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Vintage Guitar Ques

Hi, Thanks for considering my question.

        I have just purchased my first vintage guitar. It's a 1967 Gibson B45 12 string from the original owner. It's in very good shape except for some finish checking and two small cracks on the back. It's also in great playing condition. My question is I am considering having an LR Bags pickup installed because I feel it will not compromise the integrity of the guitar. Am I wrong ? Would it affect the value? Also would it affect the value to have the finish issues redone?

       Or I can do nothing and play it in its present state and just mike it.

       It's a beauty and I will greatly value your expert opinion. Thanks,
       Chuck, Saginaw MI

       The folklore is that a Gibson can't sound good until the finish cracks. They used a sealer coat of finish on the bare, stained wood, and then a sanding sealer, then top coat lacquer. The sanding sealer was loaded with sterate to make it build and fill faster. The white, waxy sterate, made that layer of finish softer than the top coat, and the top coat would crackle. People expect it. Fixing it could make collectors suspect a "refin" which they dearly hate.

       You should patch the back cracks. Chances are that the cracks terminate at back braces, so are not going to get any bigger, but no good is served by letting them flap. They should be backed and sealed.

       My favorite pickup right now is a Baggs sound hole magnetic. The magnetics sound much sweeter than the piezos. They can be Installed with the cord hanging out of the sound hole. No harm, no foul. Whatever pick up you use, the truth is that it's much more graceful to use an end pin jack, which involves drilling out the original butt pin hole. If you are playing concerts to a crowd, who are sitting quietly and listening to you, a mic is an option. If you are doing bars or parties or dances, etc. you will need a pickup. The crowd noise goes into your mic at about the same volume as the guitar. Turn up the guitar, the crowd gets louder. Does it hurt the resale value? It definitely shrinks your potential market. Unmodified you can sell it to either an acoustic or an acoustic/electric musician. Modifying it means that your market is acoustic/electric, further shrunken by whether or not they like your pickup choice. Did you buy this guitar to resell or to play? If you are going to keep it, do whatever you need to do.

       If memory serves, that guitar has a Brazilian rosewood bridge with an adjustable saddle. The original bridge is a real tone sucker. The adjustment screws go down into about a half pound of brass. We would charge $350 to replace your 1967 adjustable bridge with a 1962 non-adjustable, solid Brazilian rosewood bridge, with a bone saddle. Will it add the whole $350 to your sale price? Probably not. But it sure makes the guitar sound good. Brazilian rosewood is what was originally used on that guitar. Brazilian can no longer be brought into the USA. We have hoarded enough for our use. East Indian rosewood would sound nearly as good and would be much cheaper.

Steve Mason