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Gibson Barney Kessel
Electric acoustic guitar

Gibson Barney Kessel
Gibson Barney Kessel - Gibson, the workingman
Gibson Barney Kessel - Gibson, the workingman's guitar (Barney Kessel)
Gibson advert featuring Gibson artist Barney Kessel, playing his signature model, the Barney Kessel Regular

Barney Kessel and Gibson at work for Contemporary records
Gibson Barney Kessel Custom - Three of a Kind
Gibson Barney Kessel Custom - Three of a Kind
Advert for three Gibson Artist Acoustics; each being played by the jazz musician that gave it its name. Johnny Smith, Tal Farlow and Barney Kessel

Each of these famous guitarists served as the inspiration for a special Gibson model - designed by him, for his kind of music, for his guitar technique, for his special sound
Gibson Barney Kessel Custom - Barney Kessel Guitar
Gibson Barney Kessel Custom - Barney Kessel Guitar
This early sixties advert for the new Barney Kessel guitars shows Barney playing the Barney Kessel Custom. That is the maple-necked version of this guitar. The Barney Kessel Regular has a neck made of mahogany.
Jazz strings suitable for this guitar

D'Addario XLS600 (D'Addario Stainless Steel Electric Guitar Strings Jazz Medium)

Dean Markley 2506B (Dean Markley Nickelsteel Electric - Jazz)

Thomastik-Infeld JS111 (light flatwound jazz swing electric guitar strings)

D'Addario XLS590 (D'Addario Stainless Steel Electric Guitar Strings Jazz Light)

D'Addario ECG24 (D'Addario Chrome Flat Wound Electric Guitar Strings Jazz Light)

D'Addario EHR350 (D'Addario S/Steel Half Round Electric Guitar Strings Jazz Light)

D'Addario EJ20 (D'Addario Electric Guitar Strings Jazz Extra-Light)

Thomastik-Infeld JS110 (flatwound extra light jazz swing electric guitar strings)

D'Addario EHR360 (D'Addario S/Steel Half Round Electric Guitar Strings Jazz Medium)

D'Addario EJ21 (D'Addario Electric Jazz Light)

The 1960s saw Gibson produce several full-bodied artist archtop models. The Byrdland had been around since 1955, with the Tal Farlow, Barney Kessel, Trini Lopez and Johnny Smith all debuted in 1961. These were all fine jazz guitars, with price tags to match.

The Barney Kessel came in two variations, the mahogany-necked Regular and the maple-necked Custom, both available from 1961 until 1973. The Custom was a deluxe instrument; ornate inlays and gold plating throughout - it launched at a significantly higher price than the Regular, $560 and $395 respetively (1/9/61 Gibson price list). Both were were produced at Gibson's legendary Kalamazoo plant, in Michigan, USA.

The following description is taken from the 1970 Gibson electric acoustics catalogue

BARNEY KESSEL-C - Artist Model Designed for the musician who requires beauty and ultimate performance. A special magnetic field in the bridge pickup emphasizes the treble frequencies and produces unusual tones throughout the entire range.

FEATURES: Carved spruce top. Carved maple back, slim, fast, low -action neck joins body at 15th fret. Five-piece curly maple neck, adjustable truss rod, rosewood fingerboard with "bow-tie" pearl inlays. Gold-plated adjustable Tune-O-Matic bridge. Twin humbucking pickups. Separate tone and volume control. Three-position toggle switch. Gold-plated metal parts. 17" wide, 21" long, 3" deep; 25 " scale, 20 frets.

BK-C - Custom Model - Cherry Sunburst finish
BK-R - Regular Model - Cherry Sunburst finish - Mahogany neck with pearl inlaid peghead, rosewood fingerboard with rectangular pearl inlays, rosewood bridge, chrome-plated metal parts.
607 - Faultless plush-lined case

T Bone Walker on the cover of his 1969 album, \"Everyday I Have the Blues\"
Another famous user, other than Barney Kessel himself, was bluesman T Bone Walker who posed with his Barney Kessel Regular on the cover of his 1969 album, "Everyday I Have the Blues"

1117 Regular models, and 740 Customs were produced in the twelve years of production, most in the mid 1960s. Sales in the early seventies account for a tiny proportion of the total.

Both Regular and Custom models were included in Gibson price lists until the end of 1971, and were discontinued, along with the Trini Lopez shortly afterwards. The last Barney Kessel guitars left the Gibson plant in 1973.

