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1940 Gibson ES-150
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Body size at lower bout: 16". Scale length: 24 3/4" Nut width: 1 3/4" Neck depth 1st/10th frets: .90/.97
Hardware: Original nickel hardware includes single blade 'Charlie Christian' adjustable single coil pickup, trapeze jack-well tailpiece, adjustable compensated rosewood bridge, oval Grover open back tuners, bakelite arrowvolume knobs. Vintage correct bound black pickguard.
Materials: Solid carved spruce top, arched maple back, solid one-piece mahogany neck, solid rosewood fingerboard, pearl script logo and fingerboard inlays; bound body.
Notes: For the first decade of the Big Band era, orchestra guitarists chopped chords quietly in the rhythm section. This guitar changed that overnight.
Announced late in 1936, Gibson's groundbreaking ES-150 ("Electric Spanish') model was Gibson's first 6 string guitar to be fitted with a magnetic pickup, and almost instantly became the world's first commercially successful electric guitar. Quickly championed by pioneering jazz guitarist Charlie Christian, the ES-150 became indelibly identified with the artist, who almost single-handedly invented modern solo jazz guitar.
This historic model has been known to players as the "Charlie Christian model" ever since (despite the fact that the manufacturer has never referred to it as such to this day.) With its massive bar magnet and smooth hornlike tone, the ES-150 pickup captivated an entire generation of formative jazz plectrists, including Barney Kessel, Jimmy Raney and legions of others.
Built in early to mid 1940, this instrument would be one of the last examples to be built with the original prewar bar pickup. In fine condition, the guitar has all original nickel hardware and electronics, with the addition of a replacement bound pickguard. The instrument shows no cracks, and the original Cremona sunburst finish is intact, with some light overspray to the top. Pick, buckle, and thumbwear are all light, with bit of fingerboard wear in the first position, and a little knee wear on the treble side.
At just 5lb 6oz, the guitar is notably light and well balanced, with smooth low action over fine pro fretwork. Notably for modern players, the neck on this late example has a comfy gentle C profile, decidedly more contemporary in feel than the bulky V necks found on models from earlier years. The back is also arched, in the fashion of postwar models, thus avoiding the cracks so common in versions from the 30's.
The tone is like time travel itself, clear and sparkling in the unimpeded highs, and warm and growly when rolled off through an old tube amp. archtop.com is proud to bring this wonderful old work horse back to the stable for a splendid new career. A special bonus is the original Geib striped tweed 'aircraft cloth' hardshell case, quite a rarity in itself. One only: call now.
Setup: Trussrod tension and neck relief adjusted; bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge wheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished; electronics tested and pickup height adjusted.
This instrument is strung with medium gauge nickel roundwound strings. The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 4/64" to 5/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.