Gibson ES-140N Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1955)

Gibson  ES-140N Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar  (1955)
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Item # 8328
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Gibson ES-140N Model Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1955), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, natural lacquer finish, laminated maple body, mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, original brown alligator grain chipboard case.

This is an extremely rare little vintage Gibson offering, and despite its diminutive appearance a surprisingly great-sounding guitar. The small 3/4 size ES-140 arch top was offered from 1950 up through late in the decade with a sunburst finish, but the official published figures show only 30 natural examples, all shipped in 1956. There are, however, occasional natural finish examples from other years; this is actually the second such ES-140N we have had. This guitar dates to early/mid 1955, and while showing signs of use remains in mostly excellent original condition.

Although extremely cute, looking almost like a toy ES-175N, this ES-140 is still a fully professional quality instrument with a great-feeling round profile neck, single P-90 pickup, and simple cosmetic appointments. With a smaller body cavity, the tone is a bit brighter and snappier than the typical ES-175, with less feedback issues. This ES-140 handles very easily but still offers an amazingly big honking tone for such a small instrument -- we think it sounds better than many full-sized arch tops!
Overall length is 36 3/4 in. (93.3 cm.), 12 3/4 in. (32.4 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 22 3/4 in. (578 mm.). Width of nut is 1 5/8 in. (41 mm.).

This is a very clean guitar overall, with some light wear and a couple of hardware substitutions. The rare natural lacquer finish is completely original with some very light checking and a beautifully ambered patina. It is absolutely authentic, confirmed by the fade patterns under the hardware. There are small dings and chips to the back of the neck and the headstock edges, and a larger spot of buckle wear on the upper back.

The pickup, wiring, knobs, pickguard, and bridge are all original. The tuners currently fitted are new correct-style Kluson Deluxe repros. There are small plate impression marks from the pretty poor Japanese tuners it previously carried on the headstock rear, but there was no extra drilling at any point.

The trapeze tailpiece on this guitar is a '60s-era Harmony part; the original ES-140 tailpiece is a rare short Waverly piece specific to this 3/4 model. Unfortunately this small unit is prone to breaking at the hinge, thus difficult to replace effectively and appears to have been gone from this guitar for decades.

The frets have a bit of wear in the first position, but the guitar plays well and sounds great. There are no repairs and the only alterations are the hardware substitutions listed above. This is a lovely little guitar and a nice example of one of our favorite (if slightly unusual) Gibson electrics, complete in its original alligator-grain chip case. Overall Excellent - Condition.