Up for sale, a 1939 Gibson J-35 in excellent condition. This Pre-War Gibson dreadnought was the successor to Gibson's "Jumbo" model, marketed as a workingman's guitar and first offered in 1936, while the Natural-topped iteration of the J-35 didn't make its catalog debut until '39. As such, this J-35 has features that span a particularly narrow window, retaining the V neck profile carve of the first J-35s (which would be supplanted by a more slender C carve by the end of the year) while also being a first-year example with a Natural finish.
With its legacy cemented by the enduring popularity of its successor the J-45, this J-35 holds its own in the pantheon of legendary slope shoulder Gibson flattops. Effortlessly broad and powerful, a single strum reveals an incredibly nuanced and rich sound. There’s simply no substitute for an 80+ year old piece of seasoned Adirondack spruce as a soundboard, and the guitar offers a high volume ceiling without distortion, yielding bass frequencies that retain both clarity and breadth with a rumbling warmth that never sounds loose. The trebles are crisp and sparkling while still retaining plenty of body and a relaxed, sweet sound that’s never strident, and there’s a smooth lower midrange muscle and growl when you dig in hard with a flatpick. Each string has equal presence and notes within complex chord voicings are very balanced. Lightweight at 3lbs 13oz, we've had this Gibson dialed in to perfection here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar with 12-53 strings and comfortable action.
The mahogany neck has soft V profile with gentle, inviting shoulders and ideal roundness where the profile meets the fretboard despite the general V shape of the carve, measuring .835" deep at the 1st fret and .925" at the 9th. The profile is extremely smooth to the touch, with a few indentations in the lower registers central to the carve (likely caused by use of an unpadded guitar stand) professionally filled and undetectable to the palm while fretting. The jet black Brazilian rosewood fretboard has been professionally refretted with slender 6230 vintage-style fretwire, which offers more substance than Gibson’s “banjo” wire, playing cleanly up the neck and currently show no wear. The nut is a hand-carved piece of bone measuring a full 1 3/4" in width. The headstock has been fitted with an era-correct set of tuners that perfectly match the footprint and style of the originals, fitted with vintage cream buttons. The back of the headstock also has its EG-prefix factory order number, with "E" being the letter assigned to the 1939 model year and "G" referencing a guitar made for the Gibson brand (as opposed to Recording King, Kalamazoo, etc, given Gibson's proclivity for sub-brands during the Great Depression).
The original Brazilian rosewood bridge sits flush with the top, showing only very minor and expected bellying behind the bridge, which has also been fitted with a slotted bone saddle that has optimal height. The neck has been professionally reset in the past, meeting the body at an ideal angle. The original tiger-stripe pickguard is intact, and prominent strum wear extends beyond the guard and above the soundhole. The original Natural nitro lacquer finish is present, and while there are spots of targeted lacquer overspray on the body (and touchup surrounding the bridge on top), the original lacquer is otherwise intact on the entire instrument, with the original lacquer over the guard as well. The only top crack is the usual "B string crack" between the bridge and soundhole, professionally addressed and stable, and beyond that the top is crack-free. There are two cracks extending from the upper bout on the back towards the waist, a few cracks on the lower bout edge as well, and cracks clustered at the bass-side waist on the side, all professionally addressed, flush, and stable. Wear is otherwise limited to the minor scuffs and dings consistent with age, and this J-35 presents extremely well, having received all the attention it deserves to play its best and be a structurally sound, viable instrument for decades to come.
A modern Gibson-branded hardshell case is included.
A note on shipping: Shipping in the continental USA will be $250, fully insured and shipped via FedEx Two-Day Air. Overnight shipping is available for an additional fee at buyer's request. We happily ship worldwide.