Super 400 Guitars

1938 Gibson Super 400

Color: Cremona Brown Sunburst, Rating: 8.75, Sold (ID# 00319)
Call to Inquire: (818) 222-4113

"Over the Top"

This 18-inch-wide acoustic archtop weighs 7.00 lbs. and has a nice, fat nut width of just over 1 11/16 inches and a scale length of 25 1/2 inches. Two-piece carved spruce top, figured maple back and sides, two-piece thick profile maple neck with mahogany center strip, and pointed-end ebony fretboard with 20 frets and inlaid pearl single and double split-block position markers. Nine-ply binding on the top, five-ply binding on the back, triple-bound f-holes, triple-bound fretboard (plus a single white line), and five-ply binding on the headstock. Headstock with inlaid pearl "Gibson" logo and five-piece pearl split-diamond inlay. Three-piece pearl split-diamond inlay on back of headstock. Open-back Grover tuners with engraved metal buttons. Ivory heel plate engraved with "Super 400." Brown pearloid pickguard with five-ply binding. Frequensated rosewood bridge on rosewood base with pearl triangular inlay at each end of base. Tailpiece with Y-shaped center section and model name on cross-piece. Inside the bass 'f' hole is the Gibson white oval label with "Super 400" written in black ink and the serial number "95255" stamped in red. Inside the treble 'f' hole is the FON (factory order number) "794 D" stamped in black with "-7" written in red ink after. All hardware gold-plated. This guitar is in excellent plus (8.75) condition, with a minor amount of belt buckle wear on back of the guitar, a few minor surface cracks on the sides, a small area of surface (knee) wear on the treble waist, a tiny chip to the binding just above "G" tuning peg on the edge of the headstock, and a few surface scratches on the top. The back and sides are slightly flamed. Housed in the original Gibson brown hardshell case with purple plush lining (7.00).

"The Super 400 guitar of late 1934 was designed to be the centerpiece of Guy Hart's strategy to dominate the archtop guitar market. Gibson, a company that had been focused on building toys for the past three years, could not have made a bolder, more assertive return to guitar production than the Super 400 -- the biggest, fanciest, and most expensive guitar available during economic times that were perilous at best. The Super 400 would ultimately achieve many more things than Gibson may have perhaps originally intended. It was so far 'over the top' in terms of size and ornamentation that it caught the immediate attention of musicians, instrument makers, and the general public. The Super 400 certainly caught Gibson's competitors by surprise...The Super 400 was the first guitar of its kind, the first of the 18-inch archtops, and its prominence rests in part on that distinction. The Super 400 also set a new standard of excellence in guitar making...By deliberately picking the choicest materials, utilizing the finest craftsmanship, and sparing almost no expense in construction, Gibson continued to claim the highest standards in the fretted instrument world...The Super 400 quickly became the symbol of all things Gibson, evoking immediate reactions of awe and desire from all those who viewed and played the instrument. It also made synonymous the notions of almost excessive period decor, quality, and value. And finally, it brought a new acoustic voice to the jazz or popular orchestras of the day, as well as to the emerging field of country & Western music and various areas of radio and recording music" (Thomas A. Van Hoose, "The Super 400," in Walter Carter's Gibson Guitars: 100 Years of an American Icon, pp. 146-147).

This guitar is one of 78 Super 400s made in 1938, out of a total of 401 made between 1935 to 1941 ("Gibson Acoustic Archtop Vintage Guitar Shipping Totals, 1935 to 1969" at When new in 1938 it cost $400.00.

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