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ES-5 Switchmaster - Factory Bigsby B7 'Long-Arm' Guitars

1960 Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster - Factory Bigsby B7 'Long-Arm'

Color: Sunburst, Rating: 9.25, $18,500.00 (ID# 02207)
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A 1960 Factory Bigsby ES-5 Switchmaster

 

1960 Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster - Factory Bigsby B7 'Long-Arm'

 

This super 17-inch-wide and 3 1/2 inch deep electric archtop guitar weighs just 8.20 lbs. Lightly flamed laminated maple body and sides, Two piece lightly flamed maple neck with a mahogany center strip and a nut width of just under 1 11/16 inches, a full-size scale length of 25 1/2 inches, and a wonderful medium neck profile gently rising from 0.83 behind the first fret to 0.88 inches behind the ninth fret. Rosewood fretboard with a pointed end, 20 jumbo frets and inlaid pearl block position markers. The body of the guitar has five-ply binding on the top and back, the headstock is single-bound, the fretboard is single-bound and has two lines (like an L5) down the sides, and the f-holes are single-bound. Single-bound, black-laminate headstock with inlaid pearl "Gibson" logo and pearl crown inlay. Two-layer black over white plastic truss-rod cover secured by two screws. Black-painted headstock rear with widow's peak. Individual Grover Roto-Matic tuners with half-moon metal buttons. Three PAF 'double-black' pickups with black plastic surrounds and outputs of 7.75k, 8.04k, and 8.40k. Five-layer black over white plastic pickguard with bevelled edge. Six controls (three volume, three tone) on lower treble bout and one four-way selector switch on treble horn. Six gold plastic bell-shaped "Bell" knobs and 'Telecaster' style black plastic switch tip. ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic non-retainer bridge with metal saddles on rosewood base and factory Bigsby B7 'long-arm' vibrato unit secured to the top by two screws and to the lower-edge by three screws and a cream plastic strap-pin. Oval orange label inside the bass f-hole with the style "ES-5 Switchmaster" in black ink and the serial number "A 33902" stamped in black. All hardware (except aluminum Bigsby unit) gold-plated. This guitar is in near mint (9.25) condition. The top of the guitar is has some light bird's eye figuring, and the back of the guitar is lightly flamed. This guitar has hardly ever been played during its sixty-one years… the frets show very little signs of wear and there are just two tiny 'divots' on the fretboard at the second position. There is one tiny little 'ding' (smaller than a match-head) on the treble-side of the body and a few miniscule 'marks/dings' on the back of the neck, mainly on the heel. Housed in it's original 'Gibson' Lifton four-latch brown hardshell case with padded tan felt lining (8.50).

Note: When we purchased this guitar we noticed from inside the treble 'f' hole that the lead from the potentiometer to the neck pickup had been spliced in a somewhat 'amateur' manner… we sent the guitar to our Master Luthier Scott Lentz who checked all of the wiring and confirmed that the neck PAF is original to the guitar. Scott then professionally redid the splice. (DJB)

In 1949, Gibson upstaged the growing number of competitors who were joining the electric guitar industry by launching the very first instrument to be fitted with three pickups. Where other makers were content with the traditional complement of one or two pickups, Gibson felt that its new ES-5 would lead the market in electronic munificence. Before long, it became apparent that the original ES-5 was not as controllable as many players might like, as it had no pickup switching. So in 1956 Gibson issued the ES-5 with redesigned electronics, as the ES-5 Switchmaster. The supreme electronic version of the famed Gibson L-5, the ES-5 Electric Spanish Guitar combined the acclaimed features of the L-5 with the finest method of electronic guitar amplification. Three separately controlled, adjustable, magnetic pickups reproduce the full, rich tones and harmonics to make the ES-5 truly "the instrument of a thousand voices."

"Originally dubbed the 'supreme electronic version' of the L-5, the ES-5 came out in mid-1949 and was arguably the first electric Spanish guitar ever produced with three pickups. In 1955 the model was equipped with a more elaborate circuitry which brought about the Switchmaster designation...At the end of 1957 the ES-5 Switchmaster was upgraded with humbucking [PAF] pickups" (A.R. Duchossoir, Gibson Electrics -- The Classic Years, pp. 166-167). Despite its phenomenal characteristics, the ES-5 Switchmaster was considerably less expensive at $475.00 than its cousin, the Super 400 CES which sold then at a huge $675.00.

Many of the great old rock 'n rollers played a Switchmaster, including one of the greatest rockers of all time -- Carl Perkins.

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