How the GIBSON 1957 SJ-200 came to be!

With the arrival of the GIBSON 1957 SJ-200 in our Melbourne CBD Store, we take a look back at one of History's most defining Guitars. 

In 1937, Gibson began production of its premier flat-top guitar model, initially known as the Super Jumbo, later rechristened the Super Jumbo 200 in 1939. This instrument, which replaced the Gibson Advanced Jumbo, was crafted at the Gibson Factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

An Example of Mid to Late 50s GIBSON SJ-200 

A significant acknowledgment is owed to trailblazer Ray Whitley. The country and western singer of the 1930s collaborated with Gibson in 1937 to contribute to the development of the SJ-200. Whitley holds the distinction of being the inaugural artist to possess a Gibson SJ-200, and the very first SJ-200, tailor-made for Whitley by Gibson, is showcased in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.


The SJ-200 earned its moniker from its exceptionally large 16 7/8" flat-top body, featuring a double-braced red spruce top, rosewood back and sides, and a striking sunburst finish. Over the years, the guitar underwent significant changes, reflecting the evolving tastes and needs of musicians.From 1938 to 1940, the fretboards are crafted from ebony, whereas the guitars produced from 1941 to 1943 feature rosewood fretboards. In 1947, the construction materials shifted to maple for the back and sides. In 1955, Gibson rebranded it as the J-200.

Despite economic constraints during the post-depression era and wartime frugality, the instrument's unique features and sound quality continued to attract a dedicated following. Modifications to the bridge design and bracing from the early 1960s onwards significantly altered the instrument's tone and projection. The models crafted between 1947 and 1957 gained renown for their robust, rich sound, ideal for strumming and songwriting. By the late 1980s, with the opening of the Bozeman shop, these guitars reverted to the revered designs of the 1930s to 1950s, marking a return to the instrument's roots.

The Current GIBSON 1957 SJ-200 

Several renowned musicians have played the Gibson SJ-200, contributing to its iconic status in the music world. Some notable artists associated with the SJ-200 include:

  1. Ray Whitley - Often credited as the first performer to own and play a Gibson SJ-200.
  2. Gene Autry - Known as "The Singing Cowboy," Autry popularized the use of the SJ-200 in his performances and recordings.
  3. Elvis Presley - The King of Rock and Roll occasionally played the SJ-200 during his career.         

  4. Bob Dylan - The folk music legend has been photographed playing the SJ-200, particularly during his Rolling Thunder Revue era.
  5. Pete Townshend - The guitarist for The Who has used the SJ-200 in various recordings and performances.
  6. Emmylou Harris - The country music icon has frequently played the SJ-200 throughout her career.
  7. Eddie Vedder - Pearl Jams frontman was known for his use of the SJ-200 in both acoustic and electric settings.

So be sure to come into Colemans Music and talk to one of our Staff members about the Gibson 1957 SJ-200.