Noyce Guitars
Mount Clear
Ballarat, Victoria
Australia, 3350

Gibson J50
Background Back to Work Bench

This Gibson J50 was living comfortably in Darwin, NT Australia, until Cyclone Tracy hit on Christmas Eve 1975.

According to it's owner, the house "blew up" and the guitar was found a couple of days later against the the back fence, somewhat the worse for the wear! It was covered in scratches, dints and splits, but the owner jacked up the adjustable porcelain saddle and battled on. Many years later he had to have it attended to if he was to keep using it.

The Brief
The job involved repairing numerous splits in the top and back, broken and split struts, a badly bellied top and distorted bridge. In brief, I removed the back, bridge, pickguard and bridge backing plate and set to work fixing all the struts, splits etc. then made a new backing plate and bridge. The old backing plate was 5.5mm ply with fixing bolts and bushings for the adjustable bridge. Not conducive with the best possible response! With the backing plate off I could flatten out the bellied top with careful application of moisture and pressing to get it back to something like original shape.

1. The J50 (Rear) with a J45 needing similar treatment. 2. View of the bellied top.

3. Bridge removed. 4. Longitudinal curve.
5. Transverse curve. 6. The back, with Cyclone Tracy scars.
7. Inside view (the back still damp - water stains removed later) 8. The back on a flat surface, with lead shot bags to flatten it.
9. A refret is required as well! 10. Reglueing back struts.
11. Repairing top splits, clamping flush through Volume and Tone holes. 12. Glueing a new backing plate.
13. Glue back on over straight edge to control neck/body angle and back-sides fit. 14. Heat pressing to reduce neck angle
(it was probably always too much, requiring a very high saddle which encouraged the bridge bellying).
15. Glueing the new bridge. 16. Routing the saddle slot for new bone saddle.

Finished at last. The customer did not want to mess with all the finish scars and dings - they are all part of important memories and stories! The guitar scrubbed up sounding better (probably) than ever with spot-on intonation.