The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Gibson SJ Slope Shoulder Dreadnought Sunburst, 1946


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Here we’re looking at a just-post WW2, Gibson SJ Slope Shouldered Dreadnought Sunburst, 1946 built in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Introduced in 1942, the Gibson SJ has stayed in production to the present day though sometimes with name changes, including the ‘Country Western’ name. It is essentially a more decorated J-45. The “SJ” name stands for “Southern Jumbo” and was apparently aimed at customers in the Southern US states.

Construction of the 1946 Gibson SJ is very similar to the J-45. The top is Spruce, and has been Sitka pretty much since its introduction. Pre-WW2, many guitar tops were Adirondack Spruce. However, Adirondack was a superior choice for wooden airframes, and by 1942 was reserved for military use, to the point of overharvesting. Sitka has been the replacement since then; it’s pretty much only the last decade that Adirondack tops have re-appeared. The sides, back, body blocks and neck are Mahogany, sourced in South-Central America. The fingerboard and bridge are Rosewood, and until about 1965, that was sourced in or near Brazil.

Though it lacks both a serial number or FON (Factory Order Number), dating this 1946 Gibson SJ is relatively easy and certain given a pair of features. Gibson ended use of the wartime ‘Banner’ logo in 1945, and in 1947, the SJ received a bound fingerboard. That leaves 1946! At this point, truss rods were just becoming standard again after material shortages during the war, but the neck profile is much like the rod-less Banner models.

At time of writing, this 1946 Gibson SJ is 77 years old, plays well and sounds great. Over that time, it’s had an amount of necessary work done to it, some of it relatively recent but much of it decades ago. The back suffered a number of cracks and has been repaired, and there is some lacquer overspray. The top is in pretty good shape with some pick wear. The bridge has at very least been removed and re-glued, and probably replaced as there are some inconsistencies in shape. If replaced, it was likely done at least four or five decades ago as it is Brazilian Rosewood. This style of bridge with the ‘belly’ towards the tailblock is correct for this model at this time, and the location of the two mother of pearl dots (which cover locating bolts) is also correct, though unlike other Gibson models.

For wear-related repairs, the guitar has been re-fretted, and there is little wear to most of the frets except for under the B string on the first fret, which has moderate wear. There is some play wear to the fingerboard in the low positions, likely reduced during the re-fretting process. The original Kluson-made tuners are in the case but are without buttons. The original buttons would have been cream-coloured celluloid and over time those often deteriorated. A very visually close set of drop-in replacements have been installed, and these not only work well but were specifically designed for guitars like this.

A 1940’s tweed arched top hard shell case, possibly original or at least from the precise period is included with this 1946 Gibson SJ. It looks like the guitar and case have been together for all of their lives. All the latches and hinges work, and it looks very cool; it would be perfect for a 1940’s or 1950’s film set. It contains a strap, which was worn tied to the headstock using an included attachment, and a boxed set of vintage Mapes strings. The guitar is presently strung with what looks like a John Pearse light gauge phosphor bronze set.


Price: $11,250.00 CAD
  • Model: SJ
  • Year: 1946
  • Finish Sunburst
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: N/A, built during 1946 in Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Good
  • Date Posted: 11/05/2023

  • Consignment Item

  • Including original Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 4.048lbs 1.84kg
  • Scale Length: 24.75in 628.6mm
  • Nut Width: 1.750in 44.45mm
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