First released in 1949, Gibson’s ES-175 was a revolutionary new take on the challenge of electrifying what was otherwise an acoustic archtop guitar, and it immediately set a benchmark for jazz tone and performance that remains the standard to this day. For most players, though, the ES-175 fully reached its potential a decade later in 1959, when the PAF humbucking pickups that had replaced its original P-90s in 1957 were joined by a new rounded, ultra-comfortable neck profile. Now, for 2012, Gibson Custom Memphis recreates this vintage classic as a Vintage Original Spec (VOS) instrument that’s period-perfect in every detail.
To recreate the 1959 ES-175, Gibson Custom Memphis employs all the tonewoods, components and constructional details that helped to make the original legendary. The body, designed by Gibson to reduce feedback in a full-depth archtop, is made from three-ply plain maple with an AAA plain maple top face. From the pointed Florentine cutaway, to the solid maple rims with replica cotton rim stays, to the precise binding dimensions and colors, every effort has been made to ensure the look of the 1959 ES-175 is dead-on. The set neck is made from solid mahogany with a bound rosewood fingerboard inlaid with characteristic split-parallelogram position markers. Carved to a comfortably rounded late ’50s profile with hand-rolled binding, it exudes the playing feel of a well-aged classic. A mother-of-pearl Gibson logo and crown inlay grace the headstock, along with a set of vintage-style, single-line TonePros™ tuners with amber tulip buttons. The hardware complement is completed by a multi-ply ES-175 pickguard, traditional floating rosewood bridge, and a correct “zig-zag” trapeze tailpiece made on the original building forms, previously lost for decades.