds of dollars. “How will I know you?” the seller asked in an email. I said “You don’t have to. You’ll be the guy with the guitar.” But I said I’d wear my NY Yankee cap figuring nobody else in Schererville , Indiana would wear one. Anyway, I got to Chicago without issue and rented a roller skate sized car called a Ford Fiesta. I don’t know why they would call it a Fiesta since there isn’t room for much partying in there unless you want to party with the voice module that somehow turned itself on and asked me to speak a command. “Please speak a command”, it said. I was looking around trying to figure out where the voice came from. A genie? God? (and God was a woman!). Once I figured out it was part of the technology, I still had no idea what to say, so I said “off”. “Please speak a command”. “Go away!” Still nothing. “Leave me alone!!” “Please speak a command…”, she insisted. It sounded to me like she was getting impatient like the lady in the GPS who every time she says “recalculating” she seems more and more angry. I keep thinking she’s going to say “just pull over at this fucking gas station…” Finally, I said “cancel” and it worked. But the GPS repeated “recalculating” in her exasperated, angry voice. Finally I arrived at the local Starbucks, got a tall coffee, which, incredibly,  is a small in Starbuckspeak and waited for the seller to arrive.  Part 2 tomorrow.

The Off Ramp or Gravity: it isn’t just a good idea…It’s the Law

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Granted, it doesn't look like much but there is an almost imperceptible rise in the fingerboard where it meets the body. The good news is its an easy and non invasive fix.

I keep seeing this and it’s pretty subtle. It’s not a difficult fix-any decent luthier can do it, I’m just amazed at how often it shows up. When you sight down the neck, do you see a little upturn right where it meets the body? It’s no accident that this happens either. Consider how much time (out of its very long life) a guitar spends in its case -often flat on its back. The forces of gravity are counteracted in two places. One is the neck rest and the other is where the body meets the bottom of the case. The surface area of the body that actually sits on the bottom off the case is a lot less than it should be in those old cases so more of the guitar is subjected to these gravitational forces that they would be in a modern case. Consequently, quite a lot of downward gravitational force is concentrated in one place-where the body and neck join. It’s like those “bookshelves” you had in college made from cheap lumber and cinder blocks. Eventually they kind of sagged in the middle, didn’t they? Same deal here. Leave gravity to its own device for long enough and something has to give. Gravity wants to pull the guitar down and it can only do so where it isn’t supported and will do so at the thinnest and weakest point which is right behind the heel. I’ve also seen the problem just below the neck rest at the seventh to 9th fret but not as frequently. Surprisingly, the problem shows up more often in mint guitars. Counterintuitive? Not really. the mint ones spend most of their lives flat on their back under a bed. If the guitar is stored standing up, the problem is not likely to occur. Let me refer you back to the red ’61 dot neck I found in Indiana that had been in its case for 47 years-unopened. It didn’t have the rise because it was standing up in a closet all that time. I will note that the lower strap button was completely corroded away probably from all the moisture flowing downward. So, you’re about to buy the 335 of your dreams and you sight in the neck and there it is. Just the very slightest rise from around the 18 fret to the end of the fingerboard. Then you play it up there and it sounds kind of plunky or it frets out when you bend. You adjust the truss but it doesn’t help because the truss doesn’t adjust all the way up there. So, what,  you don’t buy it? If that was the case, you’d be eliminating an awful lot of spectacularly good guitars. They just need a little “anti gravity”. The easiest fix is a fret level-remember you play the frets, not the fingerboard. It’s usually slight enough that a simple fret leveling will take care of it. If it’s more pronounced the next thing to do is have your luthier just shave the tiniest bit off the board at the rise. I’ve seen this done completely invisibly because the amount of rise is so slight. A friend of mine brought over a 59 ES-355 (not the one I have) that looked like the off ramp of I-95 at the body join. He took it to a very talented young luthier in our area and when I saw it again I couldn’t believe it was the same guitar. I couldn’t see any sign of any work at all and the fingerboard was as straight as a Nevada highway. So when you see the upramp, don’t reject the guitar. It’s normal, it’s ubiquitous and it’s fixable.

Gone. OK, it isn't the same guitar but it had the same issue and now it doesn't.

Call it Mojo. Call it Crud, Call it Dirt

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

These two guitars probably left the factory the same day and led very different lives.. I love the guitar on the left which belongs to LPF member WillieJoe Bob and it's a crowd favorite. I would never touch a thing on this guitar unles the fingerboard was drying out but clean it? Not a chance. The other one is Gary Dick's and it's still for sale for $85K.

