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1936 Gibson Super 400

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Serial #: 93879, white oval label, hand calligraphed

Body size at lower bout: 18" Scale length: 25 1/2" Nut Width: 1 10/16"

Materials: Handcarved bookmatched solid spruce top; solid bookmatched bubble 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: Prewar gold hardware includes ornate hand-engraved gold trapeze tailpiece with Super 400 script logo; first issue Grover Imperial tuners; compensated Brazilian rosewood bridge with pearl wedge inlays; art-deco truss rod cover; 5 ply bound marbled tortoise pickguard; ebony bullseye endpin.

Notes: His name was Frank. He lived in Peoria. And once upon a time, this was his Big Guitar.

The arrival of an original series Super 400 is rare enough hereabouts, and always cause for celebration. Introduced in mid-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. The year this stunning example rolled off the line, production had dwindled to a mere 91 instruments total.

With its graceful smaller upper bout, extravagant engraving, and handsome bubble maple body, this guitar is an exceptionally attractive original issue Super 400. One of less than 200 of the original design Super 400s shipped with the smaller upper bout, this guitar from late 1936 shows exceptionally intense bubble maple in the back and sides, with a tiger flame neck and lustrous Cremona sunburst finish. The inscription 'Frank Melton, Peoria, IL' is penciled on the inside of the truss rod cover.

This impressive instrument has all the trimmings, including the engraved heelcap, inlaid bridge, and deeply marbleized pickguard. She's been maintained in wonderful condition, without buckle, thumb or fingerboard wear. A bit of light pickwear is visible near the fingerboard, a small crack in the bass side waist has been soundly cleated and retouched, and a tiny crack in the pickguard solidly resealed. Interestingly, the guitar has a long scale 25 1/2" neck, and the earliest version of the ornately engraved Varitone tailpiece, which was used only from 1939 to 1941. In addition, the serial number is stamped into the back of the peghead, matching the calligraphed label, which leads us to guess that the guitar may have returned to the Gibson factory sometime before the war for a bit of updating.

The tuners are the earliest and most graceful version of the legendary Grover Imperial, the first 16x1 gear tuner made. Pearl wedges are inset in the back of the peghead, and even on the adjustable compensated Brazilian rosewood bridge itself. The neck profile is remarkably comfortable, a pleasing gentle C, with neither the hard vee or the clubbiness associated with many prewar guitars. Enhancing ease of play is the smaller upper bout, a body distinctly more comfortable to hold and play than later versions. The truss rod works perfectly, and the action is low over a wonderfully level solid ebony fingerboard with fine pro fretwork.

The combination of the X-braced soundboard with the long scale neck produces a voice that is rich and massive, with truly cavernous clarity, depth and resonance. 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. Call now.

Setup: The frets have been precision leveled, recrowned and polished as necessary; 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-.057). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 5/64" to 6/64" 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.

Case: Harptone deluxe black arched plush lined hardshell case.
















































































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