Ask and You Shall…or This Guitar Doesn’t Exist, part II

The real deal. A gen-yoo-wine 59 ES-335 dot neck. Hot damn.

Last month I wrote a post called “Wish List” in which I talked about some guitars I really wanted to find that had eluded me over the years. Well, maybe I should have added a burst or two and maybe a million bucks (which doesn’t go as far as it used to) to that “wish list.” I mentioned a few rare and unusual guitars that I held out only slight hope of ever finding. The most notable is a guitar that Gibson says doesn’t exist. Gibson told me “no red ES-335s were shipped in 1959.” The said the same thing about red 59 ES-345s (I know of five now). I wrote the post hoping someone would read it and say “hey, I’ve got that old red guitar that belonged to Uncle Herb in the hall closet. Maybe it’s the one this guy is looking for..” OK, that didn’t happen but I got a text message from a gentleman in New Jersey who said he had a 335 to sell. It was, he said, a dot neck and it was red. He also said he thought it was a 59. Funny thing is that everybody thinks their dot neck is a 59. There’s something that makes folks believe that 59 is the pinnacle, the apex, the peak (did I miss any? The acme?) of the Golden Era at Gibson. That same phenomenon makes them assume their guitar is a 59. Fortunately for us, the serial numbers are pretty accurate during the period and we’ve got the factory order number (FON) in there as well, so we can accurately ascertain not only the year the guitar shipped (serial) but the year the guitar was constructed (FON). That doesn’t work so well once we get to 63 or so. Anyway, I was skeptical but I made arrangements to go see the alleged red 59 dot neck. I’ve chased this wild goose before, only to find a doctored 62 or 63 (dot fingerboard added and serial number missing), a refinished 59 and an early 60. I found another with what appeared to be a factory varitone. After a trip to the bank (hope springs eternal), I set off for the wilds of Jersey City. I was to meet the seller in a small coffee shop near his place of business. By the way, if you’re ever in Jersey City, be aware that they don’t put proper numbers or street names on their buildings. Everything seems to be One Earwax Plaza or One Millard Fillmore Circle. All ones. Anyway, after driving around in Millard Fillmore circles with my GPS saying “you have reached your final destination”, I asked a cop. I was late and wandering around and the owner called me on my cell phone from his cell phone from a building across the street with no name or number and I saw a guy on a cell phone who seemed to be saying exactly what I was hearing in my ear so I waved. So much for technology. He didn’t have a guitar with him but he didn’t look any more dangerous than I look. The guitar was in the nearby coffee shop with a friend (sellers always run in pairs). So, I got my coffee (no, it wasn’t a half skim/half decaf latte) and went to work. The case was a pretty beat up Stone-a good sign. At least the case was the right era. I opened it up. The first thing that struck me was the color. It had the “watermelon fade” which only occurs on 58 through early 60 guitars. A quick peek at the serial number A30906 and I knew the search was over. OK, it was a Bigsby/pearl dot version (all known red 58-59s are Bigsbys as far as I know) but it was the real thing and I bought it.  You know that thing about 59 being the top of the Golden Era? I think it might be true. This guitar is, hands down, the best sounding 335 I’ve owned (or even played) surpassing a spectacular 58 I played 3 or 4 years ago that I thought was going to be the best forever.  I was so happy to have finally found a red 59 dot (my identity on a lot of online forums is Red59Dot) that I left my flashlight/magnifier and my reversible screwdriver in the coffee shop. Now I just have to figure out how I can afford to keep it for myself.

Why can't Gibson duplicate this color?

5 Responses to “Ask and You Shall…or This Guitar Doesn’t Exist, part II”

  1. Gus says:

    AMAZING! Keep it!

  2. Dave K says:

    What’s the two yellowish dots below the bridge? A stop tail was there prior?
    Just wondering.
    And the back color absolutely is stunning.

  3. OK Guitars says:

    If I kept every guitar I loved I’d have no business and about 50 guitars. I’m not a collector, so I keep only 4 or 5 at a time. I usually keep the cheap ones (which this isn’t).

  4. Dave K says:

    Ah, I see the April 26th, 2010 post explains all.

  5. Frutiger says:

    Just look at that, beautiful. Well done on finding it.

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