Now nearing its eightieth year 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 centre 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.
The serial # 27xxx8 dates this one to being built in Kalamazoo in 1965, but the pots date to 1964, and the pickups to even earlier.
Here’s the story on the quite magical pickups on this one. They are the original Gibson humbucking pickups marked “Pat” on their backs, but are in actual fact Gibson “short magnet PAFs”, which were likely created in 1961/62. How do we know ? Here’s an excerpt from the authoritative collector website – http://www.guitarhq.com/paf.html
“Note the last version of the PAF pickup (1961-1962) is basically identical to the nickel plated 1963 Patent # pickup (and on guitars with gold parts, probably as late as 1967 Patent # pickups are equivalent to 1961-1962 PAFs, since Gibson used less gold plated parts and inventories lasted longer). Because the wire color changed around 1963 from purple to a redish/copper color (and some other changes, listed above), technically the 1964-1965 Patent # pickups are different than the 1963 Patent # and late PAF pickups (though the tone is very similar). Also keep in mind gold plated PAFs used in archtop electric guitars (especially varitone guitars) can be seen as late as 1965 (yes PAFs as late as 1965!) The reason for this was simple – Varitone guitars had gold plated pickups with one pickup having a reversed magnet. This style of pickup was used far less than a nickel plated pickup. Hence these gold plated varitone equipped guitars are sometimes seen with one or two PAF pickups into 1965.”
And that is the case with this one. The wire in this ES345 is indeed purple, making them short magnet ’61-’62 PAFs. And they sound fabulous.
Other features of this rather special piece –
Neck profile is a meaty C shape. Much more wood in this than most 345s, but nothing too chunky, just a reassuring substantial feel to it
Features the last of the factory lightweight stoptails which were later replaced by the trapeze
Headstock has 17 degree pitch, rather than later 14 degrees
Has had a top quality pro refret long ago, with plenty of life left
Straplocks installed. Originals in the case
Bought direct from private seller in Chicago approx 15 years ago, no changes made
Weight is 8.25 lbs
This is a very special guitar. It speaks of history with character that cannot be recreated in a modern factory. It is the ultimate real deal. It is simply beautiful to play with a solid but fast neck, low action, and tone to burn.
It is 100% structurally intact. It has no breaks, cracks, splits or problems. Cosmetically it is in great shape too. There are signs of a musical life well lived, but apart from a few scratches & small chips, there is nothing to detract from the elegance of this 52 year old, and she is already looking forward to decades more of excellent service.
Comes with original Gibson 1964/5 black tolex case.