1938 Gibson Advanced Jumbo

By: 38jumbo

Feb 04 2012

Tags: , , ,

Category: Guitars, Photography, Photography & Guitars


Focal Length:55mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:NIKON D700

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This is my 1938 Gibson Advanced Jumbo. There were less than 300 of these made from 1936 through 1939, with the last one being shipped in 1940. I found this one in South Africa some years ago. It was originally imported there by Polliack Musical and Electrical of Johannesburg S.A. in 1938. These instruments were distinguished by Gibson for export by a “Made By Gibson in Kalamazoo” label and a “Made In The USA” stamp on the back of the headstock. Unfortunately this instrument needed a refinish as an attempt had been made to give the top a natural finish by the previous owner. After very extensive research (we had the sister guitar in S.A. as an example) the guitar was re-shaded to the original 1938 size shading, the neck was reset and re-fretted. The pick guard in the photo is from the new Montana AJ’s, but an aged replica fire stripe guard from James Burkett has since been fitted. The restoration work was done by Andy McGibbon of Andy McGibbons Guitar World in South Africa. This guitar has all of the legendary tone that AJ’s are known for, it sounds great flat picked or fingerpicked, with a powerful and rich tone from it’s 75 year old construction of Brazilian rosewood and Adirondack spruce. 


4 comments on “1938 Gibson Advanced Jumbo”

  1. Beautiful instrument. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Gibson stopped using Brazilian before the AJ period.

    • Thank you, yes you are correct, my info is old and was based on the book on The Fabulous Gibson Flat Tops by George Gruhn/Vinopole where they refer to the AJ as having Brazilian back & sides, others claim to have established that it tests as East Indian, but these kind of test are not regognised as accurate, one who claims this Tom Barnwell of Atlanta who owns another 36 AJ (I used to own it)
      Those who worked at Gibson at the time have said they only had one version of South American rosewood at the time which was used in all the rosewood guitars. The bridges & fret boards of course are Brazilian.
      Martin used a different batch of wood of which vary in grain from batch to batch from the suppliers of the day, Gibson had one Supplier in Michigan and they did not have East Indian rosewood and even if it is it’s great sounding old growth aged tonewood.
      Thanks Donald
      Check Mark Stutman at folkway music.com who has worked on my guitar and has a wealth of info on vintage Gibsons & Martins

  2. Right: at the end of the day, it’s the sound that matters! I just picked up a ’38 AJ in need of restoration, hence my interest. Thanks for the info, and cheers.

    • Thanks Don, please keep in mind Mark Stutman for any restoration work or info you might need, he is for my money the best at vintage restoration work and gives seminars on restoration with the top luthiers in North America, as well as being one of the best sources for buying vintage Martins & Gibsons. If you need photos of my 38 AJ during restoration work, (it has been well photographed with the back off and during a neck reset, and new aged bridge fabrication) I can supply them. I dd the ’36 AJ first and then it was sold through George Gruhn to Tom Barnwell, it’s a 3 tone bar AJ, very unusual. I found both while living in South Africa, and to my knowledge there were the only 2 exported their from Kalamazoo, my ’38 has FON # 888D on the neck block. Have you taken note of your FON # ? You can check it on the “Spann” shipping ledger.
      Cheers, it’s a very small club!

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