Gibson SJ Southern Jumbo Flattop Guitar

Description: Gibson SJ Southern Jumbo flat top guitar
Available: 1942 to present (recently reissued by Gibson).
Case: Usually seen in a cardboard alligator case, but hardshell cases in tweed (during WW2) and brown (1950s) and black (1960s) can also be seen.
Collectibility Rating: 1940's models: B+. 1950's models: B-. 1960's square shoulder models: D-.
Production: (no pre-1948 production numbers) 1948:439, 1949:462, 1950:617, 1951:674, 1952:768, 1953:1008, 1954:802, 1955:1030, 1956:1399, 1957:1326, 1958:636, 1959:1063, 1960:767, 1961:577, 1962:796, 1963:1099, 1964:1772, 1965:1613, 1966:1081, 1967:2296, 1968:2217, 1969:1525.
General Comments: Rumor has it Gibson made this model for their sales reps below the Mason-Dixon line. Basically the SJ was a replacement for the J-55. The Southern Jumbo is a great model, a fancier version of the J-45. An excellent model, fairly easy to find but a great guitar. I love this model, especially the "banner logo" versions!

If you need to figure out the exact year of your Gibson SJ guitar, use the FON (Factory Order Number). This is located inside the body's sound hole, on the neck block or stamped on the inside back of the guitar. See the Gibson Serial Number Info web page for help determining the exact year.

If you have a vintage Gibson SJ Southern Jumbo guitar for sale, please contact me at

1942 Gibson Southern Jumbo guitar introduction specs:
Officially the SJ wasn't shipped until 1943, but some early models have 1942 FON numbers. Just keep that in mind. SJ has 16" wide, round shoulder dreadnought shape, mahogany back and sides and neck. Note there were a few full batches of Rosewood back and side Gibson SJ models made in late 1942/1943 (FON batch number 910, 2002/2005), and some of these two batches had Rosewood sides with a Mahogany back! Early examples have a Mahogany neck but a poplar or Birch neck with a single mahogany stripe down the center (3 piece neck) is more common. (Note five piece necks were also used with no mahogany stripe, but these are made from maple.) Mahogany neck block, but by late 1942 poplar neck blocks were used. Bottom belly bridge (belly towards endpin, which was the opposite of what all other flattop Gibsons used after WW2) with 2 pearl dots, some models with rectangular bridge instead of a bottom belly bridge, multiple soundhole purfling, multiple bound top and back, constrasting wood strip down center of the back. Only the first few SJ models made had neck binding. Adirondack 2-piece spruce top, fire striped teardrop shaped pickguard, double parallelagram pearl fingerboard inlays, "Only a Gibson is Good Enough" gold silkscreened banner logo, unbound rosewood fingerboard with 19 frets. Note 1942 models have higher tuner position on the peghead, leaving less room for the banner logo. This was changed in 1943, moving the tuner slightly closer to the nut, giving more room for the banner logo. (Easy to see, 1942 models have the "D" tuner almost touching the bottom of the "G" in the Gibson logo.) Early SJ models had a white celluloid heal cap, but this feature generally went away by batch #2431. Tuners were 3-on-a-plate Klusons with exposed gears and "Kluson Mfg Chicago" and "Pat." stamped into the plate in a circle around one attachment screw, plastic buttons (usually white but sometimes black). Some with ebony or maple non-adjustable truss rod, sunburst finish.

