1959 Gibson ES-355 T

Gibson's ES-355 T model debuted during the last few months of 1958 as the fanciest upgrade to its new ES-335. It was initially only available with standard mono circuitry since the Stereo Varitone option was introduced on the ES-345 a few months later in the Spring of 1959. Gibson's 1960 catalog featured a full page  description of its new line of Thinline Electric Spanish guitars with the name "wonder-thin silhouette" to describe the body style and the ES-355 T model as a "magnificent Jazz guitar" which "reflects all the beauty and skill of the guitar maker's art."

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Shipment totals: How many Gibson ES-355 made in 1959?

Price in 1959: How much did an ES-355 cost in 1959?

Specifications: Important measurements

Description:  16" wide thinline electric archtop guitar with maxium depth of 2 1/4", solid Maple center block, hollow wings with f style sound holes, and two humbucking pickups. The 355s fancy trim consisting of ebony fingerboard with large block mother of pearl inlays, large Custom style split diamond peghead inlays, bound celluloid pickguard, multi-ply binding, and gold plated parts set it apart from the simpler ES-335 model. It was offered in both mono and Stereo Varitone wiring beginning in mid 1959. A Bigsby B7 tailpiece was standard from 1958 until 1961, but a stop bar tailpiece was also an option. 

Features specific to 1958 and 1959 include: faded Cherry Red finish (watermelon), black bonnet knobs, long pickguard (until 1961), and fat neck profile.

1959 Gibson ES-355 T electric guitar with watermelon red color and gold Bigbsy tailpiece

How many Gibson ES-355 T guitars made in 1959?

Gibson's surviving shipment totals indicate that at least 177 mono wired ES-355 T guitars and 123 with Stereo Varitone wiring shipped in 1959. These totals were only recorded when a guitar shipped in a certain year, but not how many were produced in that year. Some batches of Gibson guitars began during one year but didn't ship until another. 

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1959 Gibson ES-355 watermelon red with long pickguard

How much did a Gibson ES-355 cost in 1959?

Gibson's price list from 1959 lists the ES-355 TD model with a price of $550 for the mono wiring and the ES-355 TDSV model with Stereo Varitone wiring for $600. Both listings indicate that the Vibrola is standard equipment. The Faultless plush case cost $47.00. 

Gibson ES-355 Price in 1959

'59 ES-355 T Measurements

I consider it part of my duty to catalog the important measurements of all the vintage Gibson guitars which come through my shop. Here are the measurements I find to be important.

Weight: 9.1 lbs / 4.1 kg

Neck width at nut: 1.66" / 42.1mm

1st fret neck profile: 0.89" 

12th fret neck profile: 0.98"

Neck PAF Pickup Resistance: 7.64k ohms

Bridge PAF Resistance: 8.31k ohms

PAF Patent Applied For Gibson Humbucking pickups from 1959

ES-355 Dating

Gibson ES-355 guitars from 1958 and 1959 are easy to spot with their watermelon hued Cherry Red finish, but there is so much data that the guitar can tell us. Check out How to date an ES-335 for more detailed information. 

Factory Order Number inside treble side F hole: "S 7841 10" where prefix "S" indicates that the batch began in 1959, batch number 7841, position 10.

Serial Number: A30051 which likely shipped in March or April 1959. 

Potentiometer Code: 134908 where 134 = Centralab, 9 = 1959, and 08 is the 8th week of the year. 

 1959 Gibson FON S

1959 Gibson Serial Number A30051


Story of this 1959 Gibson ES-355 T

This specific 1959 Gibson ES-355 T was sold new to my friend in Ohio from Durdel's Stars of Tomorrow Studio. It still has its small yellow sticker inside the F hole from the dealership. My friend played it in his band The Predictors in Michigan for a few years before marriage and family became more important. I flew into Detroit and purchased it from him in person. 

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Durdel's Stars of Tomorrow yellow sticker on Gibson guitar

 1959 Gibson ES-355 headstock with pearl inlay 1959 Gibson ES-355 T guitar red Long pickguard on Gibson 1959


Similar guitars:

1960 Gibson ES-345 Cherry Red

John Shults

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