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i will be getting this ES-175 of 1991 (need advice)


tsol

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Hi

 

next week i will be finally getting my dream guitar: an used ES-175 of 1991 :

 

es175qh5.jpg

 

i haven't tried nor heard the guitar yet, i will be meeting the seller next week only

 

as this will be my first guitar of this type from Gibson, is there anything particular to report about the year made of this guitar or something to expect?

 

when i will be buying it, what should i check carefully ?

 

ive heard the original bridge is somewhat lacking and is to be canned and to be replaced by another (better?) one.. ? not sure if that's true enough though; because its the only negative part as "user" review i have read about this guitar when i was searching across the net...

 

if there is any other advice that i should know, please let me know

 

thanks in advance.

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tsol,

Looks like a nice instrument. I see it has a mahogany back. I have an '88, built the same way. They are a bit mellower than the more common maple ones. I've had no problems with mine. I bought it new in'88. As far as the bridge is concerned, the only problem I encountered with the type used on this instrument was with a '93 ES-165. When I was adjusting the action (lowering it a bit), I kept the guitar fully tuned and as I turned the thumb-wheel instead of it rotating on the post, the entire post turned in the wood base. It ended up marring the finish under the bridge. Totally unnoticable but annoying.

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Hard to describe "mellower". Not as bright. A little softer' date=' more bass and mid. More bluesy? It's not [i']that[/i] much of a difference. I prefer it.

 

that sounds fine, just the right thing i need tho [-o<

 

do you own one?

 

what strings do you use?

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btw, that is the only page i have found about this guitar on gibson.com

 

http://www.gibson.com/en-us/Divisions/Gibson%20Custom/ES%20Models/ES-175/

 

i was using the website search feature tho.. its not even listed in the "archtop" section.. it almost seemed just like Gibson has never manufactured it ... i think neglecting phased out / unpopular? products is a common practice among big manufacturers brands

 

thumbs up for the website design / content.

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I had an '88 w/mahogany in natural that I sold (sorry I did it). I still have an '88 in vintage burst. I also have a '93 Custom shop and a '92 ES-165 both w/maple backs/sides. As far as strings, on the hollow bodies I use nickel 11s.

 

I don't think this model is being "phased out" nor do I consider it unpopular.

 

btw: I noticed the new L-4 is made with mahogany (see Gibson's site).

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Hi tsol -

 

I have a black 1991 Gibson ES-175 and a recent 2006 ES-175P (50's reisue / P-90's). They're both in the "show me your hollowbody" thread. I'm a huge fan of guitars made in the 1990's. I own three 1990's Gibson ES's and they all are stellar guitars.

 

My 1991 model is maple underneath all that beautiful finish, I'm sure the mahogany version is really nice too. Mine came stock using Schaller hardware (mine has Schalller keys and bridge, etc.) Its fit, finish, build, etc. are exquisite. The neck profile is fairly thin. I found the pickups a bit underwhelming for my situation and ordered Duncan Custom Shop Alnico V Staple Pickups, then added a Bigsby B-6. I added an L-4 style ebony bridge, I pinned it to the top, added a sound block and put new orange drop caps in. Even without all the mods, it's a really, really amazing guitar. The only "downside" is that it's a bit heavier than my more recent vintage sunburst 2006 ES-175P

 

You might wanna check out some recent ones too... My 2006 ES-175P is simply off the hook! It's taken a lot of work to get it where I like it, but it's totally worth all the effort. I dropped the action at the nut, pinned the bridge, added the Bigsby and put some vintage-style Historic Tuners. Believe it or not, the newer 2006 is all round "livelier" and resonates superbly. It sounds amazing unplugged or plugged in to my tube amps - and it's maple too. I ended up putting Duncan Antiquities in this one and put the stock P-90's in one of my ES-135's, so it's a pretty darn accurate reissue now.

 

Either way, you can't lose with that beauty. Good luck and post some more pics when you receive it!

 

Henry Lee

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Hi tsol -

 

I have a black 1991 Gibson ES-175 and a recent 2006 ES-175P (50's reisue / P-90's). They're both in the "show me your hollowbody" thread. I'm a huge fan of guitars made in the 1990's. I own three 1990's Gibson ES's and they all are stellar guitars.

