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Will Ray's Bottom Feeder: Gibson Music City Jr.

Will Ray's Bottom Feeder: Gibson Music City Jr.
The twangiest Gibson? That’s what our columnist says about the Music City Jr., which he scored in a trade with a fellow guitar collector.

Trading for a P-90-powered prize.

I remember thumbing through a guitar magazine in 2013 and seeing a review of a new Gibson: the Music City Jr. It featured a light ash body, maple neck and fretboard, two P-90 pickups, and a converted Gibson Nighthawk bridge. But the most notable feature was a Glaser B-Bender system built into the guitar. They had me at hello with the P-90s and the maple fretboard, and the bender was just icing on the cake.

The star attraction on this guitar is the B-Bender.

I kept my eyes open on eBay, but one never showed up. Then a little while later, I saw a discussion on one of the guitar forums about the new Music City Jr. guitars. I chimed in about jonesing for one, and a few days later a forum member sent me a personal message saying that he had one and was wondering if I had anything to trade for it.

I quickly did my research on the price, which was around $1,500, and then looked through my guitar collection and found one of equal value and emailed him back. To my happy surprise, he agreed to the swap. We knew and trusted each other, so we shipped our respective guitars at the same time.

Wanna bend that B-string? Just push down on the guitar strap and the Glaser system is activated, giving you a fine pedal-steel-style whine.

Bottom Feeder Tip #289: Sometimes a guitar on your wish list is only a trade away. You just need to trade a guitar of equal value that you’re no longer attached to. But you must fully trust the other person if you trade long distance.

The guitar arrived in the very unique Western-styled hardshell case in which these guitars originally shipped from the factory. The instrument has a very cool look. The blonde ash body and blonde maple fretboard are visually balanced with a tortoiseshell pickguard and black P-90s.

The rocker bridge is also a key component of the Glaser B-Bender system. For the Music City Jr., it’s adapted from the underrated Gibson Nighthawk.

An odd thing: The two volume knobs are push-pull and activate some kind of coil splitting, which to this day I do not understand. Usually, you would pull up on the volume pot to activate the coil split and get a thinner, brighter sound. But on my guitar, when you pull up on either volume you get a muddier sound and less volume. Check out my MP3 and you’ll see what I mean. The down position seems like a more enhanced sound—brighter and louder. Weird!

Although Will Ray likes this model’s bender, he was sold on the guitar by its maple fretboard and P-90 pickups—a combination for which he has seemingly endless zeal.

But the star attraction on this guitar is the B-Bender. I’ve used Hipshot benders for so long that I was afraid I would have trouble bonding with the Glaser. But once you get the hang of it, it’s actually pretty easy and intuitive. You pull down on the forward strap just like you do with a Parsons-White bender, and the mechanism activates a rocker-bridge saddle to bend the B-string a whole-step up. It’s pretty easy and very effective.

So, is it a keeper? Yeah, I think it is. It’s probably the twangiest-sounding guitar that Gibson has ever produced. And the Glaser bender works like a charm.