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NVGD - ES-345 "First Rack"

brandtkronholm

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 3, 2006
Messages
2,217
Magnet was flipped during conversion
Alas.
Regardless, your ES345 is certain to be a stellar instrument. I discussed these early ES345s with Michael Minnis once in Austin. They are very special guitars. I look forward to your review of the instrument after you've spent some time with it!

Allow me to pontificate upon the virtues of the unmodified ES345 which include the following features: Stereo, Out Of Phase, and Varitone notch filter. (Please forgive me in advance, I know I've done this before! I am a super fan of the early ES345s and ES355s! :) ) Perhaps I can persuade you to consider flipping the magnet back for the OOP sound!

The OOP feature is one part of what makes the ES345/355 stand apart from other Gibsons. Embrace the funkiness of the OOP sound! A small twist of a volume knob (either knob) dials in your desired level of OOP. With the neck volume at 10 and the bridge volume at 5, the OOP sound is basically gone.

I'm also a fan of the stereo feature. I can run two wah pedals, one for each pickup. A deeply interesting and useful 'exaggerated woman tone' is possible by rolling the tone knob to zero on the neck, cocking the neck pickup wah all the way back, and rolling the neck pickup volume to ~7 or 8, while leaving the bridge controls wide open. The tonal possibilities are innumerable. A stereo/mono buffer stomp box is available, but a stereo-to-two-monos Y cable does the trick. Without the stero/mono box, I simply plug into both inputs of the reverb channel on my old Super Reverb to retain the OOP sound. Plugging one lead into one channel and the second lead into the other channel reverses the OOP sound.

I also find the Varitone useful, especially position #3, but this is a matter of opinion. I find no signal loss whatsoever with my intact Varitone. The early Varitone circuit was made differently than those that began to appear by +/-1961 and these later versions *might* have an influence on the tone when in position #1-bypass. (I invite Charlie Gelber to correct me if this (or any of my ES345) information isn't accurate.)

Just for fun, here's a bad cell-phone picture of my '59. The cell phone doesn't capture the full range of subtle colors and ombré from the glowing amber at the center through orange, purple, brown, and near black at the outside edge of the face of the guitar. It has minimal (basically zero) checking though it has faded slightly; the finish under the pick guard is slightly darker. It's all original save for Schallers from the '70s. While not a first-rack, it is an extraordinary guitar! The neck is full but fast. It has two long magnet double black PAFs, I do no know their resistance readings. Best guess: high 7s, maybe 8 tops.

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wernerg

Active member
Joined
Jan 27, 2002
Messages
721
I am grateful to Michael Minnis, one of the previous owners, for having the conversion done professionally (original circuit still intact in the case) as well as doing a refret so I am not the "bad guy" ;-)

My favorite 345 thus far had been a sunburst '67, all stock, thin, slim neck profile. As much as I love tonal versatility (e.g. Strat "middle" positions), my playing always favored the "1" position. WRT out of phase, I got to play "Greenie" for about 12 nanoseconds when she first came to the U.S., post Gary Moore, and I got to play MikeSlub's CC version, and that middle position just didn't do it for me.

Congrats on your '59, Brandt. Beautiful. Interesting to note how the darker shades of brown/black are much more pronounced compared to mine. To be clear: my pictures were taken in full sunlight, in Seattle summer! But I am still wondering whether our guitars are SPRAYED differently, or whether they AGED differently. Maybe mine was exposed to more UV? I would think that the chemical composition if the paints could not be that different? What do you and other Forum members think?
 

Grog

Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2012
Messages
434
Though it’s not a ‘59 ES model, I do have a ‘59 EB-2. I’ll post this photo for finish comparison. It should have been finished the same way possibly by the same guy………

WuKwOMHl.jpg
 

reddeluxe

Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2017
Messages
82
Absolute stunner! Congrats! I am also a fan of the factory spec OOP/Sereo/Varitone configuration. Most people have never taken the time to learn to use them properly and unlock the true tonal potential lurking within. While never owning a "first rack", I spent many years with a '61 cherry stoptail (first fret position marker) and the #1 bypass postion on the Varitone had no tone sucking whatsoever. Enjoy your new guitar in good health.
 

Steve Craw

Formerly Lefty Elmo
Joined
Sep 9, 2004
Messages
5,163
As much as I hate to admit this, since I got my ES-345 two years ago, I haven't gigged with my Les Paul even once.
 

brandtkronholm

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 3, 2006
Messages
2,217
I am grateful to Michael Minnis, one of the previous owners, for having the conversion done professionally (original circuit still intact in the case) as well as doing a refret so I am not the "bad guy" ;-)

My favorite 345 thus far had been a sunburst '67, all stock, thin, slim neck profile. As much as I love tonal versatility (e.g. Strat "middle" positions), my playing always favored the "1" position. WRT out of phase, I got to play "Greenie" for about 12 nanoseconds when she first came to the U.S., post Gary Moore, and I got to play MikeSlub's CC version, and that middle position just didn't do it for me.

Congrats on your '59, Brandt. Beautiful. Interesting to note how the darker shades of brown/black are much more pronounced compared to mine. To be clear: my pictures were taken in full sunlight, in Seattle summer! But I am still wondering whether our guitars are SPRAYED differently, or whether they AGED differently. Maybe mine was exposed to more UV? I would think that the chemical composition if the paints could not be that different? What do you and other Forum members think?
Wernerg,

They may have been sprayed differently, but our 1959 ES345s have certainly spent their many years on earth under different circumstances. I suspect that mine has experienced much less playing time than yours. Mine has the original frets which are still very healthy, it has virtually no checking at all, and the gold plating shows light wear. This probably means that yours has seen much more UV light than mine and so the finish on yours has faded somewhat. You're correct, the darker parts of my 345 are much more pronounced! Yours has lead a good musical life! On the other hand, I liberated my ES345 after it went unplayed for nearly 25+ years from collection that was started in the early 1970s.

The lighting and sun make a big difference in the color! I've attached a picture of my 345 showing it with flash (left) and without (right). I've reattached my bad cellphone picture for a third display of how the light affects the color! It almost looks like there are three different guitars!

I also notice that our pickguards have exactly the same bow to them! I think your neck angle is just a tiny bit shallower than mine. Mine is quite shallow, but I can still top wrap my strings. If the neck angle on mine were any more shallow I wouldn't be able to top wrap.

Does yours have the original ceramic caps and pot shields? (The bridge tone pot does not have a shield on 345s & 355s.) If I recall, mine dates to the middle of 1959 by the pot code.

Image 6-24-21 at 9.03 AM.jpeg

ES345 2020.jpeg
 
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