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1939 Gibson Super 400, Original Prewar Blonde
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Serial #: EA-5149, white oval label, hand calligraphed. Factory Order #: 130-3
Body size at lower bout: 18". Scale length: 25 1/2" Nut Width: 1 11/16"
Materials: Handcarved bookmatched solid spruce top; solid bookmatched tiger 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: All original hardware includes hand-engraved gold trapeze tailpiece with Super 400 script logo; 5 ply bound marbled tortoise pickguard; gold Grover Imperial tuners; compensated Brazilian rosewood bridge with pearl wedge inlays.
Notes: Gibson archtops in natural finish were available by special order as far back as 1936, but only a handful were produced, and the blonde finish option wasn't offered in the catalog until 1939. Along with the new finish, Gibson announced the redesign of the Super 400, abandoning the vibrant X-braced soundboard of the prewar models. Only a scant few of the blonde guitars were produced before the company redesigned the model for parallel bracing. This magnificent guitar is listed in Gibson's ledgers as having been shipped on May 23rd, 1939, to Fife and Nichols, a prominent Gibson dealer.
Gibson reserved its showiest tonewood for the blonde guitars, and this beauty is no exception. Back, sides and neck are all carved of bookmatched curly maple, showing the most extravagant rollers of tiger flame. The pearl-inlaid fingerboard is solid clear ebony, and the soundboard is carved of solid quartersawn spruce, with the characteristic flat arch of the Gibson's X-braced 'Advanced Model' archtops. This handsome instrument was one of the very last fitted with prewar style hardware, including the ornate hinged tailpiece, more elaborately engraved than the Varitone model which replaced it later that year. And the tuners are the first issue Grover Imperials, with the inscribed keys, which predate the Kluson Sealfasts of later models. The inlaid Brazilian rosewood bridge and the original marbleized pickguard are both in excellent condition: even the engraved pickguard support and original Gibson neck cord bracket are still attached.
Well played and well maintained, the guitar shows no cracks, and all binding is original and tight to the body. The neck has the smooth patina of a true big band veteran, and the body shows only light scattered pick and buckle wear. The original blonde finish is deeply ambered, with a light dusting of clear overspray to the body only. A pair of pin-sized screw holes parallel to the low E string have been smoothly filled, most likely once securing an old DeArmond pickup.
The instrument has the deep, juicy resonance of the best X-braced guitars, with full, clear bass, and exceptionally brilliant reverb in the upper register. Years of vigorous play have opened the voice superbly, with a combination of warmth and projection only found in the most well-seasoned soundboards. With rich, buttery lower mids ideal for comping, this big guitar has the detail and presence ideal for chord melody and vocal duos as well. With smooth low action over fine pro fretwork, the guitar has a gentle C profile neck that is elegantly modern in feel. Once owned by mandolin maestro David Grisman, this stunning instrument is supplied with an appraisal to Grisman from George Gruhn, along with a copy of the original Gibson shipping ledger page, both tucked away in its original deluxe brown leather Geib hardshell case.
Combining the most desirable features of Gibson's paramount model, this remarkable instrument is one of the rarest and most striking guitars we've had the pleasure to present. 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.
Case: Original Geib deluxe plush hardshell case, with original leather covering.