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Description

FON 965. The Roy Smeck Stage Deluxe was dreadnought-sized Hawaiian guitar based closely on the Gibson Jumbo also introduced in 1934. It was fitted with a 12-fret neck, a 2”-plus wide raised nut, flat frets and tall saddle positioned parallel to the nut. It was finished in a dark sunburst with fire stripe guard just like the Jumbo and named after the “Wizard of the Strings”. A version with Rosewood back and sides was introduced in the same year and called Roy Smeck Radio Grande. The Radio Grande featured a natural top mostly (a few with kind of a cherry sunburst), fancier Nick Lucas-like fretboard inlays and a bound fingerboard. The retail price of the Radio Grande was exactly 2X the Stage Deluxe -- $100 compared with $50. The Stage Deluxe was pretty successful and the Radio Grande less so.

This special guitar was ordered by someone who wanted the big robust sound of the rosewood Radio Grande but preferred the dark sunburst look of the Stage Deluxe. The serial number would indicate 1934 but the features say 1935. The braces are tapered, not scalloped and the sound hole is the larger 3-3/4”. I suspect it started life as an RSRG and was pulled off the line to be finished as a RSSD at a later date. It’s a fusion of both Smeck models and may be the only one ever built. Whatever its origin story,it’s a genius guitar with a well-executed conversion from Hawaiian to standard play and one of the top three sounding Gibsons I’ve played.

While Norman Blake wasn’t the first to play a converted Smeck, he certainly accelerated the trend. The conversion process, when done correctly, is not trivial. The neck is reset, the fingerboard given a radius, the flat frets are replaced with standard T-frets, and the bridge slot filled and recut to handle a compensated saddle. The neck is often re-profiled. The conversion on this one is very capably done. The neck carve is minimal – the nut width is 1-7/8 with a very comfortable soft V (but a handful). The string spacing at the bridge is 2-3/8”. Proper fretboard radius, proper neck angle, original bridge. Bravo.

The guitar is a world traveler and has lots of good mojo and vibe. The back of the headstock is stamped “Made in USA” and a label on the inside reads “Made in the USA by Gibson, Inc Kalamazoo Michigan.” It originally shipped to South Africa and made its way to England where I sourced it. It comes in an old Calton that, with its stickers and chips, looks like the rig of a professional musician. There are bumps, checking and dings but it’s all honest and original. It has the tone of a much played, much loved guitar. It’s perhaps the Gibson that sounds the closest to a Martin rosewood guitar that I’ve played. A super special guitar.

SPECS

Top: Adirondack Spruce
Band & Sides: Rosewood
Bridge & Fretboard: Rosewood
Appointments: Nick Lucas style
Nut width: 1-7/8”
String spacing: 2-3/8”
Body width: 16”
Depth: 4-9/16”
Scale length: 24.9”
Case: Calton

Jet City Guitars, LLC

Jet City Guitars, LLC

1935
Gibson
Very Good
Sunburst
Hard
23 Years
Jet City Guitars, LLC
Jim Brown
206-669-7099
Seattle, WA
4:24 PM
By Appointment.

Payment is by personal check or money order. Payment in full, including shipping and insurance, is required before shipment. Personal checks must clear your bank. Please specify preferred shipping method when you order the instrument and we will calculate the exact price for you.

We represent the instruments as accurately as we can. All instruments are shipped on 48-hour approval. If there is damage as a result of the shipping, please contact us immediately and we will deal with the insurance company. If the instrument is damaged in transit from you to me, then you are responsible for dealing with the damage and insurance. For refunds, all instruments must be returned in the same condition as we shipped them in.

All instruments are shipped on 48-hour approval. If there is damage as a result of the shipping, please contact us immediately and we will deal with the insurance company. If the instrument is damaged in transit from you to me, then you are responsible for dealing with the damage and insurance. For refunds, all instruments must be returned in the same condition as we shipped them in.