Gibson ES 345
Electric Guitar! With a Unique Varitone Switch
Gibson ES 345
Like most electric guitars in the ES series, the ES 345 has been reissued by the company a number of times since it was unceremoniously discontinued.
It makes you wonder why Gibson discontinued it in the first place.
The ES-345 was brought out in 1959 as an upgraded version of the ES-335. While this semi-hollowbody guitar’s design is very much like the 335, there’s one thing that makes it unique.
The ES-345 features a Varitone switch with multiple positions, located right above the volume and tone controls for the lead pickup.
Adjusting this switch adds different configurations of capacitors and coils to the circuit, changing its sound.
In the business, that’s called adding color, and it’s this added color that separates the ES-345 from its brother the ES-335.
Other features include gold-plated hardware, an optional stereo output jack, big parallelogram inlays in the fingerboard and an edge binding that’s thicker than on its older brother.
Reissues of this model are available, and the reviews are amazing.
People that own this guitar are proud.
Among the reissues a 2002 Gibson ES 345 Reissue that was fairly faithful to the original in most respects.
A number of Custom Shop limited editions have been based on this model, too.
While there’s nothing that really makes this electric guitar stand out from the rest, a number of musicians still swear by it.
One is American bluesman and rocker Elvin Bishop.
Like most players, he owns a variety of guitars and plays different ones for different gigs and sounds, but his workhorse is one of these.
Specifically, it’s a 1959 ES-345 that he has nicknamed “Red Dog”.
Bishop’s 2010 album “Red Dog Speaks” features the instrument.
Chuck Berry also played an ES-345, and so did George Harrison.
Gibson gave a left-handed version of this model to Jimi Hendrix, and B.B. King is associated with a number of ES models, including this one.
The ES, of course, stands for Electric Standard, a perhaps unnecessary attempt to indicate that these models are played in the traditional way, not held in the lap like a Hawaiian guitar.
A Spanish guitar is also called a classical guitar and is nothing more than a regular guitar held against the body and played with the hand in front of the instrument.
While the Gibson ES-345 isn’t intended for classical or Spanish music, it does a nice job on classic rock and roll -- and nothing plays the blues any better.
So forget what the ES really stands for and consider this an exceptionally satisfying instrument.
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