Gibson SJ Southern Jumbo Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1949)

Gibson  SJ Southern Jumbo Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1949)
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Item # 10960
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Gibson SJ Southern Jumbo Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1949), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 2226-16 (FON), sunburst top, dark back and sides finish, mahogany back, sides and neck, spruce top, rosewood fingerboard, period black hard shell case.

The SJ or "Southern Jumbo" sometimes feels like a forgotten model in Gibson's postwar flat-top line. Originally designed as a specialty item for Gibsons southern flat top customers it was not a plain "working man's guitar" as the more austere J-45 but not as yee-haw fancy as the 17" SJ-200. The SJ features a somewhat more flash compared to the J-45 using the same basic formula; a sunburst spruce top on a 16" slope-shouldered mahogany jumbo body, with a mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard. It was correspondingly more expensive and sold only around a third as many units as the 1949 J-45; only 462 SJ's were shipped in 1949.

Compared to the J-45 the cosmetics of the SJ are simply fancier all around. There are multiple layers of binding around the body and sound hole, and the bound fingerboard is fitted with pearloid double parallelogram inlays. The rosewood bridge is a top-belly design, which looks pretty much like an upside-down Martin bridge. This was a brand-new fitting at Gibson in 1949 when this guitar was built. The neck is a comfortable "C" profile slimmer and more dressed away on the sides than many earlier 1940s or later '50s Gibsons.

This 1949 SJ sports a very sharp look but, more importantly, a big warm sound. Among SJ fans perhaps most prominent is Don Everly, who used a 1953 SJ to create the famous open-tuned chord hooks on the Everly Brothers' early records. This guitar has plenty of ring with some of that same punch when pushed. This is a well preserved, fine playing and great sounding example of this classic Gibson flat-top; the kind of guitar that makes you want to sit around singing country songs all night, even if you're in the middle of the city.
Overall length is 40 3/4 in. (103.5 cm.), 16 1/4 in. (41.3 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 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This old Gibson shows some general wear but remains a superb playing and sounding guitar. The finish has some general checking and a number of mostly small dings, dents, and scuffs, but overall the instrument is cleaner than many of this vintage. The only really notable pickwear on the top is a few digs into the wood around the top edge curve of the soundhole, some finish loss to the lower soundhole rim and some small marks above the top edge of the pickguard. The back has some fairly minor buckle wear into but not through the finish in the center area. The back of the neck has some finish loss in the lower positions and feelable capo marks behind the first to fifth frets.

The only crack in the instrument is a well-sealed mahogany grain split on the mid/lower back; other than this the guitar is crack-free. The original bridge has been lowered slightly on the front end but still has good height, with a newer bone saddle. It does not appear to have ever been reglued and the old bolts are still intact through the untouched original small maple bridge plate.

The neck does not appear to have ever been reset, or needed to be. The original narrow frets have been crowned fairly low and have some wear in the lower positions, with some minor divoting in the fingerboard as well. Despite this playability is excellent. An older Gibson plastic strap button has been added to the heel. This SJ has that classic Gibson sound, warm yet incisive with a lot of power when pushed. This is a very versatile guitar and a superbly player-friendly instrument, housed in a period, possibly original but not strictly Gibson issue HSC. Overall Excellent - Condition.