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Superb Gibson ES-355TD-SV from 1962, in very good condition.

With the introduction of the ES-355 in the late 1950s, Gibson took the progress implemented throughout the decade to its climax, while perfecting an innovative design introduced in 1958: the semi-hollowbody electric guitar. Unveiled to the public just a few months after the ES-335, the 355 was a major one-up since it included a range of high-end features: an ebony fingerboard with block-style pearl inlays, multi-ply binding over the entire body, neck and headstock, fully gold-plated hardware, and finally a headstock sporting a large split diamond-shaped inlay, in the style of the Super 400. A Bigsby tremolo was equipped as factory standard when the guitar was introduced into the catalog in 1959, but this system was replaced in 1960 by the Vibrola tailpiece, called sideways vibrato since it operates laterally and not from top to bottom – it is this same vibrato which will equip the first SG/Les Paul Standard and Custom models from the early 60s.

The guitar shown here is equipped with its two humbucker pickups bearing their Patent Applied For label, connected to the stereo Varitone wiring which was a common option on the model at the time. It routes the signal from each pickup to a separate circuit including a volume and tone control, and the Varitone assembly which is essentially a passive notch filter attenuating a particular frequency band for each position (5 in total, and a 6th position that bypasses the filter). Finally, the signal exits to a stereo jack, allowing the use of two isolated amplifiers, or as Gibson originally intended, their home-brewed stereophonic amplifier such as the Gibson GA-88S. The Varitone was designed for players (primarily country musicians) to achieve a clearer, brigthter sound with typically bass- and low-mid-heavy humbucking pickups, and although this feature was later considered a gadget and often removed, guitarists of the period seemed to appreciate it: proof of this, sales for the “SV” model exceeded those of the monophonic model throughout the 60s!

This guitar was shipped in 1962, one of 148 ES-355 Stereos which left the factory that year, and comes in a gleaming Cherry finish – note that this received a full overspray, the original varnish still remaining preserved underneath. In addition, the original hardware elements such as the pickup covers and the tailpiece have been re-gilded: in all likelihood a past owner wanted to give his instrument a makeover! All in all, the guitar remains very well preserved in its original condition and functioning: like many stereo Gibsons, it was once converted to mono by joining the two hot points of the jack, this transformation has since been reverted and the guitar operates again in stereo with all of its original components (potentiometers, capacitors, Varitone assembly, pickup selector, jack). We also find the Kluson K-500 Super tuners (known as waffle-back tuners), which gradually replaced the Grover tuners from 1962. After a refret and a complete set up and adjustment in our workshop, this stunner of a guitar is perfectly optimized for playing , with low action and perfect intonation.

Sold in its original hardshell case, with a stereo Y cable.

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