Gibson J-200 Celebrates 65 Years

Dec 26, 2002 12:00 PM, Editors


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This year, Gibson Montana celebrates the 65th year of the J-200 alongside its 15th year of making acoustic instruments in Montana.

“The older Gibsons sound great, but the new ones already sound great, right out of the factory,” said Tony King, who plays guitar with country-music artists Brooks & Dunn. “Those guys at Montana love their instruments.”

Kelly Jones of Stereophonics agreed: “We’ve been using the Gibson Montana acoustics for a while on the road now. They’re very versatile and work on a whole range of different types of songs and stages.”

Gibson’s flat-top acoustic guitars were famous from the 1930s through the ’60s, played by everyone from cowboy movie stars to country music legends, from the Everly Brothers to Elvis. But by the mid-1980s, Gibson was near death, and the J-200s and J-45s that trickled out of the Nashville plant were no longer worthy of the Gibson name. New owners Henry Juszkiewicz and Dave Berryman took over in January 1986, and immediately brought Gibson’s electric guitars back to life in Nashville, but the acoustic line needed something different.

In 1988, on the 50th anniversary of the J-200, Gibson began tooling up the newly acquired Flatiron mandolin company in Montana to make Gibson acoustic guitars. “Montana is a long way from Nashville, and from an administrative point of view, it was a very risky move to have a factory so far away,” Juszkiewicz said. “But the ‘patient’ was very sick, and the best guitar ‘doctors’ were in Montana.”

The J-200, which was introduced in 1938 as the Super Jumbo, remains the flagship model of a wide range of Gibson flat-tops made in Montana. Familiar Gibson models such as the Hummingbird, the Dove, the Southern Jumbo and the J-160E (the John Lennon model) also carry on Gibson’s tradition.

For more, visit Gibson online at

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