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Gibson / SJ-200 / 1948 / Sunburst / Guitar

The Gibson Super Jumbo 200 was introduced to the public in 1938 after a short run of three guitars for singing cowboy Ray Whitley. At $200, it was the most expensive flat-top guitar in the Gibson line up. Instead of the typical Factory Order designation that Gibson used for low to mid level instruments, Gibson used an individual serial number for each Super Jumbo 200 and subsequent model name changes. The Super Jumbo 200 featured Rosewood back and sides until Gibson stopped accepting orders for it in 1942. We have very little information about Gibson production numbers from 1942 until the end of the war in 1946 but we do know that the model was reintroduced sometime in 1947. Gibson changed the name of the model to “SJ-200″ after the war and also discontinued the use of Rosewood for the back and sides in favor of highly figured Maple. The bracing on the 1942-1951 SJ-200s is a very light, single X pattern very reminiscent of that found on a similar era J-45. Gibson increased the bracing mass with a double X pattern in the 1952 model year. Production numbers for Gibson for the late 1940s are still a bit hazy for the low to mid range instruments but since the SJ-200 has an individual serial number we can track how many were produced. Current research states that this Gibson SJ-200, serial number A 2090, left the factory between July and December of 1948. It is one of 166 produced that year.


This 1948 Gibson SJ-200 has survived the test of time in very good condition with standard wear and patina for a guitar of this age. The Cremona Brown colored sunburst so typical of Gibson in the late 1940s is vibrant and pleasing. It has suffered no major breaks or sloppy repairs to draw the eye away from its aesthetic beauty. The tone of this guitar is loud and crisp with a strong low end and sparkly highs thanks to that hard and dense figured Maple that reflects the tone out of the soundhole. Repairs include a neck reset, bridge reglue, some braces reglued, pickguard reglue and two crack repairs. Two back braces and one top brace have been replaced with quality made replica braces built from a J-200 style template. The bridge plate has also been replaced with one of similar size to the original. The current plate may be a bit thicker than what would have come in the guitar originally but was professionally installed. The pickguard has shrunk and caused the typical crack next to the fretboard. This crack has been professionally glued and is hidden beneath the pickguard. The other crack is on the treble bout of the back and has been professionally glued. A jack hole was added to the side rim for a pickup at one time. Some of the marquetry on the back zipper has fallen off but the rest has been secured. The only improper repair on this guitar are the four tiny brads helping the moustache bridge down. The moustache bridge commonly lifts in this area and the brads were likely added early on in this guitar’s life. I decided to leave them since they don’t draw the eye and seem to be more of a sign of the times. The action at the 12th fret is about 1/8″ across all strings. There is some room to lower the saddle should a new owner deem it necessary. I prefer a bit more room under the strings on a guitar like this so that I can drive the top with a big loud strum with a heavy pick. The original case is in solid functioning condition with standard wear and patina for its age. The lid strap is missing and the very bottom latch doesn’t like to cooperate. The rest of the case is solid.


This 1948 Gibson SJ-200 is in solid playing condition and ready to be put back in use. The SJ-200’s construction and aesthetic beauty makes it one of the most sought after models that Gibson ever produced. If you don’t have $100k+ for a prewar Super Jumbo 200, maybe this one from 1948 can fill that 17″ wide void in your heart.

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John Shults
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