Gibson ES-5N Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1952)

Gibson  ES-5N Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar  (1952)

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Item # 8263
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Gibson ES-5N Model Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1952), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, natural lacquer finish, laminated maple body and neck, rosewood fretboard and bridge, original brown hard shell case.

This is a superb example of an early 1950s blonde ES-5, one of the all-time classic full-body Gibson electric guitars. The ES-5 is a 17" fully hollow electric, the most deluxe laminated-wood model Gibson offered at the time.

This guitar has *three* black covered P-90 pickups -- a novel appointment at the time -- three volume controls (one for each pickup) on the lower treble bout, and one master tone knob on the cutaway. The controls are topped with 5/8" high barrel knobs, clear with numbers as used by Gibson from 1949 through early 1953. All hardware is gold-plated.

The laminated maple body has a single rounded cutaway and two bound f-holes, with a beautiful tiger grain on top and back. The pickguard is five-ply laminated plastic with a beveled edge; the trapeze tailpiece has pointed ends and three raised parallelograms. The maple neck is a three piece laminate, the center element being a narrow black stripe. The rosewood fretboard is five-ply bound and inlaid with pearl blocks.

The headstock is single-bound with a mother-of-pearl crown and Gibson logo inlaid in the peghead overlay. The back of the peghead is painted black, coming to a point just below the nut on the back of the neck. The Kluson Sealfast tuners have plastic "tulip" single ring buttons.

The ES-5 was introduced in 1949 and was at the time Gibson's top-of-the-line electric guitar, and the first three-pickup guitar of its type. It was the direct inspiration for the Epiphone Zephyr Emperor Regent, and by extension the fender Stratocaster. Blonde ES-5s like this one were produced in smaller numbers than the sunburst version, and only 93 were shipped in 1952.

This particular guitar has a very early letter-coded factory order number, with the initial "Z" written in by hand and a serial number indicating shipment in April 1952. The ES-5 was modified in 1955 with a large selector switch on the cutaway and dubbed the "Switchmaster", and despite a 5 year + production history ES-5s of this type are fairly rare guitars.

Aside from its knockout looks, this ES-5 is a great-playing and sounding guitar, the most versatile of full-depth Gibson electrics due to the extra tonal shadings from the center pickup. It is well-suited to a variety of jazz, pop, blues, or early rock and roll styles, in addition to being a very collectible instrument.

This guitar includes something we have never seen before: the original typed spec sheet from Gibson with incredibly highly detailed instructions on how to use the three pickups for different sound options.
Overall length is 42 in. (106.7 cm.), 17 in. (43.2 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 25 1/2 in. (648 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This guitar remains in very fine original condition, with just some wear here and there. There is one area of finish scrape on the back, and the bass side of the neck is worn down to the wood over much of its length. The finish is lightly checked overall and beautifully ambered, and the gold plating has some typical wear.

The frets have been taken down a bit but still play fine. This is a wonderful-sounding instrument and as nice an ES-5 as we have seen in a long time, complete in its original pink-lined brown HSC. Excellent Condition.