With over 80 years of continuous production, the Gibson ES (or Electric Spanish series) carries a staying power rarely seen in the guitar market. Its wide array of classic models deliver a coveted warm, full-bodied tone that’s become the signature sound of countless jazz, blues and rock musicians. The ES series has continued to evolve over the decades with new models entering the lineup and older ones reaching the end of their run.
Though radical in its design compared to its fully-hollow ES series cousins, the thin, double-cutaway ES-335 and its upscale counterparts, the ES-345 and ES-355, have enjoyed the longest continuous production run of any ES model. With two humbucker pickups and a solid maple center block, the semi-hollow ES-335 and its siblings have delivered some of the most famous blues and rock riffs in guitar history, from “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry to “The Thrill is Gone” by B.B. King and “Room 335” by Larry Carlton.
The higher specified ES-345 was introduced shortly after the ES-335. The ES-345 differed from the 335 in its inclusion of a Vari-tone tone selector circuit, split-parallelogram inlays, stereo output, and gold hardware.
Many early owners did not care for the original Varitone wiring and often disconnected it, which is the case with this one. So it operates in the commonly preferred manner of a 335. However, the complete Varitone switch, circuitry, choke, original wiring and pots are in the case and included in the sale of this guitar.
PREMIER GUITARS has inspected this 345 inside and out, and we can verify that its exceptional Gibson Patent Applied For (PAF) pickups are intact and unmolested.
An issue with this guitar is that a previous owner has sanded the back of the neck down to the wood, so the original lacquer finish is gone in this area. It replicates the feel of an old vintage instrument where this has happened naturally over time, but it’s certainly obvious that it was done as a modification.
This guitar has a Bigsby tremolo installed, which may have been done by by Gibson USA because the Gibson supplied “Custom Made“ plastic plate is present to cover the screw holes where the stop tailpiece would normally be. But maybe not.
It appears that the original owner preferred the look of nickel to that of gold which sometimes tarnishes badly. So when he had the nickel plated Bigsby installed he also changed the tuners to high quality Kluson Deluxe nickel units. He also swapped out the original gold Gibson ABR bridge and replaced it with a high quality Tone Pros AVR-II unit, also in nickel. The original gold Gibson ABR bridge and gold Gibson tuners are quite tarnished, but they are in the case and included in the sale.
The issues outlined above have been taken into consideration in the pricing of this guitar.
The original frets and nut are intact. There is some fret wear evident and it may require a refret at some point in the future. But for now this 345 plays like butter, with a slim C neck profile common to ES guitars of this period. It has a low action and no fret choking or string buzz anywhere.
This 19690 ES 345 wears some battle scars consistent with almost 60 years of continual use, but there are no structural problems, breaks, cracks or repairs.
It has the tone you’d expect of a ’59 Gibson thinline with PAF’s & the reinforcing centre block specific to the 345, 335 and 355 series – medium output, punchy, excellent string-to-string separation and exceptional clarity, with a wide tonal range from stinging lead tones to smooth jazz sounds, and great sustain.
1958/59/60 Gibson Semi-Hollow Thinlines (ES 345s, 335s and 355s) are outstanding value alternatives to similar year Les Pauls which are now priced at unattainable levels.
To the point – this 345 is a great player and absolutely one of the best sounding ES guitars we have ever heard.
Comes in its original Gibson hardshell case in good condition.