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Working Man's Blues

During the Great Depression, musicians faced a real quandary: how do you sing the blues away if you can't afford a guitar? While musicians struggled to find instruments, guitar companies faced an equally-perplexing problem: how could they keep their doors open when musicians were even broker than normal? In 1936, both parties found a solution in the Gibson J-35, a spruce-topped dreadnought with mahogany back and sides that only cost 35 bucks--or 617.21 in today's dollars. It wasn't cheap by any means, but it was much closer to a working man's budget than the guitar it replaced in Gibson's lineup, the Jumbo, which was more than twice as expensive.

Though it may have been more of a budget instrument in the thirties, the J-35 quickly earned a stellar reputation among vintage collectors for its versatility and dynamism. Nowadays, a thirties J-35 in good shape will run you about twenty-five times what they cost new in '36 even if you adjust for inflation! Thankfully, the Gibson Acoustic Custom Shop has put together an incredible tribute to those original J-35s for players who desire vintage tone with modern playability. Wildwoodians, we are proud to show off the Custom Shop 1936 J-35, a guitar that captures the vibe of the original working man's dreadnought with impeccable accuracy.

Modern Mojo

So, how do Gibson's luthiers imbue these modern guitars with so much vintage mojo? The answer is twofold: they use high-quality tonewoods, and they assemble them using time-consuming old-world manufacturing techniques. With spectacular materials and tons of elbow grease, they are able to achieve incredible levels of vintage accuracy. They hand-scallop every brace, and they use hot hide glue to attach each brace to the body with hot hide glue to maximize energy transfer. Though these procedures are time-consuming, they pay incredible dividends to each instrument's resonance and responsiveness.

Speaking of which, this guitar also comes with a super-thin VOS nitrocellulose lacquer finish that allows the wood to breathe and resonate like a vintage guitar.

Take it From the Top

When talking tonewoods, it I always most appropriate to start at the top--the thermally-aged red Adirondack spruce top, that is! Here at Wildwood, we love Adirondack spruce because of the way it supercharges an acoustic guitar's tone. It imparts a woody, articulate attack, extra headroom and midrange punch, and a big volume boost--all of which are present in these '36 J-35s.

Adirondack spruce was what Gibson used in the thirties, but vintage J-35s have the benefit of "opening up" over decades of use. So, to help these modern recreations sound more like vintage instruments, Gibson thermally ages the tops. By removing excess moisture from the wood, the fine folks at Gibson Montana are able to simulate the tonal properties of old wood from one of these "played-in" old guitars. As a result, the ’36 J-35 has incredible openness and warmth.

Paired with the warmth and midrange punch imparted by the mahogany back and sides, this thermally-aged Adirondack spruce sounds glorious. All in all, the 1936 J-35 sounds big, open, and warm with a wide dynamic range. It captures the spirit and vibe of those original J-35s with impeccable accuracy, and playing one feels like stepping into one of your favorite old records.

Jammin' J-35s

We are proud to showcase the Custom Shop '36 J-35, a guitar that practically drips with vintage mojo. It's a wonderful tribute to the Depression-era dreads that helped working men and women strum their blues away, and the wizards at the Gibson Acoustic plant in Bozeman, Montana have imbued it with a true-to-vintage sound with their old-world manufacturing techniques and elbow grease. We have no doubt that it will inspire you to reach new heights on your fretboard journey!


Brand Gibson
ModelCustom Shop 1936 J-35
TypeSlope-Shoulder Dreadnought
Finish ColorVintage Sunburst
Finish TypeThin VOS Nitrocellulose Lacquer
Top WoodSolid Thermally-Aged Adirondack Red Spruce
Back & Sides WoodSolid Mahogany
Neck WoodMahogany
Neck JointCompound Dovetail
Neck ShapeV Profile
Neck Dimensions.880 1st - .940 9th
Fretboard MaterialIndian Rosewood
Fingerboard InlaysMother-of-Pearl Dots
Scale Length25"
Width at Nut1.77"
Nut MaterialBone
BindingMulti-Ply Top, Single-Ply Back
TunersStraps w/Cream Buttons
BridgeRectangle w/Open Slot and Historic Spacing
SaddleCompensated Bone
CaseHardshell Case

Why Order from Wildwood Guitars?

An instrument from Wildwood isn't just an ordinary guitar. It's your guitar. Each and every instrument we sell includes a full, point by point setup, an exhaustive evaluation, and expert shipping procedures, with first class, industry leading standards from start to finish. Why? Because you deserve it.

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Serial Number: 21310015

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