 

My 1991 model is maple underneath all that beautiful finish' date=' I'm sure the mahogany version is really nice too. Mine came stock using Schaller hardware (mine has Schalller keys and bridge, etc.) Its fit, finish, build, etc. are exquisite. The neck profile is fairly thin. I found the pickups a bit underwhelming for my situation and ordered Duncan Custom Shop Alnico V Staple Pickups, then added a Bigsby B-6. I added an L-4 style ebony bridge, I pinned it to the top, added a sound block and put new orange drop caps in. Even without all the mods, it's a really, really amazing guitar. The only "downside" is that it's a bit heavier than my more recent vintage sunburst 2006 ES-175P

 

You might wanna check out some recent ones too... My 2006 ES-175P is simply off the hook! It's taken a lot of work to get it where I like it, but it's totally worth all the effort. I dropped the action at the nut, pinned the bridge, added the Bigsby and put some vintage-style Historic Tuners. Believe it or not, the newer 2006 is all round "livelier" and resonates superbly. It sounds amazing unplugged or plugged in to my tube amps - and it's maple too. I ended up putting Duncan Antiquities in this one and put the stock P-90's in one of my ES-135's, so it's a pretty darn accurate reissue now.

 

Either way, you can't lose with that beauty. Good luck and post some more pics when you receive it!

 

Henry Lee[/quote']

 

this all sounds pretty much exciting .. 'ill see how the sound will turn up on mine, to be honest i'll try to avoid modding it; i have an old T-Bucker from the 70's and a stock P-94 sitting on some Ibanez archtop, .. kind of tempting of course.

 

do you recommend keeping the original bridge?

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this all sounds pretty much exciting .. 'ill see how the sound will turn up on mine' date=' to be honest i'll try to avoid modding it; i have an old T-Bucker from the 70's and a stock P-94 sitting on some Ibanez archtop, .. kind of tempting of course.

 

do you recommend keeping the original bridge? [/quote']

 

Good idea. Just grab it and leave it as-is. There was NOTHING wrong per se with my 1991. I just love the

De-Armond-ish / P-90 sounds of the Alnico V's. And it's all reversable (save for a few tiny holes, no routing).

 

The funny thing is, a year or two ago I was all set to pull the trigger on a Gibson Custom order black ES-175 with P-90's.

I called up my dealer here and he broke the bad news... no more custom orders from Gibson. So I had to find an older

black one and do all the additions myself.

 

Again, good luck. They're great guitars!

 

Henry Lee

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Hi, I have a big problem with my 175D: I have just had a refret but now I had to raise the wooden bridge up quite a lot and now it sounds muffled. Played a jazz gig last night and there was no sustain on the strings as though the strings were dampened. My concern is that the bridge is not resonating properly with the guitar top. Does anyone have any advice what to do ?

 

I was thinking about buying a tune-o-matic bridge but not sure if the problem will persist. Can anyone give me advice?

 

Joe

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Hi' date=' I have a big problem with my 175D: I have just had a refret but now I had to raise the wooden bridge up quite a lot and now it sounds muffled. Played a jazz gig last night and there was no sustain on the strings as though the strings were dampened. My concern is that the bridge is not resonating properly with the guitar top. Does anyone have any advice what to do ?

 

I was thinking about buying a tune-o-matic bridge but not sure if the problem will persist. Can anyone give me advice?

 

Joe

[/quote']

 

hmm this sounds kind of worrying, i have noticed i didn't have that much of sustain on the E high string on mine, i also heard previously that the original bridge on this guitar was giving some troubles.

 

but in your case i suspect that the refret job was not properly done, or maybe it's a matter of a proper bridge adjustment . i would recommend to have it checked by a confirmed / expert "luthier"

 

i will be looking forward to hearing if a tune o matic bridge will solve your problem, if so id get one too.

 

ermm.. i have just checked what a tune o matic bridge look like, looks like it must be pinned on the top.. and that requires some precise surgery on this guitar.. preferably to be executed by luthiers at Gibson, and of course its a unreversible mod (which means the guitar would lose some value) :-/

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HI tsol

 

Thanks for your comment. Actually, fitting a tune-o-matic bridge is simple. You just buy one and it is mounted without any screws. ie the weight of the strings keep it in place. I have seen them for about 60 dollars from USA made by Gibson Pure which I believe are authentic parts. A lot of new 175s have this kind of bridge. SO I think I'm going to buy one.

 

joe

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i got it! it is of 1990

 

f_ES1751990frm_14d2559.jpg

 

f_ES1751990sim_295f02c.jpg

 

f_ES1751990bam_9413a20.jpg

 

hey TSOL... glad to see you got the guitar. So nice! Congratulations. I'd leave that one stock.

And yep, that's probably a German-made Schaller ABR-1 / Tune-o-matic on there.

Keys are probably Schallers too. Again, nice score!

