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1942 J-45N/J-50


zombywoof

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I was keeping this one close to vest until I got it fixed up but figured what the heck. This is my 1942 natural top J-45. Gibson made these for only one month - July 1942 so they are rare as hen's teeth. It was far from pristine condition when I stumbled across it. The poor little thing has a couple of cracks in the back, a replaced pickguard and tuners and somewhere along the way some wingnut slapped a couple of bolts into the ends of the bridge. It also looks to me like there is some overspray on it.

 

What was amazing though is I could not have had it set up any better than the way I found it. As to the sound. What this guitar has that picked me up and shook me a round is quite simply the best sounding low end I have ever heard. Not as percussive as some other Gibsons I have owned or played but just huge and dry with more thump than a guitar has a right to have. A blues picker's wet dream. While it does not happen to me often this was oe of those guitars that I found it impossible to put down.

 

Here be a few pics - not the best but as good as I can get at the moment.

 

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Wow! that thing is rare! I have seen a couple of the opaque blondes but not the natural finish. What are your plans for the bridge and pickguard? Congrats!

 

I have seen an opaque blonde J-35 but never a J-45. But there is quite a bit of information available on this batch of natural top guitars. I gather they were made only that one month and did not reappear until the J-50 was issued after the War. When it comes down to it though I really do miss that Gibson burst.

 

Weird thing about this guitar is that there is not alot of evidence of play wear. But something nasty did happen to it somewhere along the line. Making it worse is the fact that whoever tried to fix it up did not have a clue what they were doing so everything they did needs to get undone.

 

Since the bridge is original (I gather banner Gibson J-45s came with any of four different bridges) I plan to have the two extra bolts removed and then the holes plugged and made to blend in as good as can be done. The original pickguard would have been a firestripe teardrop. I would like to go back to that but it will depend on what it looks like underneath there. I will also get rid of the cheap Korean Kluson knockoff tuners on the guitar. A friend of mine who owns a music store told me he thinks he has a set of 1930s circular patent stamp Kluson tuners in his parts stash. If he does then I will snag them. If not I will probably go with good quality repros.

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Very nice find!!

 

Tell us more about the chase and the story behind the guitar!

 

Fred

 

Not really much of a back story. I do not claim to be an expert or a Gibson historian or anything. I have just played old Gibsons for so many decades that folks tend to come to me. I have had people show up at my doorstep with guitars. I get called on by folks wanting me to go along with them look at something they are interested in buying or guys I know who own pawn shops or whatever who want this old Gibson or that checked out. That means though I often get first crack at a guitar.

 

Rumors about this particular banner J-45 had been circulating for a bit. Usually the rumors either don't pan out or the guitar turns out to be someting different. A good friend of mine who owns a music store finally tracked the thing down, snagged it and immediately called me.

 

He told me the guitar was a refinished 1943 J-45. Being a player and not a collector or a wealthy man, the refinish thing got my interest as it means a very deep discount. Although the FON was so faded it was imposible to iniially make out, there were just things about the guitar that did not add up to it being a 1943. Anyway, I took the guitar home to give it a test drive. While I have played more than my fair share of banner and script logo Gibsons (I also own a 1946/1947 LG-2) the amazing thing about this J-45 was that I liked the way it played and sounded so much I did not even bother with trying to figure out what it was. I did not care whether it was a '42 or a '43 or whatever. Probably not the smartest move and an approach to guitar buying I would not recommend but that is how much I liked this particular guitar. Sometimes you just got to go with your gut.

 

So it was not until after I laid out my hard earned money that I finally got around to trying to figure out the guitar was. As is said I was pretty sure the guitar was not made in 1943 which was verified when I threw enough light in it to make out the FON and saw the "H" meaning it was made in 1942. The full FON told the rest of the story placing the guitar in the batch of natural top J-45s made in July of that year.

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What a top! It is adirondack isn't it...incredible. Its like finding some darwinesk evolutionary link in the Gibson history. Quick someone in production said put some paint on that guitar. But that guitar speaks truth....therefor all songs rendered by it will speak truth....awsome. Total winner. [biggrin] Bill

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What a top! It is adirondack isn't it...incredible. Its like finding some darwinesk evolutionary link in the Gibson history. Quick someone in production said put some paint on that guitar. But that guitar speaks truth....therefor all songs rendered by it will speak truth....awsome. Total winner. [biggrin] Bill

 

Yup, that be an Adi Spruce top. And yeah, the top has a ton of character. I am thinking that wide grain may have something to with the incredible low end this guitar has. But it is a far cry from what most would consider the cosmetically superior tight even grain wood.

