Browse Dave’s Collection

“Welcome to the guitar collection. On the second floor of our store we have on display over 300 guitars and more than 50 amps that I’ve accumulated over the years. The friends and customers that have visited us seem to really appreciate being able to view this, so we thought we would share it with our online friends and fellow guitar enthusiasts as well. Enjoy!”

- Dave Rogers

The items in Dave’s Collection are not available for purchase.
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Gibson L-1, ’29

Sunburst.
 

Gibson EB-1 Bass, ’58

Natural, Serial # 82933.
 

Gibson EH-150 Lap Steel and matching amp, ’37

Sunburst, Serial # 2796. The popularity of Hawaiian style music in the early 1900’s created a demand for instruments specially made to accommodate the Hawaiian technique. The top companies, Martin and Gibson, first began supplying separate devices to place on the nut to raise the strings high enough to play in Hawaiian style, but eventually designed specific guitars devoted to Hawaiian playing. Gibson’s earliest Hawaiians were the HG series of 1929, followed by the Roy Smeck 12-fret models of 1934. By the time the Roy Smeck guitars became available, Hawaiian music had already begun to feature a new innovation: an electric guitar made by Rickenbacker. This guitar featured a magnetic “horseshoe” pickup to amplify the strings’ vibrations. This new type of Hawaiian guitar could be heard more easily, with notes and chords sustaining effortlessly. Rickenbacker’s “Frying Pans” went almost unnoticed by Gibson until 1935, when sales shot high enough for Gibson to think it was worthwhile to try one of its own.   Gibson’s short-lived first attempt at an electric Hawaiian followed Rickenbacker’s lead and had a metal body. The metal body had tuning issues, and didn’t fit Gibson’s classic look, so by 1936 the EH-150 (the guitar and amp set cost $150) had a maple body and neck finished in Gibson’s traditional dark sunburst. After initially trying to outsource the pickup design to Chicago’s Lyon & Healy (who did end up making the matching amplifiers), Gibson relied on its own employee Walter Fuller to devise the now renowned Bar Pickup.   The 1937 EH-150 set pictured has features consistent with the middle of that year. These include a headstock with a pearl Gibson logo and split diamond inlay (no inlay the previous year), multi-ply top and back binding (from single-ply top binding in 1936), back attached with screws (glued on by 1938), and a bar pickup with multi-ply binding (became a U-magnet pickup in 1938). The amp had rounded corners (replaced the square corners of 1936), two 6L6 power tubes (replacing the earlier 6N6s), and a 12 inch speaker (was a 10 inch the year before). The amp’s power rating was about 15 watts.  
 

Gibson L-5 “Fern”, ’43

Sunburst, Serial # 97608.
 

Gibson ES-350, ’49

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.”
 

Gibson SJ-200, ’49

Sunburst, Serial # A2438.
 

Gibson L-7, ’48

Sunburst, Serial # A2135.
 

Gibson Firebird VII, ’65

Sunburst, Non-Reverse model, Serial # 501529.
 

Gibson EB-2DC Bass, ’67

Cherry, Serial # 897004.
 

Gibson ES-335, ’60

Sunburst, Serial # A33186.
 

Gibson Trini Lopez Custom, ’68

Sparkling Burgundy, Serial # 899091.
 

Gibson Trini Lopez, ’67

Cherry, Serial # 055072.
 

Gibson US-1, ’86

Black, Serial # 82986502.
 

Gibson J-200, ’55

Natural, Serial # A20043. The “Singing Cowboy” phenomenon of the 1930s was the main inspiration for the “King of the Flattops”, Gibson’s J-200. Cowboy movie idol, Ray Whitley approached Gibson in 1937 about having a guitar designed to out-do rival western crooner Gene Autry’s fancy mother-of pearl adorned Martin D-45. The result was the prototype for the Super Jumbo (soon to be called SJ-200 due to its original $200 price). The original Super Jumbos shared dimensions with Gibson’s 17” wide L-5 (the very earliest were 16 and 7/8” wide). Unlike on the L-5, rosewood back and sides were standard instead of maple (two maple pre-War SJ-200s are known to exist).   The guitar featured is one of 41 natural finished J-200s made in 1955 (the “S” had been dropped from the name by this time).  This beautifully aged instrument has the characteristics typical of other J-200s from early 1955. It has the distinctive rosewood “moustache” bridge (changed from the original ebony in 1941), rosewood fingerboard with “cloud” inlays (also changed from ebony in 1941), and a two piece maple neck with rosewood center strip. The top is spruce, while the back and sides are maple (changed from the original rosewood spec after 1946). This guitar’s elaborately decorated flower and vine engraved pickguard still has the stripe along its border, which disappeared from later versions by the middle of ’55.   According the 1959 Gibson price list (the closest available in the DGS Archives), the list price of a New J-200N was $385. A brown Lifton hard shell case would have been an additional $52.50.
 

Gibson ES-125 Tenor, ’66

Cherry Sunburst, Serial # 851490.
 

