Vintage Vault: 1959 Gibson ES-225 TDN
This economical 1959 Gibson ES-225 TDN sits against a 16-watt 1961 GA-20T Ranger.

A look at the most budget-conscious of Gibson’s 1950s thinline hollowbodies.

In 1955 Gibson developed a line of thin-bodied electric guitars to appeal to players wanting a smaller, more comfortable instrument, but without the weight of a solidbody guitar. This line consisted of three guitars: the upscale Byrdland, the mid-priced ES-350T, and the economy ES-225T.

The ES-225 TDN looked much like a plainer ES-175, but measured only 1 3/4" deep (compared to the ES-175’s 3 3/8" depth). When it debuted in the summer of 1955, it had only a single pickup midway between the neck and the bridge. By the summer of 1956, successful sales drove Gibson to introduce a natural finish option and a two-pickup version.

The ES-225 TDN looked much like a plainer ES-175, but measured only 1 3/4" deep.

The 1959 Gibson catalog states: “The ES-225T series of thin-bodied, cutaway guitars offer outstanding professional instruments in the popular priced field. Combining the rigidity and tone features of a solid body guitar with the light weight, easy-to-hold shape of conventional styling, these instruments are available in single or double pickup models.”

The 1959 ES-225 TDN pictured has all the features typical of that model: 24 3/4" scale, maple-laminate construction (top, back, and sides), single-ply binding (top, back, and neck), mahogany neck, 20-fret rosewood fretboard, and two P-90 single-coils. The strings are held in place by an original Les Paul-style combination bridge/tailpiece.


The ES-225 debuted in 1955 with only a single pickup between the neck and the bridge. Gibson introduced a natural finish and a two-pickup version in 1956.

The March 1959 list price was $244.50. The current value for one in excellent, all-original condition is $3,500.

The amp behind the guitar is 1961 GA-20T Ranger. The tweed-covered amp has a power rating of 16 watts and is equipped with tremolo and a Jensen 12-inch speaker. The 1961 list price was $207.50. The current value for the amp is $1,000.


The strings of this thin-bodied cutaway are held in place by an original Les Paul-style combination bridge/tailpiece.

Sources for this article include: Gibson Electrics: The Classic Years by A.R. Duchossoir, and Gibson Amplifiers 1933-2008: 75 Years of the Gold Tone by Wallace Marx, Jr.

Original price: 1959 ES-225 TDN, 244.50; 1961 GA-20T Ranger, $207.50

Current estimated market value: 1959 ES-225 TDN, $3,500; 1961 GA-20T Ranger, $1,000

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Advanced

Beginner

• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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