Gibson J-200 Flattop Guitar

Description: Gibson J-200 flat top guitar
Available: 1938 to present.
Case: Brown hardshell case with a pink lining was the top-end Gibson case. The mid-line case was a brown hardshell with a green or brown lining. Also sold a cardboard aligator case for those on a budget. 1938 to 1940s model could also have a black case with a red strip around the outside lid.
Collectibility Rating: Rosewood models: A+, Maple models: B+, 1961 and later models: C
Production: 1938:25, 1939:20, 1940:21, 1941:30, 1942-1947:unknown, 1948:166, 1949:111, 1950:101, 1951:204, 1952:201, 1953:201, 1954:250, 1955:131, 1956:181, 1957:229, 1958:131, 1959:172, 1960:167, 1961:125, 1962:139, 1963:259, 1964:277, 1965:204, 1966:214, 1967:285, 1968:404, 1969:392
General Comments: A very fancy Gibson flattop. Unfortunately, because of the maple design (maple back and sides and neck) the Gibson J200 guitar does not have the warmth in sound of the J-45 and other mahogany or rosewood models. Lots of treble and bite to the sound. This is why rosewood Gibson J200 guitars are so nice (warmer tone). I love the rosewood versions, but the maple ones are still a beautiful guitar.

If you need to figure out the exact year of your Gibson J-200 guitar, use the serial number. This is located inside the body, on a white or orangle label inside the body's sound hole. See the Gibson Serial Number Info web page for help determining the exact year.

J.Spann's book on FON numbers shows us some pre-war examples of SJ-200 batches:

    • 13d = SJ-200
    • 15d = SJ-200
    • 44d = SJ-200
    • 76d = SJ-200
    • 116d = SJ-200
    • 865d = SJ-200
    • 981d = SJ-200
    • 999d = SJ-200
    • 423e = SJ-100
    • 546e = SJ-100
    • 206e = SJ special experimental
    • 168F = SJ-200
    • 711f = SJ-200
    • 1124f = SJ-200
    • 167f = SJ-100
    • 669f = SJ-100
    • 683f = SJ-100
    • 696f = SJ-100
    • 896f = SJ-100
    • f910 = SJ-100
    • 1218f = SJ-100
    • 1102g = SJ-200
    • 3168g = SJ-200
    • 4102g = SJ-200
    • 4261g = SJ-200
    • 4804g = SJ-200
    • 5005g = SJ-200
    • 2671g = SJ-100
    • 4098g = SJ-100
    • 4467g = SJ-100
    • 5155g = SJ-100

If you have a vintage Gibson J-200 guitar for sale, please contact me at

1938 Gibson SJ-200 guitar introduction specs:
17" wide, jumbo shape, Indian Rosewood back/sides (Brazilian was not used for the back/sides), three piece laminated maple neck (with a rosewood contrasting center stripe), large open moustache shape ebony bridge with cutouts at bridge ends, 4 semi-rectangular pearl inlays on bridge, 6 individual height adjustable saddle bearings, celluloid pickguard with engraved flower motif and engraved border around pickguard, mutliple bound top (9 layers) and back, single bound ebony fingerboard with pointed end, crest fingerboard inlays, triple bound peghead, 20 frets total, crown peghead inlay, pearl logo, stairstep tuner buttons, strap-fastening bracket on back of peghead, gold plated parts, "zipper" stripe down center of the back, two "X" top braces (lower 128 degree "X" bracing 7/8" from the soundhole, upper 128 degree "X" brace 3/4" from the soundhole), sunburst finish. Retail price was $200. For an additional $50, you could have your name inlaid in the fingerboard!
1941 Gibson SJ-200 guitar specs:
One piece saddle (no individual string bearings), Brazilian Rosewood fingerboard (instead of Ebony), pearloid tulip-shaped tuner buttons.
1942 Gibson SJ-200 guitar specs:
single "X" brace top pattern used. Note no examples seen from 1944 to 1946 (war time).
1947 Gibson SJ-200 guitar specs:
Maple back and sides (Indian rose back/sides halted except by special order), single bound peghead, no strap bracket on peghead.
1948 SJ-200 specs:
Natural finish optional, body depth increased from 4.5" to 4.75".
1952 SJ-200 specs:
Body depth increased to 4 7/8". Changed the bracing pattern from single X-brace with two transverse tonebars, and reinstated the wide-angled double X with two ladder style tonebars and long bridge plate.
1955 Gibson J-200 guitar specs:
Model name shortened to "J-200", laminated back and sides, molded pickguard with flower motif changed slightly with no engraved border around pickguard (the molded pickguard was less expensive to make than the previously engraved pickguard).
1959 Gibson J-200 guitar specs:
Grover tuners, large frets.
1961 Gibson J-200 guitar specs:
Tune-o-matic adjustable metal bridge, 4 pearl bridge inlays replace bridge cutouts in addition to previous pearl bridge inlays ("closed" moustach bridge replaces "open" moustach bridge). Bridge pins repositioned to imitate the now missing bottom cutaway in the bridge. Larger one piece neck block now wraps around under the fingerboard extention, and a really large maple bridge plate is used, with 4 metal bolts (two for the tunematic adjustment, two as bridge bolts.) The strangest change is the addition of a large, suspended wooden brace under the top, between the bridge and the soundhole. In the middle of the brace is a large metal screw, held against the top. Apparently this brace was added to keep the front of the bridge from sinking. two versions of this brace were used. But both totally killed the J-200's tone, so many owners removed this brace.
1963 Gibson J-200 guitar specs:
triangle metal tuners used, five piece laminated maple neck.
1968 Gibson J-200 guitar specs:
Grover tuners again used.
Gibson J-200 guitar still in production today with slightly different specs.

A 1941 Gibson J-200 rosewood pre-war guitar (100% original, pics by Willi):

A sunburst 1959 Gibson J-200 guitar with stock Grover tuners:

A 1959 blond Gibson J-200 guitar with original Grover tuners.
Note the bracing and neck block compared to the 1964 J-200 seen below.

A 1964 sunburst Gibson J-200 guitar with original case.
Note the change to the tuners and bridge.

Inside the 1964 Gibson J-200. Note the Barcus Barry pickup is not stock.
The larger bridge plate with 4 metal bolts is clearly visible.
Also the brace with the adjustable "tone killer" is shown.

The large neck block used on 1960s J-200 models.

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