Gibson ES-350N Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1954)

Gibson  ES-350N Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar  (1954)
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Item # 12125
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Gibson ES-350N Model Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1954), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # A-17030, natural lacquer finish, laminated maple body and neck, laminated spruce top; rosewood fingerboard, original brown hard shell case.

This is a super vibey example of a rare spruce-top variation of the 1950s blonde ES-350N, showing a lot of finish checking and general wear but practically exuding a special vintage 1950s cool. This model was one of Gibson's mainstays in the late '40s and early '50s, a 17" fully hollow laminated body electric filling the spot between the working man's 16" ES-175 and Cadillac-fancy three-pickup ES-5 in Gibson's line.

The 17" wide, full depth maple body has a single rounded cutaway and carries the rare and unusual appointment of a laminated spruce top with two unbound f-holes. This is one of those inexplicable Gibson oddities; the ES-350 was never cataloged with a spruce top in place of the standard all-maple body, but small numbers were built this way in the 1950s. It's hard to say if these were special dealer/customer orders or just oddities, but they do appear from time to time. The sound is a bit livelier, especially acoustically, bit this is not a carved top like the L-5CES so it is very much still an electric guitar. Oddly enough a few isolated examples of this guitar's thinline descendants, the ES-350T were built this way as well.

The ES-350N in general is a medium-fancy guitar, in 1954 the most deluxe two-pickup laminated guitar offered and especially striking in this rare spruce-and-natural finish variation. The twin black covered P-90 pickups each had a volume and tone control on the lower treble bout, with a selector switch on the cutaway. This now-ubiquitous layout was a fairly new Gibson innovation at the time. All hardware is gold-plated, including the trapeze tailpiece with pointed ends and three raised parallelograms. The pickguard is five-ply laminated black/white plastic with a beveled edge. There is some attractive tiger stripe grain on the maple back.

The maple neck is a three piece laminate, the center element being a narrow black stripe. The rosewood fretboard is single-bound and inlaid with double parallelograms. The headstock is also single-bound with a mother-of-pearl crown and Gibson logo inlaid in the peghead overlay. The back of the peghead is painted black, coming to a point just below the nut on the back of the neck. The Kluson Deluxe tuners have plastic "tulip" single ring buttons.

The ES-350 was introduced in 1947 as Gibson's first cutaway electric. It became a double-pickup guitar by 1949,and adopted this upgraded control layout in 1952. Blonde guitars like this were produced in smaller numbers than the sunburst version -- well under 100 each year -- with only 31 shipped in 1954. Only a handful at best would have had this spruce top variation. Production of the ES-350 was discontinued in 1956, replaced by the thin-body ES-350T.

This is a great-playing and sounding guitar well-suited to a variety of jazz, pop, blues, or early rock and roll styles. Tal Farlow and Barney Kessel are just two of the jazz greats to have made notable use of the ES-350, in all of its variations one of Gibson's early classic electric guitars.
Overall length is 41 3/4 in. (106 cm.), 17 in. (43.2 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 5/16 in. (8.4 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 in played-in but nicely original condition showing a lot of finish checking and ambering, especially on the top, but not all that much serious play wear. There are small wear spots here and there, especially to the back of the neck but no large areas of finish loss. The top has some heavy linear lacquer checking along the spruce grain and some wear spots, but really overall this is a relatively clean guitar for how much it appears to have been played.

All hardware is original and complete with some typical corrosion and plating loss. The pickguard bracket has been remounted with a larger-than-original screw, but all else appears factory. The guitar has been neatly refretted with wire slightly larger then 1954 standard and plays beautifully, a fine example of this rare variation on the Gibson electric archtop tradition. It is still housed in its original brown HSC, showing some wear but fully solid. Excellent - Condition.