1963 Gibson J-45 ADJ

A magical J-45 that will shatter your preconceptions and upend your biases about plastic bridge Gibsons. It’s made for light strumming, and offers up huge warmth, bass, sustain and immediacy when being played with a light to medium well-controlled strummed attack. It’s not a bluegrass guitar, and it’s sonically miles apart from most other Dreadnoughts, so don’t choose this guitar if you’re looking for a lead guitar, a boomy and loud jumbo that cuts through a mix, or one that does the heavy flat pick / melodic picking kind of thing – those are not its strengths. If you want a guitar to sing along to, this J-45 might do it better than most any other option.

The plastic bridge and adjustable saddle set up was a short-lived experiment from the early 1960s. You’ll find this bridge design on J-45s from late 1962 and 1963 only, although Gibson used it on lower priced smaller models for a few more years. The bridge is bolted to the top through the bridge plate via four screws offering next to nothing in the way of strength and structure to the top and leaving all the heavy lifting to the plywood bridge plate. It’s admittedly a poorly thought-out design, and Gibson came to that realization in fairly short order. But the trade-off of the plastic bridge’s inherent structural weakness is the unique and sometimes wonderful tone that the guitars fitted with this bridge can have. But guitars being what they are, there’s plenty of inconsistency in tone amongst the plastic bridge models, and most just don’t sound this good, or worse, they’ve done irreparable damage to the top. What is special about this guitar (and a handful of others like it that we’ve encountered over these last 25 years) is that the top has retained its structural integrity despite the bridge’s design failings, and the guitar has developed a heavenly voice in the process. Long and short, a plastic bridge Gibson can often be sub-par on a few levels, but a good one like this is uniquely special.

The guitar is in very good condition overall and is completely original but for new frets and bridge pins just installed by our shop. We’ve glued a handful of open cracks and have set up the guitar with comfortably low action and 12-54 strings.

The neck has a modern low C carve, a nut width that’s just shy of 1-11/16” and a neck depth of .815” at the 1st fret.

The finish shows playwear to the back of the neck and soundhole, light belt buckle impressions on the back, dings and dents consistent with a 60 year old instrument, and a cigarette burn on the headstock face. It has the lovely patina of a well-used but not abused vintage flattop.

With non-original hardshell case