And The Winner Is…

And the winner in the best neck on an electric guitar category...a '61 Epiphone Wilshire.

Seeing as how it’s Oscar Night, I thought I would do an awards theme using the guitars I own or have owned as the nominees. The categories will be “Best Neck”, “Best Overall Appearance” and “Best Overall Player”.  I get emails all the time from players who love these guitars as much as I do and many of them ask “what do you play?” What makes a guitar speak to you is very subjective-perhaps as subjective as finding a mate or buying your first home. It just depends on what you like. The guitar that’s perfect for me may flat out suck for you.  A lot depends on your own physical type-big hands? small fingers? all thumbs? and on what kind of music you play. But I understand the question. I get to play a lot more guitars (and not just 335s and 345s) than most people and that experience translates into a rather distinct (and somewhat narrow) set of likes and dislikes. And, just for the record, I don’t have my ideal guitar yet but I think I know what it would be. We’ll get to that in another post because it’s time for the envelopes, please… In the “Guitar with the Best Neck” Category, is a guitar I have with the best neck I’ve ever played and it isn’t even, technically, a Gibson. It’s a 1961 Epiphone Wilshire with a pair of P90s. It’s a great sounding guitar which duplicates a guitar I had in High School so there’s the sentimental value aspect as well. Amazing neck-nearly 1 3/4″ wide at the nut which I love and sort of medium in profile-a lot like a slightly wider 64 ES 335. Certainly not as large as the average 59 until you hit the 9th or 10th fret where it fattens up to a big handful. Speaking of 59’s, that takes us to the next category-“Best Overall Appearance”.

The prettiest damn guitar I've ever seen. This photo almost captures the stunning color. Sort of a faded watermelon reddish sunset orange-pink.

Yes, it’s a beauty contest but this guitar makes no apologies and takes no prisoners when it comes to tone and playability. It is also up near the top all time favorite player that I’ve owned. It is certainly my all time favorite for looks. I’m kind of sorry I sold it but if I kept every guitar I got that I loved, I’d never sell anything. That guitar is the wonderful 59 red ES-345 which, since it was probably the first red 345 ever made, I called “Red One”. The color was just stunning-that faded red-watermelon pink, sunset orange color that only exists from 58-early ’60. I know the current owner is enjoying it as well. You can see a bunch of photos here on Tom H’s ES 335 site. I love red 345’s. I would buy every 59-64 I saw if I had the money. The next and final category will be “Best Case”…nah, just kidding. “Best Overall Player” is up next. This would be the guitar I would take on a gig if I still played gigs. This is the guitar I bring with me to jam with friends. It’s a red 64 335 that I love with a very nice set of patent numbers and a fabulous medium chunky neck profile. An all around great player. Used to have a Bigsby but is now set up as a stop tail (the Bigsby is still in the pocket with the “Custom Made” plaque). The truth is, I’ve owned at least a dozen 64’s and they are the most consistently excellent guitar of any year. I don’t think I’ve ever played a bad ’64. Next, we’ll look at what the nominees were wearing. Some wore Lifton, others looked stunning in their Ess and Ess or Stone. There was the occasional Geib and few Victorias as well. Black and brown were the dominant tones paired with hot pink or marigold orange interiors. And the latches…

In the "Best Overall Player" Category, the award goes to my 1964 ES-335.. '64's have wonderful necks and pickups that are remarkably consistent and excellent. Never played a bad 64.

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