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Vintage Vibes: 1945 Sunburst Gibson "Banner" J-45
Carl Kammin, one of our Acoustic Guitar Specialists, explains the magic behind this wartime, banner-era J-45. Due to the wide-reaching demands of the war effort, most of the 9,000 handmade guitars produced at the Gibson factory during this period were made by the “Kalamazoo Gals,” a nearly all-female workforce using whatever parts and tonewoods were on-hand and not under military restrictions. This means that virtually every banner Gibson is unique is some way. For instance, this ‘45 J-45 has a slightly different body shape from many others, but still sports the stunning, old-growth Honduran mahogany back and sides, the more desirable spruce top, and the metal truss rod.
The J-45 debuted in 1942, starting what's now referred to as the banner era which went from that time until 1946 when Gibson stopped using the ever-famous "Only A Gibson Is Good Enough" banner logo. ‘42 to ‘46 was a wartime period for the US, so the Kalamazoo factory was being run almost exclusively by women at certain points, and because of the war we had several wartime shortages of materials like Spruce used for tops, or mahogany, or metal that might have been used for truss rods. Some wartime guitars might have a mahogany top or a maple back and sides. Some might not have that truss rod I mentioned. It’s important to note that this one does have a spruce top and mahogany back and sides, and it does have the truss rod as well as the rectangle bridge.
If you look at this J-45 closely enough, you might notice that it's actually a slightly different shape than a current J-45, or probably the J-45s that were made before and after it. It's got a slightly more pinched waist than we’re used to seeing, which is a testament to how many things were being done by hand at the time. Every single J-45 that Gibson turned out during this period is 100% its own.
This one's been through hell and back, to some extent. It does have a repaired crack leading from the treble-side bridge foot all the way to the end of the lower bout. The top has been refinished and fully-oversprayed, and there is evidence of other repairs which we have noted in the description, making this J-45 by far the most affordable J-45 from the banner era that we've ever had.