I'm resetting the neck on this Gibson guitar. It has an un-common dovetail joint neck.

There is a sticker inside that says J-4, and that is also marked on the dovetail joint.

Serial # is 70908132, faintly visible under the finish on back side of peghead. It is also stamped made in USA on back of peghead.

Maybe a 1970's experimental or prototype instrument? Anyone have any info. on this instrument?

Pictures are attached

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Guitar Info

Your guitar was made at the
Kalamazoo Plant, USA
March 31st, 1978
Production Number: 132


Hey jb, I am a bit of a Gibson historian and I will tell you what I know. I am not familiar with a J4 model but would suggest that it is a J40 built in 70-72 period. This is what most call the Norlin-era, in reference to the new acquisition of Gibson from CMI. This period is not a golden-era for Gibson because of all the "structural changes"  that were brought on by the the newest "bean counters" There were several oddities produced during this period also.

A lot of changes were made in the hopes of deterring warranty work in the future.....AND to save a few bucks in the manufacturing process. Some examples are neck volutes, double-X-braced tops and possibly the pinless bridge as this guitar appears to have. Is the back braceless and form-molded?.

I believe the dovetail joint on this guitar is what is known as a "paddle joint" and from what some say.....a real PIA to work on.

Is there not a label inside the guitar? I don,t have access to my reference books at this time so am going by memory.

Hope this helps. Would love to hear and see the progress and I am sure the more knowledgeable gurus will way in with "hands-on" experience!


Thanks for the info. so far.

There is no label on the inside just the small red 3/4" round sticker with J-4 typed.

It is double X braced, with a bridge plate. Bridge is pinless.

The back and sides are maple, the back is arched with no back bracing.

The neck came off easily with steam. had to drill the steam holes deeper to go through the added extension under the fretboard.


I think that Robbie's findings may be correct about being a '78 ... I didn't detect that the serial # was 8 digits. Also, I found the J40 in a vintage price guide. Says it was built from '71 to '82.

Another theory is that it may have been a personal "employee-built" guitar explaining the J4 and lack of Gibson label.

Especially since the J40 is described as having mahogany B&S...a pic of the 'period' label...



Tell me about the bridge.  I'm not sure I've ever seen one like that.

Me too! I would like to see a close-up pic. Are those individual string saddles? I have never seen a Gibson bridge 'quite' like that....despite seeing pics of several 70's abnormal bridge types. This indeed seems to be a mystery Gibson.

The bridge is pinless, not bolted only glued. The individual saddles are basically a round metal plug inset into the bridge. The top of each saddle looks like a short fret, where the strings ride over.



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