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  1. #1
    Les Paul Forum Member OKGuitar's Avatar
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    Esseries Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    OK, I'll start this thread. For those who don't know what a "first rack" 345 is, it is a term I credit to Gil Southworth that describes the very first 100 or so ES-345's built by Gibson in 1959. Although there are two or three earlier examples that surfaced last year from February of 59, the ones referred to as first rack have factory order numbers of S8537, S8538 and S8539 and date from April of 1959. It is likely that S8539 is earlier than the other two based on serial numbers from those racks. A rack is a usually 35 guitars, usually the same model built at the same time and wheeled around the facility to the various areas of the factory in an actual rack. The letter "S" denotes a start date for the build of 1959. The four digit numbers went from 100 to 9999 and back to 100 again. The letter "R would be 1960. The letter T is 1958 (alphabet backwards). The FON was discontinued in 1961. I have owned perhaps 12-14 of them. For a list of FONs and serial numbers of known first rack 345's go to my website (ES-335.com). I will be posting what I have later today (May 11). This is the first factory black ES-345. Short leg PAF, big neck, double white PAFs, small VT rout but not wax potted. Nice case with cover.

    .

  2. #2
    Les Paul Forum Member GuitarMikey's Avatar
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    Re: Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    Thanks for starting us off Charlie. Couldn't think of a more qualified ES guy!
    Here's my contribution. Spent its life in North Carolina. The original owner was from Raleigh and I purchased it from his daughter this past October and brought it to Charlotte.

    Serial # A 29808
    FON S8538 5

    Huge neck and all the typical first rack feature minus the wax potting.
    As you can see...double whites in the bridge and "reverse zebra" in the neck. Pickups are very hot.

    Can't wait to see all the other guitars








    GuitarMikey

  3. #3
    Les Paul Forum Member TomGuitar's Avatar
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    Re: Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    Serial Number A29656
    FON S8539

    This guitar has a double-white in the bridge position and a zebra in the neck. I bought it from the second owner, who bought it from his guitar teacher in 1961. It has that nice big neck typical of the era. Gibson shipping log shows an April 20, 1959 shipping date.









    Last edited by TomGuitar; 05-12-18 at 05:34 AM.

  4. #4
    Les Paul Forum Member ourmaninthenorth's Avatar
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    Re: Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    A jewel of a thread.

    Pure pleasure to see your guitars, thanks a lot.
    Shakespeare walks into a pub, the Landlord says "get out, you're Bard"

  5. #5
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    Not a 345, but definitely a "first rack".

    Thus far, the only known black '59 335. I beleive it's also the only black guitar from this FON.

    The FON is S8537, serial A31302. Ledger says it was dispatched 2nd October 1959. It's also designated black in the ledger. Has double black PAFs and the neck is full but not what I'd describe as huge.



    Here's a pic of the typical "first rack" crude cavity.

    The artist formerly known as "A-hole".



  6. #6
    Les Paul Forum Member OKGuitar's Avatar
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    Re: Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    The three black first rack 345's I've had are all from S8538 and S8539, so you're probably correct that your black 335 from S8537 is the only one. It's also probably the only 335 in any of those racks. You might mention the fact that the ledger and the label both indicate ES-345 for your 335. If I'm remembering, it is scratched out and changed to 335. It's interesting that it doesn't have the huge neck. Every other guitar from these three racks that I've had (and I've had a lot of them) has the big neck. Your black 335 is one of the coolest guitars on Earth. Your red one is right there as well. Oh, and the blonde.

  7. #7

    Re: Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    Quote Originally Posted by F-Hole View Post
    Not a 345, but definitely a "first rack".

    The FON is S8537, serial A31302. Ledger says it was dispatched 2nd October 1959.
    Thanks for sharing, that is simply amazing - Congrats! I have A31327 (ES-335), also dispatched on 2nd October 1959 per the ledger
    Last edited by treyrab; 05-15-18 at 08:15 PM.

  8. #8

    Re: Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    Thank you for starting this thread - Such great and interesting info here! Here is my "First Rack" and some fun facts. Cheers everyone!


    • A29667
    • S8359-15
    • Neck: Double Black (7.8), Bridge: Zebra (9.4)
    • HUGE neck
    • Wax potted choke
    • Short bridge PAF leg
    • One-owner, came with brown case







  9. #9
    Les Paul Forum Member Little Jake's Avatar
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    Re: Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    Here's a couple "first rack" 345s that I have in my possession at the moment: A29822 (S8538-34) and A29845 (S8537-14)

    A29822





    A29845

  10. #10
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    Due to my photo hosting challenges, below is a link to my first rack as represented on TomGuitar's great 3x5 site. It is #A29846, FON S8537 12. I received the guitar on 7/18/2009 from Mark's Guitar Loft. It has the typical "first rack" features, including the wax potted choke. Although the varitone has been removed along with the wax! Double blacks. 8.06 neck. 8.00 bridge. It's a great instrument that I have used on countless gigs. A guitar I never intend to sell.

    http://www.es-335.net/345/A29846.html

  11. #11
    Les Paul Forum Member GuitarMikey's Avatar
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    Re: Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    Wonderful guitars
    If anyone knows of some gold PAF covers, I would be interested. I know it's a long shot but...
    GuitarMikey

  12. #12
    Les Paul Forum Member ourmaninthenorth's Avatar
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    Re: Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Minnis View Post
    Due to my photo hosting challenges, below is a link to my first rack as represented on TomGuitar's great 3x5 site. It is #A29846, FON S8537 12. I received the guitar on 7/18/2009 from Mark's Guitar Loft. It has the typical "first rack" features, including the wax potted choke. Although the varitone has been removed along with the wax! Double blacks. 8.06 neck. 8.00 bridge. It's a great instrument that I have used on countless gigs. A guitar I never intend to sell.

    http://www.es-335.net/345/A29846.html
    Hope you don't mind me helping you with your pictures Michael?

