Weird and Wonderful One-Offs


At first glance, this looked like a pretty normal '61 ES-345 until I noticed where the stoptail was and how close together the pickups are.

We all think we know the product line pretty well since it really hasn’t changed much since 1958. It’s pretty simple-a 335 has a 3 way switch and dots or small blocks, a 345 has stereo wiring, a Varitone and parallelogram inlays and a 355 is red, with a trem and usually stereo with a Varitone but not always. That pretty much sums it up  until you start looking at what is actually out there. A 335 could be ordered with a Varitone. The probable reason there aren’t very many is because you could just buy a 345 at your local music store and be done with it. Custom orders took time. I love it when these oddities come up. Some are truly strange-like a short scale ES-345 that was sent to me from the UK. It kinda looks like a full size 345 but the stoptail is an inch or more closer to the neck. Look at the photo. The pickups are very close together as well. This is the only one I’ve ever seen. I don’t know the scale length-whether it’s like a Byrdland at 23.5 or something in between. When I sent the photo to the venerable (and enigmatic) Gil Southworth, he sent me a couple of oddballs that he has run across.  First he sent me a trap tail that looked pretty normal until I counted the strings. Yep. it’s a tenor ES-345 and the only one either of us has ever seen. But wait, the Great Gilvis wasn’t done with me yet. he also has a photo of what appears to be a 3/4 scale ES-335. On this one, the stoptail is lower than usual-not so low as the LP Jrs and Specials that came in the 22.75″ scale but still a half inch or so lower. But look at the neck length. It’s tough because of the angle and perspective but it sure looks like a tiny little neck to me. Time was when Gibson would make you whatever you wanted. When you consider that the volume of guitars that left the factory was pretty low until the mid sixties, so I’m guessing that they spent more time on each guitar and they had the time to make you what you wanted. You can still have that done-call a skilled luthier because I think that if you called the Gibson Custom Shop and asked them to build you a short scale 335, they’d laugh at you. I had a hard enough time getting them to just put a new neck on a 60’s 335 that had been broken (and they charged me $3500). They did a very good job and explained that the new necks don’t fit, so they had to use a Clapton leftover (too bad, right?).  While these guitars are great fun to look at, they don’t command anywhere near the dollars that the unusual colors do. Next, we’ll take a look at a very unusual ES-355 and a one of a kind EB-2 sent to me by a well known collector in California.

OK, this one looks pretty normal too. Wait a second, where are the rest of the strings. Of course, it's 345 tenor. I've seen LP tenors and SG tenors and even an ES-295 tenor, I think but this is the first 345 tenor for me.

Not sure what this actually is. Gil thought it was a 3/4 scale and I have to agree judging by the photos. That neck looks really tiny

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