Gibson ES-300 Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar , c. 1948

Gibson  ES-300 Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar ,  c. 1948
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Item # 9825
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Gibson ES-300 Model Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar, c. 1948, made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, sunburst lacquer finish, laminated maple body; mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

This ES-300 is very redolent of its era, the late 1940's when music was electrifying everywhere. After WWII the Gibson company was just getting back to full time instrument production. The ES-300 was the finest non-cutaway electric in their line, basically the same layout as the L-7 acoustic except the 17" wide, full depth body was constructed entirely of laminated maple. It is fitted with the early post-war P-90 pickup with a slightly slimmer coil but otherwise essentially the same unit still in wide use today.

Features specific to this era include the first post-war block Gibson script logo with the joined dot, a tapered thickness peghead and the Kluson individual tuners with open gears and plastic "keystone" buttons. The knobs are deep amber "hatbox" style with no numbers, and the nickel plated tailpiece is the same cast unit as the L-7. The adjustable rosewood bridge and laminated, beveled edge pickguard are typical Gibson fittings.

The warm sunburst-finished top and back have triple celluloid binding; the fingerboard and headstock are single-bound. The rosewood fingerboard features the double parallelogram inlay that became a post-war Gibson trademark. The round profile neck is a noticeably thinner back-to-front than wartime guitars, and indeed slimmer than many 1950s Gibsons.

The label is missing from this guitar and there is no factory order number visible so it cannot be precisely dated. Based on the features it would have been produced in later 1948 or early '49, after the change to the new logo and beveled pickguard but before the model was altered to carry two pickups.

This is a wonderful player with the classic 1940-50s Gibson jazz guitar feel and sound. It is not the most versatile of electrics but has that signature "classic jazz" straight amplified tone, which can be made to get quite raunchy if desired if pushed hard 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 is relatively clean for its age overall, with the only really notable flaws being some repairs to the back and the back/side seams. The top finish shows typical checking but very little play wear, the back of the neck has a few small dings but is also not heavily worn. The back and sides show a decent amount of finish checking and have some scratches and dings but nothing major. The headstock shows wear to the face and back edges but again nothing tragic.

There are repaired grain cracks to the maple back off the center seam at both ends, and the seam itself has been resealed near the neck block. There is one lateral crack in this area along the bottom edge of the block. All of these are solidly sealed with light touch up and no overspray, so are easily visible. Some of the lower back/side seams have been resealed, and there are a couple of small sealed cracks in the common spot around the jack.

Apart from these areas the guitar presents very well. All the hardware and fittings are original and in fine shape with some typical plating wear to the nickel parts. The original small frets show some minor wear in the lower positions but the instrument plays very well, and sounds great. It is housed in a modern HSC, but all else about this guitar is a trip back to the late swing era. In the case is some printed material relating to pioneering female jazz guitarist Mary Osborne, including her newspaper obituary. We don't know if anyone owning this ES-300 had any actual connection to her, but they had good taste at least! Overall Excellent - Condition.