Gibson J-35 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1937)

Gibson  J-35 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1937)
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Item # 10848
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Gibson J-35 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1937), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # xx-6, sunburst top, dark back and sides finish, mahogany back, sides and neck, spruce top, rosewood fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

We love the original Gibson J-35 in any form; this 1937 or early 1938 example is one featherweight and powerful sounding pre-war Gibson Jumbo! This 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 6 in its batch; the red pencil mark has survived perfectly. As far as we can tell it had a "C" suffix indicating the guitar was built in 1937, an "early" style J-35. Distinctive features of these include a dark sunburst top, later to be supplanted by a natural finish option first cataloged in 1939 and more important sonically the 3-tone bar construction under the top.

This guitar's neck is slimmer than some from this period but built with the typically 1930s V profile and a fairly large heel, a design replaced by 1939-40 with a sleeker, more modern feeling "C" neck and narrow "French" heel. 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 the very earliest pattern 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 early model is absolutely a guitar to be reckoned with, extremely light and very responsive for a larger instrument, 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 a 1930's string or cowboy band, but for today's player an excellent recording or performance guitar in just about any style.
 
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 very well preserved and nicely original condition showing some light typical wear and fairly minor repair work. The finish has some light checking on the top and overall is far better preserved than most of these pre-war Gibson flat tops. There are small dings, dents, and scrapes overall but no large areas of loss, the heaviest is a couple of spots on the lower edge of the soundhole. The back of the neck has a spot of thumb wear in the lower position on the bass side, and a few tiny capo dinks in the spine.

There only really noticeable repair is two tightly sealed spruce grain splits between the bridge and the lower edge of the body, one behind the G string and one behind the high E. The wood off the top edge of the pickguard shows one very slight grain split that never went fully through. There are no other cracks on the instrument. The top has a subtle arch as these do, but is not excessively bellied behind the bridge.

The rosewood bridge and small maple bridgeplate are original; the old retaining bolts under pearl dots are intact. The bridge itself looks was lowered somewhat long ago, and the saddle re-cut more recently with a subtle compensation for the B string. The guitar does not appear to have ever had the neck re-set. The frets are original with some minor wear, the bone nut is original as well. Early model J-35's like this are notoriously difficult to find in clean condition; this is the nicest we have seen in some time, a really great playing and sounding guitar. Overall Excellent Condition.