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1960 Gibson ES-335 And 1959 Model 5F8A Fender Twin

1960 Gibson ES-335 And 1959 Model 5F8A Fender Twin

The first offshoot of the popular ES-335 was the ES-355, which was intended to be the pinnacle of Gibson’s new thinline electric series.

After introducing the Vari-Tone—a 6-way tone-selector switch—and stereo wiring in 1959, Gibson offered them as a regular option on the ES-355.

In the late 1950s, Gibson

designed a guitar meant to

have the look and feel of a traditional

hollowbody archtop while

also offering the sonic advantages

of a solidbody. At the time, this

was a novel idea, and it resulted

in the now-classic ES-335.

Gibson was so confident in the

double-cutaway, semi-solid guitar

that by the summer of 1958 it

had expanded that part of its electric

line. The first offshoot was

the ES-355, which was intended

to be the pinnacle of Gibson’s new

thinline electric series. The 355

shared the 335’s solid center block

and hollow wings, but had the

fancy cosmetic appointments of a

Les Paul Custom—including binding,

gold hardware, split-diamond

headstock inlays, and an ebony


Due to advances in stereophonic

recording, stereo LPs

had become readily available to

the public and were gaining in

popularity over the mono versions.

Gretsch recognized the

excitement stereo was generating

and introduced a stereo electric

guitar in 1958. By mid 1959,

Gibson retaliated with its own

stereo technology, combined

with a 6-way tone-selector switch

called a Vari-Tone. The Stereo

Vari-Tone became standard on

the new ES-345 (which was

priced between the 335 and the

355) and a regular option on the


LEFT: Like a Les Paul Custom, this ES-355 has split-diamond headstock inlays and an ebony fretboard.

RIGHT: This particular 5F8A Twin’s wears its battle scars and splats right on its tweed. Its original Jensen

P12N 12” speakers are one of the casualties of its many

musical skirmishes: It’s now outfitted with

Jensen Special Design replacement speakers.

This month’s guitar has the

typical features of an early 1960

ES-355 with Stereo and Vari-

Tone. These include a gleaming

Cherry Red finish, Grover

Rotomatic tuners, PAF humbucking

pickups, and a Bigsby Vibrato

tailpiece (which was changed to

a Gibson sideways Vibrola later

that year).

Be sure to check out Gibson

Electrics—The Classic Years by

A.R. Duchossoir for detailed

information on Gibson electric

guitars made through 1965. For

more information on Fender

amps, see Fender Amps: The First

Fifty Years by John Teagle and

John Sprung, and The Soul of

Tone by Tom Wheeler.

Dave’s Guitar Shop

Dave Rogers’

collection is tended by Laun Braithwaite

and Tim Mullally.

Photos and text by Tim Mullally.

Dave’s collection is on display at:

Dave’s Guitar Shop

1227 Third Street South

La Crosse, WI 54601

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