The Gibson Super 400 is an archtop guitar, “the biggest, fanciest, and most expensive archtop ever built,” and a highly influential model guitar which inspired many other guitar makers (including Elmber Stromberg and John D’Angelico). It was first sold in 1934 and named for its $400 price.
The Super 400 was the largest guitar that the Gibson Guitar Corporation had produced. Until 1939, it had a hand-engraved tailpiece and a hand-engraved finger rest support. During the very early production stock the truss rod cover had engraved “L5 Super”; on later guitars this was changed to “Super 400”.
In 1939 the guitar was changed. The upper bout was enlarged, and the hand-engraved tailpiece was replaced with the one fitted to the current Super 400s. The f-holes were enlarged, and a cutaway option was available. This was called the Super 400P (for Premiere), later changed to C for Cutaway.
During the 1950s, Gibson released the Super 400 CES. This had a slightly thicker top to reduce feedback, two P-90 pickups, and individual tone and volume controls, along with a three-way toggle switch. Later the P-90 pickups were replaced with Alnico V pickups, then in 1957, humbucking pickups.
There have been variations in the form of limited edition custom models. In 2000 Gibson offered the Super 400 with a Charlie Christian pickup. The Super 400 is still available today, with two humbucker pickups. The full acoustic version is not available.
The 1963 Gibson Super 400 CES of Scotty Moore played an important role in Elvis Presley’s stage performance, the ’68 Comeback Special.
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