If you have any vintage gibson guitars that are posted on this site ,you are always welcome to post a review,comment or detailed features ,im sure other guitar players who visit us would love to know ... Domenic

Important Note : Due to the overwhelming amount of comments on this blog i cannot answer all the questions although id love to . You can still post questions hopefully some of our viewers can help you out ... Thank You

Gibson J-185

Gibson J-185 Acoustic Flat Top ( 1951 - 1959 )

1952 gibson j-185The Gibson j-185 is probably one of the most under promoted , underated guitar gibson ever made .

The j-185 derived from their famous gibson j-200 but was a little smaller , less expensive and not as fancy lookwise .

During the 50s the gibson j-185 and j-200 were "THE" guitars for rhythm because of their big loud volume sound .

The j-200 is by far more well known, but many guitarist until today consider the j-185 a better sounding guitar.

The feel and craftsmanship of the j-185 is very impressive and is definitely amongst the very best jumbo flat top guitars ever made by gibson .

The j-185s' body was 1 inch narrower and were 20 1/4 inches long compared to the j-200 which was 21".

Although the gibson j-185 was short lived , it has paved the way for other future flat top guitars such as the gibson everly brothers which shared the same side shape of the j-185 .

The back and sides were constructed with figured maple ( one of the most desirable tonewoods for guitars ) .

In 1951 to 59 the gibson j-185 guitars had a 16" jumbo body shape , figured maple back and sides , 2 maltese cross inlays on the bridge , rosewood fingerboard ( 19 frets ) with double parallelograms , mahogany necks , bound body and neck , kluson tuners and were made in natural or sunburst finishes . Discontinued in 1959 .

Gibson J-185 Reissue ( 1990-1995 )

In 1990 gibson reintroduced the j-185 reissue with basically the same specs with a limited run of only 100 in 1991-92 . In 1999 they introduced the j-185 EC which was an acoustic/electric guitar and was fitted with a rounded cutaway ( still in production )

Vintage Price Value For 2008 :
1951 - 1956 > $13 500 to $14 500
1957 - 1959 > $11 000 to $13 000
1990 - 1995 > $1 700 to $2 000 ( J-185 reissue )
1999 - 2000 > $1 700 to $1 900 ( J-185 EC )

guitar price guide1951 - 1959 > Avg Upward Trend Of 14% A Year Since 2000
1986 - 1999 > 6% ( Reissue )

Prices are according to 4 different vintage guitar price guides and rounded off to the nearest dollar .


  1. Dave GarlĂ´ch1:14 PM

    I just read your posting on the Gibson J-185.I happen to own one of the 100 that came out in 1991-1992. The one I have has Koa wood for the back and sides. I have seen some folks bad-mouthing Gibson, and thier quality particularly during the 90's, and it makes me very sad.There are few guitars of ANY price range that sound as good as my J-185. I have never regretted purchasing it and while i guess there are some Gibson "duds" out there...I Love mine.

    1. I have owned more Gibsons than I can count, both electric and acoustic. Gibsons from as early as the 60s to as recently as 2014, and I can assure you that the Gibsons from the 1990s are the absolute best quality guitars they ever made. Anybody trying to badmouth Gibsons quality from the 1990s is an absolute fool. They have no idea what they're talking about. they may be unlucky, and got a very rare and bad guitar Gibson made in the 90s or theyre simply an idiot .

  2. Anonymous7:40 AM

    I own a newer 2004 J-185 Koa with alpine spruce top. I own a lot of nice Martins as well and let me also say that since the Montana plant got back on course in the 90s their work is top quality. I expect 40 yrs from now the 90s and later Montana Gibsons will be sought after for their quality sound.

    I love Gibson acoustics and feel they are work every penny. No I don't work for Gibson. If you have a 51-59 J-185 under your bed and would love to sell it email me.

  3. Anonymous3:50 PM

    I am looking for a 51-59 J-185 or 200 if you have one. Willing to pay a fair price.

    gassman55 at yahoo.com

  4. I have a 1951 Gibson J-185. It is in good condition. It has a B+ vintage rating. Very nice and ready to part with it. e-mail me at suemccutchen@hotmail.com

  5. The J-185 is truly a beautiful vintage guitar. You've done a wonderful job putting together information on some great vintage Gibson's thanks.

  6. Anonymous6:38 AM

    I have a Collings SJ - basically a 50's J 185 and it's a fantastic guitar - it has everything - looks, sound, and playability.

  7. Anonymous6:40 PM

    For sale: J-185 from 1954. Good condition; pictures available. h20rofoof@yahoo.com

  8. Anonymous10:15 AM

    For sale: J-185 Gibson 1954. Very good condition; pictures available. h2oroof@yahoo.com

  9. For Sale Gibson J-185N 1955. VERY good condition.

  10. For Sale Gibson J-185N 1955. VERY clean and BLONDE.

  11. Update on my J185N. Those of you who have contacted me,the guitar is now inspected and set-up (only a bone nut installed, non-original)J-peg photos available. $15k due to near excellent condition.
    thanks for your continued interest.
    mark (frosty413@gmail.com)


  13. Anonymous1:04 PM

    The Gibson J185 is available today (2009). It is listed as the "Gibson J185 True Vintage" made at the Bozeman MT facility. It is an excellent flat top guitar, both tonewise and finish. Can be seen on the Gibson website at:


    A few show up on E-Bay, but not many.

    The only thing I would change is the pickguard color to Black.

  14. Guy Randall5:58 PM

    I have a J-185 Gibson from 1953, with original pickup and case. Call me at 780-885-4489 or email me at guyrandall@hotmail.com.....ready to sell for a fair price.

  15. Anonymous4:38 PM

    i understand that only the 1999 reissue of the '51 J185 comes with the nitrocellulose finish. does anyone know why that was the case or how many were made? any other history anyone might have on this particular model would be greatly appreciated!

  16. Anonymous7:41 PM

    I have a 1957 Gibson J 185 serial number 36756. In very good condition. Only missing 2 pearl inlays on the 3rd and 5th fret. I have had it appraised for $14,000.00. If anyone is interested I would like to sell it for the $14,000.00 cash.E-mail is samster1987@hotmail.com. Thank you.

  17. Anonymous9:56 PM

    I have a 1953 Gibson J 185 for sale as of today (14th Sept 2011). It is in good condition, with a non original bridge, and I have replaced machine heads but have kept the old ones to give to the new owner. I can send photos and serial numbers. Please Email me at revinc@gmail.com if you are interested.
    Many thanks
    darin m

  18. 1953 Gibson J-185 for sale in the NYC-area. Please Email me at BLACKSHEEPLTD@aol.com if you are interested for more details.

  19. Anonymous10:17 AM

    28th feb 2012

    1952 j185 for auction/sale - currently US $4,600.00

    wish i had the money...somebodies getting a bargin..

    ebay Item number: 130652739818

  20. Anonymous9:03 AM

    I own 41/100 of the J-185 reissue. The sound and smooth action is just as good as when I bought it 20 years ago. I highly recommend this guitar.

  21. NOV 2014 UPDATE!!

    The 1953 Gibson J-185 in the NYC-area in the listing above has been sold and is no longer available.