|Taylors J-50 with|
During these early years Taylor relied on a Gibson J-50 guitar. Many of his most famous hits featured this instrument.
This guitar was designed to compete with Martin's dreadnought - D series flat top guitars. Where Martin's model featured squared shoulders, this Gibson model was more sloped and rounded.
The J-45 was an updated version of Gibson's J-35 1930's guitar. Gibson had changed the bracing in the J-45 by using 1" struts to strengthen it and updated the neck to a more rounded shape, though some early models have a slight V shape. All of the J-35 neck were V shaped. This was common in older instruments to prevent the neck from warping.
The J-45 featured mother of pearl position markers on its rosewood fretboard.
The guitars top was made of solid red spruce, which was updated to Adirondack spruce in 1943. Some early examples had mahogany tops, as spruce was restricted to building airplanes during WWII.
The necks on the original J-45's were made of mahogany, but within a year changed to maple with strips of walnut.
The necks were huge due to the fact this was a war year guitar and did not have a truss rod, as metal was scarce and used only for the war effort. The guitars laminated maple and walnut neck gave it added strength. By 1945 the neck was once again being made of mahogany.
The neck block on the first models was made of poplar and beveled. Gibson soon made them of mahogany which was not beveled.
The rosette was simple multi layered binding. The binding around the top consisted of seven layers, while the back was only one layer. The unbound neck featured 19 frets.
The bridge appears to be rosewood and originally was rectangular with black pins. In 1950 this was changed to a belly style bridge and the pins were now white.
By 1950 the neck featured 20 frets.
The original pick guards were made of celluloid tortoise shell material and the shape has changed slightly during the years. In 1955 they were slightly larger.
In 1963 the pick guards were made using an injected molding technique and were much thinner. For reasons unknown, in 1968 the pick guards were screwed into the top instead of being glued.
Taylor has retired the J-50 and now favors guitars made by luthier James Olson.