The table below compares prices (in October 1966) of the Barney Kessel models with other archtops, and representative thinlines and solid-bodies.

Artist acoustics
Johnny Smith D$1025
S-400CES$1000
L-5CES$875
Trini Lopez Deluxe$695
Barney Kessel Custom$675
Tal Farlow$650
Barney Kessel Regular$525
ES-175D$450
ES-125DC$275
Thinline acoustics
Byrdland$775
ES-335TD$365
ES-125TC$265
Solid bodies
SG Custom$455
Firebird VII$379.50
Melody Maker$149.50

Catalogue appearances

1962 Gibson electric guitar and bass catalogue
The 1962 Gibson electric guitar and bass catalogue

1963 Gibson electric guitar and bass catalogue
The 1963 Gibson electric guitar and bass catalogue

1966 Gibson electric guitar and bass catalogue
The 1966 Gibson electric guitar and bass catalogue

1970 Gibson Electric Acoustics catalogue
The 1970 Gibson Electric Acoustics catalogue

A Gibson guitar designed by the great jazz guitarist himself, with musical capability to match his tremendous technique, and vital inventive playing. It offers the purest tone over the entire range, with a special magnetic field in the bridge pickup to emphasize the highs

Back to the GIBSON INDEX | comment




US ebay listings

1963-64 Gibson Barney Kessel Std., wide neck, Nickel parts, NICE example w/ OHSC

Current price: $3295.00
buy it now
Time left: 6d 3h
Vintage 1964 Gibson Trini Lopez Custom Archtop Barney Kessel Standard L-5 Es175

Current price: $2500.00
buy it now
Time left: 20d 13h 49m
1966 Gibson Barney Kessel Custom (#GAT0303)

Current price: $6595.00
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Time left: 27d 22h 23m
1968 Gibson Barney Kessel Custom (#GAT0247)

Current price: $5995.00
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Time left: 9d 18h 11m
1959 AIRLINE TUXEDO KAY BARNEY KESSEL PRO VINTAGE ELECTRIC GUITAR 7240

Current price: $1899.00
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Time left: 20d 22h 53m
1962 GIBSON BARNEY KESSEL USA GUITAR PART

Current price: $450.00
buy it now
Time left: 28d 4h 3m
1965 Airline Kay Barney Kessel electric guitar with Kleenex Box pickups w/ case

Current price: $1299.99
buy it now
Time left: 20d 1h 10m
Vintage Gibson Barney Kessel Reg, Trini Lopez Deluxe Chrome Tailpiece 1965-1973

Current price: $199.00
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Time left: 1d 19h 12m
See more results on eBay here


UK ebay listings

Vintage 1964 Gibson Trini Lopez Custom Archtop Barney Kessel Standard L-5 Es175

Current price: £1594.59
buy it now
Time left: 20d 13h 49m
Gibson Custom truss rod cover L5,Barney Kessel,355 etc 60s,70s

Current price: £19.99
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Time left: 4d 10h 35m
1968 Vintage Gibson Nickel Pickguard Bracket Barney Kessel ES-335 1967 1969 1970

Current price: £49.11
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Time left: 20d 1h 37m
1962 Gibson Les Paul 3 Way Switch Tip ES SG L-5 Barney Kessel 1961 1963 98ST1

Current price: £31.25
buy it now
Time left: 15d 17h 12m
1965 Airline Kay Barney Kessel electric guitar with Kleenex Box pickups w/ case

Current price: £829.18
buy it now
Time left: 20d 1h 10m
HARD SHELL GUITAR CASE FITS Gibson BARNEY KESSEL CUSTOM & REGULAR Guitar

Current price: £44.64
buy it now
Time left: 1d 19h 50m
vintage 1970's Ventura Barney Kessel Tailpiece for archtop jazz guitar

Current price: £38.26
buy it now
Time left: 15d 21h 1m
vintage 1959 1961 Gibson archtop tailpiece for es 125 150 Barney Kessel Regular

Current price: £136.50
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Time left: 20d 20h 20m
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German ebay listings

BARNEY KESSEL STANDARD CASE -- FITS GIBSON

Current price: €189.00
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Time left: 18d 20h 46m
1968 Gibson Barney Kessel Custom, cherry Sunburst OHC, EC

Current price: €4500.00
buy it now
Time left: 13d 13h 34m
1967 Gibson Barney Kessel Custom - Cherry Sunburst

Current price: €5050.00
buy it now
Time left: 22d 14h 26m
See more results on eBay here

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