    1942/1943 Batch Numbers:
    • 7114h and 7115H (1942): contained both SJ and J-45 models.
    • 8074h (1942): see guitar below. Maybe the first real batch with SJs. (The "H" means 1942, regardless of the FON number.) Rosewood back and sides used in this batch.
    • #910 (1943): first full and official SJ batch number in 1942/1943, about 70 guitars all with Indian Rosewood back and sides (except three examples known in existance with rosewood sides and mahogany back, one of them with skunk stripe top.) Note Gibson never used Brazilian Rosewood for the backs/sides of any Southern Jumbo (Indian Rosewood only), but the fingerboards/bridge were Brazilian. Check tuner position (as discussed above) to determine if it's 1942 or 1943.
    • #914: also had rosewood back/sides SJs.
    • #2005 (1943): second SJ batch, all with Indian Rosewood back/sides, probably another batch of 70. Last SJ batch using rosewood back/sides.
    • #2110 (1943): third SJ batch, and the first SJ batch with mahogany back and sides, tortoise pickguard (not fire striped).
    • #2119 (1943): fourth SJ batch, fire-striped pickguards.
    • #2139 (1943): fifth SJ batch, the first with the thin cog wheel Klusons tuners, tortoise pickguards.
    • #2150 (1943/1944): sixth SJ batch, the first SJ batch with poplar neck blocks. This batch might be the last 1943 or the first 1944 batch. At this batch several unique features are noticeable like cream colored bridge screw cover dots (not pearl), and an very thin finish. The wood pores were not filled completely and not sanded even, only buffed.
    1943-1945 FON chronological order:
    • 2005 to 2827 (1943/1944): mahogany neck block still seen as late as FON 2827, but poplar seen starting around FON 2150. (For example, FON 2685 with a poplar block is 1944.)
    • No FON (1945): poplar neck block.
    • 366 to 661 (1944) and then upto 1xxx: poplar blocks
    • No FON (again 1945): mahogany neck block

    The skunk stripe is a unique feature and is quite rare but it might not be possible to assign it to a single year. Mostly seen in 1943 but this does not mean automatically all skunk stripe SJs are built in 1943.

    SJ FONs.
    From J.Spann's book on factory order numbers, here's some documented FONs from the 1942 to 1945 era. Note he doesn't list exact years during this period, but from what has been seen, years can be approximated. FONs weren't used 1945, so there's none listed.

    • 7114h = SJ and J45 batch 1942.
    • 7115h = SJ and J45 batch 1942.
    • 8074h = SJ. 1942 first full SJ batch. Binding on neck, rosewood b/s, old peghead logo.
    • 8075h = SJ 1942
    • 910 = SJ 1943. Considered first non bound neck rosewood b/s banner logo SJ batch, March 1943.
    • 914 = SJ 1943
    • 2003 = SJ 1943
    • 2005 = SJ 1943
    • 2022 = SJ 1943
    • 2110 = SJ 1943
    • 2119 = SJ 1943
    • 2139 = SJ 1943
    • 2150 = SJ 1943/1944
    • 2224 = SJ 1944
    • 2225 = SJ 1944
    • 2317 = SJ 1944
    • 2318 = SJ 1944
    • 2385 = SJ 1944
    • 2424 = SJ 1944
    • 2426 = SJ 1944
    • 2431 = SJ 1944
    • 2633 = SJ 1944
    • 2685 = SJ 1944
    • 2735 = SJ 1944
    • 2745 = SJ 1944
    • 2827 = SJ 1944
    • 2981 = SJ 1944
    • 3749 = SJ 1944
    • 4372 = SJ 1944
    • 4519 = SJ 1944
    • 4520 = SJ 1944
    • 366 = SJ 1944
    • 372 = SJ 1944
    • 561 = SJ 1944
    • 633 = SJ 1944
    • 661 = SJ 1944

1943 Gibson Southern Jumbo guitar specs:
tortoise grain pickguard material, no neck heel celluloid cap (last known FON batch with heal cap 2424, the first one without FON 2431, about mid-1943), Poplar neck block (instead of mahogany). Most necks have no metal adjustable truss rod (war time metal shortage), neck shape is usually HUGE because of the lack of a truss rod. When there is no metal adjustable truss rod, often Gibson inlayed a "V" shaped non-adjustable maple or ebony "truss rod" into the neck. This can often be seen from the face of the peghead as a upside down "V" in the black peghead face (closest to the nut). (Since Gibson didn't use a peghead veneer at this time, the "V" wood truss rod's glue joints often show thru the black peghead paint. This style of neck reinforcement was what Gibson used before 1921 when they invented the adjustable truss rod.) Also Maple neck with two mahogany stripes down the center (5 piece neck) often used instead of Mahogany. Kluson tuners no longer had circle stamp (still exposed gears, but riveted instead of screwed in place) and shaft size decreased to save metal. (These are "3 on a plate" open-back style tuners.) By late 1943 tuners are individual open-back Klusons, and not 3-on-a-plate style. Tuner position moved down the peghead slight (closer to the nut) to provide more room for the banner logo. During 1943 some SJ models had non-bookmatched two piece Adirondack spruce tops. Or some with four piece Adirondack spruce tops (four piece top SJs still sound great, though they don't look good). Even others had a black (skunk) strip down the middle of the top. Laminated maple back and sides (stained dark) are also sometimes seen (rare).

