Gibson ES-150N Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1953)

Gibson  ES-150N Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar  (1953)
$7,500.00 + shipping
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Item # 11827
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Gibson ES-150N Model Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1953), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # Y7023-10 (FON), natural lacquer finish, laminated maple body, mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, original brown hard shell case.

Here is a really lovely 1953 Gibson that technically shouldn't exist, an original natural finish ES-150. In the 1950s this venerable arch-top model was only offered in sunburst, but apparently just about 70 years ago someone got their Gibson dealer to order one in a gleaming natural finish. This sort of custom variation is unusual although not unheard of, but we have never encountered another ES-150N like this. It is a simple but elegant instrument, less fancy than the more expensive Gibsons offered stock as "blondes' but no less classy. As a bonus, there is paperwork in the case indicating it was sent back to Gibson for a minor jack repair in 1981 incidentally confirming it as an "ES-150N" in original natural finish.

The ES-150 in general is where the Kalamazoo company's professional-grade electric guitars began. The postwar 1950's version is not an overly flashy piece but a solidly classy instrument with typical Gibson features for the era. It is built on a full-depth 17" non-cutaway all-maple body, usually finished out with a dark sunburst top. Besides the inch-wider body, the long 25 1/2" scale bound fingerboard with pearloid block markers and beveled-edge black pickguard also set it above the generally similar but "amateur" grade ES-125. The mahogany neck has the lovely round-backed profile typical of '50's Gibsons.

The single P-90 pickup at the neck position is wired to tone and volume controls topped by the numbered gold-tinged clear plastic knobs characteristic of 1953. This offers that classic 1950's warm Gibson purr that made (and still makes) for a classic 1950s electric archtop sound. The rosewood adjustable bridge, floating laminated B/W/B pickguard and nickel plated tailpiece are typical Gibson fittings for the time. The tuners are individual Kluson Deluxe machines with plastic buttons.

Full-body, non cutaway instruments like this lost favor in the increasingly loud 1960's but many modern players have rediscovered their charms for today's lower-volume playing environments. While the ES-150 in general is not a particularly rare guitar, even the standard sunburst version was sold in much smaller numbers than the "amateur" grade ES-150. 474 ES-150s are listed as shipped in 1954 but this guitar may have been logged separately as a one-off. With its 17" maple body in an ambered natural finish this is a truly lovely instrument, very different looking than the rather somber standard sunburst examples. It is also a very fine playing and sounding guitar; if not one of Gibson's more versatile 1950s offerings it still "does what it does" perfectly, looking splendid in the bargain.
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 3/4 in. (44 mm.).

This special ordered instrument was obviously very well cared for and remains beautifully preserved overall, showing just some light wear and the factory repairs to the jack area and back/rim seam. The original finish is quite clean, showing some typical checking and light general wear including scuffing and scattered very small dings, scrapes and dents. The heaviest wear is to the headstock edges.

There is visible repair to the instrument is a small patch in the jack area, done at the Gibson factory in 1981. The original paperwork documenting this is still in the case, the factory warning the work "will still show with natural finish". That is true, the result is a small visible rectangular section patched in around the jack. The factory invoice also notes "glue size checks in back near bass rim" but little visual evidence of this remains. They also invoiced finish touch ups in these spots which are not readily visible now. The total cost was $253.50, billed on 2/6/81.

All the hardware remains original except for replacement buttons on the original tuners. The original frets have been taken down just a bit in the lower positions and show almost no subsequent wear. The instrument plays beautifully and sounds as it did in 1953, a lovely and truly unique period piece and a great guitar of its type. It is housed in an also superbly preserved original brown Gibson HSC. Overall Excellent Condition.