 

Henry Lee

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Hi' date=' I have a big problem with my 175D: I have just had a refret but now I had to raise the wooden bridge up quite a lot and now it sounds muffled. Played a jazz gig last night and there was no sustain on the strings as though the strings were dampened. My concern is that the bridge is not resonating properly with the guitar top. Does anyone have any advice what to do ?

 

I was thinking about buying a tune-o-matic bridge but not sure if the problem will persist. Can anyone give me advice?

 

Joe

[/quote']

 

Hi Joe -

 

If you have an older, vintage, all-wood bridge (bridge + base both rosewood?), I'd wager the T.O.M. bridge

would change the timbre / tone a bit. After the refret, I wonder if the luthier / repair person put the base

on backward? Sometimes that can prevent it from sitting properly on the guitar top, resulting in different

tone / action.

 

Then again, the fret size before and after must have been quite different. Did you need to raise more than

like 3-5 mm?

 

I'd take it back to the shop and ask them to look into it.

HL

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Hi Henry

 

Thanks for your comment. I was checking abr1 bridges from a company called sweetwater USA and they sell tune-o-matic bridges (Gibson Pure) for 60 dollars. I guess i could get a wooden bridge but all the gibsons i've seen have tune-o-matics and they sound pretty good to me. I'll try putting the base on the other way and see if it makes a difference . Thanks for your advice.

 

By the way, the reason i got a refret was because one note was buzzing. Now the whole guitar buzzes. The bridge is up to its maximum height. I don't want to take it back to this guitar repairman because he really messed up my guitar. He might make it worse. I talked to a guy called DAVe Cliff, a jazz player form London and he recommended me someone else in London.

 

Cheers

Joe

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By the way' date=' Tsol. Is that your Gibson 175 in the photo. It has a tune-o-matic bridge. Could you tell me where you got it from? Also does it have a groove on the base like most gibson bridges or is it flat? I have seen two types but not sure which one to buy.

 

joe[/quote']

 

hi

 

to be honest, this is my first guitar of this kind from Gibson, and im pretty ignorant about its details .. it is a 1990 US made Gibson ES-175 i have found USED in .. france ;o) it was my dream guitar that was too expensive to afford as new for me, i was very lucky to pick it up for a very good price (way below the average price for this type guitar), further more it is nearly in mint condition (just needed some cleaning and polishing tho) , and sound wise its just ... fantastic (i tried it on some friend's Fender twin reverb amp from the 80"s) and of course i will never sell it even if i can make some extra thousand on it, it would be just stupid.

 

another thing, a few days before purchasing it, i got nearly convinced at a guitar store to buy that Ibanez "ES175" (original made in 1974 gibson vs ibanez "es175" lawsuit period) for about the same price.. it sounded very nice but i have hesitated and picked up the Gibson, i don't regret my choice.

 

what would be that "groove" on the base you mention? here are some more detailed pics:

 

es175001bp3.jpg

es175002ri5.jpg

es175003vl9.jpg

es175004ii4.jpg

es175005na6.jpg

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Hi' date=' I have a big problem with my 175D: I have just had a refret but now I had to raise the wooden bridge up quite a lot and now it sounds muffled. Played a jazz gig last night and there was no sustain on the strings as though the strings were dampened. My concern is that the bridge is not resonating properly with the guitar top. Does anyone have any advice what to do ?

 

I was thinking about buying a tune-o-matic bridge but not sure if the problem will persist. Can anyone give me advice?

 

Joe[/quote']

Hi Joe--

 

I saw your PM and thought I should pop in over here to check out the thread thus far to see if I can follow the discussion. At this point, two things come to mind for me (well, three):

 

1. yes, "Gibson Pure" parts are made by Gibson. In fact, they are just Gibson parts; "Gibson Pure" is one of the latest Gibson promotional slogans. My Gibson picks say "Gibson Pure" on them as well.

 

Okay, on to the more important stuff:

2. in my experience, Gibson's wooden bridges sit substantially higher than the ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic bridges that you are looking at in tsol's pictures; the wooden bridge piece itself is probably at least a full quarter inch or half-centimeter higher than the ABR-1. We also should clarify that the bridge itself is different from the wooden base on which the bridge sits. You can buy the Tune-O-Matic with or without the base. ES-335s, for instance, have their posts mounted directly onto the guitar body, and the bridge slides onto them. In contrast, the ES-175 has a "floating bridge," meaning that it requires the wooden base to stand up, and neither the bridge nor the base is attached to the guitar and so can float about--they are only held in place by the string tension.

3. Buzzing of strings CANNOT be caused by a bridge set to its maximum height. That's just impossible. The whole point of raising or lowing the bridge is to move the strings further away or closer to the fretboard. A lowered bridge can cause string buzz, but never a bridge raised to its maximum height.

