Up for sale, a 1939 Gibson Super 400 in exceptional, 100% original condition and in perfect working order. Presumably special ordered for one "Frank Gentile, " as the original engraved truss rod cover purports, this stunning Pre-War Super 400 retains its original Blonde nitro lacquer gloss finish, pink marbled pickguard, and hardshell case.
First available in Blonde in 1939 (for a $10 upgrade), the Super 400 had settled on its ideal upper bout dimensions, scale length and bracing by 1937, coalescing into the quintessential orchestral rhythm guitar for the Jazz age. The most expensive and richly ornamented factory-produced archtop of its day, the Super 400, and its $400 price tag, were a hefty sum in the heart of the Great Depression, and this example was one of only 34 produced in the 1939 model year.
With solid, carved tonewoods used throughout, this Super 400 features a hand-carved, bookmatched spruce top, a bookmatched maple back with broad ripples of dimensional flame extending across its length, and maple rims with both flame and blister maple figuring. The two-piece flame maple neck is capped with a bound ebony fingerboard, rounding out the essential sonic ingredients. With its full 18" wide lower bout and 25 1/2" scale length, this Super 400 offers a positively brilliant, broad sound with unparalleled power and projection. The note detail, midrange cut, and glassy immediacy of single notes and complex chords is without equal. From velvety, mellow sweetness to barking bite, this Super 400 covers an enviable swath of tonal ground. Weighing 7lbs 1oz, we've had this Gibson professionally setup here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar with 12-54 flatwound strings and easy-playing action.
The two-piece flame maple neck has a round C-shaped profile carve with full shoulders, measuring .880" deep at the 1st fret and .990" at the 9th. The multi-ply bound ebony fingerboard features mother of pearl split block inlay, professionally refretted with slender fretwire that has well-rounded crowns, showing just a hint of wear beneath the plain strings on frets 1-3. The guitar plays cleanly up the 25 1/2" scale with a straight neck and responsive, optimally adjusted truss rod. The nut measures 1 5/8" in width and is a modern replacement, carved from bone. More slender than usual Gibson spec for the era, this nut width is also also not uncommon on the Super 400 model, given that many were special-ordered for specific players, in this case Frank Gentile, whose name is etched into the original truss rod cover. The headstock features all the appointments of Gibson's most expensive model, with split diamond inlay, an inlaid script Gibson logo, five-ply binding, and solid brass, gold plated Kluson Sealfast tuning machines. These tuners have a smooth, elegant response, and while much of the gold plating is retained on the gear housings, the buttons have been worn to reveal their solid brass construction.
Hardware includes the dark Brazilian rosewood floating bridge and etched gold Super 400 trapeze tailpiece. The original pink marbled pickguard sits quite flat, with a small amount of upward deflection. There’s also a small amount of discoloration in the pink marbled material from contact with its mounting block (connecting to the fretboard extension). The body features parallel tonebar bracing, and the treble-side brace has been reglued along the lower bout. Visible through the F hole, the original white oval label is partially intact, with the serial rewritten by a subsequent owner, and matching the original EA-prefix serial which is lightly stamped on the back of the peghead.
The Blonde gloss nitro lacquer finish is 100% original with no touch-up or overspray, rarer still given that 1939 was the first year this finish option was available, representing only a fraction of the 34 Super 400s produced in this model year. The guitar exhibits lacquer checking across the top, with some minor dings and scuffs consistent with careful use on the edges of the bouts on top. There is targeted buckle rash at the treble-side waist, and some minor finish discoloration and loss on the treble-side lower bout rim. Additionally a tiny spot of finish wear is present beneath the pickguard (and directly below the pickguard mounting block) on the edge of the F hole. All of the original multi-ply binding is remarkably clean, and in a couple of areas along the upper and lower bouts, the maple rims are roughly 1/64” proud of the binding, yet all is stable and within spec for 80+ years of wood expansion/contraction and fractional binding shrinkage. The gloss finish on the neck profile is notably smooth and clean with minimal palm wear.
The original hardshell case with brown mottled exterior and pink interior is included. The case retains its original, functional latches and a replacement handle.