The surge in quality Spruce and skilled craftsman that came when the boys returned home in 1946 prompted the reintroduction of the Gibson J-50.  This model was simply a natural finished version of a J-45 and had previously been in production in 1942.  Aesthetically pleasing Spruce became progressively more scarce during the war so it was discontinued in 1943 until late 1946.

1947 happened to be the first year of the new and still current block logo.  Few other changes were made from 1946.  The necks tend to be a bit smaller in both width and girth but not by much.  The bridge remained rectangular, the tuners still open back Kluson and the neck was still tapered in depth near the headstock.
Gibson flat-top guitars of the 40s and earlier tend to be of a much lighter build than that of the 50s and later.  This J-50 in particular is very light.  I don’t have a great way of weighing it but it is noticeably lighter than my 1954 J-45 and 1943 (Maple) J-45.  Both the back and sides are made of solid Mahogany.  J-45s and 50s changed to laminated sides at the close of 1950.  The solid side guitars will have Spruce or cloth side supports to aid the sides from splitting.  My ’54 J-45 has no side support while this 50 has Spruce sticks and the Maple has blue ribbon-like cloth.

This J-50 has a very early Factory Order Number.  That is the bold black “605” number.  This is basically a unique number that Gibson gave to a batch of guitars.  I can’t remember how many are in a because it changed but I think it is around 70.  The red number is the number assigned to the individual guitar.  Essentially there 69 other J-50s out there with this FON but this was the 32nd one in the batch.

This is Gibson’s current logo commonly referred to as the “block logo.”  Gibson introduced this logo in 1947 so this guitar was from the first year of this logo and the reissue of this model.  This guitar was listed as a “Mid-50s Gibson J-50.”  I looked at the picture and saw the straight bridge and had a hunch that it was in fact, late 40s.  The listing said the guitar was in Florida so I called the specific store and they gave me the run around a couple of times.  The next day I called again and they said the guitar had moved to their store in Nashville.  I just happened to be on my way to Nashville right then!  It was fate!

I got to the store an hour later and headed right for the acoustic room.  I didn’t even look around because I knew my business was in the “nice acoustic” room.  I opened the door, looked around and was dismayed at the nagging thought that the unhelpful gentlemen in Florida had lied just to get me off the phone.  But then I saw it, all the way in the back corner, leaned up against the wall behind 3 rows of guitars on stands.  You read that right, leaned up against the wall.  I carefully picked it up like a child forgotten by the hourly workers in a nursery (what a sad metaphor!).  A quick check revealed an all original finish, no cracks, original tuners with replaced buttons, FON: 605 and the same stupid description (mid-50s).

I went looking for a salesman and when I walked past one he said, “You look like a man on a mission.” Ok, I guess my game face isn’t as good as I thought.  I asked him to tell me about that J-50.  His knowledge of vintage Gibson acoustics was…. lacking.  He read the tag, talked about the sweet tone, etc.  The poor guy had no idea what to say other than “sweet, sweet tone.”  Whether he meant it or not he was right.  We put it on the bench so I could stick my phone inside it.  It revealed a slopily reglued brace under the shrinking pickguard and a tired bridge plate.  I showed it to the salesman and made my case for what I wanted to pay for it.  They accepted after some coaxing.

Do you have one of these that you would like to sell?  I’m looking for another.  Please email me about what you have for sale.

This article has 4 comments

  1. jamie isles Reply

    I own a Gibson L-00 and and a Kalamazoo KG-14 I love the L-00 but the Kalamazoo has a special place in my heart

  2. George Vastine Reply

    I have one of these with script logo only. I thought it was a 1946 J50 but sent pictures to George Gruhn and he thought it was a 1946 J45 that someone had refinished the top on to make it natural. I knew the pickguard was after market but the sides and back are dark like yours. It is in Vintage Guitar July 2015 edition under “Questions and answers with George Gruhn”.

  3. Paulie Reply

    Hi. I have a J-50 estimated bet 1947-1950.

    In need of repair. But actually tunes up and plays. Neck to body is tight. Bridge is coming up and the back has a som gluing, poorly done. Needs TLC, BUT it is a beautiful instrument in tobacco.

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