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1939 Gibson Super 400
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Serial #: EA-518(9), 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 quilted figure maple back and sides; tiger flame maple neck with mahogany centerstripe; 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 hardware includes hand-engraved gold trapeze tailpiece with Super 400 script logo, compensated Brazilian rosewood bridge with pearl wedge inlays. Vintage correct 5-ply bound tortoise pickguard, gold Kluson Sealfast tuners.
Notes: Coon Rapids, Minnesota is not a big town. But located on the outskirts of Minneapolis, it was large enough to support a neighborhood music store, owned by a guitar teacher who moonlighted weddings and supper clubs with his wife. The couple even hosted a show on local TV, back in the day. His name was Leonard Hoecherl, and he bought this guitar brand new in 1939. He kept it for the rest of his life.
Introduced in 1934, 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 Varitone tailpiece, pearl-inlaid bridge and triple bound f-holes. Even the back of the peghead is festooned with symmetrical pearl wedges.
One of just 34 examples from this model year, this spectacular guitar is carved with an extravagantly figured bubble maple back, tiger maple sides and neck, and a soundboard tap tuned from fine grain hand-graduated quartersawn spruce. A transitional model built for only two years in the late '30s, it has the larger upper bout and enlarged soundholes, which were introduced in 1937. It's also one of the last to offer the X-braced soundboard, discontinued this model year, and one of the first with Gibson's Varitone tailpiece, whose hex-screw mechanism allows the string angle to be adjusted to the player's preference. Babied since new, this gleaming wonder remains in stellar condition, without pick, buckle, thumb or fingerboard wear. We are told that Mr. Hoecherl sent the instrument back to the Kalamazoo factory in the 60's to have its handsome dark Cremona finish replaced, at which time the tuners would have been upgraded with period Kluson Sealfasts, now long unavailable.
Gibson's prewar 'Advanced Model' archtops are renowned for the warmth, depth and resonance of their X-braced soundboards. And this guitar is no exception: the voice is rich and woody, with a sweetness and clarity unique of this original prewar design. The neck profile is a smooth gentle "C", quite contemporary in feel, resting effortlessly in the palm without the clubbiness or hard vee of many prewar necks. The original fretwork is in excellent condition, with smooth low action over a fresh high-precision setup. Apart from a few strands of checking in its factory lacquer finish, and a tiny patch of knee wear on the lower side, this gleaming guitar looks almost like new old stock. And all nestled in its original premium plush-lined brown pigskin case.
A pinnacle of design, tone and playability, the prewar Super 400 is always of the most striking guitars we have the pleasure to present. One only: 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. Action is 4 to 5/64" at the 12th fret, with medium gauge .013 phosphor bronze strings.
Case: Original Geib deluxe plush lined arched hardshell case, with original leather covering.