The Gibson Guitars

Welcome to Bozo's Gibson guitars web page... if this is not where you intended to go, please exercise the "Back" arrow to return from whence you came. Otherwise...

Surprisingly, I do not own a single Gibson acoustic guitar - even though I played one (LG-3) most of the time I was playing professionally. That guitar got traded in on my Yamaha FG-180 in 1966 when I bought it, new, from Westwood Music in LA. In the past few years I have played a few SJ-200s that impressed me a good deal but that was after the point where I had decided to stabilize the size of my collection.

The electric guitars, however, are well represented with Gibsons, primarily in the semi-hollowbody models. My single solidbody model is a 1977 Les Paul Custom which is stamped as a factory "second". Close inspection of the body reveals filled holes where the knob access points where mis-drilled. It's white finish has now turned a creamy yellow in color and I have installed push-pull tone/phase pots to add to the flexibility of tone (the original pots have been saved of course). In terms of playability, the ebony neck is very fast and easy to play; the sound is, well, pure Les Paul.

The weight of the Les Paul finally got to me (and my left shoulder) and, as I grew more fond of the blues, my attention turned to the semi-hollow body models. This was greatly influenced by some of my respected artists like B. B. King, Eric Clapton, Elvin Bishop and others as well as the comfortable feel of the thin body and neck profile of the Gibson ES models. The weight was less than the Les Paul and was better distributed due to the larger body size; then there was that mellow tone that could also be crunched up through the amp. It seemed a good fit for my changing musical tastes at the time.

My first semi-hollowbody Gibson was the 1965 ES-345 that I found while looking for a Telecaster for my friend, Bob Hynes in New Hampshire. We wandered into Daddy's Music in Portsmouth (?), NH and started poking around and I noticed this "odd" looking guitar hanging on the wall. I was not initially attracted to it as it was missing both the pickguard and the pickup covers. I did like the finish shading though (iced tea sunburst) and, while Bob was busy rummaging through the Fender selection I decided to see what the guitar played like. The neck was a little more rounded than the later models but it had a nice feel, nonetheless. While I didn't buy it that day, it weighed on my mind overnight and the following day and by Monday it was beginning to eat at my insides (GAS does that). By mid-week I had made the return trip to buy it and it became my main instrument for quite a while...

Never one to be satisified with having only a single model of guitar, my almost weekly tour through Manchester Music always included a scan of the guitar racks to see what new additions might be there. In January of 1979 I happened to be making my rounds when I noticed a dark walnut Gibson ES-335 that had just arrived. Being one of their "regulars" they offered to let me take it for a "test drive" in their back room and I readily accepted. That was all it took. The hook was set and the following days were filled with plans on how to afford a new addition to my already growing collection. Eventually, we came to a mutually-agreeable price and it became mine. Being a 1978 model, it had the super-slim neck that is so easy to navigate. Once difficult jazz chords suddenly became manageable; a new phase of music began.

At this point in my career I was also spending a great deal of time in NYC and was working a lot of evening and late-night hours, leaving me plenty of time during the day to wander through the music district - a bad combination. I would spend afternoon and lunch hours poking around Sam Ash or Manny's or any of the other, lesser-known shops in the district looking for that next real "find"; that's when I came across the 1967 Gibson ES-335-12. I had read about these in Guitar Player magazine and in interviews with Pete Townsend and John Entwhistle (now THERE was a collection...). They were only made for one year due to poor sales, maybe due to the fact that they did not utilize a wider neck to accommodate the additional strings, which makes for a tight fit for even the average-size hand. But if you have smaller hands, you're in like Flynn and can enjoy the power of 12-string tone without having to wish for additional length in the fingers and hand.

Years passed and I decided to return to Florida for health reasons (both mental and physical) but my interests in guitars still ran strong. I began noticing references to the Gibson ES-330 guitars. The price for early 335s was getting to be beyond my budget (had I only known then how high they would go I would have horded them!) so I began looking at the ES-330s more closely. The 330 is often referred to as the poor-man's 335 as it was a cheaper model that featured a shorter, 12-fret neck and no center block for sustain, making them more of a true hollowbody guitar; this also made them lighter. Since I rarely used the "rock&roll" frets above the 12th fret, the shorter neck and lighter weight made sense to me so I began looking in earnest for a good example of the 330.

During a visit to Fort Myers, Florida to play with my old college bandmate, Rail Guthrie, I stopped by Brent's Music to pick up some strings and saw a well-used, 1966, red ES-330 hanging at the far end of the wall. I took it down and began playing it without the aid of an amplifier and was surprised by the amount of sound generated by the thin body (due to the absence of the center sustain block). The neck was much like that of my ES-345 (above) in shape but, due to the shorter length was even easier to play! Needless to say, it left with me since, being well-used and missing the pickguard, the value was deemed to be low. I intended for this to be the ES model I would use to "play out" and, had I continued to do so, it would have been a good choice due to its low weight and playability.

After playing the '66 for a while I decided I'd really like to find an original, early 330 in very good to excellent condition. I located a 1959 model for sale at Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, TN in tobacco sunburst, complete and all original, and made the deal to have it shipped to me in Florida. It is a beauty and has given me hours of enjoyment both playing it and just looking at it - hopefully, you'll agree.

So concludes the tour of the Gibsons currently in my collection. Hope you've enjoyed taking it as much as I've enjoyed reliving the acquisition and playing of these examples. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.


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Changes last made on: Tuesday, March 11, 2009 at 1:23pm