Tonal Evaluation

If you're an avid reader of the Wildwood site (and I hope you are!), you know by now that I (Trevor, Wildwood's resident scribe) grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. As a result, I have played far more than my fair share of old Gibson acoustics. So, it really means something when I say that this '56 J-50 is a truly exceptional example of a Gibson dreadnought. It absolutely knocked my socks off right away. The wow factor was in full effect almost instantly. After I pulled it out of the case, I think I went back and forth between an open E chord and and Amaj7 for a full minutes, because it sounded so good! Guitars with this level of vintage resonance beg you to play simply to better marvel at the beauty of each chord.

Now, let's talk about the specifics of why this guitar is so impressive. It exhibits many of the classic characteristics of old Gibsons, especially the the "played-in" sound that many tonehounds seek. When a guitar is "played-in," that means that water molecules in the wood have dried out over time. This makes the guitar sound woodier and clearer, with fewer overtones and stronger focus on the fundamental frequency of each note. The best vintage acoustics exhibit this focus and clarity while maintaing massive resonance, and I am delighted to report that this J-50 manages to sound both cavernous and clear. It's like it ate another J-50 and absorbed its powers somehow!

This spruce-and-mahogany beast also has a ridiculously articulate, percussive attack. It captures every detail of your right-hand technique with supreme fidelity, allowing for incredibly expressive playing. This initial attack gives way to beautiful bell-like note bloom, and I need you to understand that I am not being hyperbolic when I say "bell-like." It's like having a wooden church bell ringing in your lap!

Once the note has bloomed fully, you can hear more of the classic hallmarks of Gibson acoustic tone: broad, woody midrange along with sunny, open trebles and warm, muscular bass. It also has lots of headroom, so it stays nice and open even at fortissimo and above. Even on the high E and B strings, Single note lines have plenty of mass and heft, making it immensely satisfying to take leads and solos on this guitar.

All of these characteristics make this J-50 a juggernaut when it comes to strumming and flatpicking, but I was surprised at its versatility. Its articulate voice and dynamic response also make it an excellent choice for fingerpickers seeking a big-body sound.

I could also see myself doing some bad things in the studio with this puppy. Its midrange-forward voice is a recording engineer's dream, and it can cut through a mix or provide a support role with equal facility.

I'm proud to help present such an incredible vintage Gibson to our exceptional customers. I have no doubt that it will prove a steadfast lifelong companion on some lucky acoustic adventurer's fretboard journey!

Condition of Instrument

This vintage Gibson has the typical wear you would expect for an instrument this old. You can see lots of beautiful natural checking and dings. Our friends at Woodsongs Lutherie have performed a few necessary repairs. They did a full refret plus a level and dress, planed the fretboard, heat-straightened the neck, replaced the bridge replaced with a Brazilian rosewood one with an adjustable saddle, added a new nylon nut, and repaired some brace separation on the back. The E and G tuners are slightly bent, too. It includes the original hardshell case that is held together with duct tape on the outside and very worn on the inside, but still functions.


Brand Used
ModelVintage 1956 Gibson J-50
Finish ColorNatural
Top WoodSpruce
Back & Sides WoodMahogany
Neck WoodMahogany
Neck ShapeMedium Taper
Neck Dimensions.860 1st - .980 9th
Fretboard MaterialRosewood
Fingerboard InlaysMother-of-Pearl Dots
Scale Length24 3/4"
Width at Nut1 9/16"
Nut MaterialNylon
TunersOriginal Kluson
BridgeReplaced Brazilian. Original in case.
CaseOriginal Hardshell Case

Why Order from Wildwood Guitars?

An instrument from Wildwood isn't just an ordinary guitar. It's your guitar. Each and every instrument we sell includes a full, point by point setup, an exhaustive evaluation, and expert shipping procedures, with first class, industry leading standards from start to finish. Why? Because you deserve it.

Click Here to learn more about what makes a Wildwood instrument so special...
Wildwood Pre-Owned
Serial Number: V8415-2

High Resolution Photo Gallery