1960 Gibson ES-345TD Cherry (# A 353XX)
Here’s a superb playing and sounding early 345, built in Kalamazoo during the second half of 1960. Both the serial number and the pot dates support this production date. During this period PAF pickups were still used for the thinline models. The necks however became slimmer and reflector knobs were introduced.
The stock Bigsby has been removed a long time ago and was replaced with a stop bar . Previous owner(s) also fitted Schallers and added something near the bridge (I am guessing a midi pickup). Also, the bridge PAF pickup has been opened and its magnets were reversed for mono use. This is probably why its sticker has been lost. The original Varitone circuitry had been removed as well.
We did our utmost best to restore this instrument to its former glory, both in looks and playability, featuring almost exclusively original parts and hardware. We had an expert refinisher touch up a few marks that were somewhat distracting to the overall look. This was done very carefully and conservatively, with an absolute minimum of sanding not to disturb the vintage patina. The Bigsby ‘Snakebite” and Schaller mounting screw-holes were also touched up.
We’ve sourced golden Kluson single-line tuners from the late ‘50s to replace the Schallers. We also found an original early Varitone circuitry. The wiring harness was removed from the guitar to refit the Varitone and verify the CTS date codes. After replacing a few plastic wires with original style wire the restored harness was refitted. For practical use we decided to keep the guitar mono, so the mid position makes the best of the dual PAF’s in parallel (instead of the weak, nasal sound from out-of-phase pickups in a stereo Gibson guitar). This is the same wiring as a similar era Mono ES-355. Also, we were able to source an original period-correct case for the guitar.
Setup with .010 strings, this guitar plays great and sounds glorious, both acoustically and plugged in. The PAFs sound very rich with great detail played clean and remain so with overdrive added. The Varitone’s effect is just a bit more conservative than recent ones but this actually makes it more usable and delivers some great additional filtered tones.
- Materials: mahogany neck, laminated maple back and sides, Brazilian rosewood fretboard
- Tuners: original late ‘50s Kluson single-line tuners, gold
- Bridge: original no wire gold Tune-O-Matic
- Stop bar: probably late ‘60s (added later)
- Bridge pickup: Gold PAF, DCR = 8.84k, opened and magnets flipped, sticker is missing
- Neck pickup: Gold PAF, DCR = 7.73k, unopened, sticker intact
- Pickup rings: original vintage rings with M69 codes
- Potentiometer codes: 1436027 for all pots (wk27/1960)
- Knobs: original gold reflector
- Varitone: original vintage, early production
- Neck depth: 0.864"(2,19cm) thick @ first fret, 0.884" (2,25cm) @ 12th fret.
- Topnut width: 43.2mm
- Frets: original wide/flat
- Nut: original bone
- Case: original ’60 case, black w/gold interior
- Modification/restoration: Bigsby replaced by a stop bar a long time ago. Minor lacquer touch-ups to hide or dull up some blemishes and screw holes on the top and the rear of the headstock. Refitted original Varitone, some wires off harness replaced. Repro Varitone disc and truss rod cover.