We are delighted to include this gorgeous Gibson 1949 ES-5 archtop guitar in our 24th October Musical Instrument auction.
This ES-5 is certainly a players instrument rather than a collectors’ item to be locked away in a glass case as the instrument shows signs of modification to suit the needs of a gigging musician or musicians who have enjoyed it’s rich tones over the last 70 years. The guitar has the serial number A-3420 stamped to the back of the headstock, and is finished in sunburst with multi ply binding. The neck has block marker inlays on an ebony fingerboard.
The ES-5 was introduced in 1949 to the Gibson line by Ted Macarthy who was trying to enlarge Gibson's line of electric guitars. The ES-5 featured three P90 pickups each with an individual volume governed by a master volume control allowing the guitarist a great variety of tones. The construction of the top, back and sides was laminate, a move to try and combat feedback which plagued many archtop guitars trying to compete volume with the brass section of the band.
This guitar is one of the first ES-5's to be made in the year of the model's introduction of 1949 which can been spotted by the unbound 'F' holes and is one of only 577 models made in sunburst finish between 1949 and 1956. This example has some unusual features portraying its long working life. The headstock inlay is of the split diamond design as used on Les Paul customs and other instruments of the 1950's and the headstock binding is multi ply rather than the single white binding and crown design that is normally seen on standard production ES-5's. The guitar is also fitted with Grover tuners rather than Tulip knob tuners ES-5's were originally realised with. The fingerboard of this example is ebony rather than rosewood. This all indicates that the guitar might have had a new neck fitted however the many correct details such as the multi bound fingerboard, and the black faced rear of the headstock suggest that this could be a factory replacement rather than simply a marriage. The guitar has at one stage been fitted with a Bigsby as seen from a dark spot in the finish where the tremelo unit’s spring housing would have sat. The tailpiece is now a correct style modern replacement. The bridge and scratchplate are also later replacements. An addition to this guitar is the tone control fitted below the treble 'F' hole, this tone control - a much needed feature for a jazz player - was omitted from the original Gibson design of 1949.
This Gibson ES-5 will be sold as part of our 24th October Musical Instrument sale estimate £4,000 – 6,000. Viewing Saturday 19th 9.30-12 noon, Wednesday 23rd 9am-5pm and on morning of auction 9am-10am.
Consignments for this sale are now invited. Closing date for entries is the 30th September. Please contact Chris Large on 01270 623878 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.