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Gibson ES-350 Tenor, '55

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Natural, Serial # A5824.

As the Jazz Age matured in the 1930’s, the loud rhythmic pulse of the banjo gave way to silky even tones of the archtop guitar. The popularity of Bing Crosby and his virtuoso guitarist Eddie Lang, inspired band leaders to replace the banjo with the guitar. Banjo players wanting to continue working had to learn the guitar.  To aid those players not wanting to learn a whole new system of fingering, Gibson offered a four stringed tenor guitar with the same tuning as the four stringed tenor banjo.  Most standard guitar models could be special ordered with a tenor neck (We have seen examples into the ‘60s).

 

 

This guitar is, according to the label, an ES-350 T.G. (tenor guitar).  The features, which include a thick full sized body, individual gold bonnet tone and volume knobs for each pickup, and a three way toggle switch, seem to date the guitar to 1955. The serial number, on the other hand, dates the guitar at 1950.  Could it be that the guitar was started in 1950 and shelved until 1955 when a tenor guitar order came through? We may never know. The last unique finishing touch is “bow tie” banjo inlays on the fingerboard.

 

We’ve been looking for a thick bodied ES-350 with the four-knob layout for a long time (if anyone has one, please contact us) so it’s ironic that when one finally shows up, it’s a tenor!

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