Gibson ES-355, ’63

Cherry, Serial # 101330. Mono version with earlier features including: Grover Rotomatic tuners, Bigsby vibrato, and no serial number on the back of the headstock. This is one of only 66 Mono ES-355s made that year.
 

Gibson J-160E, ’55

Sunburst, Serial # 172722. While Gibson had been making electric arch-top and steel guitars since the 1930’s, it wasn’t until the early ‘50s that a flat-top was electrified.  The first electric flat-top produced by Gibson was the CF-100E debuting in 1951. This guitar was based on the small 14 and 1/8” cutaway flat-top introduced the year before.  Although cutaway flat-top electrics would become popular decades later, this innovative guitar was discontinued in by 1959, due in part to the more impressive sales figures of its descendant the J-160E.   The J-160E was introduced in 1954 and had the more conventional look of the popular J-45 and Southern Jumbo guitars. To function as a usable electric guitar, the J-160E had to be very different structurally from a regular flat-top.  While the J-45 (or even the CF-100E) had a solid spruce X-braced top, J-160E needed a 3-ply laminated spruce top with ladder bracing to make it more rigid and less prone to feedback. The neck joined the body at the 15th fret (instead of the 14th) to allow room for a P-90 pickup between the end of the fingerboard and the sound-hole.   This early J-160E can be distinguished from later versions by its odd looking adjustable bridge. The bridge could be adjusted up or down by turning the large screws on either side of the bridge (replaced with more conventional looking smaller adjustment screws by the late 1950’s). It also has straight sided “speed knobs” for volume and tone controls (replaced by “bonnet knobs’ in 1956).
 

Gibson Trini Lopez Custom, ’67

Cherry Sunburst, Serial # 892010. The Trini Lopez model was introduced in 1965 with input from the popular singer. After moving from Dallas to Beverly Hills in the early ‘60s, he was discovered by Frank Sinatra and signed to Reprise Records. He had several hit records including “If I Had a Hammer” and Lemon Tree”. The Trini Lopez model also came in two versions: the Standard (based on a 335), and the Deluxe (based on the Barney Kessel). The main features that make the Lopez different from the Kessel are: an asymmetrical “Fender-like” headstock, diamond soundholes and fingerboard inlays, and a standby switch.
 

Gibson Firebird V, ’64

Sunburst, Serial # 172272.
 

Gibson Thunderbird II, ’64

Sunburst, Serial # 193823.
 

Gibson TG-25N, ’65

Natural, Serial # 31842.
 
 

Gibson L-5, ’52

Sunburst, Serial # A9470. This one just came into the shop recently. A Beautiful example of an Early 50's L-5. Orville Gibson’s innovative carved top and back fretted instruments (inspired by the construction methods for violins) brought the company he founded great success in the early 1900’s. By the early 1920’s Gibson’s acoustic engineer Lloyd Loar and his team took the violin inspiration a step further by designing a family of high quality fretted instruments with “f” holes. This family included the legendary L-5 guitar and F-5 mandolin.   From the time of its introduction in 1922 until today, the L-5 has been considered one of the finest jazz guitars. Jazz greats Eddie Lang, Allan Reuss, and Wes Montgomery played versions of the classic guitar. It evolved from its original 16” width to its current 17” width in 1934. By 1939, it gained a cutaway. The guitar became electrified with pickups by 1951.   This L-5 is a non-cutaway acoustic version dating to 1952. While both cutaway acoustic and electric versions were available that year, Gibson still provided a guitar for players specializing in rhythm only type jazz playing. The interest in these non-cutaway acoustics gradually dwindled throughout the ‘50s. In 1952, 27 non-cutaway L-5s were produced, whereas in 1958 only 5 were made. The non-cutaway L-5 was discontinued at the end of that year, and was not seen again until the 16” version was reissued in the ‘90s.   The 1952 L-5 pictured has all the characteristics common to that year. These include the well-known  mother-of-pearl flower pot (torch) headstock inlay, modern style Gibson logo (replacing the script logo in 1949), gold Kluson Sealfast tuners with plastic buttons, two piece curly maple neck with mahogany center strip and bound ebony fingerboard, 17” wide body with solid maple back and sides with spruce top, and the classic art deco tailpiece.
 

Gibson ES-350, '56

Natural, Serial # A22080. Very Rare Spruce Top.

 

Gibson Moderne, '83

Natural, Serial # G-077.

 

Gibson Firebird III, ’64

Cherry, Serial # 217819. Rare Custom Color.
 

Gibson ES-335, '64

Sunburst, Serial # 69281.

 

Gibson ES-345, '62

Cherry, Serial # 46819.

 

Gibson ES-335, '60

Sunburst, Serial # A35136.

 

Gibson ES-335, '63

Cherry, Serial # 137285.

 

Gibson ES-350T, '57

Sunburst, Serial # A25130.

 

Gibson ES-350 Tenor, '55

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!

 

Gibson ES-355 '65

Sparkling Burgundy, The face has faded to an interesting gold color! Some nasty Gibson/Schaller tuners installed, but since the damage was already done, I left them alone.

 

Gibson ES-355 '60

Cherry, Serial #A32582. A very clean example with just a bit of gold plating wear.

