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Gibson Country Western Guitar
A Gibson No Less
In 1972 after returning home from my Air Force enlistment I paid a visit to a cousin of mine who owned and operated a used car business in Hendersonville, NC. He himself had retired from the Air Force and had a knack for selling. It was only natural, he would go into the used car business and he was good at selling those older cars. He would go to the auctions in Greenville and Spartanburg and buy, sell and trade. Sometime in a trade he might take in a gun or some musical instrument as part of the down payment. Over the years he had bought and traded and had gotten several fine vintage instruments. He had a nice Gibson pre-war RB75 five string banjo (gold plated) which he always insisted that I play when we had a jam session at his office. His office also just happened to be the kitchen of his home located next to the used car lot.
On this particular day he asked me what kind of guitar I was playing these days. At the time I didn't even own a guitar but was looking around hoping to find a bargain in a pawn shop. He told me, I've got a Gibson acoustic that I'd give a man a real deal." "How much do you want for it, I asked. "Oh, I'd take $50 bucks for it." he responded. I immediately reached for my wallet and pulled out the cash after making sure it wasn't broken or cracked. It came with the original case. At the time I only knew it was a Gibson and nothing more. In later years I researched the serial numbers and discovered it was a 1956 Country Western.
When I got home that afternoon, I took the guitar out of the case and tuned it. It sounded great with the same trademark Gibson sound most any seasoned guitar enthusiast will readily recognize. I did notice the guitar needed some work. The Kluson tuning machines typically standard issue on those older Gibson models were worn and the instrument wouldn't stay in tune. I tuned and staye frustrated and threatened to make it firewood. After one of my tantrums, my wife who worked in town near the music store informed me she had bought me a new Gibson. This one a J50 model soon captured my heart and I played it for over 35 years.
I gave the Country Western to my brother in law who was wanting to learn to play. I told him about the tuning machines and the guitar did need some work. Trying to learn chords he placed masking tape on the frets where his fingers need to be. He kept the guitar for almost 30 years rarely taking it out of its case. Unfortunately he developed brain cancer and died. Following his death his wife returned the guitar to me. It was then I decided to research the serial numbers and have it repaired.
I took the guitar to my friend Dan Lashbrook, a well know guitar repairman in North Carolina who specializes in Martin set-up. The Gibson needed a neck set and he informed me that one side of the Kluson tuners were installed backwards. I had him install fossil ivory at the bridge and nut and vintage Waverly tuners. The old Gibson finally had new life.
Since I already had two great guitars, the J50 my wife bought me the first year we were married and my 1991 HD 28 Martin I bought as my own 50th birthday present, I decided to sell the Country Western. I had just begun selling on eBay and the Country Western became my first sale. It was on open bidding and sold for just over $1500. Sometimes I regret selling this old soldier but a man can only have so many guitars. I do know it sold to one who was going to enjoy owning and playing this great instrument.