Gibson J-50 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1947)

Gibson  J-50 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1947)
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Item # 10330
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Gibson J-50 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1947), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 605-35 (FON), natural lacquer finish, mahogany back and sides, spruce top, mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, period black hard shell case.

Gibson's slope-shouldered Jumbo flat tops have been very popular since the 1930's with folk, blues, and pop players, and picking this one up it's easy to see why. This is a very comfortable guitar with a surprisingly sleek, round profile neck for the 1940's and a big warm sound. It shows some general wear but remains in fine playing shape, a very friendly guitar.

This guitar was built in the 1947-48 period; the very low 3-digit Factory order number suggests the earlier date, while the somewhat slimmer neck and post-war logo are more typical of the latter. In either case it has specific late-1940s features including the small rosewood bridge, small tortoise celluloid pickguard and tapered peghead with the first block script "joined dot" Gibson logo. The tuners are early post-war flat plate strip Klusons, an indication the riveted-post wartime economy machines had been used up by the time this one was assembled.

The J-50 is essentially the same instrument as the J-45 with a natural finish instead of sunburst and an extra layer of top binding -- worth a small markup to Gibson at the time. Over the years they have proven are a bit rarer (as they cost slightly more) than that familiar sunburst-top favorite, as they were always shipped in (sometimes much) smaller numbers. While lacking the classic Gibson sunburst vibe, j-50's are a classic in their own right favored by a number of artists ranging from James Taylor to Texas blues legend Lightnin' Hopkins, among many others!
Overall length is 41 in. (104.1 cm.), 16 in. (40.6 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 13/16 in. (12.2 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This is a very nice early postwar J-50, played in but still relatively clean for a 70+ year old instrument. It shows some typical finish checking overall and the standard collection of dings, dents and scrapes but comparatively little actual play wear to the top. The largest area of loss to the finish is some strumwear over the fingerboard extension down to the wood in a few spots. There is a deep case bite into the wood near the back edge, with a few other shallower gouges nearby. The back shows a decent size pattern of "strap burn' down the center, but not a lot of buckle wear. There is an area of (probably) moisture damage to the finish on the bottom edge above and around the endpin, but the lacquer is not flaking off. The headstock edges and corners have a few chips.

Structurally the instrument is excellent with no cracks except one tiny grain split from the front edge of the pickguard to the soundhole ring. The guitar retains its original fittings, the only alteration being the original small rosewood bridge was lowered somewhat long ago. The saddle is fairly low but the guitar sounds and plays excellent. There has never been a neck re-set or other major surgery. The top has some minor bellying behind the bridge typical of these lightly built 1940's jumbos but is completely solid.

This is an excellent gigging guitar and a very nice playing example of a 1940's J-50, with the typically sweet but powerful midrange sound these are well known for. It is housed in a period (but not typical Gibson issue) case that it appears to have been with forever. Overall Excellent - Condition.