1954 GibsonJ-185 – Sunburst (Ex Bill Carlisle)

This 1954 Gibson J-185 in Sunburst is an incredible instrument, comes in an incredible package, and had an incredible original owner!! This guitar was owned by country legend Bill Carlisle, nicknamed Jumpin’ Bill Carlisle for his tendency to jump around the stage during his performances. This guitar sounds fantastic and plays beautifully, which is no surprise to us given its owner and the years of seasoning it received. In the mid-60s, Carlisle added these large scalloped guards. We believe they have been reglued since then. There is also an added strap button at the neck heel to aid Carlisle in supporting this guitar during his high-energy performances. Carlisle signed this guitar’s case, and inside, you will find many accompanying pictures and memorabilia. We have written a detailed blog post about this guitar’s history and Carlisle’s. It would be impossible to fit everything we need into this description nor fully convey our appreciation for Carlisle as a person and musician, so we recommend reading the blog post here for more info. 

Overall Condition: 6, well worn throughout, as can be expected from an instrument owned by a professional country musician


  • Finish Details: Sunburst, Original, Fair Condition, a good deal of playwear, bucklerash, finish checking, and marks from years of use
  • Body Material: Spruce Top, Curly Maple Back and Sides
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fretboard Material: Rosewood
  • Neck Profile: Full C
  • Weight: 4 lbs 5 oz
  • Scale Length: 24-3/4"
  • Pickup Readings: N/A
  • Electronics: N/A
  • Hardware: Added pickguards and strap button, repro tuning buttons, otherwise Original, Good Condition, playwear throughout, gold plating on tuners still well intact
  • Nut Width: 1-11/16"
  • Includes: Non-original Grey Vox Case with gold lining (signed by Bill Carlisle), Multiple photos and headshots of Carlisle with and without this guitar, a note with his name and number, a handwritten lyric sheet, and a card memorializing Carlisle’s passing in 2003

Sku: G180


About Our Pricing

If you're reading this, you're probably looking for a price on a guitar and we're here to explain why our site doesn't list that information! Over the past few years, we have seen market volatility brought on by the pandemic, inflation, and beyond. Due to our current inventory quantities, updating our site daily would be an insurmountable task. As a result, we ask that you please give us a call for our latest and best pricing. As always, we can be reached at 516-221-0563 every Monday-Friday from 12-5 PM (EST) unless otherwise stated.


Call us 516-221-0563 or Send us an Email!

We’d be happy to give you an in-hand description of the guitar. All of our guitars are properly set up by John Bertsche, our brilliant guitar tech, and will be professionally packed with care.