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1949 Gibson J-50


MancJonny

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Here is a vintage Gibbo from circa 1949 - can't be certain of the date as no SN, just a FON:

Wb34vpdl.jpg

 

I've had it since 2012.

 

Can upload more pix / add details if anyone is interested.

Nice looking guitar. That's a decent vintage as well. I had a '50 J-50 for a while - fine sound, but someone had thinned the neck to the point that it was uncomfortable for me to play.

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Nice looking guitar. That's a decent vintage as well. I had a '50 J-50 for a while - fine sound, but someone had thinned the neck to the point that it was uncomfortable for me to play.

 

That is criminal.

 

More pix:

 

With the original Lifton case:

NXsojmCl.jpg

 

Note the almost translucent top - these guitars were very lightly constructed:

c58xyNIl.jpg

 

The reverse-belly bridge - not as neat-looking as the former rectangular ones, but a necessary expedient to prevent the bridge lifting:

Sz75EZzl.jpg

 

And closer-up here:

PkFrtMGl.jpg

 

A very nice mahogany back:

hZj1R4Fl.jpg

 

Pre- Summer 1950 tapered headstock profile:

XsJ3VvSl.jpg

 

Not quite legible here, but the back of the head says MADE IN THE USA - probably intended for export, although equally probably the guitar never saw Albion's shores until I acquired it:

rFcL7E9l.jpg

 

Headstock front:

Rf24kN8l.jpg

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You can date the guitar by the FON just as easily as using an SN. I love J-50s and own a 1942.

 

 

FON is an excellent route. Fact is, I'd rather have that than the serial most of the time.

 

Gentlemen, really, you cannot be serious.

 

Even if - and this is a BIG if - the FON was 100% legible (and mine, despite what Gruhn's indicated when they sold it to me, is not) - you still have to examine the guitar's other appointments to reach even an approximation of date built. These appointments would include (among other things) tapered / non-tapered headstock; script / non-script headstock logo; plain rectangular / reverse-belly or belly bridge. And, for other models, labels, inlays and the guitar's other features. As with many other vintage / collectible artefacts, you have to look at the whole thing, "in the round" (as they say) when dating guitars.

 

It is manifestly not the case that any of the above can be said to be as satisfactory a method of dating a guitar - ANY guitar - as a S/N. And, even then, with Gibson you have to take far more care than with (say) the Martin company, whose record-keeping always was light-years ahead of that of Gibson's and many other manufacturers. Even "serial-numbering" has to be approached with caution - a fool and his money are soon parted, as many entries on guitar forums will testify!

 

That said, I do like the fact that a lack of S/N on a Gibson gives it a "kudos-feel" of its age - it really does place it in a different, less homogenous, era.

 

But that's about the best that can be said for it.

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It is true the FONs were stamped early in the build process so cannot tell you when the guitar was completed or shipped. When I started playing Gibsons it was virtually impossible to know when the old ones were built unless a bill of sale was left in the case or something. There was no internet and no books authored by the many experts we have out there these days. I picked up my first Gibson back in the 1960s. It was an L-00 and that is about all I knew about it. All I could tell you was it was built in the 1930s. The year before your guitar was built Ted McCarty had stepped in and began reorganizing and retooling Gibson. It was the beginning of the modern Gibson company. Specs became more consistent. It is the transitional periods such as 1950/51 or 1955 that can throw you for a loop. It is not like Gibson changed the specs at the stroke of midnight January 1 and so you will run into guitars with a mish mosh of old and new features.

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It is not like Gibson changed the specs at the stroke of midnight January 1 and so you will run into guitars with a mish mosh of old and new features.

 

Absolutely bang-on correct zombywoof.

 

Every single well-researched book on the history of Gibson guitars arrives at that conclusion - most recently, John Thomas, Kalamazoo Gals (2012), especially pp.158-161.

 

Similar situation at Fender in the 50s. Stories abound about how the firm used to run out of supplies of (say) screws and so would use whatever they had in stock in the factory to complete production. (Can't hold-up production, can we?!).

 

Now, move forwards 50+ years and a collector viewing (say) a Telecaster may notice the "discrepancy" in the screws used on a piece he was thinking of buying and so suspect (not unreasonably) that the guitar had been tampered with or was not all-original, etc. Nightmare / minefield, this vintage guitar business.

 

Conclusion: check all data - every little thing - in the round. Caveat Emptor!

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