There’s nothing that looks more like a J-45 than another J-45. We may be fans of this superb rough and utilitarian acoustic guitar, but its unmistakable dark sunburst can end up making you want something else. The 1960s models are set apart by their adjustable bridge and their lighter, more orange sunburst colour. Gibson used the one played by Donovan as the inspiration for his signature model.
But genuine vintage J-45 Custom Orders are very rare. Since it was the most visually basic model in the catalogue, customisations were more commonly made to Hummingbirds or Doves. That makes this 1968 model all the more remarkable. And to add to it all, the customisation requested was in very good taste: it is a J-45 with a Cherry Red finish, so no shading but a very beautiful solid deep red approaching the hue of the mahogany back, with two symmetrical tortoise pick guards on either side of the soundhole. It is a custom order that brings to mind the Everly Brothers model and its double pick guard, but the more square and reduced body of the J-45 gives the concept a more “back-to-its-roots” slant.
The man who ordered this Gibson was English, which explains why it is still in its original Selmer case (the Gibson importer at the time). The guitar remained in England before moving to the other side of the Channel, retaining all its original parts each time it changed hands. Lastly, it bears the famous 2 below the serial number which indicates a “factory second”, in theory a specimen with an obvious defect. In reality, Gibson has often applied that distinction rather mysteriously, without the guitar deserving it. In this case, we will never know the reason behind the 2.