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The SJ-200 was introduced in 1938 in an effort to produce a guitar bigger and more powerful than Martins dreadnaughts.  And it most definitely was a bigger guitar... SJ denotes "Super Jumbo"... and Gibson even tauted it as the "King of Flatop" guitars.  It was based on singin' cowboy Ray Whitley's guitar that was custom made for him by Gibson in 1937.  The SJ-200s from 1938 - 40 had rosewood bodies with ebony fingerboard, "moustache" bridge and stairstep tuners.  Ebony board replaced with rosewood and stairstep tuners replaced with tulip tuners in 1941.  No wartime production. The SJ-200 was re-introduced in 1947 with maple body.  Solid maple back and sides replaced by laminates in 1955.  The SJ-200 Elite is a Custom Shop model introduced in 1998 as an upscale version the J-200.  It combines elements of the pre-War (ebony bridge and fingerboard, stairstep tuners) and post-War versions (maple body, unbound plastic pickguard) versions with custom shop details (abalone inlays).  In 1999, the SJ-200 Elite was made even more fancy by the addition of an abalone rosette in place of the traditional multi-white-black-white rosette.

GIBSON SJ-200 ELITE (1998)

Hollow; solid 2-piece Sitka spruce top, solid 2-piece flame maple back, and solid flame maple sides; triple bound top, double bound back

Finish:  Natural, nitrocellulose

Neck:  3-piece flame maple, set-in; single bound maple headstock overlay with mother-of-pearl logo and crown inlay

Fingerboard:  Ebony, single bound; abalone crown markers

Number of Frets:  20

Pickguard:  Tortoise plastic; engraved "floral" motif with abalone inlays

Bridge:  Ebony with abalone, bone saddle

Nut:  Bone

Tuners:  Grover Imperial, sealed, gold

Pickups:  None

Controls:  None

Scale Length:  25 1/2 inches

Neck Width at Nut:  1 23/32 inches

Body Width at Lower Bout:  16 7/8 inches

Body Depth:  4 3/4 inches

Weight:  n/a

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