Unusual Truss Rod Cover

No, not this one. This is the usual "small" font stereo TRC.  This is a later 60. I don't see any "roll marks" but they don't photograph well.

No, not this one. This is the usual “small” font stereo TRC. This is a later 60. I don’t see any “roll marks” but they don’t photograph well.

How small can I get? How minute can a detail be before it becomes insignificant? I wrote about gold painted varitone knobs, didn’t I? I’ve written about the smallest screws on the guitar, haven’t I? So, I can get pretty small. The very first ES-345’s, like all the ES-345’s that followed were wired in stereo. There was no designation on the early 59’s; nothing to herald the new “stereo” era. By the end of the year, someone at Gibson decided it would be wise to show the world that these guitars were indeed stereo and in a surprisingly subtle way, they did so. They simply engraved the word “stereo” into the truss rod cover. OK, you knew that but, as it turns out, there are two distinctly different early truss rod covers. One is very common and the other is quite rare. The one you’re used to seeing has a rather small font and the one you don’t see has a larger font. Like I said, how small can I get? The first large font “stereo” TRC came to me on a broken 65 ES-345 that I parted out, so I thought it was something that might have started in the mid 60’s. I didn’t think much of it because a lot of things were in transition in ’65 and I guessed it was a batch that had been made by a different supplier. Then I saw the same cover on a ’60 and then another ’60 and I decided to look a little closer. I still had the one from the 65 in my parts bin and pulled it out for a closer look. In case you’ve forgotten, the truss rod covers on the 58-60 ES 335/345/355’s have “roll marks”-those horizontal lines that are the result of the manufacturing process of rolling out the plastic like a pie dough. The process changed-probably in late ’60 or ’61-and the roll marks disappeared. Curiously, the large font “stereo” TRC has the roll marks, leading me to believe that it must have come from an earlier guitar. Once I saw the two ’60 345’s with the same cover, I was convinced that it was used for a very short time in 1960. There is often no rhyme or reason to the timeline of Gibson features and this is the case here. I have had perhaps 15 ’59 ES-345’s and probably 20 1960 ES-345’s. Early 59’s almost never have the stereo TRC. Late ones are hit and miss but, again, generally don’t have them. Early 60 examples sometimes don’t have it but later ones always do. I believe that many 59’s that have it were added later-they often don’t have the roll marks. So which came first? The big font or the small? I’m going to say the small because there are enough 59’s that have the cover that some must have come from the factory with it. Why it’s so inconsistent is anybody’s guess. The two 60’s I’ve seen with the large font truss cover were both fairly early-probably April or earlier. Another unsolved Gibson mystery.

The roll marks make it an early one, the big font is a mystery. I've seen three of these and don't quite know what to make of them.

The roll marks make it an early one, the big font is a mystery. I’ve seen three of these and don’t quite know what to make of them.


One Response to “Unusual Truss Rod Cover”

  1. RAB says:

    Talk about your small trivia but fascinating as always! I have never seen the large “STEREO” font myself but thanks for uncovering this bit of Kalamazoo lore! Heavens to Betsy, what’s next?! (SMILE…)

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