The Gibson name has graced the most innovative and revolutionary acoustic guitars of our time—the Super Jumbos, the J-45, the Hummingbird, the Dove. There is no mistaking the classic, mother-of-pearl logo, pressed onto the face of the headstock. It represents more than a century of originality and excellence. There is simply no equal.
- Gibson Logo
Tapered Dovetail Neck Joint
The dovetail neck joint is one of the oldest—and best—ways of securely joining the neck to the body of a guitar. It is also a complex and expensive neck joint to build, but the result is a tight, locking connection that supports the neck at the proper neck-pitch angle, allowing the body and neck to become one solid piece of resonating wood, with no metal to impede vibration. This process is done entirely by hand, requiring patience and skill.
- Tapered Dovetail Neck Joint
The top of many “flat-top” guitars are under a lot of stress from the pull of the strings, which can eventually compromise the top. So, while most acoustic guitars are true “flat-top” guitars, all of the acoustics produced by Gibson in Bozeman, Montana have a radiused, or “tuned” top. Instead of being perfectly flat, a radiused or “tuned” top is raised slightly, and a special instrument is used to shape the top braces to the radius of the top. This process adds tension and strengthens the top, creating a less stressful joint where the top meets the sides and reducing the stresses of string pull. It also results in a “speaker cone” effect that maximizes sound projection, adding a significant boost to mid-range levels for a more balanced acoustic tone.
- Radius Top
In general, a guitar’s binding serves as a cosmetic feature, adding a subtle elegance to any Gibson acoustic while hiding the joints between the top, back, and sides, and helping to protect the guitar’s body from any nicks or dings. But to see the process of putting the binding on a Gibson acoustic is to really appreciate the effort and attention put into each instrument. After the body has been glued together, the excess from the top and back are trimmed off and a groove is cut for the binding. The binding is then glued on and held on to the body using tape, and hung to dry. When the tape comes off, any excess glue is removed and the body is moved into the next phase of production. It has been done the same way for over 100 years, and is a fundamental part of Gibson Acoustic’s rich guitar-making history.
- Body Binding
Applying a nitrocellulose finish to any Gibson acoustic guitar — including the Elvis Costello Limited — is one of the most labor-intensive elements of the guitar-making process. Unlike the polyurethane finishes used by many guitar manufacturers, a nitrocellulose lacquer finish is porous when cured, allowing the wood to naturally “breathe” and mature. Microscopically thin, the finish on a Gibson acoustic guitar first requires seven main coats of nitrocellulose lacquer. After drying overnight, the initial seven coats are then level sanded and given two additional coats. Left to dry for five additional days, the finish is then wet sanded and buffed to its final glass-like sheen. The time-consuming nature of applying a nitro finish has been employed ever since the first Gibson guitar was swathed with lacquer back in 1894. Why? For starters, a nitro finish means there is less interference with the natural vibration of the instrument, allowing for a purer tone. It’s also a softer finish, making it easily repairable. You can touch up a scratch or ding on a nitro finish, but you can’t do the same on a poly finish.
- Nitrocellulose Finish