 

Gibson ES-345, '64

Sunburst, Serial # 176409.

 

Gibson ES-345 '60

Cherry, Serial #A34224. The color has faded nicely on this one. A nice early '60 with the long guard and clear knobs.

 

Gibson ES-345 '59

Sunburst, Serial #A31007. The gold plating is a bit worn and the tuners are starting to shrivel up, but this is a great guitar. I love the late 50's/early 60's ES series guitars when they have the stop tailpiece!

 

Gibson ES-345 '60

Sunburst, Serial #A32846, An early '60 with the clear top knobs and the long guard.

 

Gibson Prototype Bass, Mid 70's

Cherry Sunburst, I've never seen another one like this and probably for a good reason! It is an odd duck, that's for sure!

 

Gibson Map Guitar '84

Natural, Kind of a silly thing. I think these were mostly meant as a promotional item, but this guitar gets some of the most attention of anything in the collection from the non-guitar type folks.

 

Gibson ES-340TD, Early 70's

Natural, An unusual version of an ES-335 with a 3 piece maple neck.

 

Gibson ES-150 '69

Natural, These look a lot like an ES-335, but they are completely hollow and much thicker. These never really did catch on in the vintage market, but I've always been a fan of them, especially in Natural!

 

Gibson ES-295, '53

Sunburst, Serial # A15572.

The Gibson ES-295 was introduced in 1952 as the full sized hollow body complement to the solid body Les Paul Model also debuting that year.  While the ES-295 shared the same flashy gold coloring of the Les Paul, along with the unique tailpiece, it was basically a fancier two-pickup version of the ES –175 (the two-pickup ES-175 D did not appear until 1953). The basic features of an ES-295 were: an all gold finish, two single coil P-90s with cream covers, a cream pickguard with gold floral designs, a Les Paul bridge/tailpiece combination, and gold plated metal parts.

 

The guitar featured is a typical 1953 ES-295 in every way except one: the color. While a tobacco sunburst finish was standard on most Gibsons from the ‘30s through the ‘50s, it is very rare to see an ES-295 in this color. The only other P-90 equipped ES-295 we know of was sold in 1999 at Eric Clapton’s Christie’s auction (two late ‘50s cherry sunburst humbucker equipped examples are also known to exist).

This one was found for me by my good friend and mentor, Jeff Hill.

 

Gibson ES-295, '52

Gold, Serial # A11855.

You do not see these very often, This one is a bit weather checked and way too cool!

 

Gibson ES-175, '61

Sunburst, Serial # A35924.

A very clean guitar that is a recent addition to the collection. This is complete with the Brown case, all of the hang tags, and the paperwork. The original sales receipt that is dated July 8, 1961 is also included. This guitar sold new for $249.50 and the case was an extra $47.00. What are the chances of the $30 trade credit being for a Danelectro or a Silvertone? One can only imagine.

 

Gibson ES-175, '62

Sunburst, Serial # 85879.

 

Gibson ES-335, '58

Sunburst, Serial # A28163.

 In the late ‘50s Gibson designed a guitar meant to have the look and feel of a traditional hollowbody, while also having the sonic advantages of a solid body guitar (still new and not universally accepted). The ES-335 was the result.

 This example has features common to most late ‘50s 335s: dot inlays, long pickguard, see-through gold bell knobs, and PAF humbuckers.

Early ES-335s, including this one, often have shallow neck angles. The ABR-1 bridges on these guitars are shaved much thinner than usual to accommodate the neck angle.

Factory installed Bigsbys were also a common feature on ES-335s of the ‘50s and ‘60s. What makes this guitar unusual is the lack of stop tailpiece holes or “Custom Made” plaque usually seen on Bigsby equipped 335s.

 I purchased this guitar from a good friend & fellow dealer in Iowa about 20 years ago. Not the best playing ES-335 that I own (because of the shallow neck angle) but definitely a historically significant guitar that I treasure. 

 

Gibson ES-335, '61

Cherry, Serial # A35742.

 

Gibson ES-335, '61

Sunburst, #10086.

 

Gibson ES-335, '63

Sunburst, #139877.

 

Gibson ES-335, '64

Sunburst, Serial # 66165.

 

Gibson ES-335, '64

Cherry, Serial # 147790.

 

Gibson ES-335, '62

Cherry, Serial # 51989.

 

Gibson ES-335, '63

Cherry, Serial # 113991.

 

Gibson ES-335, '67

Pelham Blue, Serial # 87604.

 

Gibson ES-335, '67

Sparkling Burgundy, Serial # 170009.

This guitar is weird not just because of the color, but because it has split parallelogram fingerboard inlays like an ES-345.

 

Gibson ES-330, '67

Sparkling Burgundy, Serial # 064094.

 

Gibson ES-330, '61

Cherry, Serial # 19764.

