1946 Gibson Southern Jumbo

SOLD | 1946 Gibson Southern Jumbo. Just in on consignment is this excellent 76 years old ‘script logo’ Southern Jumbo. Built in Kalamazoo immediately after the banner era, these early post-war guitars can be some of the sweetest, greatest feeling Gibson acoustics of any time, and this guitar is no exception feeling easy as your favorite pair of worn blue jeans.

24 3/4” scale, 1 3/4” nut, string spacing just a tad over 2 1/8”, Sitka Spruce top, Honduran mahogany back, sides and neck (with adjustable truss rod), Brazilian rosewood fingerboard and bridge, pearloid double parallelogram fingerboard inlays, single open back tuners, tapered headstock, script logo. No cracks and no issues.

We performed a complete refret with StewMac #152 fretwire, reglued a couple of loose braces with hot hide glue and replaced a worn beyond repair bridge plate with a perfect maple replica, also glued in place with hot hide glue. Now, just a word on replacing bridge plates. Replaced bridge plates are usually frowned upon and as a general rule, when it comes to vintage instruments repair the more conservative the approach, the better – so we will do anything to repair and make an original bridge plate (or any other part for that matter) serviceable and usable. Replacing bridge plates has gotten a very bad reputation from hack jobs that are visible on some old Martin guitars, where bridge plate replacement was attempted. Up until 1948 roughly, Martin used to ‘tuck’ the bridge plate under about 1/3 the width of the X braces. This makes for a more robust, better sound transmitting construction, but also makes it very problematic to replace a ‘tucked’ plate without wrecking havoc on the top and X-brace, if this operation is not carried out by a very experienced luthier. On Gibsons, it’s a whole different ball game in that the bridge plates were never in history tucked under the X-braces, but simply snugged-up against them. Sometimes, not even snugged up or butted against, as on some Gibson guitars the bridge plate misses to touch the X braces completely. Long story short: replacing a bridge plate on a Gibson guitar is not a difficult task (some are hardly glued in place at all…) and it doesn’t yield risks of sort of damaging the guitar top or X-brace. Having said that, the bridge plate on this SJ is just about perfect and in perfect health now, and ready to serve for several decades.

Action is 7/64 at the 6th string (low E) and 6/64 at the 1st string (high E), measured at the 12th fret from top of fret to bottom of string, with a saddle height of 5.5/64 at both strings. Neck is dead straight (no relief) and the guitar is strung up with a set of .012 lights. RH in our workshop is 45% – 50% pretty much all year round.
Playability is very good as is, but the owner decided that maybe the guitar is too borderline for a neck reset the way it is, so he will have us reset the neck – if the buyer agrees to – in order to set the guitar up with enough saddle for the future owner to put the action exactly where he wants it. So with new frets and a fresh neck reset the SJ would be good to go for years before it will need any other major maintenance.

Although we’d like to leave any comment about tone to the video that we recorded here below, we can’t keep from remarking how deeply satisfying is playing this SJ. The 70+ years of age have made the finish so dry and thin that it’s now an integral part of the instrument. The whole thing rings and sings just by rubbing your hand on the top or caressing the strings. The clarity and dryness of tone are remarkable. This is a terrific instrument and a great investment, that sounds better than it looks. And that is saying a lot. Comes with a recent hard case of good quality.

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