Tal Farlow Guitars

1964 Gibson Tal Farlow

Color: Viceroy Brown, Rating: 9.25, Sold (ID# 01280)
Call to Inquire: (818) 222-4113


A Wonderful Tal Farlow - Signed by Tal Farlow on the Pickguard


1964 Gibson Tal Farlow


This wonderful guitar weighs just 7.10 lbs. and has a nut width of 1 11/16 inches and a scale length of 25 1/2 inches. Viceroy Brown finish on lightly flamed laminated maple top reinforced with two parallel braces, lightly flamed laminated maple back and sides. Three-piece 'flamed' maple neck with two mahogany center strips, a very fast thin-to-medium profile and bound rosewood fretboard with 20 original jumbo frets and inlaid pearl crest-like position markers (similar to reverse J-200 inlays). Triple binding on top and bottom edges, single-bound f-holes and scroll inlay in cutaway horn. Unique Super-400 style long headstock with Inlaid pearl "Gibson" and pearl double crown inlay. "Custom" on truss-rod cover. Black-painted headstock rear face with serial numver "175343" stamped in blind. Individual Grover Super Rotomatic tuners with 'art deco' stairstep-shaped metal buttons with adjustable tension. Orange oval label inside the bass f-hole with the style "Tal Farlow" and serial number "175343" written in black ink. Two humbucking pickups (each with a small black rectangular label on the underside with "Patent No. / 2,737,842" in gold) with outputs of 7.66k and 8.12k. Specifically shaped single-bound tortoiseshell pickguard with four points. Four controls (two volume, two tone) plus three-way selector switch, all on lower treble bout. Unique brown plastic bell-shaped knobs with metal tops (matching the Viceroy Brown finish). Gibson Tune-O-Matic retainer bridge with rosewood base and nylon saddles. Trapeze tailpiece with pointed ends and three small raised parallelograms, featuring a rosewood insert with a pearl-inlaid nameplate. A special factory ordered example with the following 'Custom' features: 1. large "Super 400" style headstock with three layer black/white/black truss-rod cover with "Custom" engraved in white; 2. Grover Super Rotomatic with 'art deco' stairstep-shaped metal buttons with adjustable tension; 3. All hardware chrome plated to match the 'Super Rotomatics'. A near mint (9.25++) example.

Complete with two photographs of Tal Farlow holding the guitar, a photograph of the guitar signed in black marker by Tal Farlow, an autograph note from Tal Farlow "Always Keep Playing and / Enjoying the Guitar. With / Best Wishes Always! / Tal Farlow", and a spare pickguard signed in gold marker "Tal Farlow". Housed in the original Gibson black hardshell case with orange plush lining (9.25).

"Talmadge Holt FARLOW came to prominence in the jazz world when he joined the Red Norvo trio in late 1949. Between 1953 and 1959 he recorded over half a dozen albums in his own name and won Down Beat's 'new star award' in 1954 and 'critics poll award' in 1956. In jazz circles, he earned the nickname 'Octopus' thanks to the large hands that allowed him to race across the fingerboard with plenty of drive and virtuosity. Farlow was a Gibson player and supporter who had used mostly a dual pickup ES-350 throughout the 50s. He therefore did not have to change his endorsement before agreeing to have a namesake Gibson model. Although he was contacted before [Johnny] Smith and [Barney] Kessel, his artist model was only introduced in Summer 1962. By then, however, he had decided to go (provisionally) into semi-retirement...The specification of the TAL FARLOW MODEL were finalised in early 1961, but the instrument did not go into full production until late 1962. Structurally, it was patterned after the full body ES-350, albeit slightly thinner, and was characterised by a distinctive scroll purfling in the cutaway, a unique pickguard shape, reverse J-200 inlays on the fingerboard and a double crown inlay on the peghead. It was fitted with a pair of standard humbuckers with nickel-plated covers, and the tailpiece was enhanced with a pearl nameplate. Another distinctive touch came in the form of an exclusive Viceroy Brown sunburst finish, otherwise similar  to a light brown sunburst shading. At $535.00 the Tal Farlow artist model was pitched slightly below with Kessel Custom. But it did not show the same longevity as it was eventually discontinued in 1967, barely 5 years after being introduced. Unlike Barney Kessel, though, Tal Farlow remained faithful to his namesake guitar when he chose to return to a more active career as a guitarist in the 70s" (A.R. Duchossoir, Gibson Electrics -- The Classic Years, p. 99).

"Up to 1965 a total of 159 TF models were shipped and eventually only 215 guitars were shipped during the 1962-1967 period" (A.R. Duchossoir, Gibson Electrics -- The Classic Years, p. 188).

"Talmadge Farlow (1921-1998) came from humble roots in North Carolina to become one of the most accomplished and admired guitarists in jazz history. Combining blinding speed with his extraordinary reach, Tal pushed the limits of the instrument to the scariest of bop tempos. Throughout the 50's Tal played the popular ES-350 model, a long scale guitar dimensionally identical to the L-5CES but with greater feedback resistance. In 1962, Gibson revived the 350 with humbucking pickups, ornate woods, and custom inlays drawn from the J-200 and other historic models. Christened the Tal Farlow model, this guitar became an instant classic. Produced in very limited quantities, the Tal Farlow remains one of the most collectible Gibson archtops of the postwar era, with pristine specimens fetching up to $10K on the vintage market. Demand for these remarkable guitars was so strong, and supply so limited, that Gibson revived the model in 1993, and it remains in production to this day" (1998 Gibson Tal Farlow at

"What a gathering! This was at Tom’s River, New Jersey, at the home of Scott Chinery, who supposedly, and I have no reason to doubt it, has the largest guitar collection in the world. I’ve never seen so many guitars in my life. Gibson, D’Angelico, Stromberg, mostly all vintage stuff. He commissioned different guitar makers to do a blue collection, and all of them were done in blue finish. They were some really nice guitars. A lot of famous guitarists were on hand too.  I got to meet one of my idols, Tal Farlow. That was a real treat for me. He’s got fingers about four feet long!"  Scotty Moore December, 1996

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