1972 Gibson ES-320, Natural

By Gibson

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Very playable, great sounding and seldom seen Gibson ES-320 from the early seventies in a very vibey aged blonde finish. Released as an entry point to Gibson’s popular Thinline series the ES-320 would essentially replace the ES-330 in the line-up. Released in 1971 the ES-320 would have a short period of production disappearing from the catalog in 1975.

Featuring a 16” wide Thinline body with a 19 fret neck join. The body has a center-block that extends from tailpiece to endpin. The Maple neck has an unbound Rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays and 22 frets. The finishes offered by Gibson were Cherry, Walnut or Natural with black binding. The pickups are a great sounding pair of Melody Maker single-coil pickups mated to a simple Master Volume and Tone layout. The ES-320 bridge and tailpiece deviated from the separate trapeze and ABR-1 seen on Thinline Gibson from this era with a simple unit with Harmonica style bridge and string anchors. The bridge was intended to have a cover like an EB Bass. Tuners are three-on-a-side Kluson with metal buttons. The Pickguard is the correct Black plastic part with the very seventies Witch Hat knobs completing the hardware.

This guitar is a great example in fine condition, the Blonde finish has darkened over the 50 years since the guitar was produced giving it a Golden almost TV Yellow appearance. Dating seventies Gibsons isn’t always an exacting science but with the 900,000 serial number and centre-block style its safe to call this one a ’72. The loom looks unmolested with a pair of Melody Maker Single coil pickup and two 250K Stackpole pots dating to 1966 and independent pickup switches. The guitar has been modified with the addition of a Bigsby Vibrato and the sometimes troublesome Harmonica bridge has been changed for what looks like a Schaller bridge.

The guitar is a lot of fun to play, much in the same vein as an ES-330; lightweight, lively with raunchy sounding pickups. The neck profile is a slim taper C measuring 21.39mm at the first fret 25.16mm at the 12th Fret with a nut width of 40.59mm. interesting larger dimensions than a lot of the other Gibson Thinline measurements we have from this period. The Melody Maker pickups are as to be expected different tonally to a Gibson Humbucker or P-90 but have a sound all of their own that works very well in the ES-320s Thinline body. The pickups measure 6.93K and 6.82K and tonally sit somewhere between a Fender single coil and a P-90 with chimes trebles and a mid push when driven. Sitting on the scales at a respectable 7.1 lbs or 3.24 kg and ships with a hard case.

A under- appreciated underdog model it may be but everyone that has played the guitar have come away pleasantly surprised. With no repairs or breaks and the the only mod the addition of the Bigsby the ES-320 looks like a great deal for a 50 year old American made guitar especially when compared to the prices of other guitars from this period.