ES-295 Guitars

1956 Gibson ES-295

Color: Sunburst, Rating: 8.50, Sold (ID# 00436)
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A Rare Original Sunburst ES-295!


1956 Gibson ES-295.

Yes, it really is an original Sunburst ES-295! This incredibly rare guitar weighs just 6.50 lbs. and has a very comfortable nut width of 1 11/16 inches and a standard Gibson scale length of 24 3/4 inches. Reminiscent of the ES-175, with the same sharp-edged single Florentine cutaway and pearl split-parallelogram inlays, this wonderful guitar has a 16-inch-wide laminated maple body, medium to thick mahogany neck, and rosewood fretboard with 20 frets. Headstock with inlaid pearl "Gibson" logo and pearl crown inlay. Individual Kluson Deluxe tuners with single-ring Keystone plastic buttons. Two hot white P-90 pickups with thumping outputs of 7.54k and 7.73k. Original clear plastic pickguard back-painted in cream and embossed with a gold floral design. Four controls (two volume, two tone) on lower treble bout plus three-way selector switch on upper bass bout. Gold plastic barrel-shaped "Speed" knobs. Les Paul combination trapeze bridge/tailpiece with strings looping over the bridge. With the original Gibson orange oval label inside the bass 'f' hole, with the style ("ES-295") written in black ink and the serial number ("A 23181") stamped in black. Inside the treble 'f' hole is the FON (factory order number) "V4910 22" stamped in black. This guitar is in excellent (8.50) condition, with some lacquer checking, a few small lacquer cracks, and a minimal amount of edge wear. At some time during the past fifty years this guitar was probably fitted with an ES-175 tailpiece and a "floating" wooden bridge. This is evidenced only under ultra-violet inspection and not visible to the naked eye. Many players would sometimes sacrifice the great "sustain" that the Les Paul trapeze tailpiece offered for the personal ease of playing and more accurate intonation of a conventional bridge. No extra holes would have been required for such a transition, and if we had not mentioned it, no one would ever know. Housed in the original Gibson brown hardshell case with purple plush lining (8.00). This guitar is one of a very few Sunburst ES-295s, most definitely a special order.

When we purchased this guitar, it had a later black plastic pickguard, but we managed to find an original one which had at one time been fitted on a three pick-up ES-5. We have now installed this pickguard on to the guitar.

"In 1952 Gibson introduced two models with gold finish. The hollowbody is essentially a fancy ES-175 with white pickup covers, a floral-painted pickguard, and gold-plated hardware. The trapeze-style combination bridge-tailpiece is the same as that of the gold-finish solidbody, the Les Paul Model, except that the strings wrap under the tailpiece on the Les Paul. The gold finish extends to the back, sides, and neck of the ES-295; the great majority of gold Les Pauls have gold finish on the top only. The ES-295 was discontinued in 1959" (George Gruhn and Walter Carter, Electric Guitars and Basses: A Photographic History, p. 71).

Gibson's brochures at the time boldly stated that "this instrument meets the demand for the slick action and sustaining power of a solid body guitar in a regular-size acoustic guitar." The lightweight ES-295 was adopted by a number of aspiring rockers among whom Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley's first guitarist, was undoubtedly the most famous.

All of the ES-295s were painted gold in the wake of the Les Paul Gold Top. They were fitted with a Les Paul-type trapeze bridge/tailpiece and a two pickup assembly which was completed by a volume and a tone control for each pick-up, while preselection was made by means of a three-position toggle switch.

We have never seen another Sunburst ES-295, other than the 1953 example (which had the original pickguard) at the Eric Clapton sale ("A Selection of Eric Clapton's Guitars in Aid of the Crossroads Centre") at Christie's New York on June 24, 1999, which fetched $24,150.

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