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ES-125 ID

#1 User is offline   jlfreema 

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 02:22 PM

Can anyone help me identify a Gibson archtop guitar. I appears to be an early ES 125 except that it has a 17 inch lower bought and any info I find says it should be 16 1/4. It has a maple top back and sides. It has a prewar silk screen logo. There are no visable numbers anywhere.

The head stock has the pre-war scriped logo not he more recent style like were in the pictures that you directed me to. The fingerboard has dot inlays to the 15th fret and is unbound. The pickguard is unbound and has oldstyle hardware as was seen on prewar gibson mandolins. The tuning machines are original individual syle but the knobs have been replaced. I would like to send pics. Can that be done through this forum or can could I send them to your e-mail address.

#2 User is offline   Ignatius 

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 03:28 PM

Hey jlfreema--

Pictures would be a help although I don't know myself how to post them to the new forum. I think I have a pretty good idea, though, what your guitar might be. First, does the fretboard have block inlays (rather than dots)? If so, then it probably is an ES-150, which is the fancier sibling of the ES-125 (which I have). Here is a link to a few shots of the ES-150 that are from a great archtop resource, archtop.com:

http://www.archtop.c...c_50ES_150.html

In contrast, here is an ES-125, which in its full-depth form stayed pretty much the same for the better part of its production run--and at first glance looks A LOT like an ES-150:

http://www.archtop.c...c_64ES_125.html

But there are differences. See the difference in the fretboards in particular? If you are lucky enough to have the original tuners (unlikely, but who knows?), then they are a tip-off as well. The ES-125 has white plastic kidney-shaped tuners, while the ES-150 has the minty white or creamish-looking tulip tuners that one still sees on many Gibsons produced yet today.

There is good news in either case. If you indeed have an ES-150 (the 17" bout measurement, if correct, is a strong giveaway), then you have a fairly valuable instrument--not Loar-era or '58 ES-335 type value, but still a nice bit o' coin. If you have a "lowly" ES-125 like I do, it isn't worth nearly as much (although one still can get a grand or so for it in good condition), but it is a great guitar. I love mine.

Let me know if you have other questions. Big warning: don't trust only the tuners or the pickguard in making your identification. Many people (including me) have replaced these, especially on the ES-125 because they often suffered from nitrocellulose decay over the years. Indeed, once I learn to post pictures, I can show you my ES-125, which Joe Vinikow at archtop.com did some fabulous work on this past summer. He fixed up a crumbling guitar very nicely (including appropriate and tasteful "aging" of the new parts), and in the process, he spruced it up a bit with some ES-150 appointments so that now, to the uncareful eye, it might look like an ES-150. But, the 16 or 16-1/4" lower bout size and the dot-inlay fretboard are the giveaway for the ES-125.

Hope that helps!

Ignatius

#3 User is offline   Ignatius 

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 02:41 AM

Hey again--

I probably should have added that the silkscreen logo is not necessarily an indication of a prewar instrument. The ES-125 had the logo silkscreened until the end of its production in 1970, and the ES-333 also had a silkscreened logo, even though it was only produced from 2003-2005! (The picture of the ES-150 that I included with the link in my last post actually is a post-war ES-150, and it also has a silkscreened logo.) I am sure there are other examples in the Gibson history. If I had to hazard a guess, the silkscreen logo is an indication of the level of appointments, rather than (in and of itself) a sign of age. In other words, Gibson sometimes uses the silkscreened logo on the stripped-down, plain, or student models to distinguish them from their high-end brethern (and sistern).

Ignatius

#4 User is offline   jlfreema 

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 12:56 PM

The head stock has the pre-war scriped logo not he more recent style like were in the pictures that you directed me to. The fingerboard has dot inlays to the 15th fret and is unbound. The pickguard is unbound and has oldstyle hardware as was seen on prewar gibson mandolins. The tuning machines are original individual syle but the knobs have been replaced. I would like to send pics. Can that be done through this forum or can could I send them to your e-mail address.

#5 User is offline   Ignatius 

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 04:11 PM

Okay, I think I'm still prepared to label your guitar an ES-150. I do think pictures would be helpful, but I don't know how to post them. I think there is a thread in the "New Forum Comments" folder that might explain how to do so. Or else you might start a thread there asking about pictures because that is the place where all the funky forum issues are being worked out as we adjust to the new forum.

But back to the guitar. The 17" lower bout really forces me to lean toward the ES-150 because the ES-125s (in all the variants, from full-depth to thinline) were always only 16-1/4" as far as I know. If your guitar has a P-90 pickup, rather than pickup blades (one on the bass side and three on the treble side) or a Charlie Christian, then it still probably is an early post-war ES-150 that makes use of a neck made before production was halted from 1942-1945/6. This did happen as Gibson ratcheted up the guitar assembly lines after the war and needed to work through back stock.

