Some guitars have such a touching history that we almost forget their objective qualities as an exceptional instrument. So let’s start by being objective: it’s a 1951 SJ-200 of captivating beauty. One of those tall blondes who silences all conversations when she enters a room.
The maple at the back is studded with birdseye, giving the guitar its unique identity and luxurious character, without straying into ostentation. Then, as a final touch, the back of the headstock is decorated with the famous “stinger”, a triangular black shape that stands out elegantly against the blond head of the neck, which is itself adorned with a black line extending from the stinger. Gibson generally used this decoration to hide an imperfection under the black, and as such it is an unusual and unpredictable feature.
As for the subjective aspect: it is a guitar whose musical life can be traced all the way back to when it was made. It spent most of its life—55 years to be exact—in Don Ridgway’s hands. Ridgway was a local country star from Oklahoma who played this Gibson as his main instrument throughout his career, installing a DeArmond soundhole pickup so he could use the guitar for concerts. The next owner was none other than Keith Nelson, the guitarist from Buckcherry (and founding member of the band he has since left). This SJ-200 then crossed the Atlantic to join the Matt’s Guitar Shop collection. From country to hard rock, a great instrument must be able to follow its owner without weakening. All you have to do is listen to a G on this venerable old guitar to understand that it still has many stories to tell.