Keith Milne Reviews A Gibson ES345
(Strumming the guitar)
Hi I’m Keith Milne and I’m talking Vintage Electric Guitars here on totally guitars today I’ll be featuring a 1963 Gibson ES-345 (Strumming the guitar and background music).
In 1958 Gibson introduced the revolutionary new guitar it combined the best attributes of the ES-330 thinline as well as the solo body characteristic of the less bulk,,, that guitar was ES-335 and it was an immediate success some considered it one of Ted McCarty’s greatest achievements in Gibson. What made the instrument so unique was the fact that it had solid block of wood that round the entired block of the inside of the guitar. The pickups were mounted to it, the bridge was mounted to it and the tail piece is spruced directly into this block of wood. The idea was to help give the thinline the sustain of the solid bodies while eliminating some of the feedback issues of the ES-330 and the ES-225 this work so well in fact that in 1959 Gibson introduced two upscale version of the 335. The ES-345 that you see here and an ES-355 althought they look the same they used two features that Gibson introduced that were unique to any of the guitars that they built. The first one was the 345 or 55 often came wired in stereo from the factory and while the concept that sounded like a good idea it really didn’t work out very well and…rewired their instruments into the modern settings at the 335 head. This ES-345 was done the same way well it did work however the base pickup and the tribal pickup was separated and you would use a Y port at the jack that you can send to either two end approaching your head or two completely separate amplifiers to separate the pick ups. So you could get wide variety of tones and it would give a different feeling to the guitar. The other interesting feature that the ES-345 and 55’s had was the addition of a sixth position Baritone switch that they called. So combined with the standard..tone controls and the pick up selector, you could set the Baritone control and any of the sixth positions and it will roll off frequencies throughout the range it will give you wider variety of sound. It might be this ES-345 one of the most versatile instruments Gibson ever built.
The guitars where issued in the early 60s which is Cherry Red by far is the most popular color Sunburst being the next eventhough I have seen some early 60s instruments done in custom colors like Pelham Blue and Burgundy Red and their pretty rare today, you don’t see them very often. In 1958 when Gibson introduced the ES-335 it incorporated the famous Gibson PAF Humbuckings or PAF 54 and they were used on this guitars up until about 1962. But even in 63′ in the 345’s and 355’s you see some of them because they didn’t make as many elliptical covers, so occassionally you’ll see them. This guitar doesn’t have the mic that took it part unfortunately it just has path the y port pickups that they sound great anyway. Another thing about the 345 and the 355’s is that most of them came equip with a stock tale piece from the factory, the 355’s usually used a big top tail piece or some sort of vibrato even after a 1964. You’ll see a lot of ES-345 with vibratos on them as well, but this top tail piece isby most players considered the ultimate sound on the guitar. In 1965 Gibson started changing the design in the instrument they eliminated this top tail piece and went to it was called tri piece tail piece; so its not attach directl to the body and most players feel thta it affected the tone a lot and I agree. As you can see this guitar is in very good condition this is pretty typical of the golden era early 60s ES thinlines, their is a very little finish checking, the gold hardware starting to wear off but that’s very typical. The nobs are all original, the pickup selectors are original, the aveiar one brigde is original. There’s eventually no playing were on the back were just a couple of small bell buckle marks, very few marks on the neck, but it does have one interesting problem thta occurs in a lot of early Gibson guitars. You see this tuner starting to deteriorate and shrink, this is more prevelent in the 50s but you see it on early 60s instruments as well. The plastic deteriorates and you’ll find a powder on your finger if you start to rub it. Unfortunately there is no way to erase this and it will eventually just shrink and fall off the shaft a lot of players will take this tuners off stick them in a plastic bag and try to save them and but really doesn’t and now we placed them with reproductions, if you do this be sure you don’t drill out the peg hole and make it larger, so you’ll never be able to replaced the originals. If you see on the peg head the dress front covers the stereo. This was featured in all ES-345 and the ES-355 stereo instruments. The ES-345 had a rosewood fingerboard with split parallelogram inlays which was common for all Gibson high end instrument hign end instruments while the ES-355 had an ebony fingerboard and the diamond inlay and the headstock. The semisolid thinline ES-series guitars have been used by many famous musicians over the years Eric Clapton used an ES-335 and crane for a long time Larry Carlton signature guitars the ES-335, Chuck Berry used one and of course B.B King. In fact when Gibson issued the loose seal model for B.B King it was based on an ES-345, probably the most famous player on the ES-345 currently is Elvin Bishop and in fact his latest released of the Red Dog speaks is talking about his 1949 ES-345, so here you have a 1963 ES-345 one of the most versatile instruments Gibson ever made.
(Strumming the guitar)