Gibson ES-350 Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1952)

Gibson  ES-350 Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar  (1952)

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Item # 7958
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Gibson ES-350 Model Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1952), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # A-12549, sunburst lacquer finish, laminated maple body and neck with rosewood fingerboard, original brown hard shell case.

This is a very nice example of an early 1950's Gibson ES-350, one of the classic electric guitars of the period. The ES-350 is a 17" fully hollow, laminated maple guitar that occupied the spot in the line between the mid-line 16" ES-175 and the flashy three-pickup ES-5. This made the ES-350 the most deluxe two-pickup laminated guitar offered, and it quickly became a favorite of several top jazz players.

This guitar has two black covered P-90 pickups with the original earlier-style wiring rig- a separate volume control for each pickup on the lower treble bout and a master tone knob on the cutaway bout. The controls are fitted with 5/8" high barrel knobs, amber plastic with numbers as used by Gibson from 1949 through early 1953. This would be one of the last 350s fitted with this first control arrangement. By the 1953 model year, the electronics were altered to the more familiar four knobs with a selector switch.

All hardware is gold plated. The trapeze tailpiece has pointed ends and three raised parallelograms. The pickguard is five-ply laminated plastic (b/w/b/w/b) with a beveled edge. The maple body has a single rounded cutaway and two f-holes, with a deep amber sunburst and attractive tiger stripe maple on top and back. The maple neck is a three piece laminate, the center element being a narrow black stripe. The rosewood fretboard is single bound and inlaid with double pearloid parallelograms. The headstock is single bound with a mother-of-pearl crown inlaid in the peghead overlay. The Kluson Deluxe tuners have plastic "tulip" single ring buttons.

The ES-350 was introduced in 1947 and was Gibson's first electric guitar with a cutaway. It was altered to a double-pickup guitar by 1949; this one was built in 1952 and serial numbered/shipped out at the very beginning of 1953. Although considered a successful professional-grade model, these guitars were produced in surprisingly small numbers. 1952 was actually the peak production year for the model but saw only 122 total sunburst ES-350s shipped, and the 1953 totals were much lower at 87. This version of the ES-350 was phased out in 1956, replaced by its racier descendant the thin-body ES-350T.

This original full-body ES-350 is a great-playing and sounding guitar well-suited to a variety of jazz, pop, blues, or early rock'n'roll styles, in addition to being a fine collectible Gibson. This one just exudes a sort of smoky '50's air, redolent of late evenings in basement-level swing street nightspots. This is the market Gibson owned in 1952, right before those flashy Fenders and rock'n'roll really came in and changed the musical landscape forever.
Overall length is 41.75 in. (106 cm.), 17 in. (43.2 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3.5 in. (8.9 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 25.375 in. (644 mm.). This is a very sharp looking guitar, with some light wear here and there but generally very well preserved for its 65 years on Earth. The only really noticeable wear is to the bass side of the headstock face. The original owner must have been a smoker, as it looks like several different cigarettes stuck under the strings burned down far enough to scorch the headstock veneer and leave several melt marks in the binding. It's part of the guitar's story anyway…from the time when nearly everybody-and of course the cool guitar players-smoked all the time. There are a few dings and dents to the neck heel and back of the neck, some bumps and dings to the sides but the finish overall has a beautiful amber patina with some light typical checking. The pickguard is the correct style but appears to be an old replacement, made of the same materials and using the original hardware.

This is a lovely example of one of Gibson's early 1950's classic electrics, not only one of the great jazz guitars of all time but a workhorse of early country and rock'n'roll players as well. The instrument sounds fantastic, with the smooth buttery tones of the early P-90 archtops ranging into snarling snap when the lead pickup is overdriven. The frets are low but the instrument plays well, and is complete with the original brown Gibson HSC. Excellent - Condition.