Up for sale, a 1973 Gibson ES-355TD in excellent condition and in perfect working order. Wired for mono operation with the original Varitone still wired into the circuit, the range of sounds that one can eek from this ES-355 is truly astounding. Essentially an upscale version of the 335, the 355 features all the hallmarks of a top-tier Gibson "Custom" model, with an ebony fretboard, pearloid block inlays, multi-ply binding on the top, headstock, and transparent celluloid pickguard, and the iconic split diamond inlay beneath the Gibson logo.
The semi-hollow maple body gives the guitar both the quick attack of this classic tone wood, and also a warmer, more airy response than a solidbody. The instrument has a commanding, clear acoustic voice, and weighing in at 9lbs 8oz, this guitar delivers a host of classic Gibson tonalities while still being kind to your back for long sessions and gigs. The original patent number T Top humbuckers are intact, with great power, growl, and cut in the bridge position, and plenty of warmth and articulation when you switch to the neck humbucker. The Varitone allows for five distinct sounds that can range from midrange boosted snap, to nasally quack, to hollowed out twang. These sounds can really bring out fingerpicking dynamics, as well as uniquely voicing your favorite tube amp or fuzz box. Professionally setup and strung with 11-50 strings, this ES-355TD has low, comfortable action and solid intonation.
The three-piece maple neck has a fairly slender C shaped profile down at the nut, and the depth of the profile grows considerably as you move into the higher registers of the fretboard, filling the palm. The walnut gloss nitro lacquer finish on the profile is subtly transparent, and there's some very nice flame figuring in the maple on the central portion of the neck in particular. The profile does have nice, full shoulders too, with a solid and substantial feel. The bound ebony fretboard has been professionally refretted with medium jumbo fretwire, and these frets have plenty of height and crown, with more substance than your typical "fretless wonder." The guitar plays well up the neck with no buzzing or dead spots, and the fretwire shows only the faintest wear beneath the plain strings in the first position, with virtually no wear further up the neck or on the bass side. The nut width is 1 9/16", and the stock plastic nut is intact. On the headstock, the original Gibson-branded "waffle back" machines with metal tulip buttons are present, turn smoothly, and hold pitch as they should.
The stock electronics work as they should, and the original wiring harness is intact, albeit reworked for standard mono operation. Since the Varitone is also designed to split the signal for stereo use, only one half of this circuit needed to be utilized to offer all five of the Varitione sounds (the sixth setting is a bypass). All of the original metal parts are intact, including the stock gold pickup covers, ABR-1 bridge, and Maestro Vibrola tailpiece. Easily one of the best vibrato units ever designed for guitar, this Maestro responds with great subtlety and nuance, perfect for warbles, dives, and flutters, all while jumping back to the original pitch with ease. Visible through the bass side F hole, the original purple and black rectangular "Union Made" Gibson label is present, noting the ES-355TD model.
The pickguard is a brand new piece of celluloid, crafted by Pickguardian to the exact specs of the original. The original pickguards are notorious for "off gassing," a process that causes the pickguard to crumble and disintegrate, which ages the adjacent hardware, and leaves the majority of 355s on the market without their stock guards. The new guard has a gorgeous brownish-red transparent appearance that's faithful to the vintage look. The other plastic parts on the guitar consist of a set of original witch hat knobs with gold inserts, stock Varitione chicken head knob and gold plate, the original bridge pickup ring, and a newer neck pickup ring that matches vintage spec.
Cosmetically, this guitar shows some honest playwear, but has also been very well cared for with no structural issues or repairs of any kind. There is light buckle rash central to the back, as well as various small finish scratches and scuffs, mostly on the back, but also in the pick path on the bass side. There is light wear through the gold plating on the bridge and front edge of the Vibrola as well, while the gold tuners remain quite clean with only light surface patina. There are also a few extremely tiny inconsequential nicks on the neck profile, but nothing that affects playability in the slightest, and also slight wear down to the bare flame maple from frets 3-8. Beneath and adjacent to the pickguard, the finish has aged to a rosy burgundy, with very prominent lacquer checking as a result of the off-gassing of the original guard. This wear is purely cosmetic, and the laminate maple top is structurally sound.
This ES-355TD is clean, complete, and dialed in for the discerning player who wants all the versatility this model can provide, with more conventional mono operation.
The original Gibson hardshell case is included. This case shows notable wear on the exterior and much of the original tolex has peeled up on the edges, while still retaining the original Gibson silkscreen logo. The stock latches are present, but the original handle is missing. The case is structurally sound, with a purple plush interior.