NAMM 2024: Gibson unveils the Ebony Series, giving four of its most popular acoustic guitars a Custom makeover

Gibson J-45 Custom Ebony
(Image credit: Gibson)

NAMM 2024: Gibson has given four of its top-selling acoustic guitars a deluxe Custom Shop refresh, with the Ebony Series J-45, Hummingbird, SE Songwriter and SJ-200 all resplendent in the finery more commonly found on the Les Paul Custom.

We’re talking Ebony nitro finishes, multi-ply binding on the bodies and Les Paul-style headstocks, mother of pearl block inlays on ebony fingerboards, and split-diamond logos on the pegheads. And what would a Custom be without a dash of bling from the gold Grover Rotomatics with kidney bean-style buttons? It’s all there, and they wear it well.

It is not the first time in recent memory that Gibson has offered its acoustics in Ebony for a special limited run. Launched in the summer of 2021, the Gibson Exclusives Collection, which was available exclusively from the brand direct, presented the  J-45, Hummingbird and SJ-200 with Ebony finishes and high-end specs. 

But these new models are a little different, hewing close to the Les Paul Custom’s ‘Black Beauty’ blueprint. The Hummingbird and SJ-200, for instance, have no signature detailing on their pickguards, though the the shape of the ‘guards, and details such as the moustache-style bridge of the SJ-200, all remain.

There are some specs common to all of the models here. Each has been fitted with an LR Baggs Session VTC undersaddle acoustic guitar pickup, with the preamp’s volume and tone controls mounted discretely in the soundhole. 

Necks join the body with a compound dovetail joint, set with hot hide glue. They all have bone nuts and 12” radius fingerboards with 20 standard frets, with ebony bridges. But there are some subtle differences unique to each.

The J-45 Custom Ebony is similarly recognisable by that round-shouldered dreadnought shape alone. It has a more minimalist white rosette around the soundhole. The body is solid Sitka spruce on top, mahogany on the back and sides. The mahogany neck is carved into Gibson’s comfortable SlimTaper profile, and the guitar has a 24.75” scale. It is priced £4,799 / $4,999.  

The Hummingbird debuted Gibson’s square-shoulder dreadnought shape, and that’s what we have got here, with once more solid Sitka spruce on top, mahogany on the back and sides. It has the traditional belly-up style bridge. The Hummingbird Custom Ebony is priced £5,799 / $5,999.

Gibson SJ-200 Custom Ebony

(Image credit: Gibson)

The Songwriter is a relative newcomer, the cutaway dread first introduced in 2003, with Gibson going for that vintage-modern crossover, with the traditional ‘30s-style hand-scalloped X pattern bracing applied to what is essentially a Hummingbird body with a cutaway. It has a scale length of 25.5”. It is priced $4,799 / $4,999.

And now for the King of the Flat-tops, the SJ-200, which is comfortably the most expensive instrument here, priced at an eye-watering $7,499.

But then this is high-end acoustic guitar royalty, a 25.5” scale instrument with a body of Sitka spruce and figured maple on the back and sides, and the very notion of making a Super Jumbo in the style of a Les Paul Custom is pretty much the epitome of luxury, on a guitar that has always been a stalwart of songwriters.

The Gibson Ebony Series is available now, and each guitar ships with a hard-shell guitar case. See Gibson for more details.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.