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Trying to find what year this old Gibson acoustic  is. It was my fathers. I believe it's either 1930's or 40's.  Any suggestions?

Sunburst, serial number 331. Possibly a J45?

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Without a photo, there's little we can do to help you. Gibson serial numbers are inconsistent, but with a decent photo or photos, we can identify the model and then reasonably pin down the year by combining the serial number with the model identification.

No photo, no can help when it comes to Gibson identification.

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I am NO expert on vintage Gibson acoustics, but that looks like a J-45 to me.  I would have no idea what year it might be.

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I am guessing the entire FON is not legible.  19 frets,  rectangular long saddle bridge, block letter logo - the guitar is a 1947 to 1954 J45.  

Edited by zombywoof

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This is an early post-war J-45, probably from late 1946 through sometime in 1948. Sometime in late 1946 or early 1947, the change was made from the earlier script logo to the block Gibson logo you see here. Sometime in 1948, the rectangular bridge you see here was replaced with the belly-up bridge still used on the J-45.

A factory order number should be (but is not always) ink-stamped on the neck block, visible inside the guitar by looking inside the soundhole towards the neck.

This ink-stamped number is not always perfectly clear, and the use of a small flashlight may help see it if it is faded. This number is generally three or four digits, followed by a space, followed by one or two more digits. Sometimes the digits after the space were written in pencil, and have faded out.

If the number stamped on the neck block is 331, that would suggest 1946.

While you're looking inside, check to see if there are narrow vertical pieces of black cloth glued to the sides at regular intervals. These cloth stays were replaced with vertical thin strips of wood around 1948, and are another age indicator.

Based on the obvious features, however, this dating is reasonably straightforward. From what I can see, the guitar looks completely original, and should be kept that way. Resist the urge to change anything. The tuner buttons are a bit shrunken, but still usable.

J-45s from this period are my favorite guitars. I have a couple of them, one that I've owned for more than 50 years. There are a number of us here who have 1947-1954 J45s. 

Edited by j45nick
spelling correction

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17 minutes ago, j45nick said:

This is an early post-war J-45, probably from late 1946 through sometime in 1948. Sometime in late 1946 or early 1947, the change was made from the earlier script logo to the block Gibson logo you see here. Sometime in 1948, the rectangular bridge you see here was replaced with the belly-up bridge still used on the J-45.

 

If the number stamped on the neck block is 331, that would suggest 1946.

 

 Good point on the bridge.  As far as I know  1946 Gibsons rarely had FONs.  A 3XX FON though would indicate a guitar built in the 1930s.  My '32 L1 has an 2XX FON.  If I could find my copy of Spann's Guide I could see what guitar had the 331 FON.

Edited by zombywoof

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2 hours ago, zombywoof said:

 Good point on the bridge.  As far as I know  1946 Gibsons rarely had FONs.  A 3XX FON though would indicate a guitar built in the 1930s.  My '32 L1 has an 2XX FON.  If I could find my copy of Spann's Guide I could see what guitar had the 331 FON.

There have been what may be some updates to the Gibson dating system used in the website linked here, which suggest the possibility of some three-digit post-war FONs in 1946 and 1947. In 1947, for example, it says FONs might range from 700 to 1000.  They do not list any 1946 FONs, but since this guitar pretty clearly dates between 1946 and 1948 based on physical characteristics, we can infer that there could be some three-digit numbers in the 300s in 1946 as well as in the 1930s.

We are talking about Gibson after all...

This sort of fills in a blank in the previous FON timeline, although the FON in this instance is unusual, and certainly not definitive. In this case, the photos were definitive, and it was just a matter of finding a possible explanation for  the odd FON. It is the first three-digit FON I have seen on a guitar that dates to the post-war period. 

I did have a 1947 L-7 that had a three-digit serial number (not FON) of A-235.

I was stymied about the three-digit serial number (actually an FON) the OP listed above until I found the updated info.

vintage guitar info

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2 hours ago, Danh2702 said:

Thanks everyone for all of your help. Can't seem to find anyone in Charlotte to appraise and not sure I'd trust them if I could.