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The wood used in acoustic guitars is interesting. Organic changeable volitile nature never two the same variable dynamic, etc. I have a 1927 parlor no-name guitar with the thightest straightest adirondack...incredible. And I have a 1938 Kalamazoo KG-11...could be adirondack....looking on the inside has that quirky uneveness....but though I love the sunburst finish....I'd love to see that quirky top in natural colour.

 

But this guitar tells the story. The shortage of wood by WW-II usage required Gibson to dive into older less perfect stock. So it represents a piece of history and is easily visible. Cool.

 

Bill

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  • 4 weeks later...

Can you really say what color it was originally? It's been refinished and I see an orange/red spot on the lower bout. The flaws in the top look like they would be hidden under a sunburst, and I think that's likely what it was. I don't know if it has been mentioned but that is not an original bridge.

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Can you really say what color it was originally? It's been refinished and I see an orange/red spot on the lower bout. The flaws in the top look like they would be hidden under a sunburst, and I think that's likely what it was. I don't know if it has been mentioned but that is not an original bridge.

 

 

I know the bridge is not original and is, in fact, not a Gibson bridge from any period. But as the guitar is a perfect player I am just going to leave it be.

 

The guy who is writing the Gibson Banner book verified that the FON shows the guitar to have been one of the J-50s made in July 1942. He agrees though that from the photos the top looks more like what you would find on a 1941 or 1943 guitar (the top actually does look nicer in person). The orange/red spot is not part of an earlier finish - basically just a boo boo.

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...the amazing thing about this J-45 was that I liked the way it played and sounded so much I did not even bother with trying to figure out what it was. I did not care whether it was a '42 or a '43 or whatever.

 

So glad for you, zombiewoof. That's the best reason to buy a guitar anyway. It resonated with you, so will have value to you that exceeds any resale price while you own it. I hope you enjoy it for a long, long time.

 

Red 333

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I'm assuming that there would be no finish under the original pickguard when the guitar was built, so removing the pickguard could confirm that this pickguard is a replacement. I would want to get rid of this pickguard in any case, although there is no telling how it is attached or what you might find underneath.

 

The lack of wear around the soundhole is a good sign for what you might find beneath the pickguard.

 

I think it's a beautiful guitar. Congratulations on a great find!

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The pickguard is definitely not original. I am guessing the replacement pickguard was slapped on over the lacquer that was sprayed on later in the guitar's life. The 1942 J-45s generally had tortise teardrop scratchplates (the firestripe teardrops do not appear to have come into common use until 1944). There is not alot of evidence of play wear on the guitar - no divots in the board, large nicks in the neck or any of that stuff. There is, however, major evidence of some kind of trauma. Looks like there might have been some water damage and other nasty things. I am hoping to find out more when the guitar goes off to the repair guy.

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Very lucky to have stumbled upon a July 1942 J45n also . . . took me a while to date it, and as with the one above, some fool decided to alter the head-stock and pick-guard, plus put some 3" fine thread machine bolts through the bridge . . . I have it up at Elderly Instruments who are currently tending to the bridge, tightening the braces, and installing a 43 pick-guard I had from another guitar. I won't be getting it refinished.

post-47690-033470600 1349391047_thumb.jpg

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Very lucky to have stumbled upon a July 1942 J45n also . . . took me a while to date it, and as with the one above, some fool decided to alter the head-stock and pick-guard, plus put some 3" fine thread machine bolts through the bridge . . . I have it up at Elderly Instruments who are currently tending to the bridge, tightening the braces, and installing a 43 pick-guard I had from another guitar. I won't be getting it refinished.

 

 

Cool! The key to figuring out if these were J-45s or J-50s is to check the Gibson Banner Registry. They all have FONs ranging from 7116H to 7119H (or something like that).

 

The bidge on mine also got the screw down treatmen. I am guessing it was the solution to dealing with a lifting bridge. Mine is hopefully going into Keith George on Monday. He is about two hours away but the guy is a wizard with these old guitars. I am hoping he does not find more issues than those I know about but I am also figuring I can not be that lucky.

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Cool! The key to figuring out if these were J-45s or J-50s is to check the Gibson Banner Registry. They all have FONs ranging from 7116H to 7119H (or something like that).

 

The bidge on mine also got the screw down treatmen. I am guessing it was the solution to dealing with a lifting bridge. Mine is hopefully going into Keith George on Monday. He is about two hours away but the guy is a wizard with these old guitars. I am hoping he does not find more issues than those I know about but I am also figuring I can not be that lucky.

 

Excellent :-) I learned from Gibson Techs, George Gruhn, and the Provide Website that about 1/2 of the July 1942 J45N had firestripe pickguards . . . just in case you were wondering as I noticed it looks like a Yamaha pickguard was installed on the beauty of yours :-)

 

If you go to the website for "Gibson Banner Registry" there are a couple pics of 1942 J45 naturals in excellent condition . . . a couple with fire stripe . . .

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