Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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1958 Gibson ES-225T Vists the Garden - Pt 10 of a series

This is the culmination of the work I did during the 9-part series (count 'em) of the resurrection of this 1958 Gibson ES-225T.  Here we see it in its full glory.

If you didn't follow the saga, I acquired this guitar as a body and neck only.  All of the other parts had been removed from it - presumably to be resold, since the parts fit a lot of other, 'more desirable' Gibsons from this time period.

The guitar had the dreaded Gibson headstock crack, which I repaired using hide glue.  I also used modern reproduction parts where needed, and used a traditional archtop bridge and trapeze tailpiece.  A lot - maybe half or more - of ES-225s that I see have been converted to this stringing arrangement over the years.  You may see quite a few with Bigsby tailpieces too.  As far as I'm aware, the Bigsby was not a factory option, although I have seen that claim.  (The mounting holes on the bottom rim of the guitar would be the giveaway as to originality.  The standard tailpiece has 3 screws, and the Bigsby needs 4 in a different pattern).

Gibson sold the ES-225 from 1955 until 1959.  This one is a 1958 - it has a "T" Factory Order Number stamped inside.  (Here's more than you ever wanted to know about dating vintage Gibsons).

This model was unique in that it was one of the first three thin hollowbody archtops built by Gibson - another byproduct of its work with Billy Byrd and Hank Garland.  Unlike the Byrdland and the ES-350T, which had short (23.5 inch) scales, the ES-225 had the usual Gibson 24 3/4 inch scale.

It was offered in a single-pickup (ES-225T) or double-pickup (ES-225TD) versions, in either sunburst or natural.  The natural versions are more scarce than the sunbursts.  The single-pickup versions are usually considered less desirable as collector guitars due to the fact that Gibson, in its infinite wisdom, stuck the pickup in right in the middle rather than nearer to the neck or the bridge.

Headstock with new repro tuners and truss rod cover.  The nut is unbleached bone.

I touched up a couple of chips in the black lacquer paint, but it was in nice shape overall.

The white-button Klusons were standard on this model.  I resisted the urge to put fancier tuners on it - I wanted to make it look stock.

It was super humid (94 percent humidity) when I took these shots.  You can see some haze in this picture - my camera lens kept fogging up!

Tuners are 'aged' just a bit.

The neck repair is hard to spot - if it wasn't for the stain fills not matching exactly, you might not know it was ever broken.

The repair is super strong too.

I have always dug this model guitar.  I absolutely love natural (aka blond) Gibsons from this era.  The 2 pickup models are killer, but this one is really sweet too.  Since it has a fabulous tapped P-90 from Lollar Pickups, it can go from jazzy to raw.  (It's a custom wound pickup made especially for this guitar!)

It's very balanced too  - I was a little concerned that the location of the pickup would make the tone really midrangey, but it's not.  I've found myself hitting the pickup with a pick some, but that's really the only downside of the single pickup in this location.  If collectors think these are undesirable, they can send them all to me!

As I noted in an earlier post, I did spring for an original pickguard.

More detail of the pickup and bridge.

The intonation with the ebony bridge is good.  Only the G string is a tad off, and it doesn't bother me.  I put .011 gauge strings on it, and may move it up to .012s with a wound G.  This bridge is compensated for a wound G, so I suspect it would be right on then.

I'm used to playing Fenders, so this slightly shorter scale always feels a little floppy to me - which is why I may wind up with .012s.

The faymis Gibby 'Florentine' cutaway.  I love that naturally yellowed binding.  Yummy!

The action is pretty low and it plays like butter.  The neck is the legendary 50s Gibson 'baseball bat.'  I was concerned it would be too thick for my taste, but it's very comfortable, and really fast.

This is a super fine instrument, just beautifully made, and I can't imagine anyone wanting to strip it for parts rather than play it.  On the other hand, I was able to get it relatively cheaply and now I have one of my dream guitars!  (And I feel very fortunate indeed).


The entire ES-225T project:
1. Starting - making a custom moulded caul for headstock break
2. Headstock break repair using hide glue
3. Filling headstock crack pt 1
4. Filling headstock crack pt 2
5. Repairing divots in top
6. Installing the tailpiece, bridge, enlarging tuner holes
7. Making a bone nut
8. Installing tuners, and wiring
9. Installing nut and pickup
10. Completed - photos of completed ES-225T (This page)

Updates March 2015:

11. Bigsby B11 Installation, Pt. 1
12. Bigsby B11 Installation, Pt. 2

 
 
 
 

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