Vintage Instruments: Gibson Guitars

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1960 Gibson ES-355TD Mono

Dating to mid-year 1960, this Mono-wired ES-355TD features a pair of factory-sealed double-white PAFs with strong measurements, and still sports its original long pickguard. It’s almost a one-owner guitar, having been bought in 1969 by the fellow who brought it in to the shop recently. Check out the photos he’s provided of himself with the guitar as a younger man in the late 1960s and early ‘70s.

An incredible sounding 355, the mystique surrounding white-bobbin PAFs is seriously well supported by the tone of this guitar. It’s remarkable. THIS is what humbuckers would all sound like if it were up to us. The neck is woody and warm and harmonically complex; there is plenty of detailed articulation without sounding modern or overly tight, note separation is excellent and there’s zero mushiness. The bridge is thick and crunchy, bright, chewy and chunky, with a perfect slight microphonic undertone and zero brittleness. The pickups are dynamic and breathy, and incredibly alive and touch sensitive. They’re magical in the 335/355 semi-hollow format, with the extra resonance the body adds to the equation. The amazing thing about these pickups is how much everybody loves them – even ardent single-coil players.

The guitar is in quite gorgeous condition and has been really well cared for throughout its life. The original cherry finish has strong colour and not much playwear, there are no touch-ups anywhere and no breaks or damage to the body or neck and the neck angle is excellent. The binding is in great shape, but the finish is worn off along the sides of the neck. The original pickguard shows no celluloid deterioration, the original Gold Tune-O-Matic bridge isn’t at all cupped, and the studs are vertical. The Bigsby is original to the guitar, including spring and washers, and the original knobs, switch and tip, and Grover tuners are all in excellent condition. The frets are replacements, and the guitar’s pots, caps, and jack have been replaced. The original pots were changed out in the late 1980’s, and we’ve just rewired it again to clean things up. Original caps are still with the guitar, although one has a broken lead wire, which is why it was changed. The pickups have never been opened but the neck pickup has had its lead wire spliced and lengthened. Pickup DC resistances are 8.47 (Neck) and 8.54 (Bridge). Original control knobs, pickguard mounting hardware, pickup surrounds, strap buttons, and nut.

The guitar plays beautifully with unworn frets and a fresh in-shop set-up. The neck is compact, measuring 1-21/32 at the nut and plays fast and effortlessly with a rounded carve. Bound ebony fingerboard with pearl inlays.

This guitar is built without any rosewood, which allows us to ship it internationally without issue.

With mid-1960s Gibson Hardshell case.

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