gibson line electric guitars develop es 5 introduce features different fingerboard inlay features individual volume knobs one master tone original own

Equipped with three P-90s, the ES-5 was part of Gibson''s 1948 electric line expansion

When Ted McCarty started at Gibson in 1948, one of his first concerns was to develop and enlarge Gibson’s line of electric guitars. Among these new electrics was the ES-5, introduced in 1949. The ES-5 was intended to be, according to Gibson literature at the time, “the supreme electronic version of the famed Gibson L-5.”

Apart from the name, body dimensions, and fingerboard inlay, the ES-5 was very different from the L-5. A 1949 ES-5’s features included: a 17"-wide body with laminated maple top, back and sides, pearl crown inlay on the headstock, rosewood fingerboard and unbound f-holes (until 1950). The most exciting part of the guitar was of course its three pickups. These P-90s were controlled by three individual volume knobs and one master tone.

This guitar was originally owned by a guitar teacher in Texas named Leroy Millican—that’s him in the framed photo, taken in 1949 just after he purchased the guitar. The original Lifton hardshell case was included along with a five-page instruction manual explaining how to operate the electronics. More detailed information on the ES-5 and other Gibson electric guitars can be found in Gibson Electrics: The Classic Years by A.R. Duchossoir. Serial numbers of vintage guitars made by Gibson and other top brands can be found in Guitar Identification, also by A.R. Duchossoir.

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