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Gibson American
Buddy Holly

Not on view

Though Buddy Holly was famous for performing with a 1954 Fender Stratocaster, he composed many of his hits with this wartime Gibson J-45. It is probably the acoustic guitar used to record “Everyday,” “Send Me Some Lovin’,” and “It’s Too Late.” Holly was likely inspired to add the hand-tooled leather cover, a popular decoration among country-western guitarists, when he saw one on the cover of Elvis’s 1956 debut album. The leatherwork features the titles of several of Holly’s songs and the name of his home state. A leather-tooling enthusiast, Holly probably made it himself.

Technical Description:
Flat spruce top with round sound hole, mahogany back, sides, and neck, rosewood fingerboard; 24¾ in. scale; sunburst finish with five-ply white and black binding; set neck with mother-of-pearl dot inlays; headstock with gold script Gibson logo and “Only a Gibson is Good Enough” banner decals; metal tuners with plastic heads, rosewood bridge, celluloid tortoiseshell pickguard; custom hand-tooled leather cover; no truss rod due to metal restrictions in wartime manufacturing

J-45, Gibson (American, founded Kalamazoo, Michigan 1902), Spruce, mahogany, rosewood, metal, celluloid, tooled leather cover

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Courtesy of Michael and Barbara Malone