Here is another page to look at: Vintage Gibson Archtop Page. I find the little bursts of description on that page to be very helpful: they cut to the chase and catch the most important identification elements. I think the photo of the ES-150 that you will see as you scroll down the page to the ES-150 entry may look a bit like your guitar (you also will be able to see a picture of a typical ES-125, and even with those fairly low-tech pictures, I think you will be able to see some differences between an ES-125 and an ES-150 on one page, rather than having to switch between pages as you needed to do with my previous links). Based on the information on the page I linked above, it looks like the ES-150 did not get the block inlays until 1950, so from 1946-1950, the ES-125 and the ES-150 were virtually identical. This probably explains why the ES-150 was retired in '56. The bad news is this: if your guitar has a P-90, it probably is an ES-150 that isn't worth any more than an ES-125 in the same shape. Both were considered student models in the post-war years. However, look at the descriptions of the pickups for the pre-war ES-150s: if any of those descriptions match your guitar, you may have a collectible guitar on your hands. (By the way, the lack of a clear serial number marking also pulls me toward the ES-150/ES-125 side of the model spectrum. Because these were considered student-model guitars, their serial numbers were only stamped in ink on the wood itself, and in almost every case I have seen, the serial numbers over the years have just faded away. I think I saw mine once when I first bought my guitar, but it is now long gone.)

In fairness, I think that page is overly harsh in its "grading" of collectibility. I think the author is operating on the assumption that a collector is in it for the money, rather than for the joy of the instruments. The ES-125 is rising in value steadily as many of us find that it is an amazing guitar. If this is what students were using to learn to play in the '40s, '50s, and '60s, then no wonder so many great guitarists arose in that era. The ES-125 and the -150 put contemporary student models to shame. I can't imagine that any of the cheap guitars that I owned as a kid are even active today, much less will they still be in workhorse shape and sounding great fifty years down the road.

Let me know what you think. And let's both try to work on getting pictures going in this part of the forum. I am looking forward to seeing your guitar--and to sharing pictures of mine. I can't take any time to learn about pictures until later this weekend, though. I have a new semester of classes ready to jump out at me any minute!

Ignatius

#6 User is offline   jlfreema 

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 02:15 PM

Hey finally figured out how to post a few pics. Let me know if this helps.


Jack


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#7 User is offline   Ignatius 

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 04:06 PM

Hey Jack--

If you are sure the lower bout measures 17", then here is my educated guess, based on the pictures: an ES-150, circa 1946-1950, with a leftover pre-war neck. I am guessing also that the pickguard has been replaced as well, but with a copy of an ES-125 pickguard. I think someone thought this was an ES-125 and dressed it down style-wise, not realizing that it was actually the ES-125's flashier cousin, the 150.

If the lower bout measured 16" or 16-1/4" and if it had the post-war logo, then I would be inclined to call it an ES-125 based on the pictures, but I think the above description fits better.

By the way, that guitar looks very nice! The headstock shows a bit of wear, but am I right that there is almost no checking in the finish of the body, no breaks in the binding or any major bangs or dings? It looks fantastic in the pictures. Congratulations on a great guitar!

Now I'll be embarrassed to post pictures of mine because I think the last owner used it part of the time to break up concrete: it has a lot of wear on parts of it, but that is part of what I love as well.

I'm impressed! I hope your guitar plays as well as it looks.

Ignatius

#8 User is offline   jlfreema 

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 04:59 PM

Hey Ignatius

The lower bout definetly measures 17 ". I bought a case for an ES-125 of ebay based on the neck and head stock. When in would not fit in the case I began searching for other models that might be more appropreate. The guitar is in great shape for its age. I did repair some wholes that were put in the sides of the guitar and put in fresh frets. Other than that is apprears to be orginal. It plays and sounds amazing. I can't belive 60 year old technolgy sound this good.

The pickguard is vintage including the hardware. It had spent 25 years in a friends, fathers closet before it came to me. Now that I have a better discription it will probley end up on E-Bay soon. I wish that I could afford to buy it from her now but 3 kids in college rules that out. There is a simular guitar for sale on E-bay now.Check it out.

http://cgi.ebay.com/...:MEWA:IT&ih=007

Jack

#9 User is offline   booismycat 

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 03:22 AM

If I were in Vegas, I'd bet that Ignasius is correct.
I recently downloaded the Gibson BlueBook ($15) off the web and found the following:

ES-150 (1946-1956 MFG.)
- similar to ES-150 (pre-war model), except has slightly larger 17 in. body, layered black pickguard, silkscreen peghead logo,
laminated maple body, P-90 pickup in neck position, and side mounted jack, mfg. 1946-1956.


Grading 100% 98% 95% 90% 80% 70% 60%
MINT NEAR MINT EXC+ EXC VG+ VG G
N/A $2,750 $2,300 $1,950 $1,700 $1,500 $1,250
In 1950, bound fingerboard with trapezoid inlay replaced original part/design.

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