Museum: Gibson Guitars

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1943 "Banner" Gibson Southern Jumbo

FON 2735. A Banner Southern Jumbo with other-worldly tone. We're all in agreement here at Folkway that this SJ from '43 is the best sounding of its ilk we've had pass through our doors. Massive projection, a well developed bass response, punchy clear mids and treble notes that are big and round right up the neck. This guitar has the perfect blend of woodiness and definition. In short, it's incredible.

In the early 1940s, Gibson's "Only a Gibson is Good Enough" slogan was just that, a slogan. But, by 1942 it began to appear on the golden banners on the headstocks of Gibson guitars produced during World War II. However, this addition was short lived and by sometime in 1946 it vanished altogether until reissue models were produced in the 90's.

The 'Banner' years were a special time at Gibson and full of changes. Wartime restrictions on the use of raw materials made it difficult to produce a consistent product. Tone woods were switched out and sometimes it was impossible to produce certain models. In addition, the younger men went off to fight in the war. With a shrinking workforce, Gibson needed to rely more heavily on a new labor pool. A labor pool made up increasingly of women. It is estimated that this new female workforce produced over 25,000 guitars for Gibson during the 'Banner' years.

This 1943 Banner SJ features a bookmatched two-piece Red spruce top and bookmatched quarter-sawn mahogany back. The quality of the tonewoods is above the norm for a Gibson from any era, and even more surprising of a Banner. Its neck is a fairly massive sandwich of maple with a rosewood center-strip and a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard with pearl inlays. It is truss-rod equipped, with individual Kluson tuning machines, and a bone nut. The top features a rich reddish-brown sunburst finish, lacquered beanwood bridge, and the very rare bold purflings only found on this particular batch of SJs. 1-3/4' nutwidth, 24.75' scale.

With the exception of new frets, care of us, this guitar is completely original, including its full-height bone saddle. Open top center-seam, pickguard margin crack, and two small cracks at the end of the fingerboard have all been professionally repaired by us as well, and the instrument is perfectly set up. There has never been a loose brace on this guitar, and apart from the scar left from a minor side-impact wound on the upper bass shoulder, there are no other repairs to describe. We have the action set at 5 to 7 64ths, and any future adjustment is possible given the guitar's perfect neck angle, full height saddle, perfect frets, and working truss rod.

All told, this is likely the finest SJ we've ever offered for sale, and among the best Banner Gibsons that have ever graced our store walls and the pages of this website. It was purchased from a family member of the guitar's second owner, a musician who ran with the same crowd as Hank Williams before his early death in 1952.

With modern hardshell case

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