1994 Blazer J-200 Memphis Custom

Built by Rudie Blazer and Willi Henkes in 1994, this J-200 Memphis Custom pays homage to Gibson’s early post-war J-200 model, but features a much lighter build, master-grade tonewoods, and a few cosmetic upgrades to please your eye.

The guitar features highly figured maple back and sides and a European spruce top, double-X bracing with two transverse tone-bars as was standard on the J-200 from about 1948 through 1951, ebony fretboard and moustache bridge, and a hand-engraved celluloid pickguard in the pre-WWII style. In conversation with Willi Henkes we were told that this is one of two SJ-200 prototype guitars that were built in 1994.

The guitar features a lightly constructed top with the same bracing pattern that makes the early post-war J-200s so unique and wonderful. The main X has quite an obtuse angle, the maple bridgeplate is very thin and exceptionally long, and the lower tone bars are arranged perpendicular to the top’s center seam. With the bracing arranged this way, the tone created is something of a hybrid of X and Ladder bracing, with the pronounced midrange of a ladder braced guitar, and the warmth and openness of an X braced one. Add the air volume of a 17” wide jumbo and this guitar’s thinly dimensioned top, and you have a fabulously warm, dark, smoky, and open big-bodied guitar that maintains a full mid-range and full-bodied trebles.

The “Double X” refers to the top’s support under the fretboard extension, which is a second X brace, rather than the more common transverse bracing and popsicle brace. Don’t confuse this version of “Double X” bracing with what Gibson designed in the Norlin era. That version is an entirely different thing!

The one-piece figured maple neck is carved with an early 1950s Gibson feeling low C and a 1-11/16” nut width. The depth through the 1st fret is .810”. Scale length is 25.4”, and string spread at the bridge is about 2-3/16”. Gold Waverly tuners, bone nut, pearl flowerpot inlays in the headstock, and pearl blocks in the bound fretboard.

The guitar remains in very fine, crack-free condition. Playwear is minimal, although there are a few very minor scratches on the back, headstock, and pickguard. The setup was just completed in our shop, and the guitar is strung with D’Addario XS light strings and an action of 4-6 64ths. We’re told that Rudie Blazer reset the neck a few years ago.

Gorgeous hand-rubbed sunburst finish, multi-ply bindings, hand-engraved pickguard, and bound soundhole. Top-tier tone woods. Informed and masterful craftsmanship. An exceptional and unique guitar.

With original hardshell case