1957 GIBSON ES-175


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Gibson ES-175 from 1957, in exceptional original condition.

There are jazz guitars, then there are Gibson jazz guitars, then there is the Gibson jazz guitar. Ever since its introduction in 1949, this Electro-Spanish hollowbody model with a Florentine cutaway has carved out a place of choice among the pantheon of great jazz-boxes from the Kalamazoo manufacturer. And for good reason, its light weight compared to archtop models as well as its 20-fret neck make it an ideal instrument for long playing sessions where the musician would be required for both rhythmic and solo parts, but the main interest remains the configuration of its electronics: a single pickup in the neck position ensures immediate results, that round and defined Gibson sound we all associate with the great jazz albums from the past century up until today.

During its first 8 years of existence, the ES-175 was equipped with the P-90 single-coil pickup, but the second half of the 1950s would bring a major change to the habitus not only of this model, but of the Gibson electric guitar in general: the company’s engineers, led by Walter Fuller and Seth Lover, filed a patent on June 22, 1955 for an innovative pickup design comprising two magnetically opposed windings that neutralize the effects of humming and of currents induced by nearby electrical devices – the humbucker was born. Surprisingly, this innovation did not initially arouse any particular enthusiasm among Gibson sales people, that is not until they discovered during a show in 1956 the new Filter’Trons developed by Gretsch, which were neither more nor less than another form of humbucker pickup. Anxious not to be overtaken by the competition, they gave the green light for the production of the new pickup which would be installed on guitars starting in 1957 – the ES-175 was thus among the very first models to be equipped with the humbucker from February of that year.

The instrument presented here, shipped at the beginning of the summer of ’57, is therefore part of this batch of precursor instruments, and we can indeed find it equipped with its pickup bearing the label Patent Applied For with all the solder joints and associated electronics perfectly intact. For the rest, the guitar has traveled the decades to reach us superbly preserved: its original Sunburst finish has a slight crazing but remains very lively, we find all its plastic parts as well as the characteristic zig-zag tailpiece. Only the Kluson Deluxe tuners have suffered the ravages of time, their buttons having shrunk, they were removed and are now kept in the case. The guitar has been fully set up, prepared and appraised in our workshop, and is accompanied by its certificate of authenticity produced by us.

Sold in its original Lifton case.

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