GIBSON INCORPORATED, KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN, CIRCA 1951
GIBSON INCORPORATED, KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN, CIRCA 1951
GIBSON INCORPORATED, KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN, CIRCA 1951
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GIBSON INCORPORATED, KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN, CIRCA 1951
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GIBSON INCORPORATED, KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN, CIRCA 1951

AN ACOUSTIC GUITAR, J-50

Details
GIBSON INCORPORATED, KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN, CIRCA 1951
AN ACOUSTIC GUITAR, J-50
Bearing the logo Gibson printed at the headstock and ink stamped 8136 22 internally, of a natural finish, together with a hard-shell case of the period
Length of back 20 ¼ in. (51.4 cm.)
GIBSON
Sale room notice
Mark Knopfler plans to donate no less than 25% of the total hammer price received, to be split equally between The British Red Cross Society (a charity registered in England and Wales with charity number 220949, Scotland with charity number SC037738, Isle of Man with charity number 0752, and Jersey with charity number 430), Brave Hearts of the North East (a charity registered in England and Wales with charity number 1006247) and the Tusk Trust Limited (a charity registered in England and Wales with charity number 1186533).

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Lot Essay


Mark Knopfler purchased this guitar through Pete Townshend’s late guitar technician Alan Rogan in the late 1980s. The Gibson J-50 must have impressed Knopfler, as up to this point he had abstained from adding a flat-top acoustic to his collection, telling Guitar Player magazine in September 1984, 'I still haven't got a flat-top wooden acoustic, because I've never found one that was as good as the two best flat-tops I ever played. One was a David Russell Young guitar that Steve Khan lent me, which was absolutely stunning. The other was a hand-built Greco that Rudy [Pensa] lent me. I used the David Russell Young on ‘Love Over Gold’, and the Greco on ‘Infidels’.' Having played borrowed flat-top acoustics on the first five Dire Straits albums, Knopfler would finally have his own as the band reassembled at London’s AIR Studios in November 1990 to record the sixth – On Every Street. Knopfler used the J-50 to record the tracks 'The Bug', which he called 'deliberately non-deep', and 'Iron Hand', which was the marked opposite. Released as the B-side to lead single Calling Elvis on 19 August 1991, 'Iron Hand' reflects on the Battle of Orgreave during the UK miner’s strike in 1984. 'I was shocked…', Knopfler told Richard Skinner in 1991, 'It just seemed to me to be a shameful situation, to charge a bunch of coal-miners like that with horses… There’s really got to be no place in our society, it seems to me, for anything like that.' Andrew Wild notes that ' 'Iron Hand' is a rare instance of a wooden steel-string acoustic guitar as the lead instrument on a Dire Straits record… The basic track was a live take. "I just sang and played. I wasn’t feeling too well." Knopfler said at the time.'

Following a gruelling 15-month world tour, the band went their separate ways for good and Knopfler began work on what would become his first solo album. In what must have been one of the first sessions for his 1996 album Golden Heart, Knopfler recorded the acoustic part for 'Nobody’s Got The Gun' on the J-50 at AIR Lyndhurst Hall in December 1993. According to then guitar tech Ron Eve, the guitar was often strung for Nashville tuning to play around with different sounds in the studio. Knopfler next employed the J-50 to record the title track of his evocative score for the 1997 British comedy-drama Metroland. Thereafter, it appears that the guitar was used on a number of recordings for album tracks that were never released, including 'Bonfire Night' – an outtake from Knopfler’s 2009 album Get Lucky, and the songs 'Redbud Tree' and 'Miles And Miles' – both outtakes from his 2012 album Privateering. Similarly unreleased at the time of writing, are the 20 or so musical numbers Knopfler wrote and recorded during a 2018 project to rewrite his acclaimed Local Hero soundtrack for the stage, four of which – 'A Barrell Of Crude', 'I Hope You Haven’t Changed On Me', 'A Cheeky Wee Pint' and 'Big Mac' – were recorded on this well-loved studio strummer. 'I didn’t think I’d ever be in that bag', Mark confided to Paul Sexton about the forthcoming musical in 2018. 'Film is instrumental you might get the occasional ditty, but it’s a different deal. This is like doing a more intense version of a Rubik’s Cube, because there are so many more variables. But I love the story, it moves me.'

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