something a little different .... sort of

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sookwinder
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something a little different .... sort of

Post by sookwinder » Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:24 pm

A couple of months back a colleague at work bought himself a new small bodied Martin "whatever" (can never work out/remember the Martin nomenclature). It was very simple, plain jane type finish, X braced all Mahogany. He was extremely happy with it and a lot different to his other acoustics, in particular different to his J-45. When I played it it had a certain something about it. I was hearing a different sound than what I hear from my other acoustics, it was a more bluesy / primitive sound that while not the sound I want for much of my "couch time" or recordings, certainly the sound had an allure to it.

Three or four months later I happen to be surfing the interwebz as one does and noticed that Gary's Classic Guitars had listed a similar type of small bodied acoustic (1963 Gibson LG-0) that was on hold at US$1600. All mahogany, Brazilian rosewood fretboard, very plain but at the same time very nice. That then led me to search the other dark alleys that have older/vintage guitars for sale.

The Gibson LG-0 was the lowest level model (some call it the student model, but that is a little unfair IMO).

In general the specs for the small bodied Gibsons and Epiphones in the 60s went as follows
Note: there is that transition period in the very early 60s where the fixed saddles changed to adjustable saddles on all high end models, but for this discussion I am ignoring this.
Low -> high:
Gibson LG-0 / Epiphone Caballero
All mahogany / natural finish / rosewood fretboard / ladder braced / fixed saddle / open tuners / single line rosette - dark/ plastic or wood bridge / screwed on thick guard / tortoise binding front only
Gibson LG-1
Spruce top / mahogany back & sides / sunburst finish / rosewood fretboard / ladder braced / fixed saddle / closed tuners / single line rosette - light / plastic or wood bridge / glued on thick guard / white binding back and front
Gibson LG-2
Spruce top / mahogany back & sides / sunburst finish / rosewood fretboard / X braced / fixed saddle / closed tuners / single line rosette - light / plastic or wood bridge / glued on thick guard / white binding back and front
Gibson LG-3
Spruce top / mahogany back & sides / natural finish / rosewood fretboard / X braced / fixed saddle / closed tuners / single line rosette - light / plastic or wood bridge / glued on thick guard / white binding back and front
Epiphone Cortez
Spruce top / mahogany back & sides / sunburst and natural finish / rosewood fretboard / X braced / fixed saddle / closed tuners / single line rosette - light / plastic or wood bridge / glued on thin guard / white binding back and front
Gibson B-25
Combined the LG-2 and LG-3 options into one model

Now I am a Gibson (and Epiphone) fan boy for 60s acoustics (and some 50s acoustics)and I when ever there is a Gibson model in general there is always an equivalent Epiphone model. So I did a search for a Caballero and discovered that Gibson/Epiphone must have manufactured far fewer of the Caballero than the Gibson LG-0 model. I did come across a few and one in particular, a 62 model with the early version of the Epiphone (Gibson owned) headstock, that was is pretty good condition. No cracks, appeared to have hardly been played over the past 57 years, and was about half the cost of the LG-0 at Gary's Classic Guitars.

Made contact, made an offer, all went well and it arrived a few days back.

The Caballero was as it was described … while certainly not mint by any assessment, it is in great condition. The only issue I have seen is that the D string tuner shaft is slightly bent, but I didn't notice until I decided to change strings. The tuner operates perfectly well. The nut width is the standard 1 11/16" for the time, the neck is full but not chunky or baseball bat like. The finish has the usual nicks and marks that 57 years would bring, some checking here and there on the finish. Some time is the distant past the original plastic bridge had been replaced with a genuine Gibson/Epiphone rosewood bridge. The saddle looks a little "rough" … whether it is original or not I have no idea but it functions perfectly.

The tortoise binding on the front is in perfect condition, having not shrunk or turned milky in any way.

The cowboy chord frets have slight marks , but basically of no consequence, given that the inside of the guitar is immaculate and the "E" logo is almost mint, I would say the guitar has hardly been played.

