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WTB: 40s or early 50s J-45 (or J-50)


Tim Tim
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Tough market.  I’ve been looking for a mid to late 40s J45 for a while now, straight bridge preference, probably post banner headstock.  Player grade, the more playwear the better as long as it’s not a project guitar.  I’d consider early 50s or a good J-50 too.  Let me know if you know of something, thank you!  Tim 

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31 minutes ago, Tim Tim said:

Tough market.  I’ve been looking for a mid to late 40s J45 for a while now, straight bridge preference, probably post banner headstock.  Player grade, the more playwear the better as long as it’s not a project guitar.  I’d consider early 50s or a good J-50 too.  Let me know if you know of something, thank you!  Tim 

Yep, the used and especially the vintage market has gone nuts since CV-19.

You better have a deep wallet.

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I keep missing late 40s J-45s in the $6k-$6500 range lately.  A real beauty for $7200 that I balked at before it disappeared.  A beautiful ‘49 J-50 listed on AGF for $4400 this week and was gone in minutes.  There are deals out there, just not at the dealers as much.  If the right private deal presents itself, I’m a serious buyer and can offer references.  Fingers crossed!

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1 hour ago, Tim Tim said:

I keep missing late 40s J-45s in the $6k-$6500 range lately.  A real beauty for $7200 that I balked at before it disappeared.  A beautiful ‘49 J-50 listed on AGF for $4400 this week and was gone in minutes.  There are deals out there, just not at the dealers as much.  If the right private deal presents itself, I’m a serious buyer and can offer references.  Fingers crossed!

Post-banner headstock with straight bridge limits you to 1946 or sometime in 1947. Sometime in that period--maybe a year or two earlier-- the neck width at the nut went from 1 3/4" to 1 11/16", but still with a hefty neck.

Up through 1952 or thereabouts, the J-45 retained the slot-through bridge and tapered headstock, so other than the belly bridge  vs straight, the J-45s in the years 1947 through 1952 are pretty much the same guitar. The '46 will have a script non-banner headstock logo, but otherwise like the '47.

I love the Gibson slope-Js in this period, including the J-45, J-50, and SJ. 

I have two 1950 J-45s, and they ain't going' anywhere anytime soon. They are my favorites, even though one is far from original at this point in its life. The other was a one-owner guitar when I bought it, and is still all original except for tuner buttons, saddle, and bridge pins, which I changed.  Still have the originals, however. 

There are a few on Reverb from the years you are seeking, but they aren't giving them away. 

Keep looking, and good luck.

.

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20 minutes ago, j45nick said:

Post-banner headstock with straight bridge limits you to 1946 or sometime in 1947. Sometime in that period--maybe a year or two earlier-- the neck width at the nut went from 1 3/4" to 1 11/16", but still with a hefty neck.

Up through 1952 or thereabouts, the J-45 retained the slot-through bridge and tapered headstock, so other than the belly bridge  vs straight, the J-45s in the years 1947 through 1952 are pretty much the same guitar. The '46 will have a script non-banner headstock logo, but otherwise like the '47.

I love the Gibson slope-Js in this period, including the J-45, J-50, and SJ. 

I have two 1950 J-45s, and they ain't going' anywhere anytime soon. They are my favorites, even though one is far from original at this point in its life. The other was a one-owner guitar when I bought it, and is still all original except for tuner buttons, saddle, and bridge pins, which I changed.  Still have the originals, however. 

There are a few on Reverb from the years you are seeking, but they aren't giving them away. 

Keep looking, and good luck.

.

Hey, thanks for this!  Very helpful.  I did see those on reverb.  I hemmed and hawed over the only reasonably priced j45 that just sold.  It languished for 6 months at a good price, which made me wonder.   If it’s meant to be, I’ll find it.  Thanks!!

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I have always been one lucky S.O.B. when it comes to old Gibsons as I have never had to go out looking for them.   They just tend to show up when I am not even thinking about buying a guitar.    The last one to pop up was a 1942 J50.  This guitar had been rumored to exist locally for years but it was always a friend of a friend or something who had seen it and nobody seemed to be able to say where that was.   Then bam, out of the blue it appeared at a close friend's music shop about 10 minutes down the road.  This was the one which was meant to be and it has been happily living with me  ever since.

But my first thought is buying a 1940s Gibson sight unseen is not the best way to go.  The only thing consistent about them was they were inconsistent.   Most I have run across were really good sounding guitars  But I also have run across a small number which had as dead a soundboard as I have heard.  On the other hand I have run across some which were scary good.  

Another thought is if you are hooked on the idea of getting a later-1940s J45, want to save some money and can live without a truss rod there is the National 1155.  Gibson may have not been happy about building these but they had no choice as parent company CMI also distributed National.  You have to stick to those built in 1947 and 1948 though as after that National started slapping their own Stylist necks on Gibson bodies.  At least as of last year they could be had for well under $4K.  A '48 was supposed to be dropped off here for a test spin after it returned from the repair shop .  But as I have been waiting about a year  I am guessing it is not going to make an appearance.  No problem as it just means I do not have to make a decision.  

I also would not poo-poo 1955-1959 Gibsons.  The non-scalloped bracing Gibson went to was well thought out and added no more mass to the top than the earlier scalloped bracing.   I have found these guitars to be real punchy and quick sounding.  About the only Gibson I am still kicking myself for parting with was a certain 1956 SJ.  On the other hand I have never given a second thought to  having bid farewell to a Gibson built in 1946.  I ain't missing it at all.

