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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

James Taylor's Gibson J 50

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Valvey, Oct 1, 2011.

  1. Valvey

    Valvey Tele-Holic

    Apr 5, 2007
    morgantown wv
    Here JT goes into the storeroom to pull out the guitar that he recorded his biggest hits with. I always assumed he played these on a Martin, but it was a Gibson J 50:
    warrent and brookdalebill like this.

  2. chillman

    chillman Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 6, 2009
    Talyor is an odd duck, but I always enjoy seeing into the vaults of legendary musicians. I particularly liked that Olson parlor he brought out at the end. Nice find!

  3. spurgie79

    spurgie79 Tele-Holic

    Jun 25, 2010
    Warrensburg Missouri
    I'm not sure about that particular J-50 but I have seen a few old photos of him with a J-50 with the bat-wing pickgaurd. I have read that the late 60's Gibsons were exceptional. Then they ruined them by over-engineering in the early 70's.

  4. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Telefied Ad Free Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Austin, Tx
    I wonder what year the J50 was made.
    I could tell, even as a kid, that JT played a Gibson on his early songs.
    It's a great tone, full and warm, without overpowering the vocals.
    The Olson(s) sound incredible.

  5. blonde52

    blonde52 Tele-Meister

    Mar 18, 2003
    James Taylor the only way I like him; alone with his guitar. I never enjoyed his studio recordings, slickly produced and with other instruments in the mix.
    (No offense to anyone who likes 'em like that.)


  6. TeleTim911

    TeleTim911 Friend of Leo's

    Sep 28, 2009
    Calera, Alabama
    I was always a huge fan of his music, and blonde52, that's how I always liked him best too. I guess because my first guitar was an acoustic, and that's what I learned on. He is a fantastic picker IMO, and always has been, his sound is so smooth to me. Thanks for sharing the vids guys.

  7. yark14

    yark14 Friend of Leo's

    Aug 2, 2008
    Austin, TX. Formerly Iowa
    Yep. I'm primarily a finger picker. I mostly learned to James Taylor's stuff.

  8. bradpdx

    bradpdx Friend of Leo's

    Jul 16, 2006
    Portland, OR
    James Taylor was the guy who got me into guitar in the early 70s - I still have this great book that covers his first 2 albums (James Taylor (on Apple records) and Sweet Baby James). Happy Traum created killer tab that really showed how Taylor works, and I worked on that like fiend.

    Taylor claims that the old J-50 is just worn out - it certainly sounds bassy and thuddy compared with newer guitars and the Olsons he favors for many years.

    What I like about Taylor's guitar playing is what I like about all my heroes - you can tell it's him in an instant, no matter what he plays.

  9. doublee

    doublee Tele-Meister

    Mar 15, 2007
    The Hudson Valley
    Wow, guitars wear out? I have never heard that before...

  10. LeftyAl

    LeftyAl Friend of Leo's

    Mar 24, 2010
    You can also find him giving a few lessons on you tube .I think he's a fine person and great performer. I was still high school when he wrote "Fire and rain"

  11. tap4154

    tap4154 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Apr 14, 2009
    Southern California
    So I guess JT won't be endorsing Tonerite? :D

    I'm not much of a finger-picker, but always a fan of JT. I also love just him and his guitar.

  12. Blazer

    Blazer Doctor of Teleocity

    Dec 2, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Yeah a Gibson dreadnaught certainly sounds different from a Martin. It doesn't have that high end toppy brilliance, it sounds a little boxier, warmer, more in mid range.

    A good demonstration of the sound differences between a Martin and a Gibson (Okay an Epiphone but built by Gibson in Kalamazoo Michigan) is on the "Blackbird/ Yesterday" mash up on the Beatles' "Love" album.

    "Blackbird" was played on a Martin and "Yesterday" on an Epiphone Texan you can clearly hear when one goes into the other.

  13. Blazer

    Blazer Doctor of Teleocity

    Dec 2, 2003
    The Netherlands
    No I totally agree with you on that but I do have respect for him branching out, his duet with Mark Knopfler on the title track of "Sailing to Philadelphia" still gives me goosebumps. Or his duet with Ray Charles on "Sweet potato pie" is another example of him going electric and pulling it of.

    But to get back on "Fire and rain" I don't know if you're aware that Dutch Punk rock legend Herman Brood had covered that song but he took it to a whole different place, rather than Taylor's version being about coming home and learning about the death of a loved one, his version is about lying in the gutter all strung out and crying for help because he himself is dying.

    Brood gave that song a darkness that Taylor's original didn't have.

  14. Paul in Colorado

    Paul in Colorado Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Fort Collins, CO
    When I hear JT playing his Olson guitars I think they sound great, but every one I've ever played has been dead sounding. I've only played three, but I'm still waiting to hear what the fuss is all about.

  15. Cunningham26

    Cunningham26 Tele-Meister

    Jun 10, 2009
    Not the only guy to take a ride to Fametown on a J50. The first two albums (self titled and Freewheelin') were also recorded primarily with this '46


  16. Strat62

    Strat62 Friend of Leo's

    Feb 18, 2008
    Cambridge Vt.
    Thanks, Blazer for sharing that. I'd never heard that version; awesome what Brood did with it!

  17. pdxjoel

    pdxjoel Tele-Holic

    Nov 2, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I loved that little guitar the first time I saw him play it 15 or 20 years ago on the Live album. I love the little approving sigh he gives it before it goes back the in the case. I wonder what it's like to have instruments that have played such a pivotal role in your professional (and personal) life?

    I've been saying lately that I learned to play guitar from James Taylor, Paul Simon and Noel Stookey. I spent countless hours with their albums, especially their early ones, figuring out all that Travis-style picking and chord voicings.
    brookdalebill likes this.

  18. hekawi

    hekawi Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 29, 2003
    greenville, sc
    more of James with that Gibson:


  19. 1952stuff

    1952stuff TDPRI Member

    Apr 21, 2015
    I just got a 1963 J 50 in great condition. I wonder what year he used.
    His pick guard was definitely removed...i saw a video where he pulls out that J 50 and describes has a rosewood bridge...early 60'sused nylon bridges often...most guys swap them for wood replacements cause the nylon is hollow, the wood is flat so it has much more surface area contact with the guitar...I have no plans to sell mine ...more then one luthier has told me I'd lose like 30% of the price to a collector if i changed original equip and mine's 100% original. Taylor has a very interesting finger style technique...I'm surehe influenced my decision to get the Gibson....

    Attached Files:

    brookdalebill likes this.

  20. ac15

    ac15 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    May 9, 2005
    I don’t know if they do, but he firmly believes that, and I have heard him say that before.

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