A gorgeous 1962 Gibson
ES-350T, serial #82657. INSET: Instead of a more common tobacco
sunburst, this ES-350T sports a cherry
sunburst finish that still pops a half-century
In 1955 Gibson developed a line of thin-bodied
electric guitars to appeal to players
who wanted a smaller, more comfortable
instrument, yet objected to the weight and
tone of a solidbody instrument. This line
consisted of three guitars: The top-of-the-line
Byrdland, the mid-priced ES-350T,
and the economy ES-225T.
The Byrdland was designed with the input
of famous Nashville session guitarists Hank
Garland and Billy Byrd. It was meant to be a
thin-bodied L-5 CES with a shorter 23 1/2"
scale (instead of the L-5’s 25 1/2" scale). These
same innovations were carried out on the
full-bodied ES-350, making it the ES-350T.
With its laminated maple top, back,
and sides, the ES-350T was meant to be a
more affordable version of the Byrdland.
(The Byrdland originally cost $550, while
the ES-350T was $395.) The rosewood
fretboard with split parallelogram inlays and
crown headstock inlay were carried over
from the original full-sized ES-350.
The 1962 Gibson catalog describes many
other details: “Matching the all-around
excellence of Gibson performance, this
distinctive instrument has a thin, narrow,
short-scale neck. The choice of many professionals
who acclaim these design features,
which permit the use of many chords previously
beyond reach. Beautifully finished
arched top and back of highly figured curly
maple with matching curly maple rims, ivoroid
binding and gold-plated metal parts.”
LEFT: When the ES-
350T was first introduced,
the guitar sported P-90
pickups. These were
replaced with two humbuckers
MIDDLE: The wear on the
gold-plated hardware suggests
this is a well-played
and well-loved guitar—one that’s likely full of
songs and stories, too.
RIGHT: The cherry sunburst may explain why the
truss rod cover is engraved with “custom.”
The 1962 ES-350T pictured this month
has all the features associated with the final
incarnation of the model before it was discontinued
in 1963 (a full-scale version was
reissued in 1978). These include two humbucking
pickups (which replaced P-90s in
1957), a deep Florentine cutaway (replacing
the rounded Venetian style in 1961), and a
three-piece maple neck (replacing the original
two-piece in mid-1962).
Rather than the more typical tobacco
sunburst, this example has a cherry sunburst,
and that may explain why “custom”
is engraved on the truss rod cover.
The 1962 Gibson price list shows a sunburst
finish ES-350T priced at $485. A 603
Faultless plush-lined case cost an extra $56.
The current market value for guitar and
case is $6,500.
Sources for this article include Gibson
Electrics—The Classic Years by A.R.
Duchossoir, Gibson Guitars: Ted McCarty’s
Golden Era, 1948-1966 by Gil Hembree,
The Gibson Guitar from 1950, Vol. 2 by Ian
C. Bishop, and the 1962 Gibson catalog.
Original price: $485 in 1962, plus $56 for
Current estimated market value: $6,500
Dave ’s Guitar Shop
Dave Rogers’ collection is tended
by Laun Braithwaite and Tim Mullally
and is on display at:
Dave’s Guitar Shop
1227 Third Street South
La Crosse, WI 54601
Photos by Mullally and text