Gibson’s Super 400 is the company’s top-of-the-line acoustic archtop, and its largest electrified guitar.
“Built in the Nashville plant using highly skilled custom shop staff to personally make each guitar. Most Super 400’s will be electric, although a few acoustics will be crafted also. These instruments will be marketed as Gibson’s top-line production models, and will be distributed through a small, rather exclusive dealer network. These limited-production instruments will be priced accordingly — reportedly US$9,000 for the Sunburst version and US$12,000 for the natural-finished version.” – Thomas Van Hoose, 1989 – The Gibson Super 400, p. 96.
From 1947 to 1990 a total of 359 Sunburst Super 400Cs were shipped from the factory, including this one. This guitar is one of only two Super 400Cs produced in 1990 — there was one in Natural and this one in Vintage Sunburst.
This 18-inch-wide acoustic archtop weighs 7.30 lbs and has a wide nut of just under 1 ¾” and a scale length of 25.5” inches. Two-piece carved spruce top, figured maple back and sides, three-piece maple neck with two mahogany centre strips, and ebony fretboard with 20 frets and inlaid pearl split-block position markers.
The top and back are multi-bound, the f-holes are triple-bound, the neck is triple-bound, the headstock is multi-bound, and the fretboard has double white binding on each side. Headstock with inlaid pearl “Gibson” logo and pearl five-piece split-diamond inlay. Black laminate headstock back with pearl three-piece split-diamond inlay.
Individual Kluson Sealfast tuners with tulip-shaped metal buttons. Frequensated ebony bridge on ebony base with pearl dragonfly inlays and “Y”-shaped tailpiece with “Super 400” engraved on cross-bar. All hardware is gold-plated. Serial number (“90xxxxx1”) stamped on the back of the headstock and on a tan oval label inside the bass f-hole.
• 3 pieces highest-grade figured maple used for the neck
• Multi-ply black and white binding on both the top and back
• Single-ply white binding around the f-holes
• Gibson’s period-correct L-5 tailpiece, with Super 400 engraving
• 25½-inch scale length
• 20-fret ebony fingerboard with pearl block inlays and multi-ply black & white binding
• Five-piece split diamond motif inlay on the headstock
• Ebony bridge on ebony base
This is a rare & fine guitar in very good condition. The back is highly flamed and quite beautiful, almost luminous. It was bought by its current owner from a Los Angeles shop in 2005, and looked after very well since.
At some point the original pickguard deteriorated, so this is a replacement guard. It had a floating 1950s De Armond pickup installed, the residue of which are two screw holes high on the side of the neck – see pics. It now has a Vintage Vibe floating Charlie Christian style pickup installed (www.vintagevibeguitars.com/). The pickup does not touch the top, sitting lightly on a thin foam bed to protect the spruce. The De Armond knobs are intact on two more recent mini pots, attached to the pickguard.
This S400C plays beautifully in all positions. It is acoustically resonant and sounds fine when plugged in. Almost no fretwear, tuning is solid & accurate, hardware is in excellent shape – all in all, a lovely instrument for any archtop aficionado to consider.
Comes in its original Canadian made Gibson brown hardshell case with plush lining & shroud.