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Gibson unveils signature J-180 Collector’s Edition acoustic for folk legend Yusuf/Cat Stevens

Cat Stevens with his signature Gibson J-180CE
(Image credit: Gibson)

Gibson has celebrated the legendary singer-songwriter Yusuf/Cat Stevens with a signature J-180 Collector’s Edition acoustic guitar, based on the model he bought in 1969 and used to track some of the most essential albums in the folk canon.

The Cat Stevens J-180 CE is quite the looker. Finished in ebony with a tortoiseshell ‘Double Moustache’ pickguard, MOP moon-and-star headstock inlay, with graduated star inlays on the fingerboard, it is a stunning instrument. Look inside the soundhole and you’ll find an interior label signed by the man himself.

It was 1969 when Yusuf, then Stevens, found his sound on a J-180 that he purchased from London’s Selmer’s Music Shop, the guitar store of guitar stores where Page, Clapton and everyone went when they needed the hottest gear. 

Stevens used the J-180 to track songs such as Wild World, Peace Train, Father and Son… The list goes on. If you own Tea for the Tillerman (1970) or Teaser and the Firecat (1971), you will have heard the J-180 in action.

But can an acoustic guitar built in 2022 replicate the sparkling aged sounds of an instrument that can be carbon dated back to era of Woodstock, Altamont, The White Album? 

Well, Gibson has used thermally aged for the solid Sitka spruce top to give it that lived-in tone, with solid maple on the back and sides.  “Handling the new model is like going back in time to when I first started playing,” says Yusuf.

Elsewhere, the Cat Stevens J-180 CE has a mahogany neck carved into a 60s Custom profile, a 12”radius rosewood fingerboard, 20 standard ‘small crown’ frets, a 1.73” bone nut and a 24.75” scale.

It has an adjustable belly-up style pinless rosewood bridge, and in the fashion of many a songwriting pro there is an L.R. Baggs pickup in the soundhole, with a single volume control mounted on the pickup and a discrete 1/4” endpin jack for hooking it up to your acoustic guitar amp.

The release comes hot on the heels of the Everly Brothers jumbo acoustic, which is a kissing cousin of the new Cat Stevens model.

“I really turned a corner when I got my hands on a black Gibson Everly Brothers J-180” said Yusuf. “It was my favorite guitar, and it had a very easy action. I played it almost percussively, and that sound gave real character to my recordings. It looked amazing too!”

The Cat Stevens J-180 CE is limited to 50 units worldwide and priced $7,499 it comfortably rests in Gibson’s category of investment instruments. It comes with a signature hardshell case and a generous sprinkling of case candy. See Gibson for more details.

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Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. 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.