Gibson 1940 Super 400 Premier Natural(PN), shipped 9FEB1940. 30 years ago a pickup was added. Nonetheless, because so few exist, this is quite a special piece.
Gibson 1940 Super 400 Premier Natural(PN) and original leather case.
From left: 1937, 1936, 1935 and 1940 Gibson Super 400's.
From left: 1957 Super 300, 1947 L-12 Premier, 1939 L-5 Premier Natural(PN), 1940 Super 400 Premier Natural(PN)
According to Andre Duchossoir this Super 400 PN was shipped from the factory 9FEB1940 as a sample to then Gibson rep, Louis Hope.
'39 Gibson L-5 PN vs. '40 Gibson Super 400 PN. Lower bouts of 17" vs. 18". Both pieces were premier, or first achievements for Gibson. These 'new' archtops featured a cutaway body granting extra access to the fingerboard. Guitars are forever changed.
Heelcap with 'Super 400'. This feature, along with several others will disappear postwar once Super 400 production is underway in the late '40's.
Gibson '39 L-5 PN is much smaller and has a more dramatic neck angle compared to the '40 Gibson Super 400 PN.
Late '30's ad. Very notable is the fact that Gibson has had many 'firsts' in the evolution of the guitar. Electric guitars, archtops, cutaways, truss rods, not to mention the Les Paul, solid and semi-hollow bodies all evolved over time.
'39 Gibson L-5 PN vs. '40 Gibson Super 400 PN.
Early post-war '47 Gibson L-12 Premier with a less bulged cutaway compared to the early '39/'40 L-5 and Super 400 PN's. The early prewar cutaways lack the sweep and appear to have a swollen bump protruding from their sides.
Just a perspective on Gibson cutaway and body styles are the following: (LFT) '47 L-12 P, '39 L-5 PN, '40 Super 400 PN and '57 Super 300 Cutaway.
Both early L-5 and Super 400 PN models featured the fingerboard attached to the body. By 1940/'41 the fingerboard was elevated above the body.
Original tailpiece with engraved 'Super 400'. Also featured the 'all new' Vari-Tone. Note the hole towards the base. A hex wrench adjusts the height of the tailpiece
Note the Vari-Tone is simply a small brass piece, like the end of a bolt, with a hex nut inside. When the nut is tightened the brass piece elevates the underside of the tailpiece for string tension variance, hence tone differential.
Interesting angle of the Vari-Tone. If you have never seen photos of this, then the word Vari-Tone may seem very foreign. Only setback of this was if the nut was tightened too much, the top may develope a crack.
Base of tailpiece. Because a pickup was added to this model, the luthier saved the maple sides and chose to put the output jack in the base of the tailpiece where the end-pin is placed. This spared the drilling of an extra hole in the body.
Note the Vari-Tone was a new concept, thus the tailpiece was stamped with 'PAT. APPLIED FOR'.
Classic split diamond motif on the backside of the peghead.
Original Kluson tuners came with the piece, but a set of vintage Grovers had previously been installed. These Super 400's can be found with either Grover Imperials or Kluson Sealfast (plastic/metal) gearheads...occasionally Grover Sta-tites.
Original rosewood bridge with pearl triangles inlaid on only the base. The earlier inlaid pearl triangles applied to the saddle of the bridge was typically found only on the first version '34-'36 Super 400.
Fingerboard attached to the body via a very small maple shim. Neck angle is not as dramatic as the prewar L-5 PN.
From left: 1936 Super 400, 1935 Super 400, 1937 Super 400, 1940 Super 400 Premier Natural