 

Gibson Les Paul Custom, ’55

Ebony, Serial # 511553. The Gibson Les Paul Custom was formally unveiled at the July NAMM show in 1954, along with the Les Paul Junior. The two instruments were meant to increase the range of Gibson’s Les Paul solid body guitars by adding a fancier model and an economy model.  The Les Paul Custom’s sumptuous looks and special low smooth frets earned it the nicknames the “Black Beauty” and “the Fretless Wonder”.   The 1955 Gibson catalog describes the Custom’s unique features: “Solid Honduras Mahogany body with carved top, size 17 ¼” long, 12 ¾” wide, 1 ¾” thick with graceful cutaway design; bound with alternating white and black strips on top and bottom of body. Mahogany neck, with exclusive Gibson Truss Rod construction; ebony fingerboard; deluxe pearl inlays.” The luxury treatment continued with the split diamond pearl headstock inlay previously reserved only for the Super 400. Another feature, until that time used only on high end archtops, was the new powerful Alnico V pickup (in the neck position). The Custom was also the first Les Paul to receive the innovative Tune-O-matic Bridge, which allowed for individual string intonation.   While the Les Paul Custom’s looks and darker sounds (due to the all-mahogany construction and deep sounding neck pickup) were aimed at refined jazz players, rock ‘n roll and pop musicians were also attracted to the instrument. Chuck Berry, Franny Beecher (Bill Haley & His Comets), Robby Krieger (The Doors) and of course Les Paul himself, are a few well known players who favored the first version Les Paul Custom at one time.
 

Gibson ES-350T, '57

Sunburst, Serial # A25794.

 

Gibson ES-350T, '58

Natural, Serial # A28534.

By the mid- 1950’s electric guitar players had two choices: either a full hollowbody electric guitar or a compact solidbody. Gibson had been receiving requests from players for something in-between the two styles, so in 1955 the first Thinline Electrics were developed. They were the high-end Byrdland, the ES-350T, and the low-end ES-225T.

 

The Byrdland was conceived with input from session guitarists Hank Garland and Billy Byrd. It was basically a thin-bodied L-5 with a 2 and ¼” thick body (instead of 3 and 3/8”) and a shorter scale of 23 and ½” (instead of 25 and ½”). The shorter scale was meant to make difficult new jazz chords easier to play. It also allowed room for two extra frets (22 total).

 

The ES 350T was meant to be an affordable, less fancy version of the Byrdland with the same groundbreaking improvements and dimensions. The ES-350T adopted the cosmetic features of its full-sized predecessor the ES-350: two P-90 pickups, laminated maple top, sides, and back, rosewood fingerboard with split parallelogram inlays, and a crown headstock inlay.

 

The stunning example shown on these pages was made in 1958, and is one of only 43 natural models made that year (the other 104 were sunburst). This guitar sports the Patent Applied For humbucking pickups that became standard equipment on the model in 1957. It is also adorned with an attractive, but non-stock Bigsby vibrato tailpiece (instead of the W-shaped original).

 

The Gibson ES-350T is most often associated with Rock ‘n Roll founding father Chuck Berry, but it was also used over the years by Eric Clapton and Danny Gatton.

 

Gibson ES-350T, '57

Sunburst, Serial # A24780.

This one has a Byrdland tailpiece!

 

Gibson Byrdland, '61

Natural, Serial # 35014.

 

Gibson Byrdland, '57

Sunburst, Serial # A25661.

 

Gibson ES-5, '49

Sunburst, Serial # A3943.

When Ted McCarty started at Gibson in 1948, one of his first concerns was to develop and enlarge Gibson’s line of electric guitars. Among these new electrics was the ES-5, introduced in 1949. The ES-5 was intended to be, according to Gibson literature at the time, ‘the supreme electronic version of the famed Gibson L-5’.

 

Apart from the name, body dimensions, and fingerboard inlay, the ES-5 was very different from the L-5. A 1949 ES-5’s features included: a 17” wide body with laminated maple top, back and sides, pearl crown inlay on headstock, rosewood fingerboard, and unbound f-holes (until 1950). The most exciting part of the guitar was of course its three pickups. These P-90s were controlled by three individual volume knobs and one master tone.

 

This guitar was originally owned by a guitar teacher in Texas named Leroy Millican. The original Lifton hard shell case is included along with a five page instruction manual explaining how to operate the electronics.

 

Gibson ES-5, '50

Natural, Serial # A4501.

 

Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster, '57

Sunburst, Serial # A24808.

 

Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster, '61

Natural, Serial # A36092.

 

Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster, '61

Sunburst, Serial # 22966.

 

Gibson Super 400 CES, '59

Sunburst, Serial # A29271.

In 1934 Gibson introduced the Super 400 as its top of the line acoustic archtop. It was the largest and most ornate archtop guitar made at that time.  By 1936 Gibson had launched its first electric archtop, the laminated, plain ES-150. Gibson continued to make only laminated electric models (except for occasional special orders) until demand from professional players became great enough to warrant adding an all solid wood electric Super 400 to the line. The Super 400 CES (Cutaway Electric Spanish) was unveiled in 1951.

 

This Super 400 CES has all the characteristics common to a late ‘50s Super 400 CES.

