The Gibson J-45 has been a favorite with players and collectors since its debut in 1942, although its roots can be traced back ten years earlier with the unveiling of the Martin Guitar Company’s Dreadnought series. The Martin D series quickly became popular with players because of the increased volume these large guitars provided. Gibson retaliated in 1934 with the Jumbo. The Jumbo and the Dreadnought shared similar dimensions and volume levels, but Gibson’s unique, round-shouldered look set it apart from the competition. The economics of the Great Depression caused the Jumbo to evolve into the lower priced, less fancy J-35 in 1936. By 1942, the J-35 was dropped in favor of the enduring J-45, which has since become a staple of the Gibson flattop lineup.
The J-45 featured this month has features common to others produced in 1964. It has an adjustable bridge (introduced in 1956), large frets (1959), a cherry sunburst finish (1962), and mahogany back and sides with a spruce top (standard since the end of WWII). The red tint of the cherry sunburst has faded to an almost golden color, which is common on J-45s made from ’64 to ’66.
The slim, comfortable neck of this example has the somewhat rare and interesting feature called a “stinger.” The back of the headstock is painted black to hide a flaw in the wood. The black paint ends in an attractive point at the bottom of the headstock while rest of the neck continues on in the usual see-through cherry.
The smooth sounds of a J-45 can be heard on recordings made by Buddy Holly, Donovan and Bob Dylan. More detailed information can be found in the book Gibson’s Fabulous Flat-Top Guitars by Eldon Whitford, David Vinopal and Dan Erlewine.
Dave's Guitar Shop
Daves Roger’s Collection Is tended to by Laun Braithwaite & Tim Mullally
All photos credit Tim Mullally
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Dave's Guitar Shop
1227 Third Street South
La Crosse, WI 54601