Gibson J-45 "Banner" Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1943)

Gibson  J-45
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Item # 10677
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Gibson J-45 "Banner" Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1943), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 2172-30 (FON), sunburst top, dark back and sides finish, mahogany back, sides and top; laminated maple neck, black tolex hard shell case.

This "Banner" Gibson J-45 -- so called for the decal on the headstock reading "Only a Gibson Is Good Enough" was built during the middle of the Second World War when the company's output was severely limited. In this period the specifications of individual instruments often vary greatly from the published standards; Gibson was short of many materials and struggling under wartime restrictions. The widely variant features were dictated by the materials available; this particular guitar has the unusual combination of a mahogany back and sides with a sunburst-finished mahogany top (instead of the normal spruce) and a 3-piece laminated maple neck. These latter two give the guitar a noticeable different feel and sound from the "standard" J-45.

This guitar is somewhat unusual in retaining the standard adjustable truss rod, a feature often deleted from wartime models as metal was severely rationed. The tuners are the slim flat-plate riveted Klusons of the period, specifically designed to use the minimum of metal possible. The Factory Order Number (FON) 2172-30 on the heelblock identifies this guitar as a 1943 (or possible 1944) model, based on recent research.

The neck profile is round and chunky but not as thick as some wartime Gibsons. The individual features are typical of other guitars built in this period, but the specific combination of a mahogany top, maple neck AND the adjustable truss rod is a fairly rare find. This is a great-sounding guitar with a huge tone despite, or more likely because of, its unusual combination of woods. This particular "Banner" is in far better condition than many both structurally and cosmetically, making for a truly excellent example of this rather special J-45 variant.
Overall length is 41 in. (104.1 cm.), 16 1/8 in. (41 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 very fine overall and in excellent-playing condition; many of the lightly built J-45s from this period survive with the finish heavily worn or with numerous repairs. Overall the finish is very clean, with light checking, small dings, scrapes and dents but no really serious wear. The top especially is miraculously free of the common pick marks and scrapes, showing only small dings and dents. The lower edge of the body around the endpin has the deepest dings and scrapes.

The back of the neck shows some old wear and appears to have had a light clear overspray added long ago. This is not intrusive at all, and we had to examine it several times before making the call for certain that it had even been done. The original frets are intact and show only light wear.

Amazingly enough for a Gibson of this era there are NO cracks anywhere, which is hardly short of miraculous. The only notable repair is the neck has been neatly reset and the original bridge has been reglued and resculpted a bit on top but still retains good height. The original small maple bridgeplate is intact, probably reglued along its front edge. The original bridge bolts are also intact. The guitar does not appear to have been too heavily played since the war years, and is a very fine player with a powerful sound. Excellent Condition.