    It's a beauty!!!





    Shakespeare walks into a pub, the Landlord says "get out, you're Bard"

  13. #13

    Re: Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarMikey View Post
    Wonderful guitars
    If anyone knows of some gold PAF covers, I would be interested. I know it's a long shot but...
    Bummer! I did a week ago, but they are gone now. I'll keep an eye out!

  14. #14
    Les Paul Forum Member TomGuitar's Avatar
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    Re: Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Minnis View Post
    Due to my photo hosting challenges, below is a link to my first rack as represented on TomGuitar's great 3x5 site. It is #A29846, FON S8537 12. I received the guitar on 7/18/2009 from Mark's Guitar Loft. It has the typical "first rack" features, including the wax potted choke. Although the varitone has been removed along with the wax! Double blacks. 8.06 neck. 8.00 bridge. It's a great instrument that I have used on countless gigs. A guitar I never intend to sell.

    http://www.es-335.net/345/A29846.html
    I can vouch for what a special instrument this guitar is. I spent several hours playing it in the company of fellow forum members LPNV59 at Mark’s shop. It’s a really special guitar.

  15. #15
    Les Paul Forum Member DEVILBAT's Avatar
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    Re: Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    My 1959 ES-345. Extremely flamed and the ONLY 1959 cherry ES-345 with a factory Bigsby and no stud holes. Guitar also has a two piece back. The watermelon fade and flame is to die for.....fade to an almost Gretsch orange.




    Two piece back:


    An amazing one of a kind early 1959 with burst knobs and black varitone ring. The tuners retain their gold and the tuner tips show absolutely no signs of deterioration or wear. The pickups are sealed double black PAFs.

    I've owned it for well over 20 years; sold it to Vic for a short while and he was nice enough to give me first shot at it when he contemplated selling it.

    I also own another cherry 1959 ES-345....that oe also has the black varitone ring and burst knobs; stop tailpiece with a removed bigsby. That one is also a killer.

    Here is a link to photos that Tom H. was kind enough to post on his 335 page when I sent him photos and description of the Bigsby cherry 59 345 several years ago.
    http://www.es-335.net/345/A31412.html

    Here is my other cherry '59....A31038


    Last edited by DEVILBAT; 05-17-18 at 11:06 PM.

  16. #16
    Les Paul Forum Member marshall1987's Avatar
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    Re: Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    Excellent thread! I love these early ES-345s. Great guitars.
    "Scan not a friend under a microscopic glass; you know his faults so let his foibles pass".

    Sir Frank Crisp
    Friar Park
    London, England

  17. #17
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    Quote Originally Posted by DEVILBAT View Post
    My 1959 ES-345. Extremely flamed and the ONLY 1959 cherry ES-345 with a factory Bigsby and no stud holes. Guitar also has a two piece back. The watermelon fade and flame is to die for.....fade to an almost Gretsch orange.




    Two piece back:


    An amazing one of a kind early 1959 with burst knobs and black varitone ring. The tuners retain their gold and the tuner tips show absolutely no signs of deterioration or wear. The pickups are sealed double black PAFs.

    I've owned it for well over 20 years; sold it to Vic for a short while and he was nice enough to give me first shot at it when he contemplated selling it.

    I also own another cherry 1959 ES-345....that oe also has the black varitone ring and burst knobs; stop tailpiece with a removed bigsby. That one is also a killer.

    Here is a link to photos that Tom H. was kind enough to post on his 335 page when I sent him photos and description of the Bigsby cherry 59 345 several years ago.
    http://www.es-335.net/345/A31412.html

    Here is my other cherry '59....A31038


    Interesting, I owned cherry red ‘59 ES-345T S/N A31411. Stop tail, bought it in Hayward CA for $400 circa 1976. A monster player for sure!

  18. #18
    Les Paul Forum Member EBW's Avatar
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    Esseries Re: Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    Possibly the first sunburst ES-345T shipped in '59. Per the ledger sheets I've seen, previous 345s shipped were either Natural or Cherry. Like others in this batch, dbl white bridge & zebra neck. Large neck and tone is unreal even with the Varitone intact, really like the OOP middle tones. Stereo output jack jumpered to mono by George Goumas, so no problem with mono cables!




    Last edited by EBW; 05-26-18 at 01:39 PM.
    "This old guitar ain't mine to keep, It's mine to play for a while" ~ Neil Young 'This Old Guitar'
    ...member since 2004, formerly known as 'RedSkyDog'

  19. #19
    Les Paul Forum Member OKGuitar's Avatar
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    Re: Show off Your "First Rack" ES-345's

    There are four 345's (all sunburst) that predate yours. They have serial numbers A29131-A29134 shipped in February 1959 and all have 58 FONs.
    Read about these "pre first rack" 345's here.

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