1969 Gibson ES-340 TDW, Walnut

By Gibson

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Super cool, rare, Walnut, Gibson ES-340TDW from 1969, the first year of production for this Thinline Gibson. Sharing many similarities to the ES-335, the ES-340 is an underappreciated model from this period of Gibson history, Retailing at $525 compared to $455 for the ES-335, the ES-340 was not only more expensive it was produced in far fewer numbers than the ES-335 with only 261 examples shipped in 1969. The ES-340 was available in Natural (TDN) and Walnut (TDW)

The ES-340 was constructed in the same manner as the ES-335 but used a different combination of Tone woods. It features a Birch laminate semi hollow body with a three-piece maple neck instead of the Maple laminate and three-piece Mahogany of the ES-335. Likewise, electronically the ES-340 deviated from the traditional Gibson twin humbucker setup, the wiring allowed for an out-of-phase setting through the three way switch with a separate pickup ‘blender’ control knob. Although innovative the system wasn’t the most practical or popular with players leading many ES-340 to be converted to traditional Gibson wiring.

The guitar looks fantastic with it’s pronounced grain highlighted by the Walnut finish, the guitar has plenty of lacquer checking throughout but that just adds to the guitars vibey appearance. The three-piece maple neck has no ‘Made in USA’ or volute, the Gibson Logo is typical of a 1969. Likewise, the profile is as you would expect of a late ’60s Gibson, there is a decent depth at the 1st fret and fills out towards 12th. Nut width is 1 9/16th”. There is evidence of some overspray along with areas of play wear. The back of the guitar has an area of localised wear. Impressively the guitar is still sporting its original jumbo frets and the Nut likewise appears original. Kluson Deluxe tuners are correct as are the truss rod cover and pickguard. The bridge is a no wire ABR-1 with nylon saddles that chronologically predates the instrument. Tailpiece and Pickup covers are chrome.

Electronically the guitar has been converted to traditional ES-335 spec and in use feels like all other conventional twin humbucker Gibson guitars. To achieve the conversion the original loom has been modified. The switch and two pots have been replaced. The pickups are both excellent sounding Patent Number humbuckers. The Neck pickup measures 7.5K with the Bridge measuring 7.8K. Both pickups have never had the covers removed. In use, the guitar feels well settled and plays well in all positions. The frets have lost some of their original height but still play well. In the first position there is some playing wear to the frets and there are some small 'divots' on the fretboard. We elected to string the guitar with 10-46 Half-Rounds that in combination with the pickups give the guitar a solid feel. The guitar sounds excellent; late sixties Humbuckers are are consistently great sounding pickups and it has a loud, resonant acoustic voice.

The ES-340 is quite the sleeper model that can easily go under many players' radar, we’ve been pleasantly impressed with this example both visually and sonically, the combination of grain, Walnut finish and lacquer checking make for a very striking guitar. The guitar weighs a decent 7.9lbs and comes with the photographed sixties Gibson Case.