1950s Catalog image of the ES-175. This image was used in all early 1950s catalogues.
The ES-175 is one of the best known jazz guitars of all time. People are most familiar with the twin-humbucker equipped ES-175D - which came about in 1957. But before they had humbuckers, the 175 was fitted with single coil P-90s; just one from 1949 (ES-175) and optionally two from 1953 (ES-175D).
The guitar pictured is in superb condition for its age, but this is often the case with high end guitars; they tend to get looked after. It is all original except (probably) the trapeze tailpiece; originally it would have been fitted with a bail-type tailpiece as seen in the Catalog image on the right.
Typical early fifties features: one-piece mahogany neck, maple top, back and sides. P90 single coil pickups, rosewood compensated bridge, fifties barrel knobs. Single-ring Kluson tuning keys. Crown inlay positioned above center on the headstock.
Other features unchanged in later ES-175 versions: bound front and back, with a bound neck and split parallelogram inlays.
The 1954 US price for the ES-175 was $205.
This ES-175 has a particularly attractive burst pattern - most evident on the guitar back - ranging from amber through a reddish brown to near black. The sides of this guitar are a deep walnut brown. The cream celluloid binding looks particularly good against these darker edges.
The shipping figures for the ES-175 in 1954 were as follows: Sunburst - 599, Natural - 141 - a total of 740 instruments shipped that year. These totals dropped continuously after 1953 when the two-pickup model was launched, and at no point afterwards did it regain it's popularity with regard sales.
The bridge on this guitar consists a rosewood base and rosewood saddle - perfect for the warm jazzy sound appropriate to this guitar. It was free-floating and would have to be physically moved along the body to adjust intonation. The serial number A16929 can be seen on the label inside the soundhole.
The headstock inlays are mother-of-pearl, both Gibson logo and crown motif. Note the position of the crown, somewhat raised from the central position. Tuning keys are closed gear individual Kluson 320VP type with plastic buttons.
Have a closer look at some of these ES-175s
Need the value of your guitar? The Official Vintage Guitar Magazine Price Guide 2023 is out now