Gibson ES-300N Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1947-8)

Gibson  ES-300N Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar  (1947-8)
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Item # 10844
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Gibson ES-300N Model Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1947-8), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, natural lacquer finish, laminated maple body; mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, brown hard shell case.

This lovely ES-300 in gleaming natural maple is very redolent of its era, the late 1940s when music everywhere was becoming ever more electrified. After WWII the Gibson company was just getting back to full time instrument production, and this modernized ES-300 was one of their first new signature designs. The ES-300 was the finest non-cutaway electric in their line, basically the same layout as the acoustic L-7 except the 17" wide, full depth body was constructed entirely of laminated maple. The ES-350 was the same instrument with a rounded cutaway on the body. Both were fitted with the new post-war P-90 pickup, an instant classic and still in wide use today.

This fairly rare natural finish ES-300N has unfortunately lost its white label with the serial number, and we can find no legible FON (factory order number) to pin down an exact date. It's pretty academic as the specific features date this guitar to between mid-1947 and late 1948. The headstock has the first post-war block Gibson script logo with a joined dot on the headstock, with the first postwar Kluson individual tuners (predating the familiar covered Deluxe) sporting the now-familiar plastic "keystone" buttons. The single pickup is the earlier style "narrow coil' P-90, the volumes and tone knobs are amber "hatbox" style without numbers and the nickel plated tailpiece is the same cast unit as the L-7. The adjustable rosewood bridge is a typical Gibson fittings. In late 1948 the ES-300 was fitted with a second pickup, so this more austere example dates before then.

The lightly ambered natural finish body shoes figure in the maple, particularly some fancy burl on the back. Both edges are three-ply celluloid bound, the fingerboard and headstock single-bound. The rosewood fretboard features the double parallelogram inlay that became a post-war Gibson trademark, usually seen paired with the "crown" headstock inlay. The round profile neck is fairly chunky but thinner back-to-front than typical wartime production.

Most likely less than 200 of these natural-finish, single pickup ES-300s were ever made in a short span from 1946-'48. While showing some old repair work this is a very cool player with that classic 1940-50s Gibson jazz/blues guitar feel and sound. Combining a single P-90 pickup and non-cutaway maple body it is not the most versatile of electrics offers up that signature "classic jazz" straight amplified tone, easily pushed to a deep growl that can get quite raunchy if cranked through the right amp!
Overall length is 42 in. (106.7 cm.), 17 in. (43.2 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 3/8 in. (8.6 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 25 1/2 in. (648 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This guitar remains quite clean for its age, but shows some old repair and restoration, fortunately nothing too conspicuous. The finish overall has typical checking; the only area with really notable play wear is the back of the neck, which has a number of small dings and dents. The headstock edges have small chips and dings. The remainder of the finish has only very minor dings, dents and scratches. The finish on the top and neck remain original; the entire back has a light overfinish/polish out which looks like it was done to renew a decent size area of wear in the center, which now appears slightly darker to the naked eye.

The sides have some very old finish work, related to what appears to be the replacement of a section of the lower treble side from the apex of the lower bout to the tail end center seam. This repair is re-inforced internally and is very neatly done, appearing to quite likely be factory work. Ironically this area of the lower side has some subsequent stress cracks on the laminate, well below the jack area, so perhaps the guitar once belonged to someone who was prone to dropping it! None of this is an ongoing issue, but these later cracks are plainly visible.

The rest of the guitar remains crack free, but there is one really odd alteration; the forward end of the lower F-hole has been neatly enlarged just below the ball. We can't say why this was done, it appears again many decades old. Perhaps someone wanted to be able to more easily remove the electronic rig for servicing, we can see no other reason. Fortunately this is completely hidden by the pickguard, which is a very nicely done correct repro, the original appearing tom have outgassed long ago. All other hardware remains original including pickup, knobs, bridge, tailpiece and tuners. A later strap button has been added to the heel.

A slightly complicated repair history aside this nearly 75 year old guitar presents very well and appears to the casual eye all original and very clean. It has been neatly refretted with appropriate wire so plays and sounds great. It is housed in a very early pink-lined brown HSC, moderately worn but still functional. Like all else about this ES-300, it is a trip back to the end of the swing era when the electric guitar was about to take over the world! Overall Excellent - Condition.