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Guitar Aficionado: Buddy Holly's Gibson J-45

Buddy Holly was always seen onstage with a Fender Stratocaster, but offstage this Gibson J-45 was his main guitar, as indicated by the heavy pick wear around the sound hole. Inspired by the leather covering that Elvis Presley used on a Martin D-28, Holly made his own tooled-leather covering for the J-45, featuring the titles of his 1956 Decca recordings “Love Me” and “Blue Days Black Nights” along with his home state of Texas.

Holly’s J-45 was made during World War II, a period in which Gibson put a decal on the headstock proclaiming “Only a Gibson Is Good Enough.” Wartime metal shortages limited Gibson’s guitar production, and by 1944 the company could not procure the material for the adjustable truss rod, which had been used in the neck of virtually every Gibson since the company patented the invention in 1921.

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