Here’s my dilemma. when I get a guitar for myself -one that I like so much I have to keep it (a rare occurrence by the way), I like to clean it up. That means a bit of either naptha or Virtuoso Cleaner, some lemon oil on the rosewood (NEVER on the Body). The idea is to get the organic crud off the guitar. Really, do I want to go eat my dinner after playing a guitar that was sweated on on 5 or 10 or 20 different players, some of whom washed their hands once a month whether they needed it or not? OK, I wash my hands after I play (usually) but I think that cleaning up a vintage guitar is not an unreasonable thing to do. Then there are the purists who want every speck of dirt and “mojo” left alone. No cleaner, no polish. no oil on the board-just the pure filth of a 50 year old guitar. I hear things about “if this guitar could talk-oh, the stories it would tell.” Well, guess what. Unless you’re Peter Frampton, your guitar can’t talk. And it won’t tell stories even if you are Peter Frampton. So, I like to clean ‘em up (for myself). I like my guitars to look good. Don’t get me wrong, a guitar that’s been played to death can be a very cool thing but that doesn’t have to include dirt and organic slime. Here’s the thing-I can make a guitar look really good with a bit of  Virtuoso  Cleaner and sometimes Polish and most people don’t mind this. But, long ago, I decided not to do this to most guitars I get. Not because I don’t like a clean guitar but because, unless you tell me otherwise, I want you to get the guitar in the same condition as I got it. Yes, I’ll do a setup and replace the wrong parts with the right ones-I’ll make sure it plays right but it’s up to you to clean off the crap. If you ask me to do it, I will- but if you don’t ask, you don’t get me applying the elbow grease. It’s just that some folks get upset if it’s done. I don’t think that cleaning a finish diminishes the vintage value one iota and I think it can improve it in certain cases. This policy seemed to be working just fine until last week when I sold a consigned 63 ES-345. The buyer was very particular about fingerboard wear and fret wear and I assured him that both were exemplary-which they were. But he was most upset because of all the crud on the guitar and fingerboard. He really couldn’t believe I would send out a guitar in that state. I explained that I used to do some cleaning but decided to stop doing so because some folks complained about “destroying the mojo”. It’s mostly a Fender guy thing but not exclusively. It’s funny that some collectors are absolute fetishists about the originality of their guitar. “Are the solder joints original?” “Have any screws been turned?” “Are the stickers intact?” (answer: how would I know if I didn’t turn any screws) it goes on and on and I accept it because these folks are spending a lot of money on an old instrument and  deserve to be happy. But if they ask me “is the dirt original?” I’ll  get a little  annoyed. What could the answer to the question actually be “No, I buried it in the garden for a month?” “No, I did a lube job on the old Mustang before I went in to play the guitar for a while and forgot to wash my hands”. Silly, right? You would think. But it’s happened. I’ve been asked if the guitar has had years of crud removed when  a guitar looks too clean and shows wear. On the other side, the buyer of the 63 345 nearly decided to return the guitar because of the dirt. He didn’t and I hope he loves the guitar. The trend toward distressed finishes -mark my words-will soon include authentic dirt, sweat and fromunda. At an additional cost, of course. I can actually see the Gibson ad…The New Eric Clapton 335 with authentic EC sweat and fingernail grime. They would probably call it “mojo.”

OK, not a 335 but this Goldtop that belongs to Tom Wittrock is another iconic "mojo monster". The fact this this can't be duplicated and is honest wear (and crud) leads me to conclude that if you want a clean guitar buy one that's clean. If you want an authentic piece of music history, maybe buy one like this.

Another Little Teeny Detail-TRC

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

This is the front and back of an early wide bevel cover. Note the roll marks. They are on the earliest ones but seem to disappear around 1962.

That’s truss rod cover to those who don’t have the space to write stuff out. I hate it when my titles go on two lines. Anyway, this 10 cent piece of plastic, which you can buy on Ebay for as much as $250, is kind of overlooked. hey. I’ve pretty much overlooked it for about 18 months now. I coulda sworn I already wrote this. Surprisingly, the truss rod cover can tell you a lot in some instances. If you aren’t sure you’ve got a 64 or a 65, look at the truss rod cover. If the bevel is narrow it’s almost certainly a 65. If it’s wide, it’s 99% certain its a 64. I’ve never seen an all original 64 with a narrow bevel cover and I’ve seen one 65 with a wide bevel and it was a very early stoptail from just before they went to the trapeze. It is a part that didn’t change much over the early years-in fact a 58 looks just like a 64 on a 335. When you look at the 345, there’s something else to consider. All 345s are stereo but not all truss rod covers say “stereo” on them. The tricky part is that it isn’t exactly clear when they did the change since there is so much overlap. I’ve seen mid year 59s (A310xx) with the “stereo” cover and yet my early ’60 blonde doesn’t say “stereo”.  It appears that by very early in 1960-probably January, they all said stereo. That’s a very long transition. ES-355 stereos seem to follow a similar schedule. Here’s the weird wrinkle in 355’s. An unusual number of mono 355s have the stereo TRC. Probably laziness, although it’s pretty easy to spot the Varitone that gives it away. I’m pretty certain the truss cover would go on after they drilled the hole for the Varitone. But, what about the ones that say “Custom”. They seem to show up a fair amount as well. Here’s some conjecture since I’ve got no hard evidence…Anytime something was done for a customer that was out of the ordinary be it a custom color, a varitone on a 335, different fret markers, ebony board on a 335 or 345-stuff like that, the TRC often say “custom”. Clapton’s 335 did but there wasn’t anything custom about it. But keep in mind that this is a really easy part to change out, so who knows for certain what cover was originally on what guitar. Moving past 64, they were all narrow bevel and if you flip them over, they were black on the back-not white like the 58 to 64s. The earliest narrow bevel TRC’s are also two ply with a white back but later went to three ply b-w-b.  So, it’s a bit of a quagmire. Look for the horizontal roll marks to authenticate your really early 335 TRC but my 62 doesn’t seem to have them, nor does my 63. More research will be forthcoming on the “mysterious disappearing roll marks”. Probably the most useful bit of information here is that when you have an ambiguous 64-65 serial number, the TRC is perhaps the best way to sort it out if all else fails.

