If there is one guitar that defines the legacy of Gibson acoustics, it is the J-45—one of the most beloved and played acoustic guitars in history. Since its introduction in 1942, the Gibson J-45 has become the icon of Gibson’s round-should dreadnought acoustic line, and its number one-selling acoustic. In recognition of this distinguished rank, Gibson Acoustic is proud to present the 1942 J-45 Legend—an exact recreation of the legendary acoustic in its first year of production.
If there is one guitar that defines the legacy of Gibson acoustics, it is the J-45–one of the most beloved and played acoustic guitars in history. Since its introduction in 1942, the Gibson J-45 has become the icon of Gibson’s round-should dreadnought acoustic line, and its number one-selling acoustic. In recognition of this distinguished rank, Gibson Acoustic is proud to present the 1942 J-45 Legend–an exact recreation of the legendary acoustic in its first year of production.
An exact recreation of a legendary acoustic.
Custom Made White Button Tuners
Gibson’s 1942 J-45 Legend acoustic features period-correct strap open-back white button tuners that are identical to the original Kluson tuners used in 1942. Each tuner is painstakingly handmade for this guitar using the exact dimensions and design as on the original 1937 model, reproduced with precise handcrafted detail, and resulting in a high-quality, vintage tuner not available on any other instrument.
The Gibson name has graced the most innovative and revolutionary acoustic guitars of our time–the Super Jumbos, the J-45, the Hummingbird, the Dove. There is no mistaking the classic, gold block script logo, stamped onto the face of the headstock, with the period-correct banner “Only A Gibson Is Good Enough” directly underneath it. It represents more than a century of originality and excellence. There is simply no equal.
1942 standard fire stripe tortoise pickgaurd.
Classic gold block script logo.
Tapered dovetail neck joint.
Rosewood Fingerboard with Traditional Binding and Classic Dot Inlays
The fingerboard of Gibson’s 1942 J-45 Legend is constructed from the highest grade Madagascar rosewood on earth, which is personally inspected and qualified by Gibson’s team of skilled experts before it enters the Gibson factories. The resilience of this durable wood makes the fingerboard extremely balanced and stable, and gives each chord and note unparalleled clarity and bite. The J-45’s classic dot inlays are made of genuine mother of pearl, and are inserted into the fingerboard using a process that eliminates gaps and doesn’t require the use of fillers. The fingerboard also sports traditional binding over the fret ends, which was a staple feature of many classic Gibson acoustics for many years.
The pickguard for the 1942 J-45 Legend is Gibson’s standard fire stripe tortoise tear drop shape, exactly as it appeared on the very first J-45 in 1942. As with all of Gibson’s pickguards, the coloring and binding are all done by hand.
Tapered Dovetail Neck Joint
The dovetail neck joint is one of the oldest–and best–ways of securely joining the neck to the body of a guitar. It is also a complex and expensive neck joint to build, but the result is a tight, locking connection that supports the neck at the proper neck-pitch angle, allowing the body and neck to become one solid piece of resonating wood, with no metal to impede vibration. This process is done entirely by hand, requiring patience and skill.
Body Tonewoods (back, sides and top)
The top of the 1942 J-45 Legend is made from genuine Adirondack red spruce, while the back and sides are constructed from pattern-grade Honduran mahogany, giving the 1942 J-45 Legend the same full, balanced expression, warm bass, and excellent projection that earned the original J-45 its much-heralded reputation. Selecting the right wood, and the formula to dry it out, are two of the most central procedures to Gibson’s guitar-building process. Beginning with its first catalog in 1903, Gibson has assured its customers that every guitar would be built using woods with “the most durable, elastic, and sonorous qualities,” and today’s guitars from Gibson Acoustic are no different.
A rosette is the beautiful, hand-crafted circle around the soundhole, and can be one of the most ornamental elements of any acoustic guitar. It is also one of the most subtle and complicated woodworking decorations on any acoustic guitar. The rosette on the 1942 J-45 Legend is a simple single-ring rosette consisting of three-ply binding, adding a stylish, understated elegance to the 1942 J-45 Legend.
Every acoustic guitar made by Gibson features hand-scalloped, radiused top bracing inside the body, a feature normally found only in limited run, hand-made guitars. By scalloping each brace by hand, the natural sound of the acoustic is focused more toward the center of the body, enhancing the instrument’s sound projection. The 1942 J-45 Legend features a variation of Gibson’s “X” bracing pattern situated behind the soundhole, with a set of tall and thin braces for the back, and scalloped tall and thin braces for the top. This legendary bracing design–exactly as it appeared in the first J-45 in 1942–delivers a balanced expression, with punchy, deep lows, warm mids, and clear, crisp highs. It also projects a natural compression, which helps the J-45 blend nicely with any accompaniment.
The top of many “flat-top” guitars are under a lot of stress from the pull of the strings, which can eventually compromise the top. So, while most acoustic guitars are true “flat-top” guitars, all of the acoustics produced by Gibson in Bozeman, Montana have a radiused, or “tuned” top. Instead of being perfectly flat, a radiused or “tuned” top is raised slightly, and a special instrument is used to shape the top braces to the radius of the top. This process adds tension and strengthens the top, creating a less stressful joint where the top meets the sides and reducing the stresses of string pull. It also results in a “speaker cone” effect that maximizes sound projection, adding a significant boost to mid-range levels for a more balanced acoustic tone.
Applying a nitrocellulose finish to any Gibson acoustic guitar–including the 1942 J-45 Legend–is one of the most labor-intensive elements of the guitar-making process. Unlike the polyurethane finishes used by many guitar manufacturers, a nitrocellulose lacquer finish is porous when cured, allowing the wood to naturally “breathe” and mature. Microscopically thin, the finish on a Gibson acoustic guitar first requires seven main coats of nitrocellulose lacquer. After drying overnight, the initial seven coats are then level sanded and given two additional coats. Left to dry for five additional days, the finish is then wet sanded and buffed to its final glass-like sheen. The time-consuming nature of applying a nitro finish has been employed ever since the first Gibson guitar was swathed with lacquer back in 1894. Why? For starters, a nitro finish means there is less interference with the natural vibration of the instrument, allowing for a purer tone. It’s also a softer finish, making it easily repairable. You can touch up a scratch or ding on a nitro finish, but you can’t do the same on a poly finish.
In general, a guitar’s binding serves as a cosmetic feature, adding a subtle elegance to any Gibson acoustic while hiding the joints between the top, back, and sides, and helping to protect the guitar’s body from any nicks or dings. But to see the process of putting the binding on a Gibson acoustic is to really appreciate the effort and attention put into each instrument. After the body has been glued together, the excess from the top and back are trimmed off and a groove is cut for the binding. The binding is then glued on and held on to the body using tape, and hung to dry. When the tape comes off, any excess glue is removed and the body is moved into the next phase of production. It has been done the same way for over 100 years, and is a fundamental part of Gibson Acoustic’s rich guitar-making history.
- Rosewood Fingerboard with Traditional Binding and Classic Dot Inlays
- Tapered Dovetail Neck Joint
- Body Tonewoods (back, sides and top)