Vintage Gibson J-45 - USA 1953
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The Gibson J-45 – an all time classic instrument. The best friend of many of the worlds greatest songwriters. From Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Elvis, Springsteen, Chris Stapleton, Buddy Holly, Woody Guthrie... you get the idea. The J-45 has long paid its dues as an all time classic instrument. This particular one was made in 1953, and if only it could talk. The lack of finish on the back of the neck shows a guitar that has been played a tremendous amount. One thing we find time and time again is that the well worn in instruments are almost always the best sounding ones. Are they worn in because they sound great or do they sound great because they are worn in? The reality is a little of both. This old J-45 does need work. The hide glue joining the braces to the body has come away in parts, which has compromised the structural integrity of the guitar. The old saying “Only a Gibson isn’t glued enough” certainly rings true here. Luckily however, the repairs on this guitar are relatively straightforward for a skilled luthier. Of course we don’t suggest taking it to any luthier, as there are many out there who don’t fully grasp the notion of keeping things as original as possible. According to some expert opinions of this guitar there shouldn’t be any reason to replace any parts on this instrument.
The late 1940s and 50s are the golden age of Gibson for a reason. There was an enormous influx of Europeans to America following World War 2. A high percentage of these people had been violin, double bass makers and guitar builders back home. The result of this was Gibson hiring a tremendous amount of the finest instrument builders that Europe had to offer. The manpower and quality of workmanship coming out of Gibson at this time was a level to which no company has seen before or since – a truly great time for the company. This gorgeous 1953 Gibson J-45 is a testament to this.
As noted, this guitar needs some important structural work before it is to be strung up and played. Some braces, inner curfing is lacking in structural integrity and will need attention. The top bout has a slightly shallower depth than some other J-45s we have seen – measuring in at 98mm or 3 7/8” near the neck heel and widening out to 4 7/8” at the end block. We have a full luthier's assessment on the work required and can be obtained by potential buyers on request.
The body has that eye catching vintage patina that we all know and love, with honest checking throughout. All the binding is in good condition, with no breaks or chunks missing. The entire body is in good shape, aside from a reasonable degree of light dings and chips. There is no evidence of major repair. There is a 2mm shim under the fretboard, likely to take up space for the slightly shallower top bout. This may have been done at the factory during construction, but we cannot be certain. This guitar was delivered to us without a case. A case would need to be sourced if we were to ship this instrument.
The sound and playability of these guitars is what makes them great. Anyone will tell you the comfort of the J-45s sloped shoulders makes sitting on the couch and wiling away the hours with guitar in hand a comfortable experience. The neck has that great 50s slightly chunky feel, but certainly no baseball bat.
This is a chance to get a wonderful original J-45 from the 1950s for a reasonable price, and for you to take tremendous satisfaction in having this beautiful instrument restored to its former glory.
Fretboard Radius: 12”
Neck depth at 1st fret: 22.15mm
Neck depth at 10th fret: 24.2mm
Nut Width: 43mm/1.695”
12 fret width: 52.8mm
Neck material: Mahogany with Brazilian rosewood fretboard
Fretboard inlays: Pearloid dot
Body: Spruce top with mahogany back and sides
Body size at lower bout: 16 3/8”
Tuners: Kluson no line
Bridge: Brazilian rosewood