Museum: Gibson Guitars

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1941 Gibson J-35

FON 5225G-8 We've had the good fortune to handle, play, and listen to significantly more Gibson J-35s than most folks out there, but that doesn't lessen our excitement when another one comes our way. And we get particularly weak in the knees when what's visiting is a later 2-tonebar version, such as this beauty from 1941.

The J-35, built for a short while between 1936 and 1942, is one of the most sought-after Gibson flat top models in today's vintage acoustic market. But there are tremendous differences between early and later J-35s; and, a 1937 three tone-bar version really sounds nothing at all like the 1941 double-bar version offered here. Apart from differences in the number of tone-bar braces below the bridge plate, the 1941 guitars are significantly lighter built overall -- with much smaller and scalloped top braces, markedly less stiff back bracing, lighter necks, and a wider X-brace angle. All of these differences in construction add up to make the J-35 of the early 1940's the most responsive, earthy, warm, and rich Gibson Jumbos ever built.

This example is all that, and then some. It's a guitar that can play any style of music well, and behaves perfectly under any kind of attack. Fingerstyle players will appreciate the guitar's subtlety and its ability to express tone under a light touch, strummers and singers will melt at its richness and fullness, and flatpickers will revel in the guitar's nimble and quick attack, thick mid-range, and powerful round trebles. Its not often we suggest that you can get along just fine with only one guitar in the stable, but you just might be able to with this one.

Spruce top with scalloped bracing and a well pronounced top arch, mahogany back and sides. Round-profile neck with French heel and rosewood fingerboard. Silkscreened Gibson headstock logo, and original Kluson tuning machines with modern replacement buttons. Apart from a cleanly glued small pickguard crack the top is crack-free. The sides are without cracks as well, and the back shows a fine hairline that's been glued, cleated, and very cleanly touched up. There are also those small back cracks by each side of the waist typical of Gibson Jumbos, both glued. There are few interior repairs to mention -- just a couple of very cleanly reglued braces and rebuilt pin holes in the original bridgeplate. The bridge is a nicely built reproduction without bolts, there is a very cleanly plugged output jack hole in the treble side's lower bout, and a filled screw-hole on the bass-side of the neck-heel from an old strap hook.

The guitar's neck has been perfectly reset -- pretty much invisible work. The frets are new, and we're fairly sure that the truss-rod was replaced, but the work is so well done that it's very hard to tell. The metal at the nut-end just doesn't look old enough! Final set-up, and a new aged-bone nut by our shop. Original bridge pins and endpin. There is playwear at the soundhole, and the finish on the back of the neck is largely worn bare and smooth.

The guitar plays perfectly, with action set at 5 to 6 64ths at the 12th fret, impeccable fretwork, and a beautifully carved round neck. 24-3/4" scale, 1-11/16" nut. A particularly fine two-tone bar J-35.

With 1960' hardshell case

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