These include: a rounded Venetian cutaway (until 1960), a two-piece maple neck with mahogany center strip (until 1961), a Tune-O-Matic bridge (from 1955), and humbucking pickups (from 1958).

 

Dave’s notes:

I drove into the depths of Iowa to get this one. The owner was a kind, but strange older gentleman that lived in a tiny dark little trailer home with many cats! We had agreed on a price before I drove there, but he took great delight in raising the price once he saw how much I liked the guitar (I never did have a good poker face!). It was a fun and interesting experience that I look back on fondly.

 

Gibson Super 400, '49

Natural, Serial # A3309.

By 1934, the jazz music developing since the early 1920’s had become more sophisticated. The raucous clanging rhythm sound of the banjo had given way to the sweeter, more refined sound of the archtop guitar. The Gibson L-5 had been the preeminent jazz archtop guitar since its debut in 1923 (most notably used by virtuoso Eddie Lang), but the increasing size of that era’s horn sections created the need for a guitar that produced a louder sound. This need for more volume was met by enlarging the width of the existing carved top line (including the L-5, L-10, L-12, and L-7) from 16” to 17”, and by creating a new flagship model: the Super 400. This ultra-fancy, ultra-expensive ($400) archtop measured 18” wide at its lower bout, and boasted elaborate mother of pearl inlays and multi-ply binding. The very highest quality curly maple and spruce were reserved for this superlative instrument.

 

 

The guitar pictured has features common to most Gibson Super 400s of that year, which are: a split diamond mother of pearl headstock inlay, “modern” Gibson logo (1948, replacing original “script“ logo), seven ply headstock binding, split block fingerboard inlay on ebony fingerboard, five-ply fingerboard binding (1949, replacing the original 3-ply binding), a solid 2-piece spruce top with 7-ply binding, a  solid 2-piece maple back with 3-ply binding, and solid maple sides.

This beautifully preserved guitar, along with its clean Lifton case, was originally purchased on October 7, 1949 from Miller Music Co. in Bloomington, Illinois.

 

Gibson ES-350T, '63

Natural, Serial # 115573.

Sharp cutaway, Beautiful flame Maple top and back, Just a great guitar that had to be in the collection.

 

Gibson ES-350T, '62

Natural, Serial # 41605.

I bought this one from a local pedal steel player about 15 years ago. He had had his initials engraved on the truss rod cover and pickguard. I thought it was such a great personal touch that I've never been tempted to change it!

 

Gibson ES-350T, '62

Sunburst, Serial # 76476.

 

Gibson ES-350T, ’62

Cherry Sunburst, Serial # 82657. Sharp cutaway, I have never seen another ES-350T in this color. This one is also nice and clean. Just had to keep it! In 1955 Gibson developed a line of thin-bodied electric guitars to appeal to players who wanted a smaller more comfortable instrument, but without the weight of a solid body guitar. This line consisted of three guitars: The top of the line Byrdland, the mid-priced ES-350T, and the economy ES-225T. The Byrdland was designed with the input of famous session guitarists Hank Garland and Billy Bird. It was meant to be a thin-bodied L-5 CES with a shorter 23 and ½” scale (instead of the L-5’s 25 and ½” scale). These same innovations were carried out on the full-bodied ES-350 making it the ES-350 T.   The ES-350 T with its laminated maple top, back, and sides was meant to be a more affordable version of the Byrdland (the Byrdland was originally $550, while the ES-350 T was $395). The 1962 Gibson catalog describes many other details: “Matching the all-around excellence of Gibson performance, this distinctive instrument has a thin, narrow, short-scale neck. The choice of many professionals who acclaim these design features, which permit the use of many chords previously beyond reach. Beautifully finished arched top and back of highly figured curly maple with matching curly maple rims, ivoroid binding and gold-plated metal parts.” The rosewood fingerboard with split parallelogram inlays, and crown headstock inlay were carried over from the the original full sized ES-350.   The 1962 ES-350 T pictured this month has all the features associated with the final incarnation of the model before its discontinuation in 1963 (a full scale version was reissued in 1978). These include two humbucking pickups (replacing P-90s in 1957), a deep Florentine cutaway (replacing the rounded Venetian style in 1961), and a 3-piece maple neck (replacing the original 2-piece in mid-1962). This example has a cherry sunburst rather than the typically seen tobacco sunburst. That may explain why “Custom” is engraved on the truss-rod cover.   The 1962 Gibson price list has a sunburst finish ES-350T at $485. A 603 Faultless, plush-lined case was an extra $56.
 

Gibson L-7ED, '51

Sunburst, Serial # A6788.

With rare McCarty double pickup!

 

Gibson L-7C, '62

Sunburst, Serial # 91553.

From the Pete Allenov collection!

 

Gibson ES-175D, '55

Natural, Serial # A21719.

 

Gibson ES-175D, '54

Sunburst, Serial # A17358.

 

Gibson ES-175, '64

Natural, Serial # 154560.

 

Gibson ES-175, '62

Cherry, Serial #48894.

A very rare color for this model!

 

Gibson SG TV, '60

TV Yellow, Serial # 0 9101.

