Vintage Gibson J-45 ?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by guitarplayer, Apr 6, 2008.

  1. guitarplayer

    guitarplayer Member

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    Anyone out there really familiar with the vintage Gibson 194x J-45?
    I stubbled across one at a small local guitar repair shop and really liked the tone and playability. The only thing is it had a huge crack across both shoulders and neck which the luthier seemed to repair well. It obviously doesn't affect the tone or playability - just looks really ugly! I liked it so much I ask him if he'd sell it and he said he's sell it for $800. I noticed these guitars sell for $2,000 to over $8,000 in good condition. Although this guitar had some "major" repair does that seems like a reasonable price? For the tone and playability alone you would pay ALOT more than that for any new Martin, Taylor, etc. I was hoping to get some advice from someone who is familiar with these guitars before making a decision. Thanks for your help! :)
     
  2. JSeth

    JSeth Member

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    I have certainly played J-45's - they aren't my particular favorite, but that's what makes a horse-race, right?
    Anyway - my concern would be that major cracks or damage, no matter how expertly repaired, can come "unstuck" in time... you already know that the value of the guitar is trashed; sounds like you just like the instrument... I would make a deal with the repairman that his "repairs" have a lifetime warranty - that he'll stand behind his work and any problems that arise from the previous damage. Who knows? He might go for it!
    Sounds as tho you've found a nice box for yourself!!!
    Good luck!
     
  3. Rockinrob86

    Rockinrob86 Supporting Member

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    old acoustics guitars crack. it just happens. That is a killer deal, and I would go for it if 800 dollars isnt a huge deal to you (i.e. you wont have to live off of ramen noodles for the next year or something). Those are really cool guitars.
     
  4. Stubee

    Stubee Member

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    I've had a bunch of older Gibson stuff, still have a much-cracked & well worn '52 or '53 J-45. A pic would be nice, but I think these days you'd be hard pressed to find any '40s or early '50s J-45, even in pieces, for $800. That $ for one that has been repaired and has good "tone and playability" would be a great price. I paid more than that for my beat-up J-45 about seven years ago, and would do it again.

    That said, the side cracks wouldn't faze me in the slightest (got 'em) but the crack "across the neck" or whatever you are describing would have to be repaired professionally & be very stable for me to want that guitar, great tone or not. If it was a fixable crack (most are) and done well, I'd be OK with it.
     
  5. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    If it's repaired well, sounds great and feels right, it's a good price. Nab it!
     
  6. guitarplayer

    guitarplayer Member

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    Thanks for your feedback! Sounds like from most of the replies that $800 is a great deal? There's no question the guitar plays and sounds really good, but would this be a "safe" investment? Would I be able to sell it if needed for at least what I paid - or more? One reply made me think the "investment value" is "trashed" because of the crack. Is that true? Thanks again!
     
  7. Jahn

    Jahn Listens to Johnny Marr, plays like John Denver Supporting Member

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    800? Run Back There And Get It Now.
     
  8. hogy

    hogy Member

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    Hey guitarplayer, I just got your PM, let me reply here.

    You do realize April 1st was last week, right? :jo

    That price isn't a deal, it's a crime. In your favor.

    The J-45 came out in '42. On the headstock it had the old style Gibson script logo and underneath a banner that said "Only a Gibson is good enough". Those "banner heads" lasted until '46 and are the most valuable ones. Noting really to be had under $4000 in original condition, even with cracks. During WWII supply shortages lead Gibson to use different wood configurations, such as mahogany for the tops, or/and maple for the sides. A maple banner head will bring $10k in good shape.

    In '46 the banner was dropped, but the script logo remained the same. That period lasted until '47 when the modern Gibson logo was introduced.
    In '50 the bridge changed from a rectangular shape to a "belly up" shape, basically the reverse of a standard Martin bridge.

    Those features should allow you to pinpoint the date with some accuracy.

    If it is indeed a 1940s model, the worst case scenario would be a late '40s, modern logo model with back and side cracks. If the repair is done well, it's still worth several thousand dollars.

    Go get it for crying out loud. If you don't like it, I'll take it off your hands for a nice profit.


    Hogy
     
  9. RadackGuitars

    RadackGuitars Supporting Member

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    if you haven't gotten it yet, go get it now.
    that's a steal.
     
  10. Tuberoast

    Tuberoast Silver Supporting Member

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    What's the address and phone number of this store?
     
