Vintage Instruments: Gibson Guitars

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1981 Gibson ES-175D

A great looking and completely original ES-175D that’s closing in on its 40th birthday.  The ES-175 is among the longest running models in the Gibson electric catalogue, having been in production for the better part of 70 years.  By about 1959 the 175 landed very much on its final stage of development and saw little change in its design for the 60 years that have followed.   This example features a 16” full-depth cut-away body with laminate maple top, back, and sides, a pair of humbucking pickups, floating pickguard and bridge, hinged tailpiece, and sunburst finish.  The neck has a bound rosewood fingerboard with parallelogram inlays, and the headstock is finished with pearl logo and crown inlay, and Schaller Kluson-style tuners.

  The guitar is very clean and comfortably set up with 11-49 strings and a bluesy action of 5-6 64ths at the 12th fret.  Original frets are worn but play well, and the neck has a fast feel with a medium C carve.  The back of the headstock is stamped ‘second’ which Gibson did to guitars that had some kind of cosmetic flaw but were otherwise perfectly fine.  Forty years on, it’s hard to guess at what precipitated the second status, but we suspect it’s the fine veneer checking on the bass side of the guitar’s lower bout.  We couldn’t find anything else to fault. 

1-11/16” width at the nut, 24.75” scale.

With original hardshell case



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