ES-345TD Guitars

1960 Gibson ES-345TD

Color: Sunburst, Rating: 9.25, $19,500.00 (ID# 02066)
Call to Inquire: (818) 222-4113


A Superb Late 1960 ES-345TD with a Birds-Eye Maple Back


1960 Gibson ES-345TD


This near mint guitar is the lightest ES-345 that we have seen weighing just 7.80 lbs. Laminated maple top, a laminated birds-eye maple back, and mahogany stained sides, with a maple central block. One-piece mahogany neck with a nut width of just under 1 11/16 inches (1.67 inches), a very fast thin neck profile (0.79 inches behind the first fret to just 0.87 inches behind the twelfth), and a standard Gibson scale length of 24 3/4 inches. Bound rosewood fretboard with 22 original jumbo frets and inlaid pearl split-parallelogram position markers (no inlay at the 1st fret, as usual). Headstock with inlaid pearl "Gibson" logo and pearl crown inlay. Two-layer, black over white plastic, bell-shaped truss-rod cover with "Stereo" engraved in white, secured by two screws. Individual Kluson Deluxe 'single-line' tuners with single-ring Keystone plastic buttons, each stamped on the underside "D-169400 / Patent No". The body is triple-bound (white/black/white) on the top and single-bound (white) on the back. Two 'PAF' double-black humbucking pickups with outputs of 7.80k and 7.30k, each with just the bare remains of the rectangular black label on the underside with "Patent Applied For" in gold. The original black plastic pickup "rings" are stamped underneath "MR 491" and "M-69 7" (neck pickup) and "MR 490" and "M-69 8" (bridge pickup). Five-layer black over white plastic 'long' pickguard with beveled edge. Four controls (two volume, two tone) plus three-way selector switch for pickup selection and six-position Varitone rotary switch for tonal settings. Gold plastic bell-shaped "Bell" knobs with metal tops and a gold circular plate with the numbers in black around the Varitone switch. ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic non-retainer bridge with metal saddles and Stud-Bar tailpiece. All hardware gold-plated. With the original Gibson orange oval label inside the bass f-hole, the style "ES-345TD" written in black ink and the serial number "A 35887" stamped in black. The Gibson FON (factory order no.) "R 7430 28" is stamped in black inside the treble f-hole. This guitar has been expertly re-fretted with 0.10 fretwire. There are three very small 'divots' in the rosewood fretboard by the first three frets where the previous owned has apparently just played the 'E' chord. There is minimal tarnishing to the stud tail and the pickup covers, and the gold paint has mostly worn away from the varitone selector switch. Otherwise this fifty-eight year old beauty is in near mint (9.25) condition and features a rather nice birds-eye pattern on the back. Housed in the original Gibson five-latch, shaped black hardshell case with orange plush lining (9.50).

According to the Gibson shipping records just 251 Sunburst, 252 Cherry and 18 Natural finish ES-345TD were made in 1960…

With the following "case candy": 1. "Now, Complete Directions for Achieving Perfect Stereo Sound" (one page); 2. "Operational Instructions for Gibson Vari-Tone Guitar (one page); 3. "Humbucking Pickup Instructions" (one page); 4. "Gibson Guitars [&] Amplifiers. (forty-four page catalog dated May 1960); 5. "Gibson thin-body guitars feel just right" (one page); 6. "Professionals Attention" Gibson hang-tag; 7. The original manilla envelope for the case key; 8. The original brown leather, padded guitar strap; 9. An original group of six Gibson Mona-Steel Strings in their original envelopes; 10. An original box of six Gibson Mona-Steel Strings in their original envelopes.

In general the ES-345 is not as popular as it's less adorned ES-335 stable-mate. One of the key reasons for this is the perceived 'extra-weight' of the Varitone transformer… and the 'superfluous' sounds of the Varitone switch (other than position # 1 which is 'straight-through'. In reality the weight on this example is a very minor issue: we have had twenty-three 1959-1964 examples over the years and the weight range was 7.80-9.50 pounds (this guitar at 7.80 pounds weighs exactly the same as a 1959 example that we sold several years ago - that was the lightest ES-345 that we had seen to date…) We have also had seventeen 1960-1963 ES-355's (even more adorned - and with factory Bigsby or Gibson vibrato's) weighing between 8.50 and 9.80 pounds. We have had twenty-three 1958-1964 ES-335's and their weight range was 7.30-8.70 pounds (nine of these weighed between 8.00 and 8.20 pounds). So this ES-345 at 7.80 pounds is only 0.50 of a pound heavier than the lightest ES-335 that we have handled and 'well below the average of a typical '60 ES-345… We personally like the 'stereo' set-up and the additional variety of the Varitone, where a stereo jack goes into two separate amplifiers - but for those who don't, it is a very simple matter of plugging the two leads into one amplifier and setting the Varitone switch to #1 - this quite simply is the ES-335 sound at half the price of a comparable ES-335…

"The new electric with stereo and Vari-Tone circuitry was given a sneak preview in the March-April 1959 issue of the Gazette describing the ES-355T. It was then announced as the ES-345T, not only because it was pitched -- cosmetically and price-wise -- as an intermediate model between the 335 and the 355, but also because it originally retailed for $345.00 in sunburst finish. Besides the Vari-Tone switch, double parallelogram inlays on the fretboard were retained as a distinctive feature of the 345 compared to the existing semi-solid thinlines. The 345 was at first made available in sunburst and natural finish only, but by mid-1960 the selection was enlarged with the addition [of] two other colours: cherry red and Argentine gray" (A.R. Duchossoir, Gibson Electrics -- The Classic Years, p. 81).

"Exciting to play, thrilling to hear! This new Gibson can produce any sound you've ever heard from any guitar. The 'Vari-tone' selector switch...produces 18 separate sounds and creates hundreds of voices when coupled with tone controls. Though marvelously versatile, it is uncomplicated...may be used with stereophonic, monaural, or two-channel amplifier. The double cut-away thin body construction brings you the finest sustain and tone color with Gibson's low, fast, professional string action" (leaflet announcing the ES-345T stereo guitar, illustrated on p. 81 of A.R. Duchossoir, Gibson Electrics -- The Classic Years, p. 81).

"The ES-345 was Gibson's first stereo guitar. It had a circuit that, when connected to a suitable 'Y'-cable, would split the pickups to two individual amplifiers, creating a wide if not strictly stereo spread. It also had a Varitone six-way tone selector. By 1963...the 335 family was priced as follows: the sunburst 335 was $300 ($315 in cherry); sunburst 345 was $395 ($410 cherry); and mono 355 was $595 ($645 with stereo and Varitone)" (Tony Bacon, The History of the American Guitar from 1833 to the Present Day, p. 105).

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