This is probably a 67 (low inlay) with the usual narrow cover. Looks like a 2 ply from here.

 

 

 

Neck Reset Blues

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Here's what the neck join usually looks like. The glue isn't too neat but there isn't a ton of extra oozing out anywhere and no clamp marks. There are variations in the way the end of the tenon in cut-some are like this photo, some are cut straight across and some are trapezoids.

Martin guys and most other high end acoustic aficionados don’t give neck resets much thought. They kind of go with the territory on these old acoustics-partially because there is some much more movement over the course of years with a hollow body spruce top guitar than there is with a solid or semi hollow guitar like an ES-335. As I understand it  (and I’m no expert in these things but I can read and everything you read on the Internets is true right?)  they don’t affect the value of an old acoustic.  This isn’t true when it comes to most electrics however and not because it necessarily affects the playability but because it just isn’t “original” Well what isn’t original? The glue. Just the glue. That’s what a reset is in a solid or semi hollow guitar. It means the glue gave up and the neck came loose. I can’t think of a single instance that the neck angle on an ES-335 changed because of environmental issues like an acoustic.  I hadn’t even seen a reset 335 until recently. You see them on SGs all the time-more often than not these days. And there’s a good reason for that. The SG tenon is a flat tongue that is glued on one big surface and maybe a teeny bit on the very thin sides. The glue eventually gives up and the neck comes loose. Or the guitar gets knocked over and the week tenon gets busted. This just doesn’t seem to happen much with a 335 and there’s a good reason for that as well. The neck tenon (see this post) on a vintage 335 (up to mid 69) is pretty darn huge and has glue on three substantial surfaces. Beyond that, it’s glued to a big ol’ piece of maple that’s as solid as a tree. So, as a result, these guitars don’t generally need a reset because the necks just don’t ever move from their very secure pocket. But glue is not eternal. It is subject to the environment and age, just like the rest of us, and as a result, the neck can simply come loose on its own. So whaddya do? You take it to your friendly neighborhood luthier-be careful-I had a reader explain he was taking his guitar to a Lutheran which can be a real mistake-and have him reglue it using hide glue as was done at the factory. In my mind this should have a very minimal effect on the value of the guitar. the thing that affects the value, to me, isn’t even the fact that the neck was reglued-it’s the fact that the lacquer between the heel and the body has to be broken and either left broken or touched up. If you have it touched up, the black light police will know and will think maybe its a reneck or a repaired break. If you don’t touch up the lacquer and the job is done right, there is a hairline of space between the heel and the body on the back and sides. That’s usually the giveaway right? Well, no -not exactly. I’ve had a fair number of ES-335s and their brethren with that same space and no sign of any work at all. That joint can get a lot of stress over 50 years and the lacquer in there is pretty thin and can flake away on the side and split on the back. What I do if I see a space there is this: I pull the neck pickup and look in the rout. If there’s a clamp mark or two or three, it’s probably a reset. Gibson may have used clamps but they didn’t leave marks in there. If there a lot of extra glue in there, it’s a tossup. I’ve seen some really sloppy glue work on Gibsons. You want see really sloppy glue work? Look at the bottom edge of the center block. It usually looks like they hired trained (and not very well trained) gorillas to do the glue work there. I guess they just figured no one would bother looking. But here’s the thing. It’s a reglued joint not a break. If the nut came unglued and you stuck it back in with some Elmers you probably would give it much thought. If the guitar in question is solid and you like it (and if you can get a couple hundred off), then don’t worry about a reset. Glue is not eternal. Nor, probably, are Lutherans, but don’t tell them that.

You can see that the lacquer is broken here but that doesn't mean it's been reset. It simply means the lacquer is broken here. It can be caused by environmental issues or trauma with no further damage. Or it could be a reset. Look inside the neck pickup rout for clamp marks.

The clamp marks are those circles. One is on the tenon and one is in the left router groove and another in the right router groove. I'm sure groove isn't the right word-anybody know what that's called? I'm not a woodworker unless you count using a toothpick.