Going, going…YIKES!

Oh, ain't she sweet. This was never my cup of tea but, accidentally or not, it's mine and I'm really enjoying it. Think these things can't rock? Ask Steve Howe and Ted Nugent.

I accidentally bought a guitar in a recent auction. No, not an Ebay auction which really isn’t an auction but a real auction. I bought another guitar intentionally, but this one just kind of snuck up. The auction was run by Heritage Auctions and, outside of the fact it took awhile to get the guitars, they did a good job of describing and a great job packing the guitars for shipment. In fact, it took me nearly an hour to uncrate two guitars. As with most auctions these days, you can bid three ways. You can go in person, you can bid on the phone, live, and you can bid on the internet, either in advance or live. This is where I went off the rails. The danger of actually being there is that you can get caught up in a bidding frenzy and pay more than you want to for something you really want. I saw a bit of that at the Clapton auction at Bonham’s in New York. The Heritage Auction was held in Beverly Hills, so I wasn’t there (I’m allergic to California-or to LA, at least). So, I was on the internet. I dropped in some early lowball bids and then kept a close eye on the 2 or 3 guitars I really wanted. By the time the one I really wanted came up (the 60 ES-345), I found that I had somehow bought a 58 ES-350T. Somehow, it went for my lowball price and it wasn’t until later -like when I got the guitar-that I realized why. It’s spectacularly beautiful: flamed, blonde and big. It’s got 2 virgin PAFs and the gold is completely there. Most unusual for a guitar this old. When I realized that I all of a sudden owned this guitar-this guitar that was a throwaway bid, I had to go back and read the fine print. I have a terrible habit of not reading descriptions as carefully as I should. On the other hand, I caught an awful lot of little issues on the other guitars that kept me from bidding but I missed one on this guitar. When I re-read the description, I saw mention of a crack in the side. OK, so it has a crack. I’ve seen guitars with cracks go for tens of thousands of dollars-old guitars crack sometimes. As I said, it took awhile to get the guitars and I didn’t think much about the ES-350 since I was eagerly anticipating the other guitar-which, of course, I opened first. Then I opened the ES-350. I unwrapped the mile or so of packing tape from the 100 yards of bubble wrap that shrouded the brown Stone of Brooklyn case. Then carefully pulled it from it box, spreading over a million styrofoam peanuts all over my driveway. In the rain. You see, my wife doesn’t let me open guitar boxes in the house if they are packed in styrofoam. Not a bad policy, actually because if I do, she makes me clean them up and they don’t clean up easily. Anyway, I finally wrestled the thing free of its carton and brought it inside. I opened it up. Wow. This was just about the prettiest guitar I have ever seen. Considering how little I had paid for it, I was expecting some beat to hell POS. Then I took it out and tuned it up. It played beautifully too. What was going on here? I had, of course, forgotten why I got it so cheap. I didn’t see any problem, so I went to the computer and looked up the listing. Oh, yeah, the crack. So I looked. Sure enough, on the side from the waist to the strap button was a crack. A “glue it in twenty minutes and clamp it” crack that did nothing to diminish the sweet sound of this fully hollow jazzer. I’m not a jazz guy and I’m not a hollow body guy but I just figured out what Ted Nugent and Steve Howe see in these big ol’ jazz boxes. This thing can rock. Sometimes it pays not to read the fine print.

Oh, yeah. The crack. It looks worse than it is. This'll close right up and you'll hardly know its there. I was going to do the fix myself but I think I'll ask the great Dan Erlewine to take a stab at it (note: I didn't say take a crack at it)

7 Responses to “Going, going…YIKES!”

  1. Rob says:


    Nice score, right price … gotta love any and all 50’s Gibson (or Epi) blond guitars; especially one with original PAF’s and all that curly maple. Is your inner-jazzmeister side starting to bleed thru the haze? Why not get local-guy Norio to fix the crack?

  2. Rob says:

    One last thing, the immortal Chuck Berry recorded most of his early rock classics for Chess on a Gibson ES-350T that looked just like this one so you’re in pretty good company.

  3. OK Guitars says:

    I’m so NOT a jazz player. I can play a lot of stuff but jazz doesn’t figure in my rep at all. I never learned all those wacky orchestral chords. Well, actually, I learned some of them because my teacher was a jazz player who hated rock and roll. he used a big ol’ L5 for lessons and got upset when I bought a Fender. I was 12, what did I know?

  4. OK Guitars says:

    Yes , he did and this guitar just nails his tone. Didn’t he use one with P90’s though?

  5. Rob says:

    Chuck B. knew the score. He first used an ES-350T with P-90’s and later played a second ES-350T with PAF’s. “Deep down in Looosianna, close to New Orleans …”

    Technically, they should be called “ES-350TN”, right?

  6. argetm says:

    I have a 1957 ES-350TN same finish same hard case and am trying to sell it. Some so called expert told me the value for a same year ES-175T and I told them there is no comparison between the two models. My unit spent most of it’s life in a closet in the case and other than some damage to the gold plating on the pickups is in cherry condition. For an original bridge wood part only some guitar shop is asking $599.

  7. OK Guitars says:

    I just sent you an email.

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