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Help identifying which ES- model this guitar is or was


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I have a link below with some pictures of what I thought was an ES-125, but now think may be an ES-150.


I have looked at books, websites and shown it to people, and there is always some contradiction - someone's statement that a certain change was made or a certain model discontinued at a certain point in history leaves gaps or uncertainty.


I also saw an ES-300 description, but can't tell the difference between the ES-150 and ES-300, well, certain versions were similar, and some different.


What I would like to know is whether the V6657-xx FON is consistent with any of these models.


I know the pickup shown is not original and that the Kluson tuners were put back after someone else put Takamines on it. The knobs may or may not be original. The neck doesn't look like it belongs on an ES-125, but could be right on a '150 or '300.


I'm hoping that the FON is the wrong format for one of the models, so it can be ruled out.


I had a hard time with uploading the website below. Apologies if it is sluggish.


Thank you.


Everyone I ask about it asks me if I want to sell it. No. It's not likely worth anything significant, even if it was all original, and it's my only guitar, so I'm keeping it. To learn. To play. Thank you for any help.



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Sorry but I can't open your link to see your guitar.


However I now own an ES150 (1948) and can help if I can see what you have. When I bought mine I didn't know what it was and one of the forum members provided me with a lot of detail about the differences between an ES125 and an ES150. The 150 is bigger. Mine has a single P90 on it. Apparently pre-war versions had bar pickups like the one Charlie Christian used.

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I'd say what you have there is a 1956 ES-150. The "V" in the FON denotes 1956. The body thickness, fingerboard markers, tailpiece and original single P-90 identify it as an ES-150.


The bridge assembly is not original, nor is the pickguard. The knobs COULD be original.


My records show 1956 as the last year for this model and only six were made.

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Thanks, all.


I can rationalize why someone changed the pickup, tuners, etc, but changing the bridge and pickguard seem kind of weird to me...the pickguard not being critical to the sound, perhaps the bridge arguably different-sounding than a different design...


So I think back to a curveball someone threw me awhile ago - that the fretboard, if not the neck, is not consistent with a '125, and that someone may have paid a premium for a fancier detail. But on a '125...a student guitar, allegedly, right?


Maybe that's the problem with history...trying to recreate details...


I measured the body, but forgot the numbers...it did seem to agree with what I could find for ES-150...


I felt weird listing the full s/n...the last 2 digits were in the high 20's,


Thank you for you help. I'll be trying to learn how to play it.

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All I know is what the store told me way back when...'85,86,87 not sure.


They knew about the pickup & tuners/machines because they were obvious.


No telling I guess...


Um, is there anything playing-wise that is not compatible with the 'floating bridge' (I don't know if that's correct terminology, but I'm referring to the bridge being held in place by the string tension and not adhesive), like m3 note bending? Or am I being overly analytical?


Regarding the comment on the bridge not being original, it came with heavy flatwounds...either 13-53 or 15-58...one set was on the guitar and the other was a spare set...I don't remember which was which...I think the 15-58 were on it.


Hmmm, physics nightmares from school coming back...heavier string mass than lighter gauge, same scale/string length, same notes must need higher tension, right? Maybe the bridge needed replacement at some point.


What it is or it's history doesn't really matter, but it is interesting to chase the clues...but my time would be better spent studying blues instead of clues.

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All I know is what the store told me way back when...'85,86,87 not sure.


The store was wrong. This guitar is a 150, not a 125, nor never was. They either didn't know the difference, or outright lied to you to make a sale. Nobody in their right mind would cut trapazoid inlays into a dot neck, or replace the entire fingerboard as an "upgrade" to a student model guitar. When solid body guitars became so popular in the sixties, you could hardly give these economy model archtops away, that's why Gibson stopped making them. It would have been cheaper to buy another used guitar than it would have been to modify or replace the fingerboard.



...is there anything playing-wise that is not compatible with the 'floating bridge' like m3 note bending?


