“It’s an exciting guitar and it has stood the test of time”: Gibson restores the Everly Brothers J-180 signature acoustic to its core Custom Shop lineup

Gibson Everly Brothers J-180, which has just joined the core Custom Shop lineup
(Image credit: Gibson)

Gibson has announced the return of the Custom Shop Everly Brothers J-180 signature guitar to its core artist lineup, complete with star inlays and its trademark ‘Double Moustache’ pickguard.

It is hard to overstate the cultural importance of the Everly Brothers J-180. It was an integral component of the Phil and Don Everly’s stage presence, an acoustic guitar that gave a burgeoning rock ’n’ roll scene a sound and an image, and this new model looks unchanged from the original that launched in 1962.

Thanks to the ‘Double Moustache’ tortoiseshell pickguard and star inlays, you can tell a mile off that this is an Everly Brothers model, but it’s not until you pick one up and play it that you’ll realise that this is not simply another Gibson jumbo. 

The proportions of the Everly Brothers J-180 were the same but the body was a little more compact, measuring up at 16.25” as opposed to the 17” J-200s they had been playing previously. Speaking to the Gibson Gazette, Jason Everly, son of Phil, explained the thinking behind it.

“They played J-200s, which are some of the greatest guitars on the planet, but they wanted something a little more manageable,” he said. “The J-180 was the same but slightly shrunken down – not quite as deep, not quite as big but the same proportions – so on stage you looked cool. It was also a big part of the Everly Brothers’ identity; two acoustic guitars with these double pickguards.”

The Everly Brothers J-180 was not a top seller for Gibson. Between 1962 and 1972, an estimated 500 were made. But it became a cult classic, has been periodically reissued as a limited edition run, and has ultimately enjoyed a legacy that extended beyond rock ’n’ roll. 

It became the sound of folk Cat Stevens/Yusuf bought a 1969 model and subsequently used it to track Tea For The Tillerman (1970) and Teaser And The Firecat (1971). 

Gibson duly recognised the importance of that particular model by releasing it as a signature model in June 2022, Stevens’ model distinguished by its mother of pearl moon-and-star headstock inlay, and the soundhole mounted LR Baggs pickup.

A couple of months later, Gibson released the Everly Brothers SJ-200, a meticulous replica of the customised SJ-200s the brothers played before sizing down with their signature model, with the ‘Double Moustache’ pickguard rendered in cream. That is sadly discontinued, but that said, perhaps the proportions of this model – and, notably, the slimmer neck – would make this more of a crowd pleaser. The Everly Brothers would surely agree.

“My dad would be thrilled out of his mind. It’s an exciting guitar and it has stood the test of time

Jason Everly

As to the specs, the new Custom Shop Every Brothers J-180 has a more discrete LR Baggs system than the Cat Stevens/Yusuf model, with the controls for the VTC pickup/preamp hidden inside the soundhole, with the 1/4” output jack secreted on the endpin. They have Sitka spruce tops, maple back and sides, and SlimTaper necks that are glued to the body with compound dovetail joints, set with hot hide glue.

The fingerboards are classically Gibson, Indian rosewood with a 12” radius, and the scale length is 24.75”, which is again more compact than the 25.5” of the SJ-200. The truss rod cover in engraved with “Everly”, and Other vital statistics include 20 standard frets, Grover Rotomatic tuners with Keystone-style buttons, and saddles and nuts are made from bone, bridge pins from Graph Tech Tusq.

The Everly Brothers J-180 is finished in Ebony, with multi-ply binding on top, single ply on the back, and a gloss nitrocellulose finish, and it ships in a hard-shell guitar case, inside which you’ll find a COA. Jason Everly says his father would love it.

“My dad would be thrilled out of his mind,” said Everly. “It’s an exciting guitar and it has stood the test of time.” You can read the full interview with Jason Everly at the Gibson Gazette and you can find out more about the Everly Brothers J-180 at Gibson. Priced $4,999, it is available now.

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.