Gibson ES-350, ’49
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Natural, Serial # A4308.
Gibson introduced its first electric guitar, the ES-150 in 1936. Its acceptance by influential players like Eddie Durham and Charlie Christian led to the manufacture of lower (ES-100) and higher end (ES-250) models over the next few years. These earliest electric guitars were amplified with a magnetic “bar” pickup (later called the Charlie Christian pickup) designed by Walter Fuller. The apex of Gibson’s pre-war electric production was the 17” wide ES-300 which used a long diagonal pickup in an attempt at a more natural acoustic sound. Gibson’s experimentation on and refinement of the electric guitar was halted briefly during World War II.
After the war, when production had fully resumed, a cutaway version of the ES-300 was designed called the ES-350 Premier. This guitar was initially equipped with one black plastic covered P-90 pickup (also designed by Walter Fuller) in the neck position. By 1949 a bridge pickup was added and the model became known simply as the ES-350. The ES-350 remained in production until 1956, when it was replaced by the thin-bodied ES-350T.
The natural finished 1949 ES-350 pictured matches the description in the original 1949 Gibson catalog perfectly:
“-Beautifully figured curly maple body and neck with Gibson Golden Sunburst or selected natural wood finishes.
-Modern cutaway design to make all 20 frets readily accessible.
-Clear, brilliant solos or full, mellow backgrounds by regulated dual pickup amplification.
-Alnico No. 5 magnetic poles individually adjustable for tone balance.
-Gold plated metal parts offer rich decorative accents.
-Tone and volume controls make possible wide, powerful electronic range.
-Body size 17” wide and 21” long.”