The guitar itself is very light and a joy to play.

The sound.
If one studies the options on the various models of small / parlour sized acoustics available from Gibson and Epiphone in the 60s, the LG2/3 (& B-25) and Cortez are the most resonant and lively, with the spruce top and X bracing. Likewise the LG-0 and Caballero are theoretically the least bright and resonant, with the ladder bracing dampening the sustain and the mahogany top not being as "bright" a tone wood as say spruce is.

This was basically confirmed when I played the Caballero and compared it to a B25 and to a Cortez. The high frequencies did not sing out and sustain and the bass thud of the X braced / spruce acoustics was way deeper than the Caballero. But that was only half the story.

What I, and everyone else who has played this caballero, has discovered is that this IS the sound of the old blues acoustic recordings. The mid range is dominant, the bass is there but not over powering or engulfing, the high frequencies are there but they did not sustain forever like my Cortez does. If you play any of the old 30s, 40s, 50s blues acoustic tracks the sound you hear is the sound of this guitar. Those old blues guys could not afford expensive guitars so they bought the cheapest model, the all mahogany models that had ladder bracing.

The guitarist I record with loves my acoustics, but did comment that this particular model was special... it just took you back to places you've never been but have only read about. It is all in the sound.

If you own a great J-45 or similar dreadnaught, you own a great parlour sized acoustic with spruce and mahogany that you love, let me recommend that you try the bottom rung of the models, a ladder braced all mahogany parlour sized acoustic. It will add another dimension to your sound.

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relaxing alternative to doing actual work ...

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BoringPostcards
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Re: something a little different .... sort of

Post by BoringPostcards » Sat Jul 27, 2019 4:30 am

I had that exact model when I was a teenager. It’s a really good sounding acoustic with a good feeling neck.
Mine was destroyed by an airline in 2002.
I brought it to Germany with me and it didn’t survive the flight back.
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Det er mig der holder træerne sammen.

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Re: something a little different .... sort of

Post by PJazzmaster » Sat Jul 27, 2019 5:25 am

beautiful guitar

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Matt_A
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Re: something a little different .... sort of

Post by Matt_A » Sat Jul 27, 2019 7:55 am

Nominated top 10 posts of 2019.

thank you.

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Re: something a little different .... sort of

Post by jthomas » Sat Jul 27, 2019 7:59 am

Congrats, Sook. It almost ignites a little acoustic gas. (Yes, there's a sophomoric joke in that, I realize)

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Re: something a little different .... sort of

Post by fuzzjunkie » Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:53 am

Excellent post, and I am not even interested in acoustics.

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Larry Mal
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Re: something a little different .... sort of

Post by Larry Mal » Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:21 am

OK, I'll take that advice, because I've been skipping the LG-0 and -1 models because of the ladder bracing, but maybe I should reconsider that.

It would be fun to have that old-time sound around, I do have that 2016 L-00 and it's a great guitar, but does sound a little more modern- which is what I wanted, but you know.
Back in those days, everyone knew that if you were talking about Destiny's Child, you were talking about Beyonce, LaTavia, LeToya, and Larry.

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Re: something a little different .... sort of

Post by wproffitt » Sat Jul 27, 2019 5:37 pm

Congratulations and thanks for posting this! I played an LG0 in a shop once and really had fun with it. I also noticed a caballero on Reverb the other day and felt drawn to it without knowing its Gibson equivalent. Hmmmm....this could be every bit as awesome as that Waterloo I’ve had my eye on.

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Re: something a little different .... sort of

Post by windmill » Sun Jul 28, 2019 12:04 am

    Picked up a Epiphone small bodied biscuit resonator in a shop once and from the first note it had that oldtime blues sound.

    Perhaps they have the secret to the sound, or perhaps it was all played on epiphones.

    HTH

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    Re: something a little different .... sort of

    Post by budda12ax7 » Wed Jul 31, 2019 1:02 pm

    That is beautiful

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