1948 Gibson ES-150, Sunburst

By Gibson

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Charming late ‘40s Gibson ES-150 with plenty of mojo and character, an excellent player with a powerful sounding early P-90 pickup. A few changes and a good deal of honest wear move it away from a pure collectable and one for the players.

Debuting in 1936 the ES-150 was Gibson's mid-level electric Archtop guitar. Now synonymous with Charlie Christian, originally a 16” instrument it was one of the first commercially successful electric guitars. Featuring a bar magnet pickup that would become known as the Charlie Christian pickup. By 1940 the model had evolved to have a single pickup with adjustable pole pieces in the bridge position. 1942 would see the model discontinued as Gibson reduced its range due to the ongoing war effort. Reintroduced post-war the ES-150 would increase to 17” and gain what would go on to be one of Gibson's most revered pickups, the P-90. Often seen as the sibling of the ES-125 these larger guitars are much scarcer, produced only between 1947 and 1956 with 40’s examples retaining the simple dot fingerboard inlays and unbound neck over the later trapezoid inlays.

This guitar left the factory without a serial number or a factory order number - not at all uncommon for guitars from this period - so dating has been done by spec. The guitar has the earlier style large, gold, silkscreened Gibson Script logo, this was right as Gibson shifted to the new ‘modern’ logo that you can see on most Gibson headstocks by 1948. This marks this guitar out as one of the earlier examples quite possibly pre-'48. The guitar's features are as to be expected for the period with a 17” wide body, a Spruce top, Maple back and sides and a Mahogany neck. Fingerboards and bridge are Rosewood. The guitar has the lighter sunburst often seen from this era. The finish has wear throughout as can be seen in the photos, this guitar certainly hasn’t been pampered through it's 75 odd years. That is not to say it has been misused either, we think the guitar looks great with lots of earned mojo and character. Aside from a few additional tailpiece and tuner holes the body and neck are free from modification. The electronics comprise of an early P-90 pickup with thin 3ply bobbin top, two IRC pots and a Solar Capacitor. The pot source codes are partially obscured but a 6 (46?) can just be made out. The P-90 measures 8.85K, high for this period and has potentially been rewound in the past. The tuners have been replaced with Keystone buttoned Grover Rotomatics, the tailpiece is the Gibson diamond tailpiece and the pickguard is sadly long departed. The correct bridge has been taped down and the control knobs are the correct tall, clear, no number barrel type used between 1946 and 1949.

The guitar feels and plays great, thanks in part to a relatively recent refret and new nut, the large (almost unrefined for a Gibson) neck feels substantial and suits the character of the guitar. The nut width is a generous 44.97mm. The pickup sounds big with a dominant, rounded tone that suits most styles.

The guitar comes with a non-original hard shell case.

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