Wordman - I know you have one of these. I was looking at a local (Nashville) auction website and saw that they have a 1940’s Gibson J-45. The price is now at $2000. It’s the highest-priced guitar in the auction. The auction ends tomorrow. You want it?
Hey -thanks for thinking of me. I actually already have a 1940’s J-45 - a 1946. Wonderful guitar; J’s from '46 are known for having a big neck, but not as huge as a Banner Gibson like that.
It’s up to ~$3,500. I didnt scope out the photos in detail, but if its solid shape and it goes for below $5,000, it’d be a bargain. I wonder if anyone on the UMGF Vintage Corner Forum is checking it out- members there have a nose for that kind of auction, especially in Nashville.
ETA: and thanks squeegee for clueing me in about this thread.
If you look at the headstock, in between the tuners is a decal of a banner reading “Only a Gibson is Good Enough” - this originally appeared only on their flattops in the WW2 years - so my '46 doesn’t have it, for instance. Banners are known for their huge necks, light bracing, being the first-generation of the J-45 design we think of today - and for being built by women. In his recent book Kalamazoo Gals, guitar geek and Gibson scholar John Thomas shows how Gibson had their own versions of “Rosie the Riveter,” with women stepping into the factory roles men had while men were off at war. Thomas claims to be the guy who coined the phrase Banner Gibson a decade+ ago to distinguish the WW2 Gibbies, and I have no reason to doubt him. Gibson now puts it on their True Vintage models and other high-end reissues.
The Banner J’s command a premium, but a few folks like me prefer the immediate postwar J’s - better neck profile, tighter bass response.
::Rereading your OP and realizing you already know I have one::
Sorry about the miscue humblebragging. Carry on.
(I suppose I will comment that I try to keep the number of guitars I have down - the fewer the better down to about 3-4. So multiple examples of the same model doesn’t really work for me. Some folks have, like, five dreadnaughts, or 6 Stratocasters. Wired differently.)
This is for a 2004 L-7c archtop. I have an old version of this guitar. It is a great guitar. The audition clip sounds pretty good. If that thing goes for $1,000 someone is getting a great deal.
There are a few like that…I am not in the market and have no idea how to approach auctions, but I bet an astute dealer or a deeply-immersed individual could find great deals. I don’t have that level of time or geekitude.
Ah - interesting. I started a thread over in the Vintage Corner. It was pointed out that it might need a neck reset to counteract the decades with string as at full tension. Considered smart maintenance if done by someone reputable, but which would be a few hundred to $1,000.
Also, someone commented on it having a mahogany top. I did didn’t geek on it upthread, but another thing Banner J’s were is a mish-mash - random part swaps and design changes. Not uncommon for Gibson normally, but it happened even more during WW2. Some J-45’s ended up with mahogany tops, maple bodies, 3-piece necks when 1 was the norm for the time, etc. Mahogany tops are normally associated with somewhat lower-priced models - many folks love them on Banner J’s, but they get priced a bit less. Can be hard to ID in pics but more obvious in person due to the grain diffs; but it takes sunburst paint similar to spruce…
Wordman - The same auction house has a 1939 Martin D-28 for auction this month. Want to guess what it’ll go for? I wonder who here in Nashville is dumping their guitar collection. You’d think there would be a better venue than a general-purpose auction house. Other strings in this auction - want a banjo?
You can come to Nashville and examine it in person Next Wednesday, if you want.
Good lord - that top looks brand new. I would be really interested to hear a more detailed description of the condition. Could it have been re-topped at some point???
What would a near-mint '39 'bone (D-28 which had herringbone binding up to about 1946, so are nicknamed “'bones” just like '58-'60 sunburst-finished Gibson Les Pauls are nicknamed 'bursts) go for? At least $100,000 I would assume
Waaaaaay too rich for my blood! But really fun to hear about and take a look at- thanks!
Also - for what it is worth: Rosewood - especially Brazilian Rosewood, which Martin used up to 1969, is the Holy Grail of tonewoods for acoustics as far as “conventional wisdom” goes. But some folks, including me, prefer mahogany for big-bodied guitars. Rosewood provides extra harmonic overtones - I think of it like playing through a guitar amp with some reverb dialed in. For a smaller-bodied acoustic, that added “reverb” adds a nice richness. For dreadnaughts and other big bodies, the body’s volume already adds richness - the RW adds on top of that. So if you play/strum with a heavier hand - and I do - you can end up with a tone that sounds “clashy” - a bit too noisy. That’s why I got a mahogany D-18 for the Martin dread in my toolset - not to mention the fact that they are priced more affordably anyway - so for me, it was easy!
Thanks again for pointing this out. I may do another post on the Vintage Corner to see what folks think - an amazing, under-the-bed find, or repaired and refin’d???
I there any way to know it’s history based on the serial number? Remember, Nashville has been a music town for a long time. I’m sure there are a lot of fabulous instruments here, both in famous and and under the bed, as you say.
Meaning - if it went back to, say, the Martin repair department for a re-top, would they have a record of it? Knowing those Germanic Martins, it is entirely possible!* Beyond that, if this guitar is an under-the-bed gem - or a “closet queen” as they are sometimes call (yuk) - then yeah, watching the dealers and collectors on the Vintage Corner board swarm with their knowledge and guesses can be amazing and they might be able to suss out its history that way. I did post a thread -
So far the only comment is from Steve Swan, a dealer I really respect in SF Bay Area - but he is only commenting on the fact that it is a late '39, after Martin narrowed the neck width at the nut from 1 3/4" to 1 11/16" - if it was the earlier version, it would be worth a pretty big premium more - maybe $20,000???
**Martin is known for having great records, clean shop floors, exacting build specs, etc. - all part of their history started in Germany, when CF Martin apprenticed under Johan Stauffer before coming to the US. Gibson, in contrast, is a relative mess in terms of consistency of build and design, documentation, etc. Really a pretty dramatic contrast if you take the time to learn about it - if that level of geekiness matters to you
Some of the experts over on the Vintage Corner are taking shots at each over the desirability of early '39 D-28’s vs later '39’s. That’s a 1/16" difference in neck width on guitars that are selling for $75,000 and more.
Oh, neck width can matter - it affects string spacing, so if you play intricate, even fingerpicky stuff, you’re likely to prefer wider. If you care more about fast flatpicking you may prefer narrower - like bluegrassers. As some posters comment though, the neck profile is typically much more important if the width diff is that small. A chunky, ie deep, neck feels very different vs a slim/ thin neck.