Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Gibson ES 350

It's s been a very long time since I posted something on my Blog. As a matter of fact this is the first post of the year. Not sure why that is, it just happened. So I have some catching up to do. I have had this wonderful Gibson ES 350 for half a year and have not even shared that fact here.               


Ever since I first listened to Tal's 1950s trio recordings in the mid 90s I have been in love with this model. Those woody and punchy bebop sounds just blew me away ... The guitar that Tal played at the time was featured prominently on the cover of his album "The Swinging Guitar of ..."and it was a Gibson ES 350. In the early 60s Gibson used the ES 350 as a blue print for his own signature model "The Gibson Tal Farlow", a model I have written on several times earlier. Still, the 350 remained a dream guitar for me for decades. I noticed they were expensive and very rare - especially in Europe - and therefore I settled on a beautiful 1947 Gibson ES 300 a few years ago. I did not think I would ever own a 350 and the 300 was close enough for me.

And of course, only a year later there she was ... After not having seen a 350 in my country for sale for over 20 years - a 300 is rare enough in these parts - I got a message from the owner of the Guitar Company that he was willing to part with his personal guitar, a blonde 1952 ES 350. I knew the guitar because I had already played it when I obtained the ES 300 from him. At that time it was not for sale because it was in his personal collection.

I was generously allowed to try out the 350 for a week and after a lot of thinking I decided to take the plunge and bought it. I have had it for over six months now and have sold the 300 in the meantime. The 350 is a dream come true and ... mine is a blonde to boot!

Let's go back to the model itself. After the war. The ES 300 was Gibson's top model in the ES series. The ES-350 was introduced in 1947 as a cutaway version of the ES-300. When this instrument was made a cutaway was still a novel offering; all of Gibson's (and basically everyone else's) previous electrics were built on non-cutaway bodies. As players figured out that amplification made those notes up the fingerboard more musically useful, the cutaway became a defining feature of a professional guitar in the 1950s. In many ways, this instrument set the standard for the "Gibson look" of that era.

Originally the ES 350 featured a single P-90 pickup and a trapeze tailpiece. It was called the ES 350 Premier. A second P-90 was added in 1948, and a switch to a Tune-o-matic bridge was made in 1956.

Let's have a look at the specs of the 350 over its 10 year career. The model was discontinued in 1956 and was then replaced by the ES 350t.

Body Material: Laminated maple body and top, full-depth 17-inch/21″ long. Neck Material: Two piece maple neck with walnut center strip. Fingerboard Material: Brazilian Rosewood with double parallelogram inlays. It seems a few 350s with spruce tops were made too but these are even rarer.

  1. 1947 ES 350 Premier:1 P-90 pickup, trapeze tailpiece with pointed ends and 3 raised parallelagrams, laminated beveled-edge pickguard, triple bound top and back, single bound peghead and fingerboard, double-parallelagram fingerboard inlays, crown peghead inlay, gold plated parts, sunburst or natural finish.
  2. 1948 ES-350 specs:2 P-90 pickups, 2 volume knobs on lower treble bout, master tone knob on cutaway bout.
  3. 1952 ES-350 specs:standard Gibson 2-PU knob configuration of 2 volume knobs and two tone knobs and a 3-way switch.
  4. 1956 ES-350 specs:Tune-o-matic bridge. 

Mine is a gorgeous blonde1952 with 2 P90 pups and with the master tone knob on the cutaway bout and the 2 volume knobs on the lower bout. 67 blonde ES 350 have left the Gibson factory in 1952 so it's a pretty rare bird.                                                   

I have made quite a few recordings with it over the last months. Below is my latest vid. I ran the 350 through my Mambo 10 amp and added some reverb later. All EQ on both the guitar and the amp were set flat.