1949 Gibson Southern Jumbo
Posted on December 24 2013
In 1942 the folks at Gibson's decided it was time to redesign the J-55 into something flashier, something that the folks south of the Mason-Dixon line would like. What they ended up with was a model called the Southerner Jumbo which featured their split parallelogram inlays down the fretboard. A few of the original batches even had Rosewood back and sides which command quite a premium over the Mahogany versions. All further batches featured the J-45 base with the fancy inlays and thicker binding around the body.
This guitar was manufactured just after the war in 1948 or '49. There's no record of which factory order numbers were manufactured when but there are a few aspects on this one that help nail down the date. The headstock features the block logo which was introduced in late '46 or early '47. The sides are solid Mahogany indicated by the vertical spruce sticks that help avoid splitting. Gibson began manufacturing the sides with laminated wood starting in 1951. The sunburst finish on the top has the "Cremona Brown" style burst that is much lighter than what they did starting in the 1950. The kicker has got to be the belly down Rosewood bridge.
These bottom belly bridges first appeared on Southerner Jumbos in 1942. They were soon phased out and by 1943 they were mostly rectangular. But, throughout the 1940s the employees sneaked in a few bottom belly bridges on Southern Jumbos and even a J-45 or two. That's just Gibson for you, the only consistency is inconsistency.
You might notice that the sunburst is a lot lighter than that of a 1950s era Gibson. This burst is called Cremona Brown and Gibson first used it on their mandolins in the late 1920s. They went to a darker burst sometime around 1951. I am quite fond of the lighter burst.
This SJs tone can be described as the quintessential Gibson round shoulder tone. It's got that warm mid-range with a woody low end thump that is so perfect for vocal accompaniment and songwriting. I tend to lean towards fingerstyle blues and this one does that thing in spades.