Gibson J-35 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1937-8)

Gibson  J-35 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1937-8)
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Item # 10048
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Gibson J-35 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1937-8), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # xx-9, sunburst top, dark back and sides finish, mahogany back, sides and neck, spruce top, rosewood fingerboard, period black hard shell case.

We love the original Gibson J-35 in any form; this 1937-8 example is one featherweight and powerful sounding pre-war Gibson Jumbo! Th is one is hard to date exactly as the ink-stamped factory order number stamp has faded completely from the inside heel. We can tell you it was number 9 in its batch; the red pencil mark has survived perfectly. Based on the features this one was built in 1937 or '38, an example of an "early" style J-35. Distinctive features include a dark sunburst top, later to be supplanted by a natural finish option first cataloged in 1939.

This guitar's neck is built with the fairly chunky typically 1930s V profile but a slim heel, a design replaced within a year or so by a sleeker, more modern feeling "C" neck. Other notable original features include the "firestripe" tortoise celluloid pickguard, small rectangular bridge with pearl dots and the silkscreen white script Gibson logo on the headstock. The tuners are very early Kluson strip units with flat-ended baseplates and celluloid buttons.

The J-35 was Gibson's "working man's" Jumbo flat-top in the 1930s and early '40s. Selling on introduction for under forty dollars, it was intended as a direct competitor to Martin's D-18, and has since been similarly recognized as one of the all time classic flat-top designs. This is a guitar to be reckoned with, extremely light and very responsive -- a good flat-picker and a very nice finger-picking guitar as well. This particular J-35 has a quite powerful but still even sound perfect for those 1940s honky-tonk nights, but for today's player an excellent recording or performance guitar in a variety of styles.
Overall length is 40 3/8 in. (102.6 cm.), 16 in. (40.6 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 7/8 in. (12.4 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/4 in. (44 mm.).

This guitar is in well-played but nicely original condition showing typical wear and tear but just some fairly minor repair work. The finish has checking overall and numerous dings, dents, and scrapes overall but no large areas of loss except to the edges of the soundhole rim and along the sides of the neck. The finish has flaked somewhat on the lower back of the headstock and the heel (probably from exposure to moisture long ago) but is stable and not flaking any further,

There are two tiny and tightly sealed grain splits between the end of the fingerboard extension and the rosette which do not extend to the soundhole edge. The top and sides have no other cracks, there is only one grain split on the upper back that is well sealed but visible, and a short area of the back seam resealed.

The bridge and small maple bridgeplate are original; the old retaining bolts under pearl dots are intact. The rosewood bridge itself looks to have been lowered somewhat long ago, but still has good height. It was re-glued some time back, and there are a couple of small chips to the top off the back edge that were very neatly repaired and touched up. The saddle and nut are newer, and nicely done.

The guitar does not appear to have ever had a neck reset, and the angle is fine. It has been neatly refretted with period correct wire, there are some very shallow divots still visible in the fingerboard in the lower positions. This is an extremely fine-playing and sounding guitar; not the cleanest J-35 we have seen, but one of the most muscular-sounding. It is accompanied by a period black HSC that is more archtop pattern but appears to have housed the instrument for a long time. Very Good + Condition.