December 21, 2010
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.
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 ES-355.
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