1965 Gibson ES-355 Mono
Posted on April 05 2021
This fabulously clean vintage 1965 Gibson ES-355 guitar with mono output and no varitone came through the shop recently and was a fantastic example of the model. I'm always a Gibson guitar buyer, but I'm especially looking for Gibson ES-335, ES-345, and ES-355 guitars from the late 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. You can contact me here to sell a Gibson guitar.
Or you can get help with Gibson guitar dating here: How to date a Gibson ES-335
Check out a few other Gibson ES-355 guitars here:
Gibson ES-355 History
Gibson's ES-355 model electric guitar debuted in 1959 as the ES-355T and was initially offered in mono output only. It wasn't until a few months later that the stereo output with varitone switch became available. The ES-3x5 line included the base model ES-335, the upgraded ES-345 with stereo output and varitone switch only, and the top of the line ES-355 with optional mono or Stereo/Varitone.
Gibson's Stereo output with Varitone switch was intended to be an upgrade that offered the player many more tonal options as well as a 3 dimensional sound. Over time, it seems that most players found it to be more of a hassle than a benefit. The Stereo output required a special cable that had to go to either a special stereo amplifier or to two separate amplifiers. One could plug both outputs into a single amplifier with two inputs, but the middle position would be out of phase. Gibson specifically oriented the magnets inside the humbucking pickups pointing the opposite direction on Stereo guitars, although I've yet to find a good reason for this. The most likely reason I can determine was so that they could sell more amplifiers.
This 1965 Gibson ES-355 in rare mono output has survived in really nice condition with no breaks or repairs. It featured an uncommon nut width for Gibson guitars: just a hair over 1 5/8". The typical Gibson nut width from about 1947 until 1965 was 1 11/16", but by the end of the year just about all Gibson guitars had a skinnier nut width measuring 1 9/16". There was a short period during 1965 where many had a transitional nut width like this guitar. I found it very comfortable combined with the slightly fatter .84" neck depth at the first fret. The large frets were in excellent condition and the neck was dead straight. It was a joy to play.
Gibson's ES-355 model features the top of the line Custom level trim which included an Ebony fretboard with large pearl block markers, Custom style pearl peghead inlay, thick layered binding throughout, and gold hardware. But if you subtract the Custom level appointments, you get a guitar essentially identical to the company's ES-335 (check out this 1960 Gibson ES-335).