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1956 Gibson ES-350T

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Serial #: A-23914, orange oval label FON#: V4908-34

Body size at lower bout: 17". Scale length: 23 1/2" Nut Width: 1 10/16" Body depth: 2 1/4"

Materials: Highly flamed solid maple back and neck; arched laminate maple top; solid Brazilian rosewood fingerboard; mother of pearl fingerboard and peghead inlay; 3 ply body binding, bound neck and peghead.

Hardware: Original hardware includes twin P-90 single coil pickups and electronics; gold loop style trapeze tailpiece with engraved crossbar; adjustable Brazilian rosewood bridge base with gold ABR-1 Tunematic saddle; 5-ply beveled pickguard; gold bell volume and tone knobs; 3 way toggle switch with original tip. Correct style Gold Grover Deluxe tuners with tulip keys

Notes: It was a disc jockey convention in Nashville, and the year was 1955. Gibson, Inc. had a booth demonstrating their new offerings, and ace session guitarists Hank Garland and Billy Byrd were sampling the merchandise. Then, according to Garland, Gibson rep Clarence Havenga asked the fateful question: "What would you like in a guitar that we don't already have?" By the time the three had finished brainstorming, a new guitar was born, that would revolutionize the electric guitar world forever.

First, both the scale length and nut width were shortened, to create Gibson's fastest neck ever, specifically tailored to facilitate stretch chord voicings and lightning fast leads. Hank had been playing a custom Stromberg with a slimmer body depth, and asked Havenga to match it. And the legendary Byrdland had arrived.

So popular was this innovative design that Gibson rushed another new model into production within weeks. Christened the ES-350T, the new guitar retained the unique design of the Byrdland, but added a figured laminate maple body to reduce feedback, increase sustain and improve durability. After a pair of prototypes were built late in 1955, Gibson produced a small but historic run of ES-350T guitars in 1956, the first full year of production. Prized by performers such as Chuck Berry and Danny Gatton for their clear, powerful P-90 pickups, the '56 models became icons of the brave new world of rock 'n roll. Only 156 of these beauties were finished in the handsome sunburst lacquer that year.

This remarkable guitar is crafted of bookmatched, highly figured tiger flame maple throughout. And though the ES-350 specs call for a fully laminated body, this example is exceptional in having a solid maple back, the only one we've seen on this model. (If the body started life as a Byrdland, for example, it may have been diverted in production and finished as a 350.) The guitar was built in the last full year for the classic P-90 single coil pickups, and the plain gold tailpiece is a rare feature of the earliest examples, before the model name was engraved on the crossbar later that year.

At just 6lb. 6oz. the guitar is happily lightweight and well balanced, with a warmly resonant fully hollow body. The sunburst finish is all original, wonderfully free of pick, buckle, thumb or fingerboard wear, and the original binding is all tight to the body. The neck has a gentle C profile, very contemporary in feel, with smooth low action over fine vintage-correct fretwork and polished bone nut, all professionally installed. The twin P-90 pickups have wonderfully extended frequency response, with original tone pots and bumble bee capacitor. A pair of vintage-correct volume pots and barrel capacitor are installed, along with a set of smooth gold Grover Deluxe tulip pegs. The genuine nitro lacquer shows normal checking for its age, and the usual few short stress cracks around the jack. The fast scale length makes wide voicings and fast runs a snap, and the guitar is an unusually versatile performer, equally at home with styles from bebop to rockabilly.

A rare and striking example of a landmark in the evolution of the modern electric guitar. One only: call now.

Setup: The frets have been precision leveled, recrowned and polished as required; trussrod tension and neck relief adjusted; bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge foot contour inspected and fit to top as necessary; bridge wheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.

This instrument is strung with medium gauge nickel roundwound strings (.012-.054). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 5/64" to 6/64" 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.

Case: Original brown Gibson Lifton pink plush lined hardshell case.


















































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