The Dove has landed here at the Pawn Shop Prize, a Gibson 1963 Dove, that is. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s a closet kept or a road worn Gibson acoustic guitar, it is always a cool find in a pawn shop. Most of the time the closet kept is more desirable and can bring more money on the resale market, but there is something about a road worn guitar that is in need of some TLC to bring it back to life. This Gibson Dove serial number dates it back to 1963, made in Kalamazoo Michigan, which is only the second year the Dove was in production. In 1960 Gibson released the Humming Bird, followed by the Dove in 1962. Both are Square Shouldered dreadnought guitars similar to a Martin D style dreadnought. The coolest feature on both the Dove and the Humming Bird is their engraved pickguards that makes them real works of art. The Dove has a solid spruce top with solid maple back and sides. Along with its two dove inlays on the bridge, the double parallelogram inlays on a rosewood fretboard and the dove on the pickguard are mother of pearl, a touch of class I would say. The bridge is a tune-o-matic bridge, which at the time it seemed like an improvement but it hurt the overall tone and volume of the guitar. This bridge idea was short lived and changed for a more traditional bridge.
This particular Dove was far from being closet kept. You could tell that the previous owner had a lot of time with her making music that left a few scars. The mahogany neck shows wear on the back around the third fret, so lots of open chords were played here. The fretboard and frets are in surprisingly good shape, along with the original Nickel Kluson waffle back tuners and the original white Dove inlay truss rod cove. The cream binding is intact and has aged nicely, though the guitar has a few spider veins in the natural finish. But for a guitar that over 50 years old, that’s not bad at all. On the down side is that in the early 60’s the internal bracing of the guitar was kind of weak, leading to some internal repairs and a bridge reset being needed on the guitar. In 1968 Gibson changed to a heavier internal bracing that made the guitar sturdier, but some say this affected the tone of the guitar. As wood matures with age the tone gets richer. On a guitar of this age the real character of the tone will get better, however that is still in the ears of the player for what is appealing to them.
A plus for finding a guitar from 1963 is that it has the original case, and this one does. Having the original hardware, pickguard, truss rod cover, and the original case will add value to any guitar for the collector. Even if the guitar has had a few repairs to maintain the guitars integrity, it shows someone cared.
The Gibson was first produced in 1962 and is still in production today with a few really nice limited editions on the market running about $4000. My last check on vintage pricing for a 1963 Dove was from $5000 to $7000. Here is the thing: Your average pawn shop is not going to pay that much for a guitar like this. A shop that cares will put the money into the repairs that are needed to better the guitar and increase the value that will reflect in the selling price. Don’t be afraid to negotiate with the salesman, especially if the guitar is in need of repair and it’s an undertaking you are willing to take.