Gibson Music City Jr. with B-Bender

Hey, I'm spreading the word about my latest acquisition, a new-for-2013 Gibson Music City Jr. with B-Bender.

This guitar usually turns heads or inspires double-takes, which is understandable. I agree with a lot of the comments I've seen online (and heard in person); the guitar does look like an "earthy" Gibson Les Paul Special Single Cut VOS).

But it's really something new for Gibson; it's their first foray into the world of production-line guitars factory-installed with factory-installed B-benders. In this case, it's a lightweight, Joe Glaser-designed bender.

The B-Bender, which was invented by Gene Parsons and installed in Clarence White's Telecaster in the late Sixties, gave guitarists the ability to imitate pedal-steel bends mid-flow on a standard guitar. In the early Eighties, Glaser developed a new-style B-Bender that was installed at his “shop of the stars” in Nashville.

The bender in the Music City Jr. has a new look, voice and feel — and the guitar has two fat, driving P90s (with coil-tap switching). The guitar has a 24 ¾-inch scale length, a glued-in maple neck, a 12-inch fingerboard radius and a 1 11/16-inch neck width at the nut.

The body, which is ash, features through-body stringing courtesy of a converted Gibson Nighthawk bridge.

Legendary for its gutsy lows, punchy midrange, and silky highs, in addition to its comfortably light weight, ash has been acclaimed as a tone wood for more than six decades. The Music City Jr. with B-Bender begins with a body of solid Grade-A ash, which is crafted in the shape of the single-cutaway Les Paul Jr. and Special, and minimally routed to accept the lightweight bender mechanism and through-body bridge. The guitar is in Antique Natural vintage gloss, to beautifully show of the distinctive grain of this wood. A distinctive tortoiseshell patterned pick guard beautifully tops off the visuals. A solid maple neck is glued in in traditional Gibson style, carved to a fast, slim ’60s profile that measures .800” deep at the 1st fret and .875” at the 12th, and topped with a Grade-A fingerboard with 22 medium-jumbo frets and black dot position markers. The secret weapon in the package is a lightweight B-Bender mechanism hidden within the back of the guitar’s body: put downward pressure on the guitar so the strap pulls the neck-end strap button upward, and an internal lever-and-gear system bends your B string anywhere from a half tone to a full tone sharp, as determined by the player. With a few simple changes it can be a G-Bender, and a set of high-quality Grover™ tuners make tune-ups a breeze.

While the stirring, energetic B-Bender sound has long been a classic element of “hot licks” country playing, you’ve never heard it with a tone as thick and meaty as the Music City Jr. with B-Bender delivers. Two of Gibson’s fat, growling P-90s yield a sound beloved by guitarists since these iconic pickups first hit the scene in the pre-rock’n’roll days, but this guitar holds further surprises: lift the push-pull switch on either pickup’s volume knob to access a coil tap that bleeds off a portion of the P-90’s coil windings, accessing a brighter, snappier tone more reminiscent of thinner single-coil styles. Between this switching, the independent volume and master tone controls, and Gibson’s classic three-way pickup switch, the Music City Jr. with B-Bender is packed with a tonal versatility that belies its outward simplicity, primed for blues, rock, jazz, or—yep—country. Check it out now at your authorized Gibson Dealer, and bring a new breed of twang to your arsenal.

  • Solid grade-A Ash body with high-gloss nitrocellulose finish
  • Solid maple neck with slim '60s profile
  • Maple fingerboard with acrylic dot inlays
  • Pair of split-coil P90 pickups in the neck and bridge positions
  • Built-in lightweight B-Bender system with adjustable bridge
  • Grover kidney tuners with 14:01 tuning ration

Setting up a Gibson USA Music City Jr. with B-Bender

Setting up a Gibson USA Music City Jr. with B-Bender

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Damian Fanelli
Editor-in-Chief, Guitar World

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas, was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron, a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums. He now plays in two NYC-area bands.