Gibson Everly Brothers J-180
| March 26, 2024 |

The Gibson Custom Everly Brothers J-180 Returns

In the hands of The Everly Brothers, these guitars influenced generations of musicians and world-renowned artists

In celebration of the legacy of The Everly Brothers, Gibson Custom has reintroduced the Gibson Custom Everly Brothers J-180. More than just a musical instrument, the Everly Brothers J-180 is an icon of rock ’n’ roll history synonymous with the driving acoustic rhythms that propelled era-defining hits of the late 1950s such as “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Susie,” providing a backdrop for the brothers’ spellbinding vocal harmonies and influencing generations of artists that followed in their wake.

Developed in 1962, the original Gibson Everly Brothers model was produced until 1972, but fewer than 500 instruments were manufactured during the original run. Over the years, it has become a favorite of fans, collectors, and artists alike, with famous players including Tom Petty, Cat Stevens, Paul McCartney, Roger Daltrey, and many others owning and playing Everly Brothers guitars.

We spoke to Phil Everly’s son Jason—who hosts a SiriusXM radio show focusing on 1950s rock ’n’ roll—about the history of the Everly Brothers acoustic model and the new launch. “They played J-200s, which are some of the greatest guitars on the planet, but they wanted something a little more manageable,” Jason explains. “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.”

Although on its introduction the original model wasn’t a “runaway hit,” over time, the Everly Brothers J-180 would become iconic, and today, its combination of double tortoiseshell pickguard and star inlays is one of the most instantly recognizable in the history of acoustic guitar design. “They made the guitar that they thought was the coolest thing in the world,” says Jason. “They were like, ‘Black guitars are cool!’ They wanted to put the stars on them, the whole enchilada.”

Acoustic guitar pioneers

A direct influence on The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and many other 1960s artists, The Everly Brothers’ influence spans many decades and genres. For example, Johnny Marr cites the brothers’ music as a huge formative influence on his guitar playing—an influence which can be heard in the propulsive acoustic intro to The Smiths’ Bigmouth Strikes Again.

When asked about the guitar playing of his father and his uncle, Jason Everly pinpoints the percussive aspect as key. “Chuck Berry, vocally, was trying to be percussive; that was always the way he wrote songs,” he says. “The brothers were doing the exact same thing with the guitar—making the guitar a percussive instrument.

“The percussive element of the guitar—the driving acoustic guitar—is absolutely something they pioneered and pushed forward. They really made the acoustic guitar into a percussive rhythm instrument instead of a background instrument. I always love seeing where a guitar is worn, and the scratches on my dad’s guitar are like a foot long—it’s like he was trying to saw the guitar in half!”

Over six decades on from its launch, the Gibson Custom Everly Brothers J-180 is back and ready to capture the imagination of a whole new generation of artists, and it remains perhaps the ultimate stage guitar for acoustic players. “Every artist knows—it’s like a sign,” says Jason. “You can see it from across the room, and you know what it is. 

“But to be able to have this conversation? My dad would be thrilled out of his mind. He was always just shocked that it kept going. It’s an exciting guitar and it has stood the test of time – my grandkids will know what it is, probably like your grandkids. And how cool is that, to have something that lasts? You can’t beat that at all.”

Take a closer look at the Gibson Custom Everly Brothers J-180 acoustic guitar and see the full specifications.