 

Therefore, we have an interesting set of problems here. I can't tell without pictures what might be the problem with your guitar, but I will try a couple guesses.

A. You have accidentally been lowering your bridge, thinking you were raising it. To raise the bridge, you use the thumb-wheels on the posts and turn them COUNTER-CLOCKWISE, just like unscrewing a nut from a bolt (which it effectively is--just a very wide nut on a very thin bolt :( ). I would hazard to guess that you should see at least half a centimeter or a quarter inch of the metal posts between the BOTTOM of the bridge and the TOP of the wooden base on a hollowbody guitar like the ES-175. There will be exceptions but that is a good starting place.

B. As Henry said, the wooden base for the bridge may have been put on backwards. This bridge base must be cut and sanded to fit the top of the guitar exactly, or else the guitar sounds muffled. Once properly cut and sanded, the bridge base only fits one way on the guitar. The base helps to transmit the string vibrations to the resonating box of the body. In other words, if the bridge base is not sitting on the guitar exactly correctly, the guitar will lose the transmission of string vibration.

C. The wooden bridge is on backwards. If you or the luthier put it on backwards, the strings could very well buzz, and the sound could be muffled. Typically the bass string side of the bridge has larger grooves for the strings. In addition, the B-string saddle space on the bridge is typically compensated, meaning it looks backwards in terms of how it is cut compared to the rest of the bridge. If that "backward leaning" part of the bridge is sitting now where your A-string is, then the bridge itself is on backwards.

 

How do you know which of these is the problem? Well, if you've been altering the bridge height, that can be checked by you easily enough. Likewise, you can visually check if the bridge is on backwards. If the base is on backwards, though, you start running into problems that may need a guitar technician's help. I don't want to sound presumptuous, but I am thinking that assessing the placement of the bridge base may be beyond your current guitar knowledge, and it is something I can't do via the Internet. On top of that, as soon as you move the base, you will change the intonation, and the entire guitar will need to be re-set-up.

 

I am surprised in my experience at how many guitar technicians do not understand the placement of floating bridges. I sent my ES-125 in for a set-up, and it came back properly intonated, but the technician had slid the base so far to one side that the high E string was barely on the fretboard at the 12th fret. This is a stupid mistake that was obvious as soon as I opened the guitar case. It made me realize that I needed a better guitar technician for other work--and that I could do intonation work myself. Put another way, I find that you need to ask around to find a person who knows their stuff when working on archtops. I think you could use a new guitar luthier/technician/repairperson.

 

Whew. This is getting long. Sorry, but you sounded concerned in your email. So, here's my last bit of information. Regarding the Tune-O-Matic bridge: as Henry said, it does change the tone of the guitar. It makes it a bit more "rock" sounding, rather than "jazz" sounding for lack of better words. I prefer the Tune-O-Matic for that reason, yes, but also because I then can fine-tune intonation on the fly when I change string gauges, as I have been doing of late. Typically, you need to reset intonation every time you change the string gauge that you use. If you already have found a string gauge you like, and if you prefer a "jazzier," more mellow tone to the ES-175, then I would stick with the wooden bridge. If no to either (or both) of those options, then the Tune-O-Matic could be for you. One other bummer about the Tune-O-Matic: it has a weird little wire on it that holds the saddles in place, and that wire tends to buzz whenever it feels fussy. I superglued mine in place, but as others can tell you, that buzz alone may be enough reason to stick with the wooden bridge.

 

However, you first need to find a new guitar repair person who knows how to work with archtop guitars. If your current person refretted the guitar, but screwed up the bridge (as it sounds like he did), then he is not a great candidate for future work with an archtop. Nothing personal, but he should never have let a buzzy guitar out of the shop. If, though, you increased the buzzing by playing with the bridge, then get thee back to the repairman, make a full confession, and ask him to undo what you have done. It sounds, though, like he created a problem that you might have made worse.

 

The good news about this problem, though, is this: if it is a misplaced bridge or bridge base, a good repair person can fix this in a jiffy (relatively speaking).

 

Keep us informed about the problems.

 

Oh, and by the way, tsol, that is one beautiful guitar. I am very impressed. You chose well!

 

Ignatius

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+1 on all of Ignatius' comments. Totally spot on and explained well. Good job Ignatius!

 

Joe - once you get soome pics uploaded, it would be much easier to tell what's going on.

 

tsol - Nice additional shots! That looks like a Nashville bridge on there... which is kinda odd.

I thought all "modern" ES-175's came with ABR-1's with retaining wire. Hmm, learn something

new every day.

 

Again, gorgeous guitar. I love the mahogany.

 

HL

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