Vintage Instruments: Gibson Guitars

Bookmark and Share

1957 Gibson J-200N

Known as the King of the Flattops, the J-200 boasts a 17” wide body with lavish appointments, ornate moustache bridge, and engraved pickguard. This 1957 example in natural finish was built a year after Elvis’ (a different King) identical J-200. It is marking its 60th birthday with a stop here at Folkway. It’s a particularly fine example of a mid 1950’s, and a beautiful sounding guitar.

Part of the magic of the J-200 from 1955 to 1960 is due to the double-X brace pattern that was standard during those years. Gibson used a very wide-angle X brace, coupled with a second wide-angle X brace that supports the fingerboard extension and top north of the soundhole. The bridgeplate was very long and narrow, and the lower part of the top is supported by a pair of transverse braces. This brace layout is what gives the guitar its characteristic voice. That wide X lets the top move a lot, and the lower ladder-style bracing helps to push out the mids and upper mids. The result is a surprisingly balanced, focused, and warm tone – and great versatility. Given the large body size of the guitar, it’s actually a remarkable fingerstyle player, light strummer, and nicely responsive instrument. There’s nothing like a J-200, and this is a particularly great sounding one.

Figured maple back, sides, and neck; spruce top, rosewood fingerboard and bridge. Pearl inlays to the headstock, fingerboard, and bridge, multi-layered bindings throughout. Kluson tuning machines, engraved pickguard, natural lacquer finish. Two piece maple neck with bound fingerboard and headstock.

The guitar is completely original but for a replacement bone saddle, and it’s in remarkably good shape. It has a repaired crack at the pickguard’s inside margin, but no other repairs of note. Saddle has a little adjustment room left, and the action is easy, measuring 5-6 64ths at the 12th fret. Great feeling round carve neck with 1-11/16” nut and 25.4” scale. Original finish throughout, nut has never been out, and the tuners work well.

The guitar comes with its original hardshell case that’s in equally fine condition.

← Back to Gibson Guitars