I've never heard of anybody moving a floating bridge by bending strings, although it is typical to use heavier guage strings on these type instruments. I currently use 14-67 on my L-5 and L-7, but I did use 11-49 when I first started to make the transition from an ES-345 to the L-5, and still never had a problem.



Regarding the comment on the bridge not being original...


The bridge shown in the photo of your guitar is a typical generic one-size-fits-all replacement archtop bridge available from any parts house such as Stew-Mac. I put one on an old Silvertone I rebuilt years ago. The fact that it has two "feet" that sit on the top of the guitar, with the thin piece of wood between the feet, allows it to curve to fit the contour of any archtop. Gibson bridges have a full base and are curved (or carved) to fit the individual guitar for which is is being fitted to. I have never seen an original Gibson with this type of bridge base. There are plenty of reasons why the bridge assembly might have been replaced, lost, broken, wouldn't intonate, that one we'll never know.


As for the pickguard, the reason I said it is not original is because of the way it's trimmed around the humbucker, it looks to good, like it was cut-to-fit. I wouldn't think a humbucker would fit that well into a pickguard trimmed to fit the original dog-eared P-90.

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Thank you, Larry. I appreciate the detailed explanations. I don't have a need to take the pickup out so I don't want to, just to see the top cross section to tell if it is solid or laminated, but I thought the sound holes showed some layers where the finish is a bit chipped...I had convinced myself from some book that the 150 had a spruce-top and the 125



The store was probably just not aware. They didn't twist my arm, I thought it was cheap enough to get it for 'someday' when I had time to learn, same price as a 2-pickup single cutaway blonde maple one with no brand name.


Hopefully you'll find this funny...I pondered for quite a while how the electronics got inside, since some newer ones have access panels - a ship in a bottle causes me the same confusion...a friend explained (slowly, you know)...tools, not long skinny fingers.


OK, enough off-topic display of ignorance.

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Hey, found a link for you:




I'm fairly sure this Forum's software can't deal with a long link like that, but perhaps you can cu & paste it. Confirms that you've got yourself a nice ES150 there.


According to the images in the link, your bridge isn't OEM, as Larry noted the stock bridge base would have contacted the top all the way across.

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Thank you


I just read the archtop.com URL & went there directly - nice site...nice is actually an insufficient word. Thanks. There are some beautiful instruments pictured there...


I didn't completely answer a couple questions there I had been planning on coming back here with, but I fine-tuned them with new insight...


1) My bridge is 'floating', appears to be held in place by string tension and not adhesive. At one point recently I noticed it/thought appeared a bit crooked. I am curious if the proper bridge location can be checked by measurement, or has to be done by ear. When a neck or fretboard scale is specified, is that from the inside edge of the nut to the center of the bridge (like, say this neck has 22 frets and a scale length of, what is it...24.75"?, can I tweak the position of the bridge for this, or half that for the 12th fret)?,?


2) Common sense and the archtop site said to change one string at a time. I have not replaced strings myself; the last two times they were done by others...anything to make sure is right when done? (I read somewhere about having enough turns around the tuner shaft, I assume the turns automatically layer in a natural order starting at the hole through the tuner shaft and winding away from the hole. I assume tightening should be CCW from players position, but I ask because I tend toward mechanical dyslexia/Murray's Law - if something can be done backward, the harder I try not to, the more assuredly I WILL do so.


3) I'm using a solid-state Peavey amp for now. I was given a BR-9 amp conditionally that I keep it intact, starting with a new voice coil (reconing surely required simultaneously). There was no Internet then, & I did not find (I have since) someone who could recone it (Jensen field-coil speaker) with efforts toward keeping the sound close to intended.

Temporary fix was a permanent magnet speaker plus filter choke, maybe a resistor too.


As it is, it's not very loud (hmm, maybe there IS a resistor in series with the added filter choke minus the field coil) & there wasn't anything particularly endearing about it to me, so back in the basement it went.


