By the early to mid 1950s Hank Thompson had been experimenting with both a Gibson L-5 CES and a Fender Telecaster for performances to obtain the volume needed while fronting for the Brazos Valley Boys. In a visit with friend and colleague, Merle Travis, during recording sessions at Capital Records in Los Angeles, Thompson played Travis's new Gibson Super 400, custom made for Merle. Thompson was impressed by the playability, volume and tone capabilities of this guitar and contacted Gibson to order a Super 400 of his own custom design. This guitar would serve as his steadfast stage guitar for the next five decades.
Over the next 50 years the guitar would be returned to Gibson and go through various permutations with repairs and alterations, including color changes from blonde to sunburst, gold plated pickup covers and various pickguards. In the 1980's the neck was replaced due to damage done to the instrument during airline travel. This new neck and headstock design would come closest to mirroring Travis's. Thompson would keep the original neck and today it accompanies the guitar.