Elvis' 1956 Gibson J200
(page obsolete, see update)

Elvis onstage at the Cotton Bowl - Oct 11, 1956
Photo courtesy FECC/Elton

1957 Gibson J-200N identical to Elvis' 56 (originally)
courtesy Gary's Classic guitars

In October of 1956 as a result of Scotty's recent endorsement with Gibson, Elvis acquired and began using a new Gibson J-200N guitar, serial number A22937.  Sid Lapworth of the O.K. Houck Piano Co. said that they had hoped to present Elvis with it after the store had closed but Elvis was delayed and never made it to the store*.  Scotty picked up the guitar and Gibson invoiced it to him because the Colonel wouldn't allow an endorsement for Elvis.  It was used in concerts and to record.  Around December he received a tooled leather cover for his custom made by his friend Charles Underwood.

Bill and Elvis with leather covered J200  Los Angeles, CA 1957
Photo by Ernest Reshovsky courtesy MPTV.net

Elvis with prop J-200, Scotty and Bill in "Loving You",  Paramount, 1957

Elvis with J-200, Scotty and Bill with the Jordanaires
in "King Creole",  Paramount, 1958

  One like his was purchased by Paramount for use in the movies Loving You and King Creole.  In 1960, when he returned to civilian life after two years in the U.S. Army, Elvis asked Scotty to send the well-worn instrument out to be refurbished. The work wasn’t done in time for Elvis’ March 20 recording session in Nashville, so a new 1960 J-200N was shipped as a replacement.  In G.I. Blues, his first movie after returning from the Army, he can be seen playing the prop J-200 almost identical to his own.

Elvis with '50s J-200 in scenes from G.I. Blues
"Gibson" logo is blacked out

Elvis Presley's 56 Gibson J-200  modified at Scotty's request

Serial # A 22937

name inlaid on the fretboard

mod pickguard design

note the heavy wear due to Elvis' aggressive strumming

When the ’56 model came back, the old red floral design pick guard had been replaced with a new black pick guard with a mod design and the name ELVIS PRESLEY inlaid on the finger board as requested by Scotty – a beautiful new look.  However, there has been a discrepancy through the years though, Scotty had recorded the serial number of the original 56 that was sent out and noted that the one returned was different.  It was believed that the guitar had been replaced, however the serial number of the J200 does match the one that Scotty sent out.  Elvis continued to enjoy this instrument as his special favorite for the rest of his life.  In 1996 Gibson began a limited run of 250 replicas of this signature model of the J200.

1996 EP Signature J200 #41 of 250

The 50's Gibson J-200 flat-top guitar has a 25 1/2" scale length and features a solid Sitka Spruce top, Solid eastern curly maple back, sides and neck, Rosewood fretboard and bridge with Mother of Pearl Crown inlays on the fretboard and double inlay on the bridge, gold tuners with pearloid Keystone buttons.  J-200s Mfg. 1937 -

Elvis in Las Vegas with 56 J200 - August 14, 1969
photo courtesy Per´s Elvissida

In 1969 when Elvis returned to performing live he used this guitar onstage again.  He continued to perform with it in concert as late as 1971.  The guitar is a part of the permanent collection on display at Graceland.

EPE, Inc. released the following about the 56 J200 on May 13, 2003:
"In 1960, Scotty Moore sent this guitar to Chicago through a Memphis music store to be refurbished. Elvis needed a guitar within a couple of weeks for a session so Gibson sent him a new 1960 model with the same red pick guard. To Scotty's knowledge, they never received the original guitar back and assumed it was lost forever. When the archives department checked the serial numbers of Elvis guitars in 2001, they were shocked to discover they had the original ‘56 Gibson in their possession. Gibson had finished the reverberations to the '56 Gibson that included a custom pick guard and adding Elvis’ name in the neck of the guitar and returned it to Elvis. His new customized guitar first shows up in promo pictures for the movie “Wild In The Country.” But, how or when exactly did it return? No one will ever know."

*Initially Sid Lapworth believed that Elvis was delayed enroute to the store as a result of  an altercation at a Gas Station in Memphis (on October 18th).  This can't be the case since he is pictured with the guitar as early as October 11th in Dallas.


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