Since I recently found a reconing shop that does vintage stuff locally (about $35), I'm considering respecting the instructions of the giver and getting it back to the field coil speaker. I plan to change the filter caps in the interest of the power transformer's longevity...I just don't have a good feeling that repeatedly reforming electrolytics buys one time indefinitely...


Unless I'm told that modern electrolytics are 'too good' and will make a big unwanted sound change, on to the next question - should I expect some improvement in volume or character returning to the original field coil speaker arrangement (remove the added choke+series resistor)? Or should I leave the added choke minus the presumed-present added resistor (substitute for field coil resistance of 1000 ohms per schematics on the Web)?


4) My memory is coming back...I think there might have been those fluted 'radio' knobs on it when I got it and the NOS amber round ones were put on by the guy who put Kluson Deluxes back on. I couldn't remember, but seeing descriptions at the archtop site reminded me.





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An archtop's bridge is held in place by string tension only, not adhesive, which should never be used. It's only a problem if you try to use light gauge strings and do some aggressive bending. (Frankly, there are much better guitars for that style of playing.) The method for setting intonation with that type of bridge is a bit clumsy but works. You move the bridge assembly back & forth until you get the outer "E" strings intonated properly, then the others should be relatively close. If you lok closely at the bridge itself, you'll notice that the string stagger has the lower four strings forward, the higher two back. This assumes you'll use a medium to heavy gauge set with a wound third string. These won't intonate properly with a light gauge set with an unwound third. For that type of setup you'd need to swap it out for an ABR-1 Tune-A-Matic, etc. After you get it set up with a string brand & type you like, yes, just change one string at a time. Man, is that a cool guitar or what????!!!!!


There is a host of info about the BR-9 amp on the web. (Wow, what a great combination with an ES150!) I totally agree the amp should be kept stock. Weber, Orange County Speaker and several other outfits can recone/restore the speaker to be good or better than new. Another idea, if the speaker is still functional, is to simply replace it with a modern equivalent and store the original away. Some folks will run the poor old speaker until it shorts & dies, at which time it's virtually impossible to bring back. If you want to keep it in the amp, a quality speaker reconer can set it up with a fresh cone and address any cone travel issues that may be endemic to a particular speaker. In general, vintage Jensens sound terrific, but were never designed to operate at modern volume levels and are notorious for shorting out their voice coils.


Your issue with the amp's tone is likely a combination of factors. Old tubes, dirty sockets, drifted resistors & caps, etc. Bottom line, there's no reason that amp shouldn't sound fabulous, so have it looked at by a QUALIFIED tube amp technician. I say the Q word, because there are too many hacks out there that will ruin a perfectly good vintage amp by modifications, bad parts substitutions, ignorance or stupidity. I spend a lot of my free time sorting out vintage Fender amps for local homeboys and get infuriated by some of the idiotic stuff I find inside some amps. By all means have the filter capacitor(s) & other electrolytic caps replaced, sooner rather than later. Old electrolytic caps are a disaster waiting to happen, and if they short they can take out the transformers, etc., which on a BR-9 are unlikely to be replaceable. During servicing a good amp tech will also recommend installing a modern 3-prong cord, which is always a good idea for safety's sake. Bear in mind that Gibson amps from that era are almost all true point-to-point. That is, their components are directly soldered to each other, rather than on a tag board ala Fender. This makes them much more difficult to work on and is a primary reason why so many went to the landfill, rather than the museum.


I hate to use the "F" word on the "G" forum, but a highly reputable outfit that can advise you on your amp is Tonecraft Amp Repair in Austin, TX, run by a gent named "Vintage Jon", a regular contributor on the Fender Forum's Amp Mods section. He's a highly respected vintage amp expert and has a 1000% satisfaction rating best I can tell. Here's their link, and tell him SoK66 sent you. I have no business affiliation with them, but am on a mission to save every vintage amp I can!




Wow, an ES150 through a BR-9. The ghost of Charlie Christian may appear in your living room!

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