Debuting in 1936, the ES-150 was the instrument Charlie Christian made famous – the first commercially successful electric guitar. Originally a 16″ guitar, the ES-150 was upsized after the war to L-5 dimensions, with a 17″ lower bout and the longer 25 1/2″ scale. This noncutaway model assumed its final specification in 1950, with the bound fingerboard and trapezoidal inlays.
With its larger body and longer neck, the 150 is one of few electric guitars that can hold its own both amplified and unplugged. Larger and more costly than the ES-125, the 17″ ES-150 is also much scarcer, produced only between 1947 and 1956. In the last year of production just 6 ES-150s were built, in contrast to some 1273 ES-175s and a whopping 3090 of the ES-125. The ES 150 is basically an ES-125 with a wider body and longer scale length. And this one would put most 125s to shame.
17” wide body
25 1/2” scale length
Fingerboard measures 1 11/16” wide at the nut
Laminated maple body
One-piece mahogany neck
Brazilian rosewood fingerboard with trapezoid markers
Adjustable height floating rosewood bridge
1 x Gibson p-90 pickup
1 x volume, 1 x tone control with original tall knobs
Weight is 5.6 lbs
This fine example has been maintained in showroom condition, with a figured arched maple back, and all original sunburst finish in great shape. Some typical checking is evident, with a few minor dents & dings. Gibson’s soundboard and back plates in this era are lighter than the weight of later models, and these guitars have surprisingly robust acoustic voices.
The electronics are all original with one P-90 single coil pickup in the neck position, master tone and volume controls with original tall barrel knobs, and a 3 way pickup selector switch.
The only changes from original are replacement tuner buttons – the machine heads are original but the old plastic buttons became disfuntional after 70+ years. And we think the trapeze behind the bridge may have been replaced some time ago. Apart from that, this one is about as original as you can get, and it all works beautifully.
The action is low and smooth with lots of life left in the fretwork, and a nice setup over the generous C profile neck. The voice is pure ’50s – from jazz & bop to rockabilly and back. Vintage tone, with modern performance, at a true player’s price.
Comes in its original cardboard case which is barely hanging together.