One of our favourite and Gibsons best selling historic models, the ES 175 debuted in 1949 as an ES (Electro-Spanish) version of the established L-4 model. The 175 in the title representing the models original price of $175. An immediately popular guitar, the ES-175 was initially offered with a single neck position P-90 pickup with the dual pickup option only offered from 1953 onwards. Measuring just 16 1/4" wide and with a shorter scale compared to the full scale 17” and 18” inch instruments the ES-175 also featured a fully laminate body. Not only did this reduced the list price significantly in comparison to the larger solid Super 400 and L-5 it also had the the desirable effect of helping to suppress feedback. By 1957 the ES-175 tailpiece had changed to a new proprietary ‘zig-zag’ design and in the February of that year the model received the addition of Gibsons newly designed Humbucking pickup. Still offered in single and double pickup configurations the ES-175 would remain essentially unchanged until the early 1970’s when the single pickup variant was discontinued. Gibson produced the ES-175 from 1949 to 2017, at which point it held the title of the longest production electric guitar.
Dating to 1956 this factory Natural ES-175 is one of only 247 shipped that year. It remains in excellent condition, crack free with no sign of repair or finish work. The paper thin Nitrocellulose finish has aged to a mellow honey colour highlighting the attractive maple finish of the the body. The finish fluoresces uniformly under black light with no overspray or other finish work evident and the only exception being the rear of the neck where the finish has started to wear through use. The guitar retains its original hardware; Tuners are no-line single ring Kluson Deluxe, with plastic tulip buttons. These are likely made early in 1956 before the switch to Single-Line in later ’56. The tuners are a little stiff in operation but still function as intended. The hardware is nickel plated throughout including the earlier style tailpiece. Frets and the nut are original to the guitar as are the wide-bevel pickguard, Gold bonnet knobs and Bridge and Saddle. The P-90 pickups have all the traits of a mid-50s set with no obvious signs of repair or modification and the tidy loom consists of a quartet of CentraLab pots with a single Sprague Bumble Bee Cap and a replacement Cornell Dubilier Capacitor.
The ES-175 is one of the great Gibson designs with its combination of sharp Florentine cut-away, split-parallelogram pearl inlays and zig-zag tailpiece it is an instantly recognisable classic. Despite the popularity of the model only 247 Natural ES-175D shipped in 1956 highlighting quite how rare these vintage examples can be. Early ES-175’s were built much lighter than newer examples and that really comes through in use. The guitar has a loud acoustic voice that sounds resonant and harmonically rich when amplified. The original frets have been dressed low and despite this the guitar plays well with 11-49 strings. The neck is the popular full mid-sixties profile with measurements of 23.31mm at the 1st fret and 24.6mm at the 9th. The nut measures 43.13mm. The P-90s sound balanced when used together and individually the bridge has a cut and precision and the neck has the rounded woody warmth so sought by players.
Arguably the most sought after version of the P-90 ES-175 this instrument does not disappoint, the guitar comes with the original Stone Case.