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Gibson ES-150 from 1950

Rare transitional model of the definitive jazz guitar


Ah, the ES-150, the original “Electric Spanish” after which the whole series was named, the instrument around which jazz guitar as we know it was built (most famously in the long-fingered hands of Charlie Christian), and basically the grand-daddy of all the electric archtops we love so much on this site.

So much about this guitar defines a great vintage archtop. Just look at the warm amber glow of the finish, the wood grain, the shape of the arch on the back, the aged laminate maple back and sides for brightness and mahogany neck for sustain. The neck mounted P90 pick-up gives that single coil attack with AlNiCo warmth, the original “fireglow” tortoisehell scratchplate is super cool and adds to the vibe of a real vintage instrument.

The combination of unbound neck and trapezoid neck inlays is interesting because Gibson started binding the neck in 1950, and changed from dot to trapezoid inlays in the same year. This guitar is therefore “transitional” and it evidences that the factory changed the inlay feature first, and then introduced the neck binding later that year.

Partly, the change was to help differentiate the more expensive ES-150 from its cousin the ES-125 which remained unbound and with simple dot inlays. It’s just a coincidence of the features of course, but ironically, many of the more valuable models of guitar have dot markers, just think of the 335 “dot”. Also, many people actually prefer the feel of an unbound neck – ooh!

Another early feature is the use of flat-sawn wood for the top and back of this guitar. It’s easy to see both are made from a single piece of wood, and show a wider, more dramatic grain than the later quarter-sawn pices. There’s no significant difference in sound, but quarter-sawn makes better use of the available material and leads to a more forgiving manufacturing process.

The tuner buttons have obviously been replaced at some stage in its life, and possibly the tuners too (they look OK, but are in too good a condition to be original).

There’s some buckle rash on the back, and medium to heavy player wear overall. There is a split on the side at the upper rear bout. It’s completely stable, runs along the grain and is not especially noticeable.

The knobs are a fantastic pair of rare see-through Dearmond knobs, and are worth a couple of hundred bucks on their own!

It comes in a soft shell case that is probably the original.


  • 17” wide bound arched top with f holes
  • Sunburst finish laminated maple top
  • Maple sides and cross-sawn back
  • Tortoiseshell scratchplate
  • 20-fret Brazilian rosewood fingerboard with trapezoid inlays
  • Mahogany neck, 1-1/16” at nut
  • Adjustable Brazilian rosewood compensated bridge
  • 3-a-side Kluson Deluxe tuners
  • Trapeze tailpiece with vertical ridges
  • Nickel plated hardware
  • P-90 single coil soapbar pickup
  • DeArmond knobs, 1 volume, 1 tone
  • Original soft shell case


gibson, ES-150, ES150, Charlie Christian
Call: +44 (0)113 320 3322
Price: Sold
S/N: R253
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