In 1968, the Gibson Johnny Smith was the absolute top of the line guitar they were producing, being made by the best craftsman in the shop. The Johnny Smith was built to its namesake's specifications, largely based on his D'Angelico archtop. The top is carved from choice spruce and X-braced, to allow for an even tone throughout with a more balanced sound than the mid-range focus of parallel braced archtops. The back is carved, figured maple, and the sides are solid, figured maple. The neck is 5 ply with 3 main pieces of figured maple with 2 thin walnut strips with a solid ebony fingerboard, decorated with Super 400 style inlays.
This example is one of the earlier builds and has a better acoustic tone than most of the Johnny Smiths I've had the opportunity to play. As with most, the amplified sound is fantastic through the neck mounted original Johnny Smith mini floating humbucker. The neck is straight and the truss rod functions normally. The original low wide frets aren't going to be to everyone's taste, but they have a good amount of life left in them, and the guitar plays beautifully.
The finish is original and shows some checking and scratches, but the body is completely free of cracks or separations. The braces all appear in place. There are no loose braces. The bridge has the orignal base with a replacement, compensated ebony saddle. The bridge has plenty of room either up or down for adjustment. The tailpiece shows little wear with most of its gold plating still present and the "Johnny Smith" medallion plaque still in place. The tuners are original and function well. The truss rod cover appears to be a replacement. The pickguard is a newer reproduction with the orignal Johnny Smith pickup and wiring harness. The harness includes the original volume potentiometer in the dust cover can and the 1/8" jack mounted on the pickguard. The guitar comes with a 1/8" to 1/4" cable. The back shows finish damage which appears to have been caused by the original celluloid pickguard being placed under the guitar in the case while degrading and releasing nitric acid. Only the finish was damaged. The wood is fine. It could certainly be refinished, but will always be a part of the guitars history. There was also a side mounted jack in the guitar at one time. The hold was professionally filled, and looks good enough that it wouldn't be noticed at a passing glance, but is certainly visible (see pic).
The guitar comes with a replacement, good quality, Alvarez hard shell case which honestly is a much better fit for the guitar than an original of the era. While not as valuable to the collector, this case is more protective in transit.
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