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Super 400 Guitars

1947 Gibson Super 400

Color: Cremona Brown with Golden Sunburst shading, Rating: 9.25, Sold (ID# 01258)
Call to Inquire: (818) 222-4113


"The Art Of The Fine Guitar"

This absolutely amazing, one-owner 18-inch-wide acoustic archtop weighs just 6.60 lbs. and has a very fat nut width of just under 1 3/4 inches and a scale length of 25 1/2 inches. Two-piece book-matched close-grained carved spruce top with parallel bracing. Two-piece book-matched birds-eye maple back and flamed maple sides. Two-piece, thick profile flamed maple neck with mahogany center strip, and pointed-end ebony fretboard with 20 original medium-thin frets and inlaid pearl single and double split-block position markers. Nine-ply binding on the top, five-ply binding on the back, triple-bound f-holes, triple-bound fretboard (plus a single white line), and five-ply binding on the headstock. Black-faced headstock with five-ply binding and inlaid pearl "Gibson" horizontal script-logo with pearl five-piece split-diamond inlay. Three-piece pearl split-diamond inlay on 'black-faced' back of headstock. Individual Kluson Sealfast tuners with single-ring tulip-shaped keystone buttons. Non-engraved triple-layer ivory heel plate. Frequensated rosewood bridge on rosewood base. Original Gibson brass "Y" shaped tailpiece with model name "Super 400" on cross-bar and Varitone tension device. Inside the bass 'f' hole is the Gibson white oval label with Style: "S 400" written in black ink and stamped in black and the serial number "A 460" also written in black ink and stamped in black. All hardware gold-plated. This guitar is in near mint (9.25) condition, with just a couple of very small surface marks on the top, the largest being a circular area of 1/4 diameter where the previous owner has rested is finger whilst playing. There is some fine finish checking and two tiny additional holes on the treble side of the neck where a floating pickup had been installed at some time. There is absolutely no belt buckle wear on back of the guitar which displays a wonderful birds-eye mottled effect. The body sides and back of the neck are beautifully flamed. The pickguard was removed from the guitar many years ago due to 'disintegration' of the acetate material that was used at that time. (We have ordered an exact reproduction pickguard and as soon as it arrives it will be fitted to the guitar). Housed in the original Gibson brown hardshell case with burgundy plush lining (9.25) and the original Gibson brown canvas case-cover. By far the finest example we have ever seen.

This is a one-owner guitar which was purchased new from the world famous musical instrument company, G. Schirmer, Inc. in NYC on July 26th, 1948. The original hand written receipt is included in the case. It was not unusual for a guitar of this magnitude to remain in a musical instrument dealers inventory for several months - this guitar left the Gibson factory in July 1947 - so it took the dealer a year to find a buyer…

"The Super 400 guitar of late 1934 was designed to be the centerpiece of Guy Hart's strategy to dominate the archtop guitar market. Gibson, a company that had been focused on building toys for the past three years, could not have made a bolder, more assertive return to guitar production than the Super 400 -- the biggest, fanciest, and most expensive guitar available during economic times that were perilous at best. The Super 400 would ultimately achieve many more things than Gibson may have perhaps originally intended. It was so far 'over the top' in terms of size and ornamentation that it caught the immediate attention of musicians, instrument makers, and the general public. The Super 400 certainly caught Gibson's competitors by surprise...The Super 400 was the first guitar of its kind, the first of the 18-inch archtops, and its prominence rests in part on that distinction. The Super 400 also set a new standard of excellence in guitar making...By deliberately picking the choicest materials, utilizing the finest craftsmanship, and sparing almost no expense in construction, Gibson continued to claim the highest standards in the fretted instrument world...The Super 400 quickly became the symbol of all things Gibson, evoking immediate reactions of awe and desire from all those who viewed and played the instrument. It also made synonymous the notions of almost excessive period decor, quality, and value. And finally, it brought a new acoustic voice to the jazz or popular orchestras of the day, as well as to the emerging field of country & Western music and various areas of radio and recording music" (Thomas A. Van Hoose, "The Super 400," in Walter Carter's Gibson Guitars: 100 Years of an American Icon, pp. 146-147).

"For all intents and purposes, production of the Super 400 guitar stopped in 1941 when the United States formally entered World War ll. Production of the Super 400 and L-5 guitars, as well as other types of instruments that required a considerable amount of handwork, was halted so that essential materials could be conserved and "war work' could be performed. Like many other manufacturers around the country, Gibson was asked by the U.S. government to fabricate certain parts for various items used in the war effert. One contribution of the Gibson staff to the U.S. war effort was the application of their expertise in bending guitar rims to making wooden glider skids" (Thomas Van Hoose. The Gibson Super 400, p. 31).

This guitar is one of the very first Super 400s made after the war. The serial number dates the guitar to July 1947 - but official production did not start again until 1948. Just 154 guitars were made between from 1947 to 1955. When new in 1947 it cost a huge $425.00 + another $100.00 for the case and cover - making a total of $525.00 - in 1947!!! The original receipt shows that the original owner paid $500.00 for the guitar, case and cover - so he got a $25.00 discount!!!

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