  11. lannyhall

    lannyhall Member

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    Buy the thing or post the contact info for the store!
     
  12. plaintop

    plaintop Member

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  13. guitarplayer

    guitarplayer Member

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    After the positive feedback and encouragement to buy the Gibson I stopped by after work today and looked it over again and took the plung! Based on the descriptions from hogy and from other internet resources it looks like it may be a 1946? There is no banner on the headstock but still have the old script Gibson logo. As I mentioned in my original post there is a HUGE, and I mean HUGE, crack across both shoulders and neck which has been repaired. This is my main concern. I plan to take it to my luthier tomorrow to get his opinion about the repair. I paid $800 for it. Hopefully that was a fair price. Here are some initial photos!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The guy I bought it from said the back and sides are laminate (?)
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Non-original tuners (obviously)
    [​IMG]

    Here's the possible issue with this guitar - the repaired crack!
    [​IMG]

    I was telling myself that even if I can't get my money back out of it that as long as the repair holds it's the best sounding acoustic I've ever owned (better than my Tayler 810 by a LONG shot!). Thanks again for the feedback and please, anyone who is familiar with these guitars please let me know what year you think it is and any other feedback. Thanks again!
     
  14. RadackGuitars

    RadackGuitars Supporting Member

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    That's not a J45, it's a Southern Jumbo, which is actually better yet.
    Non-original bridge to be certain, not a great replacement, but for the money you can't complain.
    The pictures aren't great, but the finish on the body looks fishy, I'm suspecting a refin has taken place, the bindings too white and I can't see any checking. I'm sure others will chime in.
     
  15. hogy

    hogy Member

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    Yes, quite a few more issues than originally mentioned, the possible refinish being the biggie here. Not much of a collectible at this point, but who cares? It is a Southern Jumbo as mentioned, not a J-45. In original shape the SJ is more valuable.

    One thing is for sure, you cannot spend $800 on anything new and get close to the sound of a 1940s Gibson. Or much more, for that matter.

    You did great. If you just want to play it, leave it alone and enjoy it.

    The other option would be to restore it with a more period correct looking refinish. In the process you could make all the issues, such as wrong bridge, cracks, enlarged tuner holes, etc. disappear. You'd be looking to spend another $1k plus, but the guitar would be perfect. Still a great deal.

    Either way it'll sound the same, and that's the part that matters.


    Hogy
     
  16. smiert spionam

    smiert spionam Member

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    Well said. If it sounds good and plays well, don't put more money into it. It'll always be a refin with a major repair.
     
  17. guitarplayer

    guitarplayer Member

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    So, just out of curiosity does anyone care to estimate what this might be worth assuming it has been refinished, different bridge, tuners and crack repair? If putting another 1k into it will "still be a deal" I'm assuming it's market value today is somewhere over $800? Just curious if I ever decide to sell it in the future if I would at least get my money back out of it.
     
  18. Stubee

    Stubee Member

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    Tough call on "worth". A refinish generally devalues a guitar by 50% or so, more than the cracks would. The crack, as it extended through the neck, would also take it down some, even as repaired, just because it's a bit more "hairy" than a typical top or back crack, or an impact side crack that's not thru the neck area. I won't hazard a guess except to say that you could almost certainly recover your money--or better--if you'd ever decide to sell it if left as you bought it. If you had it period-refinished + new tuners + replacement bridge, you might, maybe, hopefully, possibly get all of the investment back for that (e.g., it could then be worth ~$1800 or more to the right buyer). But I don't think you'd make a ton of $ on it by "cleaning it up".

    But it looks like an older refinish, as the top shows wear. And it looks OK, and the bridge looks OK. And as the cracks are well repaired, and it plays & sounds great, I'd just enjoy it and play the heck out of it and not do a thing to it except general maintenance in the future. $800 for a decent "players old J-45" aint' bad at all these days, IMO.

    I'd play it like crazy and not worry about what happened to it, like you might if it were a $5K J-45. Those old Gibsons can take some heavy strumming & picking. Have at it, take her everywhere, let yer friends play her, leave it to a loved one when yer gone.
     
  19. Rockinrob86

    Rockinrob86 Supporting Member

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    if a guitar is refinished badly, and you refinish it correctly, the value will go up some due to the proper refin.
     
  20. The Walrus

    The Walrus Member

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    Plat that Guitar 'till the cows come home! You can not put a value on the Joy that You will experience. Maybe for the first time in Your Guitar Playin' Days. :cool:
     

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