Where’s the Rest of Me?

A very rare blonde ES-140T from 1957. I think it qualifies as "cute"

That’s what Ronald Reagan’s character said after waking up from surgery in “Kings Row” minus his legs. That’s not what this post is about. It’s about a small guitar. I always have had a soft spot for “student” or “3/4″ guitars. My first electric was a brand new 64 Fender Duo Sonic bought at just above retail from the notorious Hermie’s Music Store in Schenectady, NY. (have I mentioned them before?). Anyway, with my small hands and relatively poor technique, I don’t mind the 22.5″ or 22.75” scale as long as the fingerboard isn’t too skinny. I still have a wonderful maple vee neck 57 Duo Sonic that I play when a Fender is called for. But I never paid a lot of attention to 3/4 Gibsons. Probably because the short scale Les Paul Jrs and specials are so ugly. The proportion of the body to the neck is all wrong, probably because of where they put the tailpiece. But the ES-140 is a slightly different beast. It’s not a full size body with a smaller neck, it’s a scaled down ES-175 (more or less). I had never owned one or played one until recently. One of my regular clients had been searching for a blonde ES-140T and when I found one, I picked it up. I’ve been playing it for a few days now and it’s no toy. It’s a pretty cool little guitar. First, some historical perspective. The original version was called the ES-140 and had a full depth fully hollow body. These were made from 1950-1957. In 1956, they added a thin version and then discontinued the full body in 1957. They made the ES-140T until 1968. The huge majority of these were sunburst and all had a single dog ear P-90. The blonde ES-140 is a pretty rare bird. I’ve only seen one or two of the 140 and this is only the second  blonde 140T  that I’ve seen. Only 57 blonde ES-140T’s were made out of  around 1600. Just 30 of the full body version were made in blonde and only in 1956. Just under 2400 were shipped from 1950 to 1957. One of the things about a short scale guitar that I like is that the string tension is somewhat less than a longer scale guitar-making it easier to play for beginners (and weaklings like me).  While this isn’t exactly a rock and roll death machine, it makes a pretty c0ol travel guitar and sounds good (and loud) acoustically or plugged in. The pickup being close to the neck keeps things relatively mellow but it’s a nice mellow. The case isn’t much bigger than a viola and doesn’t take up a lot of space when you’re traveling. The thinline version feels like it weighs less than five pounds and yet it has a pretty chunky (.87 at the first fret) neck even if it is a little narrow at the nut for me. Fit and finish is as good as any ES-175, so this was no poor stepchild. Sunburst 140T’s tend to run around $1200 to $1500, so while not dirt cheap, they are pretty reasonable for a Golden Era instrument. The full body 140 usually runs a few bucks more and is seen by some as slightly more desirable. As usual, I’ll take the thin one.

Here's the fat guy. Also pretty cool, although I've never played one. Thanks to Gearlicious for the photo.



6 Responses to “Where’s the Rest of Me?”

  1. RAB says:

    Charlie, another cool topic. I had a sunburst 1957 ES-140T for a few weeks…fun little sofa guitar that also sounded good plugged-in! However, not really useful for gigging so it had to go!

  2. OK Guitars says:

    I probably never would have bought one if I didn’t have a buyer lined up. It is a great couch guitar. A little limited plugged in.

  3. RAB says:

    Yup, the 3/4 scale takes a little to get used to!

  4. Dave says:

    I have interest in buying that blond(or another blond) 140t 3/4 gibson.Is this one still for sale?

  5. Dave says:

    Interested in the blond gibson 140t 3/4. is it still available?

  6. cgelber says:

    Sorry that one went to a friend of mine in the UK. I don’t think he’ll ever sell it. They don’t come up very often but I’m always looking. Keep an eye on the site or my Gbase page.

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