ES-175 Guitars

1956 Gibson ES-175

Color: Natural, Rating: 9.00, $5,750.00 (ID# 01089)
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"Gentlemen Prefer Blondes…"   A Beautiful Mid-Fifties Blond ES-175


1956 Gibson ES-175N.

This super blond guitar weighs just 5.80 lbs. and has a nice, fat nut width of just over 11/16 inches and a standard Gibson scale length of 24 3/4 inches. Three-ply laminated maple body, triple-bound on the top and single-bound on the bottom. Honduras mahogany neck with a wonderful really thick profile. Brazilian rosewood fretboard with 20 original small frets and inlaid pearl split-parallelogram position markers. Headstock with inlaid pearl "Gibson" logo and pearl crown inlay. Individual Kluson Deluxe 'single-line' 'no-name' tuners with single-ring Keystone plastic buttons, all stamped on the underside "2356766 / PAT. APPLD. Single P-90 pickup with an output of 7.39k. The black plastic pickup cover is stamped on the underside "UC-450-1 / 1". Five-layer (black/white/black/white/black) plastic pickguard. Two controls (one volume, one tone) on lower treble bout. Gold plastic barrel-shape "Speed" knobs (1/2 inch tall). Rosewood bridge with pre-set compensating saddle and trapeze tailpiece with pointed ends and three small raised parallelograms. Inside the bass 'f' hole is an oval orange label with the model number "ES-175" written in black ink and the serial number "A-21995" stamped in black. Inside the treble 'f' hole stamped in black is the FON (factory order number) "W 3206 34" which with the prefix "W" shows that the guitar was actually built in late 1955 and allocated its serial number in January 1956. This would also explain the use of the 1/2 inch "Speed" knobs.

This guitar is totally original, with no additional strap button, no belt buckle wear, and nothing (except the strings) altered or changed in any way. Apart from the inevitable light lacquer finish checking and a few small marks on the back of the neck and the edges of the headstock this example is in exceptionally fine (9.00) condition. The original? flat-wound strings were on the guitar when it arrived (now in the case) and consequently the original frets show very little signs of wear. Housed in its original Gibson four-latch brown hardshell case with pink plush lining (9.25).

"At the time the ES-295 was introduced in 1952, the ES-175 was available only as a single pickup model even though a very few models had been custom-ordered with two pickups since its inception in 1949. But it did not take long to realize that a 175 with two pickups would be a neat proposal to consolidate the lower end of the electric range. In early 1953, a 295 was thus converted into a two-pickup 175 and by April the first production ES-175D (D stands for dual pickups) were shipped from the factory. Ted McCarty and Clarence Havenga probably did not fully appreciate it at the time but one of the all-time Gibson classics was born. The affordable 175 and 175D proved immensely popular during the 50s and became the workhorse of many fine jazz guitarists such as Kenny BURRELL, Jim HALL or Herb ELLIS to name just a few" (A.R. Duchossoir, Gibson Electrics -- The Classic Years, p. 55).

The ES175 is Gibson's most successful electro-acoustic guitar. An estimated 37,000 were sold between 1949 and 1990 and it continues to sell in healthy numbers, despite unprecedented Japanese competition. Dozens of look-alikes and near copies provide testimony to the instrument's dependability, tonal responsiveness and aesthetic quality. From the hundreds of electric guitars which have come and gone over the last fifty years, only a handful have survived with little deviation from their original form...Steve Howe, King Sunny Ade, B.B. King, Mel Brown and Derek Bailey have used the 175 to good effect in other genres. However, it is jazz guitarists who have been seen using the 175 consistently for more than four decades and it is they who provide the instrument's strongest cultural association. Forty [fifty] years of record sleeves, magazine articles, TV appearances and gigs by eminent jazz guitarists have established the 175 as the pre-eminent jazz guitar. The shape, design and construction of the 175 have changed little in more than forty [fifty] years of continuous production, affirming its tradition of dependability whilst reaffirming its status as a design classic" (Adrian Ingram, The Gibson ES175: Its History and Players).

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