Gibson Super 400 CES Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1960)

Gibson  Super 400 CES Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar  (1960)
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Item # 12106
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Gibson Super 400 CES Model Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1960), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # A-34949, sunburst lacquer finish, maple back and sides, spruce top; laminated maple neck with ebony fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

Gibson's top-of-the-line classiest electric guitar, the large-bodied Super 400 CES (Cutaway Electric Spanish) has been a company mainstay for decades and a favorite of many classic jazz and R&B players. This example is from the dawn of the 1960s, made just as the more dramatic Florentine cutaway body began to replace the smoother rounded profile used in the 1950s. An A-series serial number on the orange label inside dates to November 1960 so would be one of the *very* first "sharp-cuts" ever made.

Built with all solid woods including a fully carved top and back, the Super 400 CES weas aimed squarely at the top of the market. With all the features of an acoustic Super 400 and two built in pickups, this was a guitar worthy of Gibson's top endorsers. Only 24 sunburst examples were made in 1960, a miniscule fraction of the totals for other period Gibson instruments. This supremely classy guitar has an interesting transitional mix of features. The 2-piece back is solid carved maple, which was changed to 3-ply laminate a couple of years later. The neck has a wide fairly flat profile typical of 1960 and is 3-piece laminate maple; later in the next year this was changed to a 5-ply. Essentially this guitar maintains the older 1950s construction methods with the new sharp-cut body design.

The back and sides are beautiful grained burl maple, the carved top very fine-grained spruce. The finish is a blended fairly light "iced tea" sunburst overall. There is multiple binding everywhere; the ebony fingerboard and headstock overlay have bold Deco-styled split block pearl inlay. All hardware is gold plated including two original PAF humbucking pickups. The standard Gibson wiring rig is topped off with the metal-capped gold knobs typical of the earlier '60s. The engraved gold-plated tailpiece has the old "top-buster" tension adjustment built in that (thankfully!) almost nobody ever used, and is mated to a gold Tune-O-Matic bridge. The tuners are Kluson Sealfast enclosed machines with metal buttons, the truss rod cover is the unique wide-bevel piece used on Super 400s since the 1930s. Gibson went all out to make this most prestigious instrument impressive to both the player AND the audience; in both looks and sound this was the benchmark of all period arch-tops.

The Florentine cutaway Super 400 CES is considered one of the seminal jazz and R&B guitars, used by many greats in the 1960s and beyond from Scotty Moore (borrowed by Elvis for his '68 comeback) to jazzers including Kenny Burrell, George Benson, Robben Ford and Larry Coryell. In 1969 the carved Gibson electrics reverted to their earlier pattern rounded cutaway, so this form is specific to the 1960-69 period. This transitional example is a very rare find, combining the earlier classier construction and unmatched PAF sound with the newer Florentine body shape. It is simply a superb instrument in every way!
Overall length is 44 1/4 in. (112.4 cm.), 18 in. (45.7 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 5/16 in. (8.4 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 25 1/4 in. (641 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This guitar shows signs of steady use over the past 60+ years with superficial wear overall but remains structurally excellent and a very fine player. The finish over the entire instrument shows light checking with numerous small dings, dents and scratches, most notably some pickmarks to the top area above the fingerboard. The back of the neck has some finish worn away along the sides, a small cigarette burn to the binding between the 5-6th frets and minor dings and dents here and there. There are no apparent cracks or structural repairs to the instrument.

The guitar remains original except for a nicely done repro pickguard. The gold plating shows fairly heavy wear on the pickup covers and bridge top, with the tuners and especially tailpiece remaining somewhat cleaner. The original frets have been crowned down a bit but still play well, while the fingerboard shows some "strum wear" to the treble end over the body. The PAF pickups and wiring rig appear untouched, and sound magnificent. This is a truly superb instrument with a particularly cool set of features specific to the 1960-62 era; there would be very limited number of this model built to this exact spec. and if a "sharp cut" Super 400 is your bag this is a lovely example of the earliest, classiest version. It still resides in its original yellow-lined black HSC showing some wear but completely solid. Overall Excellent Condition.