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J-45 ? Circa 1953 info please. Bought from NYC Pawn Shop In Late 1967


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I love this guitar but unfortunately I can't play it much anymore.  The photos show the condition, which is very close to how I found it, including the Grover pegs and the case. 

Obviously some very energetic pickers have played it.  NYC was a hotbed of folk music in those days and I have wondered who might have owned it before I found it, and why it had been pawned.    I'd appreciate any recommendations for historians who might be able to help me. Thanks for any information and insights.



Edited by PMS
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Here's some info. Looks to be a 1954

Look at reverb for prices of sold guitars.

They group 1946 through 1955.

Condition is everything







    • Factory Order Numbers with a Letter, 1952 to 1961.
      This letter preceeds the batch number within the Factory Order Number (FON), and denotes the year of manufacturer. Remember, the batch number is the first 4 digits of the FON, followed by a 1 or 2 digit sequence number (within the batch). This letter should be before the FON batch number. This was used on archtop models (ink stamped inside treble F-hole) and on flat top models (ink stamped on the neck block), from 1952 to 1961:
  • Year    Letter
    ----    ------
    1952    Z
    1953    Y
    1954    X
    1955    W
    1956    V
    1957    U
    1958    T
    1959    S
    1960    R
    1961    Q
  • J-45 and J-45ADJ Flattop
    Available: 1942 to present
    Collectibility Rating: war time 1940's models: B+. Late 1940s/early 1950's models: B. Late 1950s model: B-. 1960's models: C-.
  • 1942 Gibson J-45 introduction specs: 16" wide, round shoulder dreadnought shape, dark brown mahogany back and sides and neck (J-35 had chocolate or dark red colored back/sides/neck), solid spruce top with scalloped X-bracing, gold silkscreened peghead logo (J-35 has white logo), slight inward "bend" of the peghead sides (J-35 has straight peghead sides), teardrop "firestripe" pickguard (J-35 had a pickguard which followed the body contours), 19 frets on the neck, black bridge pins, 2 pearl dots on rectangle bridge, three layer w/b/w top and back binding, tall and thin back braces, 24.75" scale, 19 frets total on fingerboard. dot fingerboard inlays, "Only a Gibson is Good Enough" gold banner logo, brown sunburst finish. Late 1942 Gibson J-45 specs: a tortoise-shell teardrop pickguard which replaced the firestripe material, single bound top and back, maple neck with a single walnut stripe down the center (3 piece neck).
  • 1943 J-45 specs: maple neck with two walnut stripes down the center (5 piece neck), most with no truss rod (war time metal shortage), poplar neck block (instead of mahogany). Also during 1943 some J-45 models had non-bookmatched two piece spruce tops, and even some with four piece spruce tops (four piece top J-45s still sound great, though they don't look good). Even others had a black (skunk) strip down the middle of the top. Since Spruce was a restricted war-time material, many J-45 models from 1943 have a mahogany top instead of spruce.
  • 1944 J-45 specs: most J-45s now have a truss rod, still some J-45s made with mahogany top.
  • 1945 J-45 specs: some J-45s have laminated maple back and sides finished in a dark mahogany stain.
  • 1946 J-45 specs: back, sides, neck again use mahogany, mahogany neck blocks also again used, and the banner "only a gibson is good enough" logo is gone (but the old style "gibson" script gold logo is retained).
  • 1947 J-45 specs: the J-45's blond brother, the J-50, is introduced. The J-50 is identical to the J-45, except the top is natural instead of sunburst.
  • 1948 J-45 specs: newer post-war gold "Gibson" block logo.
  • 1950 J-45 specs: Upper belly bridge (belly towards sound hole) with white pins replaces the rectangle bridge, fabric side supports discontinued, triple bound top.
  • 1952 J-45 specs: fabric side supports are no longer used.
  • 1955 J-45 specs: shorter unscalloped top braces replaces the taller scalloped braces, larger pickguard with point at upper bout, an additional 20th fret added to the fingerboard.
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Thank you very much Dave F.  This is informative info!  I would love to be able to have DNA tests run on this guitar.  I can say for certain that Linda Rondstadt played it once because I brought the guitar when I visited her. That was in another lifetime.

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My wife knew her brother Mike and  I knew one of Linda's cousins.   I'm super curious who might have owned the guitar before I found it in that Greenwich Village pawn shop.  That's a mystery which may never be solved.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

@jgdm "It's certainly seen a lot of action. "



It has indeed.  I wonder if some expert could analyze the picking patterns.  I figured it probably was played by a mad flat picker.  🙂

Edited by PMS
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