The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Gibson J-45 Slope Shoulder Dreadnought Sunburst, 1948


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And here it is, the classic Gibson J-45 Slope Shoulder dreadnought, a 1948 example built just after WW2 with a mix of wartime and postwar details.

The Gibson J-45 appeared in 1942, displacing a couple of earlier models, and was hit but was itself quickly hit with wartime material restrictions. The straight bridge seen on this example used less material, and was mostly gone by 1947 in favour of the ‘belly bridge’.

Some wartime examples did not have adjustable truss rods, depending on whether the shop had received or run out of their allotment of rod material. The gold Gibson decal firmly places this example to 1947 or later.   On the back of the head, there’s a small ‘Made in USA’ stamp, which indicates that this instrument was intended for export from the USA.  

As to the sunburst – the J-45 has always had a sunburst finish, specifically to hide any visual defects in the Spruce top materials. Higher grades of Spruce were given natural finishes and marketed as models like the J-50, at higher cost. At this time, the spruce would be Adirondack Red Spruce. This was heavily used during the war, but that led to supply shortages that lasted for decades as forests re-grew. Sitka Spruce has been commonly used in its place.

The Gibson J-45 scale length is a comfortable 24.75 inches, with a 1.69 inch (43mm) nut width. These dimensions are a little shorter and narrower than most Martin-based models.

Gibson has always used a nitrocellulose lacquer finish, and here the finish is original. This provides a good degree of physical protection but does not damp the wood’s vibration as much as poly finishes do. And over time, it continues to cure and become even less obtrusive.

All guitars that are used as intended, especially steel string models, eventually require service. This guitar has just been through our shop, receiving the necessary neck reset, a sub-plate under the bridge, bone saddle, new tuner buttons (the originals tended to deteriorate) and was set up.

This classic pairing of spruce and mahogany, with the slope shoulder body, delivers a warm, rich tone with plenty of presence and volume. It works extremely well as an accompaniment to a voice. I’m a big fan of this type of guitar.

This guitar is sold without case – the original cases were often fibre, faux gator (cardboard) and few have survived. We are easily able to provide a suitable case, from standard hardshell to flight models.

NOTE ABOUT THE SERIAL NUMBER:  These models often did not have serial numbers, but instead a Factory Order Number (FON).   Here, there’s a clear 333 stamped in black in on the neck block, with a hand-written ‘2 0’ in red ink.  


Price: $9250 CAD
  • Model: J-45
  • Year: 1948
  • Finish Sunburst
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: 333 20
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Good
  • Date Posted: 08/01/2019

  • Consignment Item

  • Required CITIES documentation
  • Instrument Weight: 4.2lbs 1.9kg
  • Scale Length: 628.6mm 24.75in
  • Nut Width: 43mm 1.69in
Gibson Website

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The Twelfth Fret

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2132 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, Ontario  M4C 1J9
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