1961 GIBSON ES-330TD

Stunning Gibson ES-330TD from 1961, in exceptional original condition.

Introduced in 1959 as a replacement to the ES-225TD, the ES-330TD is the little one of the bunch made up of the ES-355, ES-345 and ES-335 models, the only one to still be equipped with the venerable P-90 single-coil pickups while the others had taken up the new humbucker pickups.

The example presented here comes from the first generation running from 1959 to 1962, more precisely from the second year of complete production (the ES-330TD appeared in the Gibson catalog in 1960). It condenses all of the model’s original features, which include a rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays, the rounded double cutaway that earned the body the nickname of “Mickey Mouse”, and its two original P-90 pickups with their black plastic covers (these will be replaced the following year by metallic covers). The dark sunburst still has the taste of the 1950s, and the serial number printed on the back of the headstock remains below 40,000, indicating the first months of use of the new serialisation system initiated by Gibson between February and March of the same year.

In 1961, only 542 of these two-pickup sunburst models left the Kalamazoo factory, for a price of $250 (the case was an extra, $13.25 for a basic cardboard case like the one given to this guitar). This figure of 542 represents a drop by half of shipments compared to the previous year, mainly due to the introduction of a new finish option, Cherry Red, which quickly became the most popular color for the entire ES-3XX range. The ES-330TD was in any case a greatly successful model, as evidenced by its production period spanning until the early 1970s – a longevity record for a Gibson hollowbody equipped with P-90s! All this for good reason: although grouped together with the 335, 345 and 355, all thinline models, the 330 is in fact a very different instrument: the body is entirely hollow, without the central block present on the other models, this which makes it significantly lighter and more resonant. This also led to another distinctive feature of the ES-330, that the neck-body junction is located at the 16th fret instead of the 19th in order to reinforce the joint, which necessarily influences the sensation when playing. The neck profile on this guitar is typical of the early 60s, thinner and flatter, a characteristic specific to this period. The headstock only has a simple Gibson logo inlaid in pearl, without any further decoration, the tuners are the original Kluson Deluxe with their round plastic buttons. Finally, we find the standard wiring with a 3-position pickup selector and a volume and tone control for each pickup. All of the electronics are original, perfectly unaltered over the 60 years of the guitar’s existence, as is all of the hardware. The Sunburst finish is superbly preserved, the varnish has barely detectable crackling, and more than minimal wear to the back of the neck. The condition of the guitar is nothing short of exceptional – so much so that no one has even attached a strap button to the heel of the neck! As soon as we plug it into to an amp, we immediately find all the raw sounds of the two P-90s which made the model a true icon in the 60s, alongside its twin produced by Epiphone, the Casino, in the hands of a Beatle or a Rolling Stone, a Chuck Berry or a young B.B. King – they’ve all been there!

The guitar has undergone a complete setup in our workshop, and is now in perfect playing condition. Sold in its original cardboard case.


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