In 1939 the gibson super 400 guitar ( premier ) originated , it had a single rounded cutaway , kluson tuners with amber tulip-shaped buttons , were made in sunburst finishes , natural finishes were also available and named ( Super 400 PN ) .
In 1940 Gibson Super400 Shop introduced the super 400 N which was a natural finish version of the original super 400 .In 1941 production halted and was resumed after world war 2 in 1948 , the original super 400 and 400N stayed the same , but the 400p was renamed the gibson super 400 C ( C for cutaway ) .
In 1951 gibson introduced an electric version of the 400c and named it the super 400 CES , it was equipped with 2 p90 pickups and were the first gibson electric guitars to feature the classic 2 pickup circuitry ( 2 volumes , 2 tones , and a 3 way switch for pickup combination ) , this was another turning point for gibson as electric guitar amplification evolved after world war 2 .In 1952 a natural finish version of the 400 CES was available and named the 400 CESN ( N for natural )
In 1955 all super 400 non cutaway guitars were discontinued ( super 400 and 400N ) , the super 400 c and the super 400 CESN was discontinued in 1982 and the super 400 CES was discontinued in 1987 .Some reissues and different versions were made later on through out the 90s as historic collection guitars or custom shop super 400 guitars .
This particular Super 400 has had quite a full life, that is, up until it found its home in my collection. According to Joe Spann, this piece was, ‘constructed in 1935 and shipped on 21 January 1936 to one N. DeThomas as part of a Super 400 outfit. Also included in the shipment was a New-Old-Stock F-5 mandolin. This guitar was sent back to the Gibson factory twice for repairs, being returned to William Place Jr. on 27 May 1947 in a #400 case and then to Place Music Company of Providence, Rhode Island on 28 August 1947 in a #400 case.’
After it got to Providence, there is no more written information about its history. Apparently this guitar must have stayed around the region, because I got it a few years ago from a gentleman in Providence, Rhode Island.
I was told by the last owner that sometime in the 1960’s it was refinished and slightly modified. It was given larger ’60’s Kluson Sealfast Tuners (actually a bonus) and a floating pickup, perhaps to emulate the ‘Johnny Smith’ model of the time.