The Gibson ES-345 TD was launched in 1959, and first demonstrated at the summer trade shows of that year - along with the Gibson ES355 stereo varitone. These models came one year after the sucessful launch of the Gibson ES335 and Gibson ES355 models. All of these guitars were part of the new thinline series of guitars, characterised by a semi-hollow body: a maple top and back with a central maple block running the length of the body continuing from where the neck ends. The neck, in typical Gibson style, was initially mahogany, with a rosewood fingerboard. The 345 doesn't have some of the ornamentation of the 355, but it still has gold plated hardware, and the stereo varitone circuitry. In total 10560 345s were shipped between 1959 and 1979, with 1967 the peak. See ES-345 shipping data below.
The stereo capability of the 345 featured heavily in early publicity material. The May/Jun 1959 Gibson Gazette proclaimed: New and first from Gibson... true stereophonic sound for the guitar... it goes on: Now - the surrounding sound of stereo comes to the guitar, and music becomes magic ...an exciting, thrilling experience for player and listener alike.
The following description is taken from the 1970 Gibson thinline catalogue
This versatile instrument offers six pre-set tonalities with Gibson Vari-Tone control and exciting stereophonic tone separation. Play the ES-345TD through a stereo amplifier, two-channel amplifier or two separate amplifiers. Special stereo wiring and "Y" cable provide tone separation.
FEATURES: Curly maple arched top and back, gold-plated metal parts. Slim, fast, low-action neck joins body at 20th fret. Laminated neck, adjustable truss rod. Rosewood fingerboard, pearl inlays. Adjustable Tune-O-Matic bridge for perfect intonation. Twin Humbucking pickups with separate tone and volume controls which can be pre-set. Three-position toggle switch. Stereo wiring and "Y" cable. Vari-Tone built-in tone selector. Six pre-set tonalities. 16" wide, 19" long, 1 ¾" thin; 24 ¾" scale, 22 frets.
ES-345TD - Sunburst finish
ES-345TDC - Cherry finish
ES-345TDW - Walnut finish
519 - Faultless plush case
304 - Archcraft plush case
ZC-19 - Zipper case for 519 case
Gibson shipped 10560 ES-345 guitars between 1959 and 1979, the peak production years being 1967, then 1968. Check out a 1967 Gibson ES-345. The most widely employed finish was the basic sunburst, with 43% of guitars being that colour. Cherry is also a common colour, on about a third of the total shipped. It actually proved to be more popular than Sunburst in much of the late sixties and seventies. Rare finishes are Natural, Ebony, and Tobacco Sunburst. The earliest examples, and particularly the 50 Natural ones, are particularly sought after by guitar collectors.