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This is a question for Customer Service (I think): can I purchase a current production 6 position Varitone switch and choke from Gibson? These must be in production in some form, as they're used in current model ES-series guitars. I have an early 70s ES-345 with some electronics worries.


I've searched the web and found no genuine Gibson replacement parts available.


Many thanks for your reply.

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You may have better luck contacting Gibson Customer Service by telephone at the 800 number.



I have never seen Gibson branded Varitone replacement parts for sale, but have seen "vintage" parts on e-bay.


As the Varitone circuit is a simple "passive" circuit of a switch connected to a box containing various "chokes", there is really nothing to go bad. Your problem could be as simple as a dirty switch or wire/solder connections, easily fixed at minimal cost.


There was another member here wanting to build an outboard Varitone circuit to use with a 335, so is also hunting aftermarket parts. Try a forum "search" for that thread, he may be ahead of you in the legwork.


As you mention above, Gibson is/was buying these parts from somewhere for the Memphis 345. Most electronic components are stamped with a couple of code numbers, one being the manufactures code, the other being the part number. If you can find these numbers (easier said than done on a thinline), you might be able to determine the OEM parts manufacturer.


Just exactly what problem are you have with your Varitone?

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Thanks, L5Larry, for your helpful reply. I haven't tried the obvious, your suggestion that I call Gibson's 800 customer service no.


Here are the resources I've found so far:


1. guitronix-usa: lists on eBay (excellent, high no. seller rating), sells varitone switches for guitar and bass. In an e-mail to me, he said he can build a switch to exact Gibson specs*, and that the switch can fit in a seldom-used tone control position on a 335 so no new hole is needed.


2. Big-D Guitars: on the web and eBay as "varitoneswitch" (excellent seller rating). Has his own version w/different specs. In an e-mail, he said he cannot build to match Gibson's original specs.


3. de Lisle Guitar Co.: lists on eBay (excellent seller rating). Sells a "pentatone varitone," a 5 position switch (6 position, if you count the bypass). Also sells a "de Lisle Notch Box," basically a foot-pdeal version of their pentatone switch with an added notch filter to control the notch depth. In an e-mail, they can sell the controls from their notch box to use in place of seldom-used tone controls on a 335.


4. certainbass: on eBay (excellent seller rating). Makes varitones for bass and guitar (different versions for single-coil and humbuckers). Switch can also be installed through a tone-pot hole on most ES series guitars.


5. MCE Guitars: lists on eBay (excellent seller rating). Listed values on his varitone are quite close to Gibson specs.


*The specs can be found elsewhere on the Gibson forum in PDF form, helpfully published by another member. Erlewine also lists them on p. 268 of the 3rd ed. (2007) of his Guitar Player Repair Guide.


Finally, it turns out that the main luthier at Dave's Guitar Shop in Lacrosse, WI, was able to resolve whatever issues my early 70s 345 was having--it may have been as simple as a loose ground wire, replacing corroded wire where needed, and re-soldering some connections. So the original switch is up and running, and the sounds are very nice indeed.


Though not exhaustive, it seemed a shame not to share the minor legwork on switch availability. I'll add to this after contacting Gibson, though I'm hoping a Gibson forum customer service rep will respond.


Thanks again. These queries and responses are part of what makes these fora so helpful.

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