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1944 Gibson J-45 Banner Logo Wartime Dreadnought, Flame Maple Back, Sides & Neck w/ Case


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Up for sale, a 1944 Gibson "Banner Logo" J-45 Wartime dreadnought featuring an Adirondack spruce top and figured maple back, sides, and neck. As one of sparingly few Gibson acoustics produced during the Second World War (the model was first introduced in 1942), this guitar is a prime example of the reverence afforded Gibson's first J-45 models for their tonal breadth and complexity. Given Wartime shortages, the J-45 saw tonewoods used beyond the normal pairing of an Adirondack spruce top and mahogany for the back/sides/neck. This example represents one of the rarer iterations of the J-45 from its Banner years, with highly figured flame maple back and sides, and a three-piece maple neck with walnut stringers.

Very warm, full-bodied and detailed with incredible projection and power, this J-45 benefits from the notable articulation and treble snap of maple as a tonewood. As such, this J-45 is also more responsive to fingerpicking than most dreadnoughts, and the sound is very even and smooth as you travel up the fretboard. Trebles have a sweetness and snap and are plenty punchy, complimenting a midrange that’s more restrained than a mahogany back/sides J-45 and with greater clarity. The bass register is defined, taut, and extremely clean with a high volume ceiling. This J-45 weighs 5lbs, professionally setup here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar with 12-53 strings and comfortable action.

The neck is one of the rarer aspects of this J-45, and while two-piece maple necks were a bit more common in the subset of maple J-45s, this J-45 is hardly the workingman's model it purported itself to be. With a three-piece flame maple neck and walnut stringers, this tonewood and cosmetic combination befitted Gibson's highest tiered archtops of the era. The neck offers baseball bat+ chunk with a substantial C-shaped profile carve. It’s as massive a neck as you'll find on any Gibson, and the size of the neck is in large part responsible for the impressive tonal response of the guitar, measuring .925" deep at the 1st fret and 1.015" at the 9th. The Brazilian rosewood fretboard retains the original slender banjo fretwire which has been leveled and crowned in the guitar’s lifetime, currently showing virtually no wear and playing easily up the 24 3/4" scale. The nut measures 1 3/4" in width, and the headstock face retains the particularly clean original script Gibson logo and banner. The original open-gear strip tuning machines are intact and still function as intended too. Also of note, this J-45 has a truss rod and the neck is notably straight (not all Banner J-45s benefitted from a rod, given Wartime metal shortages).

The neck has been recently professionally reset, meeting the body at an ideal angle. A new rosewood bridge has been carved and fitted, installed on the footprint of the original yet with slightly longer wings, sitting flush with the top on all edges. The bridge is fitted with a tall, carved and compensated unbleached bone saddle. A different bridge was at one time installed, with a bit of skillful lacquer touchup behind the current bridge. The original tortoise teardrop pickguard is intact and sits flush with the top on all edges. Visible through the soundhole the four digit factory order number is clean and legible on the heel block, dating the instrument to 1944.

The original Sunburst gloss nitro lacquer finish is extremely bold with excellent color retention, and touchup is limited to the aforementioned spot behind the bridge and an even smaller area surrounding the endpin. The dark Walnut gloss on the back and sides allows the curly flame figuring in the maple to peek through, and the back is notable for being a single piece of maple with very dynamic grain in addition to the figuring.

The center seam on the Adirondack spruce top has been reglued, and there are a couple other slight and professionally addressed splits on top behind the bridge and on the treble-side lower bout, in addition to a couple very short repaired splits between the fretboard extension on top and the soundhole. The back and sides are crack-free, with some minor scuffs and dings consistent with careful use over the past nearly 80 years. Similar wear extends to the top with some additional pick wear on the treble side of the soundhole. The smooth gloss lacquer is intact on the profile length, with a few shallow marks central to the carve behind frets 1-4.

A black tolex hardshell case is included.