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NMM 10866.  Guitar by Gibson, Inc., Kalamazoo, 1941.
Jumbo "55" (J-55) model (16″).  Factory Order Number 5285G 14.
John R. Barmeyer Collection, 2005.

NMM 10866.  Guitar by Gibson, Inc., Kalamazoo, 1941.

The J-55, first made in 1939, was altered in 1941, when its moustache bridge was replaced with a simpler design known as the "batwing," and the stairstep peghead, with its intricate outline, was abandoned. In spite of the simplification, the price of the instrument rose from $55 in 1939 to $68.25 in 1942, reflecting, to a certain extent, wartime inflation. Production of the J-55 was short-lived, however, and the model was discontinued in 1943. Due to its rarity, the J-55 is particularly sought by Gibson collectors.

Front, Side, and Back Views

NMM 10866.  Guitar by Gibson, Inc., Kalamazoo, 1941. Treble side of guitar Bass side of guitar Back of guitar

Inscriptions:  Inlaid in mother-of-pearl on headstockGibson

Rubber-stamped in purple ink on neck block, the number 14 written in red pencil: 5285G 14

Numbers stamped on neck block

Front and Back Views of the Body

Front of guitarBack of guitar

Body:  Soundboard:  two-piece spruce: very wide, irregular grain narrowing toward the flanks. Back:  two-piece mahogany. Ribs:  two-piece mahogany reinforced on interior with linen strips. Head:  mahogany veneered with black lacquered maple; Gibson mother-of-pearl inlay; bell-shaped black celluloid truss rod cover secured with nickel-plated, steel, slot-head screws. Neck:  mahogany; integral with head.

Fretboard, Front and Back of Peghead

Fretboard Front of peghead Back of peghead

Trim:  Heel cap:  none. Fingerboard:  rosewood bound in white celluloid; 19 nickel-silver frets; single mother-of-pearl dots inlaid behind 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 15th frets; double mother-of-pearl dots inlaid behind 12th fret; single imitation tortoise-shell celluloid side dots behind 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 15th frets; double imitation tortoise-shell celluloid side dots behind 12th fret. Nut:  bone. Bridge:  rosewood with festooned lower edge, known as "batwing"; three mother-of-pearl dots inlaid below bridge pins; angled bone saddle; white plastic bridge pins. Tuners:  six chrome-plated, steel, Grover worm-gear machine tuners with decoratively cut plate outlines; white celluloid heads. Endpin:  white celluloid. Pick guard:  imitation tortoise-shell celluloid. Lacquer:  dark brown sunburst with fine craquelure.

Bridge and Lower End


Lower end

Neck Heel and Soundhole

Neck Heel Soundhole

Inlay:  Binding:  white celluloid. Rosette:  three-ply (white-black-white) celluloid purfling strips set in from inside edge. Back stripe:  none. End graft:  none.

Interior: Linings: kerfed maple. Neck block: mahogany; beveled corners. End block: mahogany. Top bracing: spruce X-brace, the joint of main cross brace reinforced with white cloth; transverse and finger braces with tapered ends; maple bridge plate. Back braces: four spruce back braces with tapered ends. Back graft: spruce.

Measurements:  Total guitar length:  1028 mm (40-1/2″)
Back length:  514 mm (20-1/4″)
Upper bout width:  293 mm (11-17/32″)
Waist width:  272 mm (10-11/16″)
Lower bout width:  408 mm (16-1/16″)
Rib height (including edging) at heel:  99 mm (3-29/32″)
Rib height, at waist:  108 mm (4-1/4″)
Rib height, at end block:  124 mm (4-27/32″)
Head length:  166 mm (6-17/32″)
Head width, top:  72 mm (2-13/16″)
Head width, bottom:  59 mm (2-5/16″)
Neck length (nut to ribs):  353 mm (13-7/8″)
Neck width, nut:  42 mm (1-23/32″)
Neck width, heel:  55 mm (2-5/32″)
Soundhole diameter:  101 mm (3-31/32″)
Vibrating string length (nut to bridge edge):  high E:  632 mm (24-7/8″); low E:  635 mm (25″)

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Most recent update: March 24, 2014

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