The successful sales of the solid body Les Paul Model launched in 1952 convinced Gibson to expand the solid body line to include a variety of models aimed at players from beginner to professional. This led to the introduction of the low priced single pickup, flat bodied Les Paul Junior, and the high priced elaborately appointed Les Paul Custom in July of 1954. By 1955 the Les Paul line also included the Les Paul TV and the Les Paul Special.

 

The Les Paul TV was the same as a Junior except for having a bright “limed mahogany” finish (some early TVs had maple bodies) instead of the regular sunburst. The Les Paul Juniors and TVs may have been inexpensive student guitars, but they were built with high quality and playability to encourage beginners to stick with the guitar and eventually want to move up to more expensive Gibsons.

 

In July of 1958 the TV and Junior models received a radical makeover. A new double-cutaway shape was instated that allowed a player full access to the fingerboard. The Junior’s color changed to transparent cherry, while the TV’s limed mahogany became a brighter yellow.  Attractive Tortoise pickguards rounded out the new color-scheme. By 1960 the TV lost the “Les Paul” portion of its name becoming instead the SG (solid guitar) TV. This name predated the pointed cutaway SG shape that came along in 1961.

 

Gibson Les Paul TV Model, '56

Limed Mahogany, Serial # 614478.

 

Gibson Les Paul Special, '59

Cherry, Serial # 923508.

 

Gibson Les Paul Special, '60

TV Yellow, Seial # 011888.

 

Gibson Les Paul Special, '56

Limed Mahogany, Serial # 6 3202.

 

Gibson Barney Kessel Standard, ’68

Cherry Sunburst, Serial # 895535. The Barney Kessel model was introduced in 1961 with input from the famous jazz guitarist. Kessel was a well known stylist and sought after session musician who backed Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, and many others. His innovative guitar work and arranging for Julie London in the ‘50s established his ability to provide orchestral sounding accompaniment with only an electric guitar and upright bass. The Barney Kessel model came in two versions: the Regular (pictured) and the fancier Custom.
 

Gibson Tal Farlow, '63

Viceroy Brown Sunburst, Serial # 63184.

 

Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, '73

Sunburst, Serial # 100774.

 

Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, '71

Sunburst, Serial # 971758.

 

Gibson Bicentennial Firebird '76

Sunburst, With the red, white and blue bird on the guard.

 

Gibson Explorer, '76

Natural, Serial # 00230419.

 

Gibson Explorer Reissue, '91

Natural Korina, Serial # 9 1002.

This is the prototype for the Historic '59 Explorer Reissue. It was pictured in the first Gibson Historic Series Catalog.

 

Gibson Explorer, '59

Natural Korina, Serial number 9 1995.

Purchased at a Dallas Show in the early 90's, I remember thinking at the time that if I didn't buy this one, I'd never be able find another. They are pretty scarce!

 

Gibson Flying V Reissue, '91

Natural Korina, Serial # 9 1001.

This is the prototype for the Historic '59 Flying V Reissue. It was pictured in the first Gibson Historic Series Catalog.

 

Gibson Flying V, '59

Natural Korina,

Competition with other companies has always pressed Gibson into coming up with its most innovative designs. The rivalry with Epiphone in the 1920s and 1930s encouraged both companies to produce the finest acoustic archtop guitars of all time.

By the 1950s when amplified guitars had gained prominence, a new company entered the competition: Fender. Its founder Leo Fender had developed the first mass produced solid body electric guitar. Gibson president Ted McCarty took notice when the Fender Telecaster’s sales became significant, and developed a fancier solid body for Gibson with the help of guitar wizard, Les Paul.  The classy looking Les Paul Model in turn, inspired Leo to come up with his futuristic masterpiece, the Stratocaster.

When Ted McCarty saw that the Fender Stratocaster was selling, he decided that Gibson needed to come up some wild, exciting designs of its own so as not to be seen as old-fashioned and conservative. After examining the designs of several artists (including himself), McCarty choose three designs to have patented in June of 1957. These were the Explorer, the Modern and the Flying V.

The patents were granted in January of 1958. While prototypes of each were made, only the Explorer and the Flying V made it into production.

 

These Flying Vs and Explorers of the late ‘50s were made of a light colored African mahogany called Korina. McCarty chose this wood because blonde hued furniture was popular at the time, and no additional bleaching or tinting was required. These “Modernistic” guitars initially created the excitement they were meant to, but didn’t catch on with the guitar buying public until years after the initial small run had been discontinued. More info

Formerly owned by my friend & mentor Pete Alenov (may he rest in peace), He taught me a lot about the guitar business, and I think of him whenever I look at this one. This V was featured on the January 2006 Vintage Guitar Magazine cover!

 

Gibson Moderne, ’82

Natural, Serial # A 057.
 

Gibson Moderne, '83

Ebony, Serial # F 014.

 

Gibson Firebird VII, '64

Sunburst, Serial # 171666.

I purchased this one from the original owner. It took me 15 years to convince him to sell it to me! This one is on the cover of the October 2005 Vintage Guitar magazine.

