The Gibson Southern Jumbo/Country Western model guitars were created in 1942 during WW II, according to some as a perk specifically for the Gibson distributors below the Mason-Dixon Line. As with many of Gibson’s models—especially during the early war years--there are many variations in the specs over the original 36 years of production, but the bottom line remained the same: it was and is a big guitar designed to hold its own and more against the banjo and fiddle players of the world.
The general description in The Blue Book of Acoustic Guitars indicates a solid spruce top, black pickguard, mahogany back/sides/neck, 14/20-fret rosewood fingerboard with pearl block or parallelogram inlays, rosewood bridge with white pins, blackface peghead, three-per-side nickel tuners, two-stripe body binding and rosette, available in a sunburst finish. However, variations in these specs were frequent, and given the unreliability of Gibson’s serial numbers as dating indicators, the 1966 date I’ve assigned to this great old guitar is based as much on the changing specs as on the serial number (#800024).
George Gruhn’s Guide to American Guitars (p. 145 et seq.) starts with the square-shouldered dreadnought shape and the 16” lower bout to identify a post-1962 Southern Jumbo like this one. The belly above bridge dates it as before 1969; the adjustable saddle and the lack of “Made in U.S.A.” on the back of the headstock make it after 1961 and before 1970; the bound fingerboard, the “deluxe” pearl small block fingerboard inlay, the pearl crown peghead inlay, the style of the Gibson logo, the 4-ply body binding with the ivoroid outer layer, and the large tortoise 3-point pickguard (obviously missing here), all point to a date before 1969. The serial number itself is in this ballpark, although the list of numbers in Gruhn and on the Gibson website can indicate several different years.
But this is probably Too Much Information, and doesn’t really tell you what you need to know about this particular Southern Jumbo. To start with, this guitar will need to be thoroughly re-conditioned to make it a great-playing guitar, and obviously that won’t make it “original.” As I mentioned, the pickguard is Missing In Action, as are the bridge pins, nut, tuners, rosette, and end pin; however authentic their replacements might be, they will not be original. However, the Brazilian rosewood bridge and fingerboard are part of the original “deluxe” package.
Cosmetically, the mahogany back, sides, and neck are in very good condition for a 51-year-old guitar, other than the usual finish crazing. The frets are in surprisingly good shape, the headstock and other inlay is still near perfect, and the bridge is solid.
But then there’s the top, which apparently was stepped on quite heavily twenty or thirty years ago or more, and then subjected to some attempted repairs, starting with some light sanding and re-finishing. The initial damage was considerable, but was and is quite fixable. There is a large cracked area mostly underneath where the replacement pick guard will go, a long crack in the top bass upper bout, and obviously the rosette was totally—and fairly cleanly—removed; internally, I’m sure there are loose and possibly broken braces. The headstock was sanded to the bare wood, but the inlay is intact and suitably shiny; all you really need there is some appropriate tuners.
So: top cracks, loose braces, rosette, tuners, nut—all standard repairs familiar to any professional or experienced amateur luthier, with the standard large pick guard to cover much of the cosmetic flaws. The only real decision and potential difficulty will be the extent and kind of finish one chooses to use on the top and headstock, or if one just goes with a clear coat over the natural wood (my plan).
The restoration is relatively easy, and this guitar is well worth saving. The neck is solid and straight, the original bridge and saddle are intact, the action can be set up comfortably low and fast, and of course the sound will be terrific! Big, full bass, trebles clear as a bell, everything resonating, filling the room!
Bottom line: you can own a great-sounding Gibson Southern Jumbo guitar with tons of character and jam cred with the work done under your supervision and the professionally healed scars to prove its pedigree. It won’t be a museum piece; it won’t be prettied up with abalone and such; but it will be a great player’s guitar, embodying everything that the name Gibson has stood for over the last century or so.
The case is possibly not original, but it is a solid vintage chip board case in good shape. The hardware works, and the exterior has only a few minor dings and bruises. The guitar fits perfectly, and the case offers this classic instrument more than adequate protection during its re-birth.
Buyer pays a flat rate of $55 for insurance and shipping to the lower 48 states; shipping costs elsewhere will be negotiated as necessary.
Payment by Paypal is preferred; cashier’s checks are acceptable, but checks must clear before the guitar will be shipped.
I have tried to be perfectly clear and accurate in describing this great project guitar, so its return will not be accepted unless it can be shown that it was egregiously misrepresented in this listing. Please check out the pictures and ask any questions you might have before offering to buy it.
Thank you for your interest in this cool vintage guitar.
Payments by Paypal, cashier’s checks, money orders, or personal checks are acceptable, but all payments must clear my bank before the guitar will be shipped. I will CONSIDER reasonable offers, even including installment payments and trade-ins, but generally since I already attempt to price my guitars very competitively, unusual deals must be unusually sweet.
From henceforth [that's how retired English teachers talk], insurance and shipping to the lower 48 states is $55 due to constantly rising shipping costs unless a specific listing says otherwise; shipping costs elsewhere will be negotiated as necessary. I have sold guitars to Russia, Japan, Australia, and over 50 other countries, as well as almost every state in the USA. Since some of my guitars travel thousands of miles, I take care to use lots of packing materials, protect the neck inside the case, and of course de-tune the strings.
I make every effort to describe and illustrate each guitar and case with scrupulous accuracy. However, many of my instruments are well-played vintage items which are many years old, and I am not a luthier. One should assume that any guitar will require some set-up to satisfy your personal requirements, and that not every flaw or ding will be seen/recognized/described in the listing. Thus the return of an instrument will not be accepted unless it can be shown that it was egregiously misrepresented in this listing. Please read the listing carefully, check out the pictures, and ask any questions you might have before offering to buy.