Gibson J-200 from 1956
Recently we received this beautiful Gibson J-200 from 1956. This so called “King of the Flat Tops” might look familiar to you which is not a surprise. Being played by famous artists like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jimmy Page and Little Jimmy Dickens it has become part of country and rock’n’roll heritage. Played and loved by many this guitar is one of the most influential acoustic guitars in history.
Gibson reacted to the introduction of the Martin dreadnoughts in the 30’s by introducing their own big Western-models. These models got names appropriate to their size; the Jumbo and the Super Jumbo.
Moviestar Ray Whitley, “the singing cowboy”, got a custom 17-inch Western model manufactured just for him. Because it was well liked Gibson named the guitar the L-5 special, but a year later renamed it to “Super Jumbo”. These bigger, luxurious and beautifully decorated models were only produced on demand.
The Gibson SJ-200 first appeared in Gibsons catalogue in 1938. With its big, elegant body shave, engraved tortoise pickguard, “moustache” bridge with pearl inlay and gold tuners it was widely considered as being the best looking guitar on the market. It was instantly liked by guitarists around the USA.
After World War II Gibson dropped the term “Super”. In the catalogue the SJ-200 was renamed to J-200. Despite this change of name the label, inside the body, would carry the name SJ-200 till the late 1950’s. Over 80 years later the J-200 is still the flagship of Gibsons acoustic line!
State of the Gibson J-200 1956
This 17-inch Gibson has a spruce top and a beautifully carved maple rear and backside. The top has been decorated with a 7-ply ‘black and white’ binding and the back of the guitar with a 5-ply binding. The flamed maple neck with rosewood fingerboard has a 43 mm wide nut, feels soft and is a delight to play.
Throughout the years the sunburst finish has aged beautifully. Age has left it’s markings on the guitar and a number of small cracks have been professionally repaired during its lifespan. The lower half of the top of the guitar also seems to have had a minor overspray. The Gibson has also had a refret in the past and it shows signs of a neck-reset.
Apart from these minor adjustments the guitar is fully original, from its gold Kluson up to the impressive engraved Celluloid Pickguard.