Edited by zombywoof
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Hello Timtim , the mid 40`s to 1949  , j 45 -50 are indeed very special and coveted guitars. Quirky specs , evolving design , Excellent craftsmanship .

Built by some of Gibsons best !

Advice would be , have cash or charge  available  in hand ,when you see one which fits your shopping criteria  JUMP ON IT ! Don`t think twice and don`t dicker ...

Now i am talking about a deal reasonably priced one , reverb has come off it`s rocker ,,,,total rip off.

Be patient....... and perhaps ZW will pass along one of his . 

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I've had a few vintage ones. I got what I thought was great deals, all bought on line. Everyone had some issues that needed addressed and with the exception of one, I moved them on feeling they were just old guitars but nothing special. My lesson learned is don't buy unless you play it first or can return it. Don't fret about paying a little bit more for a good one. The one exception was a Banner LG1. It needed a little work but came out great. My latest vintage venture is a '52 J45 acquired in person through trading. It's had a somewhat rough life. You can see on the bridgeplate where someone had an adjustable saddle at one point, there's a couple repaired cracks and the bridge has been replaced. It needed a couple braces reglued. Plays and sound great. The downside is the saddle is as low as it can go (but action is low) so it may have a neck reset in the near future. 

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All good advice, thank you.  
 

I’ll likely have to buy online unless, by some miracle, something pops up on Craigslist or something.  As long as there’s a review period, I’m good with that.  
 

ZW, what are the necks like on those old Nationals (vs the fuller Gibson profile at the time)?
 

8 minutes ago, Leonard McCoy said:

Instead of pumping money into a vintage can of worms, and putting faith and dough into a luthier who is ill-equipped to do it justice, I would rather opt for a 1942 Banner J-45, or any of its brethren really, from the Acoustic Custom Shop.

hardware-500_500.png

So I actually have one of these newer Historics and really love it.  After years of being a “Martin guy,” Gibson really put some magic into these.  Now it’s my Number One!  But after getting bit by the vintage bug a few years ago, I’m eager to get the real deal in the house to play them side by side for a while.  Agreed, though, these are killer guitars!

Edited by Tim Tim
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7 minutes ago, Tim Tim said:

ZW, what are the necks like on those old Nationals (vs the fuller Gibson profile at the time)?
 

 

I have not had one of the Nationals in the house in a very long time and as I said the one I was waiting on has not made an appearance.  But from what  recall it has the standard Gibson 1 11/16" nut with a neck which while not as thick as an early Banner was fatter than what was slapped on 1950s Gibsons.  National applied the finish so a butt ugly brownburst on these.   1155s built from 1949 tend to go for less bucks because of the Stylist neck which was adjustable and built with  a wood veneer around a metal core.

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On 11/20/2021 at 9:41 AM, Leonard McCoy said:

Instead of pumping money into a vintage can of worms, and putting faith and dough into a luthier who is ill-equipped to do it justice, I would rather opt for a 1942 Banner J-45, or any of its brethren really, from the Acoustic Custom Shop.

hardware-500_500.png

Yep vintage doesn’t always mean good.

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Here is a post I made on the UMGF about Gibson Js 1942-1954.  Since it is easy, I thought I would just copy it here. 
 

Quote

 

I have several Gibsons from the period 1942-1954 -- 8, 6 of which are J-45s or SJs.  Back in the 1980s and 1990s when I acquired most of these there were many around to audition, and my observation in general was 1942-1946 was stronger than 1947-1949 and those were stronger than 1950-1954.  Dates are very approximate.  There was certainly some variation in tone, but they are generally similar.  Also the 1930s were much stronger than the 1940s and the drop off in power 1955 and later is generally very real, but even here there can be exceptions.  Here is a picture of most of my J slopes -- 1935-1954.

Here are a couple of "practice recordings" I made with my traditional singing daughter doing some of her late mother's songs.  You can see sort of how I like to use these guitars.




Please excuse the imperfections -- these were just off the cuff, but you can here the 53 J-45 well I think.

 

If you think this is not relevant, just please ignore it.

Best,

-Tom

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21 hours ago, tpbiii said:

Here is a post I made on the UMGF about Gibson Js 1942-1954.  Since it is easy, I thought I would just copy it here. 
 

If you think this is not relevant, just please ignore it.

Best,

-Tom

Thanks, Tom!

It's always a privilege and an honor to read (and listen to) and learn from your posts.

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2 hours ago, thegreatgumbino said:

Nice SJ. Beautiful condition from that photo, but more pictures would be nice. It looks like it might be in very slightly better condition than one of my 1950 J-45s.

Price is a bit hard to swallow without more and better pictures.  Surprised there is no FON. Sometimes they are very faded.

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On 11/23/2021 at 9:28 PM, j45nick said:

Nice SJ. Beautiful condition from that photo, but more pictures would be nice. It looks like it might be in very slightly better condition than one of my 1950 J-45s.

Price is a bit hard to swallow without more and better pictures.  Surprised there is no FON. Sometimes they are very faded.

Better price... https://www.retrofret.com/product.asp?ProductID=10146 

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29 minutes ago, j45nick said:

Nowhere near the same condition, however.

No doubt.  Don’t know all the details, but in this market, if there’s nothing major and it has “it,” not a crazy deal.  Out of my budget, part of why I’m looking for a J-45.

Edited by Tim Tim
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1 hour ago, Tim Tim said:

I thought so too, until I played a few…

This.

Plus, my vintage guitars have appreciated in value dramatically. Few modern guitars will do that (except for the work of the most in-demand luthiers--I've received offers exceeding 10 times what I paid for one of my modern guitars).

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