More ES One Offs

This is purportedly a 65, although I think its a bit later. I'm told it was built for Tony Mottola. I found it on the "We Buy Guitars" website a couple of years ago. It is a 355 with a trap tail and no f holes in sunburst.

In the past few weeks, I’ve received emails from readers who have some pretty cool customs.  Not cool customs like dancing around the May Pole or busting open a pinata, but cool custom Gibsons. Gibson seemed to be pretty amenable to giving the customers what they wanted as long as it didn’t require any retooling or buying any new paint or parts. They were more than happy (for a price, of course) to put gold hardware on a 335, nickel hardware on a 345, Varitones on

Here's a 59 dot neck with a Varitone. Supposedly there are no red 59 dot necks.

335s, non stock tuners, custom engraved truss rod covers and any number of combinations and permutations of the three core ES models.  Verification of originality can be tricky since it’s pretty easy for a decent luthier to make additive changes to a guitar that will look absolutely factory. As long as it doesn’t require major surgery, it’s very doable as a post sale modification. The good news is that one offs are usually worth less than their bone stock counterparts, making the creation of “fake one offs” a fool’s errand. But what about a guitar that was modded before the concept of the vintage guitar even existed. Say it’s 1967 and the guitar player for the Blues Magoos finds that he’s bored with his 335 and wants his tech to add a Varitone. If it’s placed where it belongs, then it will be hard to prove it wasn’t done by the factory without some pretty invasive detective work. There is sometimes documentation available from Gibson and sometimes even a mention on the label. I’ve seen a 335 with the word stereoVT on the orange label. I don’t think you’ll find any documentation of a set of waffleback tuners on a 335 but I was sent a photo of one. The reader who sent it wanted to know if it was a factory mod or if it was done later to enhance the guitars “rarity”. I thought it was factory but as I mentioned earlier in this post, one offs don’t usually command a premium. Rarity doesn’t figure into it all that much either.  The last post I did about one offs concentrated largely on special guitars made for artists. You can find it here. The guitars I’m showing here are most likely special orders from players who liked certain features of one model and certain features of another and wanted a guitar that was a cross between them.  The one that shows up most is the Varitone on a 335 and perhaps the use of gold hardware on a 335. Interestingly, I’ve never seen a 345 built without a Varitone. That would be a pretty cool guitar.

Here's another 335 with a Varitone. This one has waffleback tuners as well. It all looks original to me.

And another dot neck with a Varitone also from the WBG site. It looks great with its gold hardware. This sold for .considerably less than a stock dot neck would have at the time it sold

2 Responses to “More ES One Offs”

  1. Mitch Holder says:

    Do you have full pictures of the Tony Mottola sunburst guitar above? Thanks.

    Mitch Holder

  2. cgelber says:

    That’s the only photo I have.

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