Re: Jim playing an archtop guitar
Posted by Larry Jordan on February 3, 2015, 12:12 am, in reply to "Jim playing an archtop guitar"
I believe Jim is playing a Gibson ES 125, which was an archtop electric guitar and it may be the "T" model which had the florentine cutaway. (It looks like it in that photo). But that was actually Leo Jackson's guitar, which Leo only played up to about 1956. (This studio photo stems from the 1955-56 period). After that, Leo got a Fender Stratocaster, which he used until July, 1959 when he got out the Army and resumed working for Jim. Then Leo traded the Stratocaster for a Fender Jazzmaster. |
For most of Jim's career he played an acoustic guitar, and you can see him doing this in the Oslo concert featured in the DVD I helped produce, "The Great Jim Reeves Anthology" 2014 edition, which has 30 live video performances by Jim. (Order it below).
"Wildwood Flower" was about the only song Jim could play the lead on and he practiced and practiced to be able to do it.
Jim was, however, an excellent rhythm guitar player and prided himself on being able to play "bar chords," in other words making chords without "open strings." He even played on the sessions of other artists, including Johnny Horton.
You may also have noticed something very unusual about the way Jim played guitar. As I describe in my book, he used a saxophone strap around his neck, and would loop it underneath his guitar and hook it to the bottom part of the sound hole. Thus the instrument rested on this strap. He could hook and unhook this so quickly you wouldn't notice it, and instead of letting it dangle in front of him when he wasn't playing guitar, he would put the loose end in the breast pocket of his jacket. Then when he'd get ready to play again, he'd take it out and fasten it to the underside of the guitar again.
The reason Jim did not like to use a conventional guitar strap is because of the fact that when he was a young man still living in Texas, he was involved in a car accident in which he broke his collar bone. (He hit a horse in the road and the horse's head came through the windshield and injured Reeves). Then, when he was at the doctor's having it set, Jim fell off the stool and re-broke it. So it never completely healed properly and there was a little knob on one side of his collarbone.
Edith Grace, one of his first serious girlfriends, told me how when she'd rest her head against his chest she could feel that little knob.
This injury bothered him the rest of his life. As Ted Staples, his close Texas buddy confirms, Jim also had a little bit of a limp from the leg injury he sustained on the baseball diamond, when he slipped and hurt the sciatic nerve in his leg. It ended his baseball career.
So despite the beautiful music he created, Jim had some physical ailments. These included ulcers that plagued him so badly he said he'd give a million dollars to get rid of them, an athlete's heart, nose bleeds in the later years of his life, a tendency to get what he called "that dreaded bronchial flu," ear aches and high blood pressure. He would get very sick from the shots he had to take in order to go on his foreign tours, and they would leave him bedridden. He also sometimes suffered while on the road, once performing with a 102 fever. Leo Jackson remembered a time or two Reeves got laryngitis but managed to perform anyway. And you know that the weekend before he got killed, he was suffering from a bad cold and went to the doctor on Friday, July 24th, and got a prescription for cough syrup. (I have the bottle with part of the syrup still in it).
Of course, the fans don't know all those things when they listen to the man sing. His voice was out of this world and it sounded so calm and in control...
Gee, you only asked about the guitar and I went off and did a dissertation! Hope I didn't bore you.
Link: NEW JIM REEVES DVD