Gibson J-50 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1947-8)

Gibson  J-50 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1947-8)
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Item # 11976
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Gibson J-50 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1947-8), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, natural lacquer finish, mahogany back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, original brown 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 very easy to see why. This is a very comfortable guitar with a big, chunky but still comfortable round-backed 1940's neck and a huge 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 lack of any Factory Order Number on the heelblock suggests the earlier date, while the first-generation 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 which return to screw-mounted shafts and gears, 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! Even Dylan himself played an early post-war J-50 at th dawn of his career.
Overall length is 40 1/2 in. (102.9 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 7/8 in. (632 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/4 in. (44 mm.).

This is a very nice early postwar J-50, played and loved but still relatively clean for a 75+ year old instrument. The all-original finish shows a decent amount of checking overall and the standard collection of dings, dents and scrapes but little actual play wear to the top. The only notable area of loss to the finish is some strum wear on the lower lip of the soundhole down to the wood. The upper side of the body is very heavily checked with a few small spots flaked off. The back of the neck has some random dings and dents but less of the typical capo wear than many; the headstock edges have some dings and chips.

Structurally the instrument is excellent with no cracks at all, which is kind of amazing! The guitar retains its original fittings, the only alteration being the original small rosewood bridge has been reglued (probably more than once) with some finish loss around the perimeter and lowered somewhat long ago. The saddle is newer with plenty of height; the guitar sounds and plays excellent. There has never been a neck re-set or other major surgery. The top bracing has been reglued in several spots and is completely solid; the small maple bridgeplate is the correct size and shape but so clean we suspect it may be an exact replacement. At any rate the bridge bolts are still in place under the pearl dots.

This is an excellent gigging guitar and a very nice playing example of a 1940's J-50, with the typically sweet but quite powerful midrange sound these are well known for and a wide dynamic range. It is housed in a very early original brown Gibson case that has had extra padding glued and later removed; it is fairly well battered but appears to have been with the guitar forever. Very Good + Condition.