 

Gibson Firebird V, '64

Cherry, Serial # 191345.

Any of these in custom colors are hard to find! I'm really fond of this one.

 

Gibson Firebird III, '64

Pelham Blue, Serial # 183117.

 

Gibson Firebird III, '64

Sunburst, Serial # 190492.

 

Gibson Firebird III, '65

Sunburst, Serial # 258940.

Transitional model with reverse body, P-90 pickups, and Kluson strip tuners instead of banjo tuners! Very rare!

 

Gibson Firebird I, '64

Cardinal Red, Serial # 191966.

Firebird I's are hard to find in Sunburst, but custom colors are very rare indeed! My good friend Paul Munden found this one for me and I am grateful to him for sending it my way!

 

Gibson Firebird I, '64

Sunburst, Serial # 179985.

 

Gibson Thunderbird Bass, '64

Sunburst, Serial # 198742.

 

Gibson Firebird V, '66

Sunburst, Serial # 851851.

Non Reverse

 

Gibson SG Junior Tenor, '66

Cherry, Serial # 407024.

 

Gibson SG Junior, '64

White, Serial # 168571, Just a nice clean guitar!

 

Gibson SG Special, '61

Cherry, Serial # 13264.

 

Gibson SG Special, '61

TV Yellow, Seial # 30651.

 

Gibson SG Special, '63

White, Serial # 124359.

 

Gibson SG Standard, '65

Pelham Blue, Serial # 505348.

By the time this guitar was made in 1965, Les Paul’s endorsement deal had ended (1963). The entire line became officially known as SGs. This SG Standard has features common to this transitional year, which are: a narrow 1 and 9/16” nut, chrome pickup covers and Vibrola, nickel ABR-1 Bridge, and small pickguard.

 

This SG is painted in the popular Pelham Blue Poly (Poly indicates a metallic finish, not Polyurethane) which was introduced along with nine other Custom Colors when the Firebird series debuted in 1963. Pelham Blue Poly is a lighter version of Fender’s Lake Placed Blue, and also tended to turn a more greenish color with age.

Dave's notes: I bought this one from a good friend (Rob Mason) at a Chicago show years ago. We had Gibson build a run of Historic SGs in this color based on this guitar!

 

Gibson SG Standard, '64

Cherry, Serial # 207310.

 

Gibson SG Standard, '64

Cherry, Serial # 178741

 

Gibson Les Paul Standard, '61

Cherry, Serial # 15288.

By 1960 poor sales of the original single cutaway Les Paul guitars caused Gibson to design a new more modern Les Paul model to compete with Fender’s popular double cutaway contoured solid body guitars. The result was what is today called the SG (Solid Guitar). This new version of the Les Paul had a slim lightweight mahogany body contoured with comfortable beveled edges. The two cutaways enabled players full and easy use of the 22 fret fingerboard. By 1961 the entire Les Paul line adopted the new shape.

 

Gibson Les Paul Custom, ’61

White, Serial # 3690. Sales for the original single cutaway Les Paul Standards and Customs were dropping by the end of the ‘50s. This led Gibson President Ted McCarty to have the guitars revamped in 1960 for release in 1961. The new Les Paul's double cutaway, lightweight bodies with contoured edges were influenced by players’ requests for lighter, more comfortable guitars with easy access to the high frets.  The popularity of Fender’s Stratocaster and Jazzmaster guitars was also a factor in redesigning the Gibson solid body line. The Les Paul Standard was the first solid body to receive the new design, with the Les Paul Custom following soon after. The guitars measured 12 and ¾” wide, 16” long, and 1 and 5/16 ” thin (the old single cutaway LPs had measured 12 and ¾” wide, 17 and ¼” long, and 1 and ¾” thin). The new Les Paul kept the 24 and ¾“scale on a 22 fret neck. The Standard’s mahogany body (minus the maple cap of the old version) was stained cherry red, while the Custom was finished in “gleaming white” (rather than black like the original Custom). The Les Paul Custom retained the split diamond headstock inlay and gold hardware of its predecessor. The new Les Pauls were also equipped with the newly designed (and soon abandoned) “sidewinder” vibrato.     The 1961 Les Paul Custom pictured matches the details provided in Gibson’s 1961 catalog: -          Ultra thin, hand contoured, double cutaway body -          New extra slim, fast, low-action neck – with exclusive extra low frets – joins body at 22nd fret -          One-piece mahogany neck with adjustable truss rod -          Ebony fingerboard, deluxe pearl inlays -          Adjustable Tune-O-Matic bridge -          Three powerful, humbucking pickups with unique wiring arrangement -          Two sets of tone and volume controls -          Three-way specially wired toggle switch -          New Gibson Vibrato – operates in direction of pick stroke;  swings out of way for rhythm playing
 

Gibson Korina Tribute Les Paul '08

Natural, One of the newest guitars in the collection, but I couldn't resist! Gibson was scheduled to build 100 of these in 2008 as a 50th Anniversary Tribute, but they did not go over very well and I think they ended up building around 80 of them. I loved them but the general public did not agree with me!

