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  1. #1

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    1956 Gibson Super 400 CES in Sunburst finish with hard shell | Reverb

    That is certainly a nice specimen but IMHO it has several issues : for a guitar of that vintage the finish simply looks too good and shiny + the binding has not yellowed like it would have after 65 years. The neck is most definitely NOT original since it's a 5-piece
    construction and the headstock already has the post-1961 shape. The tuners most likely are also replaced since in the 50's the big Klusons had the amber-colored plastic buttons.
    My take : the neck was replaced at some point in the 60's and the guitar could very well have been refinished, too. That doesn't take away any points for a player but the current price they're asking is nowhere near
    realistic ....

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    It’s simple enough to say that if you’re asking a 50% premium above Norm Harris, you’re probably a bit off. Norm already asks a premium above typical market. I realize this is in London though and I’m sure they can get a premium for vintage Gibsons as well, but still.

    1955 Gibson Super 400 CES | Norman's Rare Guitars | Reverb

  4. #3

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    Typical Reverb fantasy prices and the whole Reverb attitude. I personally would not want the guitar if it presents these issues and changes and no one really knows. Frankly I would say it is worth $10000 tops and no I would not be a buyer then..............

  5. #4

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    This shop is known for premium prices. The guitar looks nice. There are very few of these in the UK, and even fewer (no others) for sale. The nearest is a similar aged L five with a crumbling pickguard which another London store has had for sale for £14000 for ages.
    This shop (NKRVG) also has an ex Martin Taylor Johnny Smith for sale at about £8000, if I remember correctly.

  6. #5

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    Very limited market for Archtops and if the neck was replaced etc. They are asking way to much. But I'm sure Norm Harris is aiming at collectors and Rock Stars with disposable income.

  7. #6

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    replaced neck for sure as gitman points out but tuners are correct for '56

  8. #7

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    I've had the chance to buy this '56 Super-400 a couple of years ago, sold via ebay by a guy in Dorset/GB . We agreed on € 7000,- (app. US $ 8300.00) since it has had a complete refinish at some
    point, probably at some time in the 90ies. It was reportedly imported to GB by Trevor Owen. I never bonded with it despite it's def. virtues as a very playable and attractive guitar - these pickups are VERY finnicky and I was not able to dial in a tone that satisfied me. For anyone who is chasing Scotty Moore, Merle Travis etc. it would certainly be the holy grail ....
    Anyway, for that money it was totally ok and in some ways a bargain but compared to an original humbucker-equipped Super-400 from '58 up to '62/63 not my choice when it comes to the smooth, deep and velvety Jazz tones we have normally come expect and love from these big boxes...
    Is there a contemporary "jazz" player who is actually using a guitar with these pickups ? All I can think of are guys who don't play anymore/have since passed away : O'Donel Levy, Jimmy Ponder ....
    This was me with said guitar, 9 years ago :
    Attached Images Attached Images 1956 Gibson Super-400 CES in London-p1060669-jpg 

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by gitman
    I've had the chance to buy this '56 Super-400 a couple of years ago, sold via ebay by a guy in Dorset/GB . We agreed on € 7000,- (app. US $ 8300.00) since it has had a complete refinish at some
    point, probably at some time in the 90ies. It was reportedly imported to GB by Trevor Owen. I never bonded with it despite it's def. virtues as a very playable and attractive guitar - these pickups are VERY finnicky and I was not able to dial in a tone that satisfied me. For anyone who is chasing Scotty Moore, Merle Travis etc. it would certainly be the holy grail ....
    Anyway, for that money it was totally ok and in some ways a bargain but compared to an original humbucker-equipped Super-400 from '58 up to '62/63 not my choice when it comes to the smooth, deep and velvety Jazz tones we have normally come expect and love from these big boxes...
    Is there a contemporary "jazz" player who is actually using a guitar with these pickups ? All I can think of are guys who don't play anymore/have since passed away : O'Donel Levy, Jimmy Ponder ....
    This was me with said guitar, 9 years ago :
    I have a 1950’s L5CES with the same staple pickups. I agree that they are finnicky but I think this may also be related to the old-style wiring harness and other electronics. The volume and tone pots seem to have a very narrow field where they react quite drastically. I would really like to have pots that are more linear, but I don’t want to mess with the originality of the guitar. I am just very careful when adjusting the volume or tone.
    Keith

  10. #9

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    So a couple of things as a 63year old professional guitarist come to mind.
    Are we chasing the actual tone and playability of said instrument because of its actual merits?
    Or are we chasing the guitar because of what it represents of eras gone by?

    If one looks back at our hero's choice of tools, they usually just used what was available in the era. And they used newer guitars as they became available
    Jimmy Bryant who was associated with the Original Telecaster, than moved on to different instruments through his career and ended with a Gibson ES-355?

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57
    So a couple of things as a 63year old professional guitarist come to mind.
    Are we chasing the actual tone and playability of said instrument because of its actual merits?
    Or are we chasing the guitar because of what it represents of eras gone by?

    If one looks back at our hero's choice of tools, they usually just used what was available in the era. And they used newer guitars as they became available
    Jimmy Bryant who was associated with the Original Telecaster, than moved on to different instruments through his career and ended with a Gibson ES-355?
    Good argument and certainly worth thinking about ! BUT consider this argument from this 61 year old fellow-pro guitarist : what were the choices our hero's had back in the day, what was available and what is available today ?
    There was Gibson, Epiphone, Gretsch and Fender (am I forgetting any other major brand ?) with a variety of models and then there were the rather few independent luthiers, mainly
    on the east coast, who catered to a pretty small portion of the professional clientele. The situation today is completely unique, since there has never been a more varied
    choice in instruments for all budget sizes and the specific information is readily available, most everywhere.

    As a player and not a collector (I would if I could) I chase the tone and feel of the vintage guitars - in some cases I've found that in new instruments (my Trenier comes to mind) but my current Super-400 CES (1963 model) ticks all boxes for THAT specific tone and feel which I have not been able to get with the 4 or 5 younger Super-400 models that have passed through during the past 25 years ....
    YMMV

  12. #11

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    about 20 yrs ago a friend brought over a beautiful blonde '53 L-5 w/Alnicos that I was considering buying.
    but after playing it I just couldn't warm up to those pickups.
    Wes used one for awhile in Indy before he was discovered but as soon as humbuckers became standard he switched.



  13. #12

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    I totally get the allure of Vintage Guitars, but after owning way too many of them back in the day. It was because the newer 1970s models weren't as well built or aesthetically pleasing.
    With the return of Vintage replicas as well as so many talented younger luthiers since 1990s. There's no way I would purchase a Vintage guitar.
    And I say that from archtop to solidbody or even flat tops. I really think there isn't one old guitar that can't be bettered on all fronts.

    But the mystique sure helps sell them at ridiculous prices. And that helped bring the designs back and improved in some cases as well.