Sunday, November 29, 2020

1952 Gibson ES 350 versus 1998 Gibson Tal Farlow

My last entry from august was about the vintage ES 350 that I purchased last winter. I have always been fascinated by this model ever since I heard Tal Farlow's classic trio recordings from the mid 1950s. 
We all know that Tal designed his own "Gibson Tal Farlow"signature model in the early 1960s in collaboration with the Gibson company. It was modeled after the ES 350 that he had played until that time. 

I have owned a Gibson Tal Farlow for 15 years and always loved it. At the time it was the closest I could get to a vintage Gibson ES 350, a model which was pretty rare in Europe and totally unaffordable for me at the time. 

Back to the present day. So I have had the 350 - the "original Tal Farlow" one could say - since early spring and have made several recordings with it already. It is of a much lighter build than my Tal - which is very typical of 1950s ES guitars -  and therefore more resonant. It actually has a very nice acoustic sound for a laminate guitar. The Tal is heavier and of a stiffer build but .... still sounds great plugged in. Of course the question I have always asked myself is "how does my (contemporary) Tal Farlow compare with the "real" thing, my 1950s ES 350? 

Firstly, one has to consider the fact that the Tal's specs are not exactly the same as the 350's. The body of Tal's signature model is of a heavier build, is slightly less deep and it has humbuckers whereas the 350 is fitted with P90 pick ups. There is a wooden bridge on the 350 and the Tal has a TOM. Secondly, one could argue that sound is "in the fingers" and that the same player will sound more or less the same on different guitars. And then there is the "vintage" thing, old woods dried in the open versus later oven dried woods and different production methods ... There are many variables in the equation that probably make it impossible to isolate the influence of one particular variable. All that is true. Still, it is very interesting to me and fun really to find out how they sound in a side by side comparison. 

I recorded both guitars through my Mambo 10 jazz amp with the same settings and with all EQ flat, both on the guitars and the amp. I have the same strings on them (0.12 TI Jazz swings) and I used the same pick even. I was especially interested in tonal differences in a bop style of playing so I went for single lines over a loop on the progression of "Some Day My Prince Will Come."

Tell me what you think. From listening to the tracks, I think that Gibson did a very good job on the re-issue Gibson Tal Farlow. The differences are there yes, but the similarities in sound are even more prominent. Amazingly so really, 1952 versus 1998 ... O yeah, for a realistic assessment use some real speakers dudes ... 


  1. Gibson did a very good job indeed. I still prefer the sound of the ES-350. Is the sound more creamy? Nonetheless, I must do it with my ES-165 from 1992. These guitars are much too expensive for me. Great job, Dutchbopper!

  2. I was surprised that in a blind listening through a reasonable quality speaker the signature model sounded a little closer to the classic Tal sound to my ears.

    On a related note: the recording engineers back in the 50’s did a great job capturing that characteristic sound of Tal’s playing - especially considering they were using relatively “primitive” analogue technology.

    1. It’s hard to draw any real conclusions. I recorded the guitars with all EQ flat. Tal used a different amp, probably used different settings etc. etc. The guitars are close on this particular recording of mine though.

  3. Thanks, Dutch, the Tel seems to me a bit brighter on firsts rings and less profound on the last than the original 350. Do you think so ?

    Nicolas RUBEL

  4. I'm surprised at how similar they sound! I like the Tal a little better, which also surprised me. The humbuckers make it sound just a bit broader, fatter.

  5. Interesting comparison. You sold me on the Tal years ago and one of the reason is, it is damn close to Tal's tone by itself. Listening now to them played in such a context, makes it even more obvious Gibson truly did a great job to find a recipe that works. Reminds me you were demoing an original Tal (1964 I think), I know it is far but would that one be even closer to your 350 then the 1998? Vintage Gibson from the '50s or even '60s have a certain resonance absent in the later heavier build. Conclusion, the Tal was until recently the best value in modern Gibson in my book, that comparison makes it even more true. Since Tals are now no longer produced, they will just gain more in value but still be much more affordable than a real 350 from the '50s

  6. Thank you for sharing interesting post. Please visit this Cheap and Affordable Guitar Price for more information.

  7. Harrah's Casino - MapYRO
    Harrah's is a hotel 영천 출장샵 and casino located in Henderson, NV. The 안산 출장샵 casino's 15 table 문경 출장마사지 games range from traditional 계룡 출장샵 slots, blackjack, roulette and 남원 출장샵 video poker to slots,