Gibson SJ Southern Jumbo Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1952)

Gibson  SJ Southern Jumbo Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1952)
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Item # 11794
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Gibson SJ Southern Jumbo Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1952), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # Z2778-8, sunburst top, dark back and sides finish, mahogany back, sides and neck, spruce top, rosewood fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

The SJ or "Southern Jumbo" sometimes feels like a bit of a forgotten model in Gibson's postwar flat-top line; not as simple a working man's guitar as the more austere J-45 but not as yee-haw fancy as the big 17" SJ-200 or J-185. The SJ features the same basic construction as the more familiar J-45 with a sunburst spruce top on a 16" slope-shouldered mahogany jumbo body, with a mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard.

The cosmetics of the SJ are fancier than the J-45 all around. There are multiple layers of binding around the body and sound hole, and the fingerboard is bound with pearloid double parallelogram inlays. The rosewood bridge is a top-belly design, which looks rather like an upside-down Martin bridge. This 1952 model has some general play wear and repair but still sports a very sharp look, and more importantly, a big warm sound.

While it's difficult to quantify for sure as all vintage Gibsons tend to have an individual character, some players feel the SJ has a distinctive sound subtly different from the average J-45. Don Everly used a very similar 1953 SJ to create the famous open-tuned chord hooks on the Everly Brothers' early records, and this guitar has that same punch and plenty of ring when pushed. This is a played-in but very fine playing 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 SJ shows general play wear and some typical repair for its 70+ years on the planet but really does have a resounding sound, sweet and crisp at the same time. The neck has been neatly reset with some overspray extending to the sides and heel area. The bridge and frets remain original; the frets have been recrowned and the bridge reglued neatly. There is some strumwear to the top around the edges of the pickguard that had the finish patched in a bit, not professionally but not too glaringly either. There is a repaired grain crack under the bottom edge of the pickguard, sealed up but still visible. Other than this, the guitar appears crack free.

The finish on the back has a couple of long scratches, and there is moderate checking overall, particularly to some areas of the sides. The middle back brace has been reglued rather sloppily but is solid, and there is a small patched area of wood on the underside of the main X brace, which has been reglued as well. There is a small patched jack hole in the lower side, in an odd spot rather forward of the typical location, somewhat closer to the waist than usual.

The fingerboard has some noticeable divoting in the lower positions, with an unusually deep one behind the second fret under the first and second string. This is not bothersome from a playing standpoint, but is noticeable. The frets have also been lowered somewhat but still play well. The back of the neck has some feelable capo wear spots in the lower positions. The tuners are recent Kluson reissues. Worn in but unbowed, this guitar is a great-sounding survivor, superbly light and resonant for a Jumbo and a joy to play. Very Good + Condition.