This Gibson J-45 comes from the World War two production days when Gibson did not put serial numbers on them. I suspect it is from 1944 but the year could be slightly earlier. You can see it has the banner on the headstock, “Only a Gibson is good enough.”
The top was damaged and repaired many decades ago. It looks very rough as a result. Although you will see evidence of cracks in the photo, I believe these are more like scars. I have an old Epiphone with a cracked top, and this top doesn’t behave like it is cracked. It’s a solid piece now, after those repairs. The whole guitar has scuffs and dings, including a worn patch on the back. The finish on the neck has been practically worn off in many areas by the original owner’s hand. 80 years of strumming have worn patches above the sound hole where the grain of the wood is exposed.
In terms of playability and sound, this is an amazing instrument. It is LOUD and has a punchy tone with a big bottom end. Whether you are strumming open chords or pounding out power chord riffs, you can expect a big, strong sound. I find it handles pretty jazz chords and drop-D tunings with equal sonic beauty. The neck is a bit thicker and wider than many acoustics, but even my relatively small hands feel comfortable there.
The original tuning pegs were in terrible shape so I replaced them Rosewood. The original Kluson tuners were also in bad shape and have been replaced. I have Grover tuners on it, which are extremely dependable and accurate. A serious collector will probably want to install new Kluson tuners to regain the look of the original.
I am a 40 year-old guitarist who has been performing and recording for more than 20 years. This guitar has been with me for about seven. It’s been on stage with me a few times. Every musician that plays it for even a couple minutes wants a guitar just like it. I am only selling it to bridge a financial gap in my student income for the summer as I complete classes before beginning my Masters coursework. When my finances get ironed out, I intend to get another J-45! Despite its rough looks, I have been thrilled every time I play this instrument.
Similar guitars with all-original parts and unmarred finishes sell for $4000 to $8000 on eBay. See the sold listings to compare. While this rough-looking behemoth of a guitar can’t match those perfect axes in collector’s value, I believe a serious player will get a lot of enjoyment and inspiration from her. I certainly have. She has a lot of history and a lot of character – and a lot of sound!
By request, I made a five-minute recording of her running through some basic chords so buyers can verify her tone and dynamic range and so forth. You can find it on my file sharing site here for listening or download if you like. It’s an mp3 of about 9.5 MB: https://www.box.com/s/eigr2w36qhtdz2a1cadr