Vintage Instruments: Gibson Guitars

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1964 Gibson ES-355TDSV

Gibson’s ES-355TDSV was the company’s flagship of the ES-335 family of instruments and featured gold hardware, multi-ply bound body, neck, and headstock and ebony fingerboard. The guitar is fitted with Gibson’s Stereo Varitone circuitry, which afforded 18 tone options by way of its 6 position Varitone rotary switch and true stereo pickup wiring. A stereo Y cable allows the player to plug into two different amps or into separate channels as desired, which is incredibly fun. The trade-off is that there is no middle-position tone available, but blending neck and bridge humbuckers is well worth the trade off!

This example is playworn but in excellent condition and almost entirely original. Short of two nylon bridge saddles and one of the control knobs the guitar is factory straight. Tuners, nut, frets, pickguard, hardware, and Bigsby included. The finish is worn off in places and shows some sweat-damage on the bass side of the body. There’s plenty of wear to body’s lower binding edges, and much of the gold plating is worn off the hardware and Bigsby. The frets are in great shape and must have recently been dressed. They appear to be original as the binding nubs are still somewhat present and the nut looks to have not ever been removed. It’s also possible that the guitar was very carefully refretted, given how unworn the fret-tops are.

Factory Bigsby tailpiece, Patent Number humbuckers, Kluson waffleback tuners, 1-5/8” nutwidth, steep headstock angle and 24.75” scale. Vibrant Cherry finish, plenty of lacquer crazing, fabulous patina.

The original case was not salvageable. We’ve found a later 60’s ES-335 12-string case that we’re including with the guitar. Fits well, with some extra room in the headstock cavity.

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