1944 Gibson Southern Jumbo guitar specs:
Around May 1944 CMI was now Gibson's new owners, and they had some financial pull to get the new materials for guitars by mid-1944. Hence by mid 1944 two piece bookmatched Sitka spruce tops appear and most SJs now have a metal adustable truss rod. Tuners now individual open-back Klusons, and not 3-on-a-plate style.

1945 Gibson Southern Jumbo guitar specs:
Mahogany neck block and Mahogany neck used exclusively again. Two piece bookmatched Sitka spruce top. FON no longer used.

1946 Gibson Southern Jumbo guitar specs:
No "Only a Gibson..." banner, but still used old style "Gibson" gold script logo.

1947 Gibson Southern Jumbo guitar specs:
Fingerboard inlays now pearloid (celluloid, instead of pearl). In late 1947 binding was added to the fingerboard. (So pearloid inlays appeared before neck binding.)

1948 Gibson Southern Jumbo guitar specs:
new style "Gibson" gold block logo. Tuners are now closed-back individual Klusons with plastic buttons.
1949 Gibson Southern Jumbo guitar specs:
"top belly" bridge (belly towards soundhole, as used on most other flat tops models of this period). This style of belly bridge is better, as the belly does not interfere with the vibration of the top between the bridge and the endpin.
1954 Gibson Southern Jumbo guitar specs:
natural finish offered and called the "SJN" ("N" for natural top).
1955 Gibson Southern Jumbo guitar specs:
Longer pickguard with point at upper bout, one additional fret added (20 frets total), lower non-scalloped top braces used, pickguard shape changed from teardrop to a pointed style.
1956 Gibson Southern Jumbo guitar specs:
pearl "Gibson" peghead logo replaces gold silkscreen, and pearl crown peghead design added, natural finish now called the "Country Western".
1960 Gibson Country Western guitar specs:
Country Western renamed "SJN" (Southern Jumbo Natural).
1961 Gibson Southern Jumbo, SJN guitar specs:
Adjustable saddle bridge, cherry sunburst also offered.
1962 Gibson SJN guitar specs:
SJN renamed "SJN Country Western".
1963 Gibson Southern Jumbo and SJN Country Western specs:
Square shoulder dreadnought body shape, 3 point pickguard, plastic bridge.
1964 Gibson SJ and SJN guitar specs:
rosewood bridge with adjustable saddle.
Gibson Southern Jumbo and SJN Country Western discontinued 1977, and then reintroduced in 1991 (with round shoulders). Model still available today.

A 1942 Gibson SJ Southern Jumbo "old logo" with rosewood back and sides.
Note the fire stripe pickguard, and there is no adjustable truss rod on this guitar.
There is also a "skunk stripe" down the top too, a contrasting line of wood (stock).
FON 8074H. One of the first SJ guitars with a pre-banner style logo and neck binding
(note the "H" suffix in the FON).

1943 Gibson SJ Southern Jumbo "banner logo" with rosewood back and sides.
Note the fire stripe pickguard, and there is no adjustable truss rod on this guitar.
Non-original case. FON 2005.

1943 Gibson SJ Southern Jumbo "banner logo" with rosewood back and sides.
Note the fire stripe pickguard, and there is no adjustable truss rod on this guitar.
Non-original case. FON 2005.

Notice the celluloid capped heal.

Notice the "V" where the truss rod adjustment would normally reside.

A 1943 Gibson SJ Southern Jumbo "banner logo" with a mahogany neck. Non-original case. No FON.

A 1943 Gibson SJ Southern Jumbo "banner logo" with a 5 piece laminated maple neck.
Non-original case. FON 2827.

1948 Gibson SJ Southern Jumbo (belly bridge towards endpin) "block logo", with some personality.
Non-original tuners, non-original case, and added stickers.

Post-WW2 Gibson "block" logo:

Non-original tuners.

1955 Gibson SJN Southern Jumbo Natural. Original teardrop pickguard (bridge pins and case not original.)

1955 Gibson Country and Wester Natural. The exact same guitar as a SJN but with a different name.

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