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1956 Gibson Super 300C, Ry Cooder Collection
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Serial #: A-22137, white oval label Factory order # W3356-15
Body size at lower bout: 18". Scale length: 25 1/2" Nut Width: 1 11/16"
Materials: Handcarved bookmatched solid spruce top; solid bookmatched birdseye maple back and sides; maple neck with walnut centerstripe; solid Brazilian rosewood fingerboard; mother of pearl block double parallelogram fingerboard inlay, crown peghead inlay and pearl Gibson logo; three-ply top binding, bound headstock, neck and back; original bone nut.
Hardware: Original nickel hardware includes Kluson Deluxe single ring tuners, Super 400 style trapeze tailpiece, compensated adjustable Brazilian rosewood bridge. Vintage correct beveled 5 ply pickguard with Kent Armstrong 2D Ultraslim humbucking pickup, volume control and endpin jack.
Notes: Don't rub your eyes. It's for real.
In the early '80's we had the privilege of hearing jazz legend Cal Collins in a rare West Coast appearance, on tour from his native Cincinnati. After the gig, we asked him about his guitar, which we'd been trying to peg all evening. He said it was a Super 300 Cutaway, and that there weren't many of them. We'd never even heard of the model, much less seen one in person. And we never saw another one again. Until now.
After WWII, in an effort to shore up flagging acoustic archtop sales, Gibson introduced the Super 300 in 1948, their player's version of the ornate Super 400. Identical to its costly twin in all but cosmetics, the S-300 had the simple, tasteful appointments of the Gibson L-7, and was available only with a noncutaway body and sunburst finish.
By the mid-'50's demand had dwindled so low for noncut archtops that Gibson dropped all but the budget models from the catalog. And in 1954, they finally offered the Super 300 in a cutaway body: the Super 300C. But it was too late: the electric guitar had won the day, and Gibson finally threw in the towel on the model altogether in 1958, after just four years of production. Gibson's shipping records don't distinguish between cutaways and noncuts for those last four years, but the total is just 45 of both types combined, making the Super 300C one of the rarest Gibson guitars ever built.
From the collection of guitar legend Ry Cooder, this exceptional find is the first and only Super 300 Cutaway we've ever had the pleasure to offer. Its factory order # indicates it was started in 1955, and its serial # shows it was finally shipped in 1956. The suffix (15) on the factory order number shows the individual guitar's sequence in the batch, which may explain something about this guitar's remarkable appearance. One can't help but notice the depth of the figure in the intensely quilted maple in the solid, carved back of this guitar. It's tonewood of a quality that any NAMM show presentation model would be proud to bear. Factory records show that Gibson shipped just nine S-300 guitars in 1956. But the order number of this guitar shows that its batch had at least 15 guitars in it, and quite possibly a few more to boot. And as the S-300C and S-400C are structurally identical in every respect, it seems reasonable to assume that Gibson should pull both models out of the same batches in the white, putting the trim and finish on as the orders came in for one model or another. Which would explain why such extravagant maple would be gracing this working man's guitar.
And amazingly, this super jumbo 18" instrument weighs barely 6lb 4oz, lighter than many 17" L-5s. So it's a pleasure to hold, with a perfect full C profile neck, nice and smooth after decades of play, a clue to it's superlative, wide open voice. Carefully maintained, the instrument shows no cracks or repairs, with the handsome original dark Cremona sunburst finish notably free of pick or buckle wear, showing only a few scattered finish nicks and some light normal checking. Binding and hardware are all original as well, with the addition of a vintage correct wide bevel 5-ply pickguard, the Kent Armstrong floating humbucker and volume control, and a 1/4" endpin jack. Action is smooth and low over fine pro fretwork, with a fresh high-precision setup. She's even got her original black Gibson case.
The voice is truly exceptional as well: warm, throaty and big as all outdoors, a true acoustic cannon. Truth to tell, we've never played a Super 4 that could rival the massive projection of this bandstand veteran. Big, beautiful, and as rare as they come: don't sit around waiting for another one. 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-.056). 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.
Case: Original black Gibson arched fiber case.
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