Gibson ES-175 Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1952)

Gibson  ES-175 Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar  (1952)
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Item # 10031
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Gibson ES-175 Model Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1952), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # A-13194, sunburst lacquer finish, laminated maple body, mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, original brown tolex hard shell case.

This is a very nice example of an early 1950s ES-175, Gibson's classic "Working Man's" electric archtop guitar. The model was introduced in 1949 and quickly proved a very successful design, finding immediate acceptance for its excellent combination of sound and playability at a moderate price. Based on the factory order number ink-stamped inside this example was built in mid/late 1952. The "Artist" serial number on the white label indicates it shipped out in March 1953, one of 829; the model's all-time sales peak. The introduction of the double-pickup ES-175D around this time no doubt slowed sales of the single pickup model, but many jazz players then and now still consider this original one pickup 175 the all-time classic for that genre.

The 16" wide sunburst-finished laminated maple body is triple-bound on the front and single bound on the back. The rosewood fingerboard is single bound with split parallelogram fingerboard inlays. The headstock carries the pearl Gibson logo and crown inlay and Kluson Deluxe tuners with "keystone" buttons. The hardware includes a single P-90 pickup with a black plastic cover and volume and tone controls with numbered amber "hatbox" knobs. The standard Gibson rosewood adjustable bridge is fitted with a full-contact base. It also carries the earlier cast L-7 style tailpiece and a laminated black plastic pickguard.

This particular style ES-175 was used by far too many jazz guitar greats to count; in the 1950s and '60s Herb Ellis especially is often pictured with a guitar virtually identical to this one. This one is a gem, an excellent player with a couple of minor alterations but obviously well loved and cared for over nearly seven decades.
 
Overall length is 40 1/2 in. (102.9 cm.), 16 1/8 in. (41 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 3/8 in. (8.6 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

Overall this is a clean example showing only general light wear. The only exception is an area of top finish on the upper bass bout where someone likely had their initials attached to the top, probably in mailbox-style letters. Whoever removed them took small areas of finish away as well, so this upper quarter area has some fill in those spots and a light general overspray. This is not overly distracting but is visible, especially up close.

Other than this area the finish is very well preserved showing some typical minor lacquer checking and some dings, scrapes and dents. The pickguard and headstock show the most scuffing but really for a 68 year old guitar this one has survived better than many. The hardware remains original except for the tailpiece, which is a recent reproduction in the correct style. There were a couple of tiny shards of the original rattling around in the case indicating it sheared at the hinge as many do, and was likely discarded. The original laminated celluloid pickguard has cupped upwards a bit, also a common condition today.

The original slim fret wire shows some wear mostly in the lower positions, but not enough to affect playability. While the guitar was played over the years it looks to have been extremely well cared for along the way. This ES-175 plays and sounds exactly as it should, with the classic warm Gibson tone heard on countless recordings from the 1940s through today. Even considering the single blemished area of the top this is a very fine example of this classic vintage "jazz box" complete in an also nicely preserved original brown HSC. Overall Excellent - Condition.