See if you can get an appraisal From Gruhn Guitars in Nashville.

Do you want an appraisal for insurance purposes, or to figure out what to try to sell it for? Check Reverb for listing prices of 1946-1954 J-45s that appear to be in similar condition. Remember, those are asking prices.

Based solely on what you can see in the one photo--and having no knowledge of work needed--you would say approximate fair market value is $4k-$5k if it need no substantive work, which is unlikely.

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32 minutes ago, Danh2702 said:

HI Nick. It was more curiosity than anything else. I should probably have it under my homeowners policy thogh...

Read your policy carefully. Many of them set limits on the value of individual  items such as musical instruments, art, jewelry. If you have a single higher-value item, you might be ok, but if you have a half dozen vintage guitars or Rolex watches, you may need additional cover, either as a rider on your main policy or a separate high-value items policy.

People here might weigh in on what policies they have on their guitars.

Regarding your guitar,  you might want to get its condition evaluated (not financially, but in terms of playability and structure) by someone who specializes in vintage guitars. If you are in the Charlotte, NC area, there may be people on this forum who can weigh in. Be prepared to drive a few hours to deliver a guitar rather than shipping it. I drive 3 1/2 hours each way to deliver a guitar to my repair guy.

As I said before, a guitar like yours, which appears to be all-original, should only go to an acknowledged expert in good vintage guitars. When I bought an all-original one-owner J-45 of an age similar to yours last year, the guy who works on my guitars said it was a good thing no one had ever attempted any repairs, as he spends a lot of time un-doing previous "repairs" that were not properly done. (He's in northern Florida, so is not a particularly good candidate for work on your guitar. He also has about a six-month backlog on repairs right now.)

Chances are high that your guitar needs at least some of the repairs listed in my earlier reply to you. That's a list of likely repairs on old Gibsons developed over the years by a friend who is a vintage dealer. It's completely normal on a 70-year-old guitar. Some of these repairs are essential to protect the structure of the guitar, others are to enhance playability.

We've had a number of older "family" guitars show up here recently. Guitars with a known history and a long family connection are special, no matter what their value.

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15 hours ago, j45nick said:

There have been what may be some updates to the Gibson dating system used in the website linked here, which suggest the possibility of some three-digit post-war FONs in 1946 and 1947. In 1947, for example, it says FONs might range from 700 to 1000.  They do not list any 1946 FONs, but since this guitar pretty clearly dates between 1946 and 1948 based on physical characteristics, we can infer that there could be some three-digit numbers in the 300s in 1946 as well as in the 1930s.

We are talking about Gibson after all...

This sort of fills in a blank in the previous FON timeline, although the FON in this instance is unusual, and certainly not definitive. In this case, the photos were definitive, and it was just a matter of finding a possible explanation for  the odd FON. It is the first three-digit FON I have seen on a guitar that dates to the post-war period. 

I did have a 1947 L-7 that had a three-digit serial number (not FON) of A-235.

I was stymied about the three-digit serial number (actually an FON) the OP listed above until I found the updated info.

vintage guitar info

 

I am still not seeing anything on that site to indicate an FON with  3XX FON being a guitar built in  1946 or 1947.  Regarding your L7 the seral number does have an "A" prefix.    My wife's 1960 J200 has an "A" serial number on the label but also an FON  on the neck block with an "R" prefix.  

In the end though it is, of course, impossible to determine the exact time changes occurred.  I know that JT has stated his belief that the block letter logo  appeared earlier than most believe which I interpret to mean prior to 1947.  

What I  would use to date the guitar to pre-1948 would be the nut width and the tuners.  If it has a 1 /34" nut and open gear riveted cog Kluson tuners you know it left the factory before 1948.   But the etiquette would still be to say it is a 1946/47 guitar.   I know there supposedly other features you an use such as whether the bridge is lacquered, bridge plate thickness,  or what the material the position markers are made of to help establish a build date.  But it is all way over my head.  

Edited by zombywoof

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