Released in 1979 to complement and expand upon the already popular RD Artist guitar and bass models that were released in 1977. The ES Artist was developed by the same team and was joined by the equally new Les Paul Artist. All instruments in the series would feature the same ground breaking Moog active circuitry as the RD Artist and were the first active instruments that Gibson produced. The ES Artist was a high end Gibson instrument, it was constructed with choice materials and highly appointed with ornate headstock inlays, multiple binding and deluxe gold hardware. On release in 1979 the ES Artist retailed for $1399 rising to $1599 in 1982 making it a more expensive instrument than the ES-355. The ES Artist would remain in the Gibson price list until 1985.
At the heart of the guitar is a traditional thinline ES body with multi-ply binding throughout and the top has no f-holes, a unique feature at the time. The woods used throughout have been selected for their high degree of figuring. The neck shares similar construction to other high end period Gibsons with its figured five-piece laminated Maple construction. The fingerboard is bound Ebony with unique offset dot markers. Scale length is the traditional 24 3/4 and the brass nut is 1 11/16th wide. Hardware is gold plated throughout with Schaller machine heads, Gibson ABR-1 and fine tuning TP-6 tailpiece. Electronics comprises of the Moog expansion and compression circuitry with a bright mode with two potted Gold plated Gibson Humbuckers. Controls are a standard three way pickup selector with individual master bass, treble and volume controls and on/off switches for Bright mode, Expansion, and Compression.
The guitar is in excellent condition and looks fantastic. The Nitro finish still has plenty of vibrancy in the ‘Fireburst’ finish. There are one or two minor marks to the finish and the gold plating has, as is to be expected, flattened. The guitar has naturally softened with ageing most obvious to the gentle yellowing of the binding. The guitar plays great, the original frets are showing some wear but still playing well. The active circuitry gives the guitar quite an impressive range of tones thanks to the powerful master bass and treble controls. Both controls have a centre detent and cut or boost frequencies in each direction. The Compressor and Expansion work like you would expect also giving the guitar a volume boost when active. A very versatile and powerful instrument.
The guitar comes with its original Gibson case and owners manual.