 

Gibson Les Paul Standard, '59

Cherry Sunburst, Serial # 9 1942, One of the most valuable and influential solid body electric guitars ever made. This one came from the family of the original owner. She played played this LP with her family band, The original purchase paperwork, her band poster, and set list are still in the original Lifton case. What a great history, and a great guitar!

 

Gibson Les Paul Gold Top, ’58

Serial # 8 1131 By the early 1950’s, popular recording artist Les Paul had been working on a solid body guitar for a number of years. Only the impressive sales of Fender’s solidbody, the Telecaster, finally convinced Gibson to consider his idea and come up with one of its own. Gibson approached Les Paul, and with his input the Les Paul Model solid body guitar was introduced in 1952. The model evolved through the 1950’s as practical improvements were made in its design.   This Les Paul is among  the last with the original gold colored finish ( the finish changed to cherry sunburst  later that year).This guitar shows all the improvements that were made up until 1958. These include the stop tailpiece (1954), the Tune-O-Matic Bridge (1956), and Patent Applied For (PAF) humbucking pickups (1957).   The humbucking pickup was well received when it came out in the ‘50s, but didn’t reach its full potential until the heavier rock and blues players of the late 1960’s discovered its capabilities. The PAF pickups used on the late ‘50s/early ‘60s Gibsons are still considered the best sounding humbuckers today.
 

Gibson Les Paul Gold Top, '57

Serial # 7 6172, All mahogany with a dark back, A very light 7.8 pounds, PAF's, and rings like a bell!

 

Gibson Les Paul Gold Top, '56

Serial # 614014, I kept this one to show the progression of the Les Paul. This guitar features the stop tail piece and the tune-o-matic bridge. The P90's would be replaced with the PAF's by the next year of production.

 

Gibson Les Paul Gold Top, '54

Serial # 4 3427, A very rare all gold version. They don't get any cleaner than this one.

 

Gibson Les Paul Gold Top, '53

Serial # 3 0602, I've had this one around forever! I've mostly kept it just to have an example of each version of the 50's Goldtop Les Paul. We've used it for various articles, photoshoots, and tabletop tennis. All kidding aside, another very clean 50's Goldtop.

 

Gibson Les Paul Goldtop '52

This is the earliest version of the Goltop Les Paul. It has the extra 2 screws in the bridge pickup and no neck binding. Historically interesting, but not much of a player with this combination bridge/tailpiece.

 

Gibson Les Paul Custom, '58

Ebony, Serial # 8 3775.

 

Gibson L-1, 1915

Natural, Serial # 21101

 

Gibson Everly Brothers Model, '67

Natural, Serial # 890855

 

Gibson J-45, '64

Cherry Sunburst, Serial # 215778

This J-45 has the features common to others produced in 1964.  It has the adjustable bridge (introduced in 1956), large frets (1959), cherry sunburst (1962), and mahogany back and sides with spruce top (standard since the end of WW II).

The red tint of the cherry sunburst has faded to an almost golden color, which is common on J-45s made from ’64 through ’66.

 

The slim comfortable neck of this example has the somewhat rare and interesting feature called a “Stinger”. The back of the headstock is painted black to hide a flaw in the wood. The black paint ends in an attractive point at the bottom of the headstock while rest of the neck continues on in the usual see-through cherry.

 

Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, '75

Blue Sparkle, Serial # 393787

 

Gibson J-45, '47

The Gibson J-45 has been a favorite with players and collectors since its debut in 1942. Its roots can be traced back ten years earlier with the unveiling of the Martin Guitar Company’s Dreadnought series. The Martin D series became immediately popular with players because of the increased volume these large guitars provided. Gibson retaliated in 1934 with the Jumbo. The Jumbo was a guitar with similar dimensions and volume to the Dreadnought, but with Gibson’s unique round-shouldered look that’s been considered a classic shape ever since.  The economics of the Great Depression caused the Jumbo to evolve into the lower priced, less fancy J-35 in 1936. By 1942 the J-35 was dropped in favor of the enduring J-45, which has been a staple of the Gibson Flat-Top line up ever since.

 

Gibson L-00, '40

Sunburst, Serial # FG-2457.

 

Gibson L- Century, '37

During the years 1933 and 1934 Chicago held a World’s Fair commemorating the “Century of Progress” since the time of its incorporation. The fair was meant to stimulate the local economy during the crisis of the Great Depression. It was very successful and well attended.

 

 The World’s Fair received a great deal of interest from around the world; especially in nearby areas like Kalamazoo, Michigan home of the Gibson Company. Gibson decided to use the “Century of Progress” idea to name a new high end flat-top guitar. The L-Century was the result, and it was produced from 1933 through 1941.

 

 Gibson had introduced its L-series of flattops in 1926, and by 1933 offered several different models at various prices. The L-Century had the same measurements as the other L-models: 14 and ¾’ wide and 19 and ¼” long. The other differences were the use of maple for the back and sides (instead of mahogany), and of course the eye catching pearloid material covering the entire fingerboard and headstock.

 

Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, '75

Red Sparkle, Serial # 398970

 

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