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NMM 5991.  Guitar by Gibson, Inc., Kalamazoo, 1940.
Ray Whitley Custom "party guitar" (13-5/8").  Factory order number 923F.
Ex colls.:  Ray Whitley, Glenn Strange.   Arne B. and Jeanne F. Larson Fund, 1996.

NMM 5991.  Guitar by Gibson, Inc., Kalamazoo, 1940.

This Gibson flat-top guitar was custom-built for Ray Whitley, the cowboy movie star and writer of Gene Autry's theme song, Back in the Saddle Again. Whitley was involved with Gibson’s Super Jumbo 200 guitar from its inception, having worked with Gibson during the production of several prototypes.


Front, Side, and Back Views


NMM 5991.  Guitar by Gibson, Inc., Kalamazoo, 1940. Treble side of Whitley's guitar Bass side of Whitley's guitar Back of Whitley's guitar

In 1940, Whitley received from Gibson this special, custom-made guitar that resembled the SJ-200, but on a smaller scale. He called this instrument his "Party Guitar," and it appeared with him on the 1940 RKO comedy short, Bar Buckaroos. The instrument later belonged to Glenn Strange, best known as Sam the Bartender on the TV series, Gunsmoke.


Front and Back Views of the Body


Front of Whitley guitar Back of Whitley guitar


Fretboard, Back of Neck, and Front of Peghead


Fretboard Back of neck Whitley guitar peghead


Soundhole and Block Stamp


Soundhole

Block stamp

Block Stamp Seen Through Soundhole


Bottom of Guitar


Bottom of guitar


Literature:  George Gruhn, "The Party Guitar:  Ray Whitley’s Mini SJ-200," Gruhn Guitars Monthly (December 1995), cover, pp. 4-5, 20.

Eldon Whitford and David Vinopal, "Gibson SJ-200: On the Trail to the Original," Vintage Guitar, Vol. 11, No. 5 (February 1997), pp. 108-111, 184-185.

André P. Larson, "Legends of the American West . . . Museum Acquires Cowboy Singer Ray Whitley’s 'Party Guitar'," America's Shrine to Music Museum Newsletter, Vol. 25, No. 5 (November 1998), pp. 1-3.

André P. Larson, "Major Guitar Exhibition Taken to Nebraska Museum," America's Shrine to Music Museum Newsletter, Vol. 26, No. 3 (August 1999), p. 8.

A postcard of this guitar is available from the Gift Shop

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