1951 Gibson J-50 Slope Dreadnought Guitar

This customer's J-50 has been hanging around for a while but it finally got its quota of work done. It's about the cleanest older J-50 I've handled and it's all the more surprising because the factory order number dates it to 1948. However, a helpful reader let me know that it's probably a '51 or '52 via the bridge type, which appears as original equipment to my eye, and that serial numbers looped in '51/'52. I did not know that.

She's an oldie, anyhow... an oldie filled to the brim with all that dry, huge, thunderous woody old Gibson tone you'd expect from one like this. It'll do just about any acoustic style under the sun but practically beams out "Grand Ole Opry" (from the 50s) to me.

Work included a fret level/dress, bridge reglue, cleaning, and setup. It plays beautifully and everything works as it should (by which I mean, thankfully, the truss rod). The neck is even that bigger old Gibson C shape which fills, but fits perfectly (and fast), in the hand.

The 16" lower bout qualifies this as a "jumbo" (hence the "J") but most folks ID these by their "slope-shouldered dreadnought" or "slope dread" terminology. With a waist slightly narrower and longer than a Martin D-18 and a body slightly longer and wider at the lower bout, these have an entirely different feel in the lap and (at least to me) feel a lot more comfortable for longer sessions.

Their shorter (24 3/4") scale length also contributes to an easier left-hand tension-wise over a few hours of play.

The Ankh truss cover is a replacement as are these screwed-down shaft Kluson (well, Grover, in this case) Deluxe tuners with 50s-style buttons. The nut looks like an older synthetic type, too... as you'd expect on a 60s Gibson.

Specs? Brazilian rosewood board and bridge, solid spruce top, and solid mahogany back, sides, and neck. Pearl dots in the board, too, and that older, smaller Gibson fretwire definitely transport this backwards in the "feel" and "looks" department.

I adore single-ring Gibson rosettes. And... the classy old teardrop guard.

When I reglued the bridge I had to replace the pearl dots covering the old bolts (which I re-installed, of course). To remove the old pearl I usually drill through the dots and pull them out by sticking an awl in the tiny new hole. That way I don't chip the bridge (as someone else did on that bass-side dot sometime in the past).

See all the weather-check to the finish? Any old Gib fan wants to see that... otherwise it's probably a "fibber."

As for real cracks.. the center-seam opened at one point and there's a tight, fixed old hairline right next to it. No trouble at all.

Nice back...

...which is as clean as they come.

Can't argue with this heel vs. the old early-40s triangular ones. Anyone else notice how you can pop a barred D chord up at the 10th fret on a Gibson easy-peasy but it's not as easy to do that on the average Martin?

The pink-lined Lifton plush/deluxe case is apparently original. It's very cool to know that this "upgrade" model case was available that early as I'd always thought they were 50s in timeframe (I double-checked around the net to make sure).


Unknown said…
Jake My friend! Holy Cow I Thank You For Making The "Sweet Life" Guitar live well again! What a Beauty Right? I got this from a really nice lady named "Lou" right before I recorded the sweet life album years ago and its on the back cover in a red leather chair :o) It is currently 4 a.m. & I am planning on seeing you in just a few hours for the Saturday Jam..so..I should maybe get to sleep and stop drooling over all the old guitars on your site? I will be in for this one in a few hours Buddy and Thanks Again! Y
Jake Wildwood said…
Tee-hee, you're very welcome, and seeya soon Mr. R!
Unknown said…
The bridge is wrong for a 48. There were duplicate Factory Order Numbers in 1948 and 1952 (or it might have been 51). This looks right for the later period.
Jake Wildwood said…
Unknown: Thanks for that. I think you're probably right that it's a '51.