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1936 Gibson Super 400

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Serial #: 93738 white oval label, hand calligraphed. FON#: 777B-8

Body size at lower bout: 18" Scale length: 25 1/2" Nut Width: 1 11/16" Neck depth, 1st/10th frets: .90/.99

Materials: Handcarved bookmatched solid spruce top; solid bookmatched tiger flame maple back and sides; flame maple neck with walnut centerstripe; solid ebony fingerboard; mother of pearl block fingerboard split-block peghead inlay; fat script Gibson logo; seven-ply bound top, five-ply bound headstock and neck, triple bound f-holes and back; hand-engraved heelcap with Super 400 logo.

Hardware: Gold hardware includes Pat. Pending Grover Imperial tuners, Pat. Pending Varitone tailpiece, engraved gold pickguard support; compensated rosewood bridge with pearl wedge inlays, deco design truss rod cover, ebony bullseye endpin. Vintage correct 5 ply bound marbled tortoise pickguard.

Notes: The arrival of an original series Super 400 is rare enough hereabouts, and always cause for celebration. Introduced in 1935, the Super 400 was the first commercially produced super jumbo sized orchestra guitar; the largest, most ornate and most costly guitar the Gibson company had ever produced. With a whopping $400 price tag during the Great Depression, it's not surprising that very few of these ultra-deluxe models left the factory.

This intriguing instrument shows features common to both the first and second generation Super 400 models. The label and factory order numbers both correspond to 1936, as does the body shape, with its smaller upper bout and X bracing. The 25 1/2" scale neck, larger f-holes, Pat. Pending Varitone tailpiece and Grover Imperial tuners are all features more common to examples from 1939. It seems reasonable to conclude that the guitar was returned to the Gibson factory for a retrofit in that latter year, creating an instrument with a unique combination of desirable features.

Enhancing ease of play is the smaller upper bout, a body distinctly more comfortable to hold and play than later versions, even for players of smaller stature. The X-braced soundboard design is renowned for its enhanced bass response and sustain, while the long scale neck produces greater punch and projection. A similar Super 400 we sold here also possessed this rare combination of features, to stunning effect.

Suffice to say, the craftsmen of Gibson left no surface undisturbed by decoration. The back and sides are carved of spectacular bubble or blister maple, a scarce variety virtually unavailable to luthiers today. The tailpiece engraving is distinctly more ornate than following models, more 20's in its style than 30's. The Pat. Pending Grover Imperial tuners are the earliest and most graceful version of the legendary machines, the first 16x1 gear tuner ever made. Pearl wedges are inset in the back of the peghead, and echoed on the rosewood bridge saddle and base. Even the humble pickguard support bracket is inscribed with an art-deco motif.

She's been maintained in gleaming condition, without pick, buckle, thumb or fingerboard wear. The original dark Cremona sunburst finish is deeply aged and shows some normal scattered checking, beneath a light dusting of some older clear lacquer. The neck profile is remarkably comfortable, a pleasing gentle C, with neither the hard vee or the clubbiness associated with many prewar guitars. The handwritten notation '1 1/4' on the label, indicates that the guitar was built with a slightly enhanced neck angle to increase the bridge height a quarter inch, for greater volume and cutting power, an option offered on the L-5 model as well.

The truss rod works perfectly, and the action is low over a wonderfully level solid ebony fingerboard with fine pro fretwork. The neck angle is excellent, with ample room for bridge adjustment up or down. And fittingly, the instrument is nestled in its original Gibson G&S Masterkraft deluxe plush hardshell case with covering of genuine leather.

The voice is clear, open and deeply resonant, with a firm low register, sparkling highs, and the warmth only these big bodies can deliver. This superb guitar combines the highest standards of playability, looks and rarity, and represents a unique opportunity both for the serious player and collector alike. One only: call now.

Setup: Trussrod tension and neck relief adjusted; bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge foot contour inspected and fit to top as necessary; bridge radius inspected and recurved as necessary; bridge wheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.

This instrument is strung with medium gauge bronze strings (.013). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 4/64" to 5/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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