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1938 Gibson Super 400
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Serial #: 95636, white oval label, hand calligraphed. FON# 6(XX) D-1
Body size at lower bout: 18" Scale length: 25 1/2" Nut Width: 1 21/32" Neck depth: .91 to .93, 1st /10th fret
Materials: Handcarved bookmatched solid spruce top; solid bookmatched flame maple back, sides, and neck; solid ebony fingerboard; mother of pearl block fingerboard; split-block peghead inlay; fat script Gibson logo; 5 ply headstock and pickguard binding, 7 ply bound body; triple bound neck and f-holes.
Hardware: Original gold hardware includes hand-engraved hinged trapeze tailpiece, 1st generation Grover Imperial tuners, engraved pickguard bracket. Period Gibson compensated Brazilian rosewood bridge, vintage correct Gibson 5-ply bound marbleized pickguard.
Notes: Introduced in 1935, the Super 400 model was the biggest guitar Gibson ever made. And the most costly: four hundred bucks bought you a lot of guitar back in the Great Depression. Gibson went all out to produce this model, right down to the hand engraved trapeze tailpiece, heelcap and pickguard bracket. The soundholes are triple bound, and even the back of the peghead is festooned with symmetrical pearl wedges.
One of just 64 examples from this model year, this impressive guitar combines what many feel are the most desirable features of the acoustic Super 400. Built in the first year for the enlarged soundholes and extended 25 1/2" scale, the longer neck enhances projection and cutting power, and has remained a feature of both the Super 400 and L-5 to this day. And most notably, the instrument retains the famed X-braced 'Advanced Model' soundboard, which is celebrated for its increased sustain and bass response, and has become the predominant bracing pattern for acoustic archtops in the contemporary era. But the X-brace was discontinued by Gibson the following year, making this unique combination of features limited to only these two model years alone, making it to many the most sonically desirable version of the acoustic Super 400.
This handsome instrument is carved with an extravagantly figured flame maple back, sides and neck, and a soundboard tap tuned from fine grain hand-graduated quartersawn spruce. Worn smooth from a long career of continuous professional play, the three piece maple neck has a remarkably contemporary profile. Strikingly different from some of the clubby or V profiles of the era, this neck feels distinctly modern, with a notably gradual taper up its length. Fitted with fine high pro fretwork, the solid ebony fingerboard offers smooth low action over a fresh high precision setup: simply effortless in the hand.
The first generation Grover Imperial tuners are a rarity in themselves: the first with the smoother 16:1 gear ratio, they are distinguished by their segmented, Art Deco tuning keys, and were available for only a few fleeting years in the late 30's. The tailpiece is hand engraved with the Super 400 logo, and a highly ornate design pattern unseen after the war. The multi-bound pickguard is crafted from a marbleized tortoise material exclusive to Gibson alone, who fabricated it themselves sometime in the last few decades.
The underside of the soundboard bears an inscription from renowned luthier Scott Baxendale, noted celebrity builder and former head of restoration at Gruhn Guitars. It indicates that he rebraced the guitar in the late '70's, at which time we assume he reset the neck as well, as both bridge height and action are excellent. The centerseam under the tailpiece has been resealed, and a surface crack on the upper treble bout has been touched up, but does not appear to extend through the soundboard.
The deep Cremona sunburst finish on the top is original, with matching vintage correct stain and lacquer added to the back and sides in our shop. Played in vigorously for decades, the voice is clear, open and deeply resonant, with vibrant projection and an extended dynamic range. Wide open and full throttle, the tone is rich and juicy, with the vibrant response the X-braced prewar Gibsons are renowned for.
And all nestled in its original premium plush-lined brown Lifton case. An absolute pinnacle of design, tone and playability, this superlative Super 400 combines the finest of prewar tone with elegant modern playability. 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. Action is 4 to 5/64" at the 12th fret, with medium gauge .013 phosphor bronze strings.