Sold - Gibson ES-150 - USA 1938
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The one that started it all. This is an original 1938 Gibson ES 150 and is a fine example of one of the first electric guitars in history. Charlie Christian showed the world what the electric guitar was capable of in the Benny Goodman Sextet with one of these in his hands - putting electric guitar in the spotlight a solo instrument. The big warm sound that comes from the ‘Charlie Christian’ pickup is glorious. It is widely argued that this pickup is the greatest jazz pickup ever designed, and it’s not hard to see why. The cost of manufacturing these pickups proved unfeasible and a more economical pickup – the P90 took its place in later years. These early ES 150 really are the holy grail of early electric jazz guitars.
The ES 150 was first introduced to the public in 1936. Electric guitars came on the scene a few years earlier in 1931/32 with the Rickenbacker (known as ‘Ro-Pat-In' at the time) ‘Frying Pan’ and their hollow body guitar with the horseshoe pickups mounted over the top of the strings. This pickup, while effective, did present some playability issues. These guitars achieved some success but were still perceived by the public as somewhat of a novelty by the public.
In 1936 Gibson presented to the world the Gibson ES 150. They weren’t sure of the success an electric guitar would have, and only produced 23 in the first year of production. Popularity quickly caught on and in 1937 produced 464. In 1938, the year of this example, Gibson produced 362 ES 150.
The ES in the name refers to electric Spanish, and the 150 was more or less the price you would pay for one new. Price was listed as $155, which would come with a case, lead and an EH 150 amplifier.
The EH 150 amplifier had been previously designed to pair with their ‘Electric Hawaiian’ guitar, hence the initials.
This guitar is in excellent condition considering its age. Despite the patina and marks of wear and tear, the guitar is structurally sound and confidence inspiring to play. The 16-¼" body is a comfortable under the arm and the 24-¼” scale length lends nicely to ease of playing.
The action is comfortable with further fine tuning available from the adjustable bridge, the tuners have been replaced at some stage as is common for guitars of this vintage. They are a matching replacement for the original and function perfectly.
This particular guitar was owned by renowned American guitarist Rick Vito, who was a member of the iconic Fleetwood Mac from 1987-91, and was a long standing member of Bonnie Raitt's touring band. Vito recorded and/or performed with John Mayall, Jackson Brown, Little Richard, Roger McGuinn, Roy Orbison, Dobie Gray, John Fogerty, Stevie Nicks, Albert Collins, Dolly Parton and many others.
This guitar is a joy to play and listen to. It records beautifully and has a lot going for it in a practical sense as well as the incredible history it has as one of the most iconic and important electric guitars of all time.
Scale length: 24-¼”
Fretboard Radius: 12
Action at 1st fret: .75mm
Action at 12th fret: 2.2mm
Nut Width: 44mm
12 fret width: 55.5mm
Neck material: Mahogany
Fretboard inlays: Pearl
Body: Carved spruce top/solid maple back and sides
Body size at lower bout:16-¼"
Front Pickup: ‘Charlie Christian’ Gibson Pickup
Tuners: Gotoh open back button tuners
Pickguard: Original tortoise shell (in case)
Electronics: Master volume, master tone