This is a guitar that has really made the travels with me, and has certainly "been through the wars"! Many years ago, in the 1970s, I got this guitar for my girlfriend at the time, Janey Street, who has now become a Nashville songwriter. But back in those days, we lived in New York, and there was a folk-blues artist named Roy Bookbinder, who seemed to love to play nothing but J-185s, and who owned quite a few of them.
This was a rare feat, as Gibson made very few of these "down-sized" J-200s over about a 6-year period, and there have been very few survivors, for sure. Janey had always promised me that she'd sell it back to me if she ever needed the money, and around 1985 I got my wish. The guitar was in serious need of major repair, every brace was loose, the back was separating, the binding was falling off, and that was just the beginning! It almost seemed as if it was beyond repair, and I myself, had never even seen the back of a guitar actually develop an opening of about ¼ of an inch! Eventually, I got up the courage (and the money) to pay for such an extensive repair, and after many months, got it back in one piece again, and played it off and on for many years. There were still certain things about it that bothered me, such as how Janey had wacked that thing so hard from her strumming that the wood around one half of the soundhole was completely gone, and that she had put a major 15" scrape across the lower bout of the face!
In 2001, I decided to make a very personal all-acoustic album entitled "Drive it Home", in which I largely used this guitar for many of the pieces. In fact, I am holding it on the cover, sitting on the runningboard of my '36 Buick. This guitar, especially after making this album, seemed to take on an even deeper personal meaning to me, and unfortunately, started heading down that destructive path of falling apart, yet again! This time, while I was actually looking for another one to possibly "trade up" to, this one dealer, who proved to be incredibly selfless and thoughtful, said to me "it's such a great and rare guitar, why don't I refer you to MY repairman to help you get it fixed!" This was great, because he easily just could've taken me for a ride, and ended up selling 2 J-185s, but he just wanted to see me happy!
So, long story short, it is finally done, even the "missing wood" has been replace around the soundhole, every brace had to be re-glued, and lo and behold, the repair guy found out that there were actually THREE different size frets on the guitar…….so needless to say, it now has a fresh set of uniform ones!
I can't wait to get my hands on it once again, and to explore new territory with my old Gibson acoustic friend!