No FON. The banner Gibson models built with maple back and sides have an entirely unique voice amongst flattops. Like the best of them, this example is very loud, forward, and punchy. It offers more clarity and fundamental presence than a good mahogany J-45, with less overpowering overtones.
An exceptional flat-picking guitar, with less thump and roundness than pretty much any other variant of the J-45 model. This Maple J-45 really shows its merits at old-time fiddle back-up, where its power and projection really shine through. With maple back and sides, this banner J-45 has some of the clarity and sheer horsepower of the earlier 3-bar J-35s, but doesn’t compromise much of the warmth and scalloped-braced goodness of a J-45. It is truly a remarkable instrument.
Gibson’s maple banner models were produced towards the end of 1943 and into ’44, by our best guesses. South American lumber supplies dwindled as WWII went on, and Gibson was forced to use other woods for their guitars during that time. Necks switched to maple from mahogany fairly early on, truss-rods were eliminated for about a year, but then were reintroduced by 1944, fingerboards switched from Brazilian rosewood to a species of American gumwood, the blocks and kerfings switched from mahogany to poplar, and the back and sides were built with laminated maple rather than mahogany.
This example features a 5-piece maple and mahogany neck with adjustable truss-rod, 2 piece spruce top (we’d hedge our bets on it being Sitka), gumwood fingerboard, and poplar blocks. Sunburst top, dark brown to almost black finish on the back, sides, and neck to hide that figured maple.
The guitar is completely crack free, and nearly completely original. The tuners are period correct, but they hide the footprints left by a set of Grovers. Frets, nut and bridge are original. New aged reproduction bone saddle by our shop. There was once a pickup in this guitar, and the endpin was enlarged for an endpin jack. That hole has since been very cleanly plugged and the finish touched up locally (about 1” around the endpin). The repair is well hidden. The neck has been reset nicely as well.
The guitar plays beautifully, and is set-up with our shop standard action of 5 to 6 64ths at the 12th fret. The original frets show surprisingly little wear given the finish flake on the back of the neck, but they don’t appear to have been replaced. Chunky round neck is large, but considerably more manageable than many we’ve encountered.
An incredible sounding Banner Gibson, and one we’re going to miss when it moves on.
With attractive 1950’s hardshell case.
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