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   As the country's foremost maker of arch-top guitars, Gibson resisted making flat-top models until 1926. But not long after C.F. Martin added the big Dreadnought guitar to its line of instruments in 1931, Gibson countered with its own similarly shaped Jumbo model. Then, late in 1937, Gibson introduced a distinctly different large guitar called the SJ-200 (for Super Jumbo), with a wide, almost circular lower bout and a narrow waist reminiscent of nineteenth-century German guitars. One of the first SJ-200's was made for cowboy film star Ray Whitley, composer of "Back in the Saddle Again." Whitley was looking for a guitar with an especially powerful bass sound to accompany his vocals. For a guitar made at the end of the Great Depression (and retailing at $200), the SJ-200 had very deluxe appointments, with gold-plated hardware, crest-shaped pearl fret markers, multilayered edge binding, a bridge shaped like a handlebar moustache (or maybe steer horns), and a pick guard adorned with flowering vines. It was just the thing to make a performer stand out, whether on stage or screen. It is estimated that ninety-six SJ-200s were made before World War II, and by the mid 1950's the model was renamed simply the J-200.


A guitar sounds good even if you drop it on the floor.
A beginner can find music in the guitar that has escaped the virtuoso.
It's a magical instrument, constrained by a short range
and a peculiar tuning that produces music beyond the limits of its own nature.

-Leo Kottke


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