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  1. #1
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    more questions on my ES-345

    I still have a few oddball questions with regard to my 1961 ES-345. First, I read somewhere that the 1961 ES-345 was the only one with the parallelogram in the first fret, but looking around the web, I found several 1961's which did not have that marker in the first fret. So what is the answer? Which ES models had the parallelogram in the first fret?

    Second question. If I look really closely at the neck, it is possible to see (but barely), small, round wooden plugs between the two halves of the parallelograms. It looks like the fretboard was intended to be a dot neck, but that it just got repurposed in the factory for the parallelograms. I don't seem to be allowed to post attachments, unfortunately, or I would send a photo.

  2. #2

    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Some '61s have the first fret inlay and some don't.

    The idea that it was a dot neck repurposed to a double parallelogram neck is new to me, but certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

  3. #3
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    Esseries Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Quote Originally Posted by brandtkronholm View Post
    Some '61s have the first fret inlay and some don't. I think a very small amount of some '62s have it too.

    The idea that it was a dot neck repurposed to a double parallelogram neck is new to me, but certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
    I am definitely not claiming that it was a dot fingerboard converted. It was the only way I could explain it with a photo, a picture being worth a thousand words and all that.

  4. #4
    Les Paul Forum Member GuitarMikey's Avatar
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Here's a photo Don sent me. You can clearly see where the dots were.

    GuitarMikey

  5. #5

    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarMikey View Post
    Here's a photo Don sent me. You can clearly see where the dots were.

    Wow! I've never seen that before.

  6. #6
    Les Paul Forum Co-Owner Tom Wittrock's Avatar
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Quote Originally Posted by GotTheSilver View Post
    Wow! I've never seen that before.
    Me neither, but it doesn't greatly surprise me. It seems like something Gibson would do to fill an order.
    Pauls to the walls!

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  7. #7

    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Really cool detail!

  8. #8
    Les Paul Forum Member AA00475Bassman's Avatar
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Really learn on this Forum , What lengths Gibson will go to get the most milk from the cow!
    Ive never confused owning a bunch of high end gear with being some kind of a guitar player I'm a hack and I love guitars !

    The myth :The most disturbing thing about buying a fake Les Paul is how my research after the purchase is received by Forum members ??? 2020

    The Myth: Neat wiring layouts always equate to great-sounding amps.

    The Myth: If I would have lived with MOM & mooched till I was 48 I would play like Clapton !
    Think about it
    won't you ...... Please !

  9. #9
    Formerly Lefty Elmo Steve Craw's Avatar
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...&theater&ifg=1

    Here's a pic of the lefty ES-345 from 1961, and it has the first fret inlay.

  10. #10
    Les Paul Forum Member GuitarMikey's Avatar
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    So the consensus is that this is a gibson factory job back in 61?
    GuitarMikey

  11. #11
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarMikey View Post
    So the consensus is that this is a gibson factory job back in 61?
    Looks like it! Just can't figure out why.

  12. #12

    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarMikey View Post
    So the consensus is that this is a gibson factory job back in 61?
    Quote Originally Posted by Doc W View Post
    Looks like it! Just can't figure out why.
    No consensus just yet, so let's hold on for a second.
    It probably is all factory, but do you have any more pictures of this that you can post for us? (I feel like you may have posted them in another thread...maybe?)
    The fretboard might not be the only odd/unique feature of the guitar.

    Was this guitar re-fretted? I don't see binding nibs but I do see healthy upper register frets.

  13. #13
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Quote Originally Posted by brandtkronholm View Post
    No consensus just yet, so let's hold on for a second.
    It probably is all factory, but do you have any more pictures of this that you can post for us? (I feel like you may have posted them in another thread...maybe?)
    The fretboard might not be the only odd/unique feature of the guitar.

    Was this guitar re-fretted? I don't see binding nibs but I do see healthy upper register frets.
    That's a good question. I don't think so. I have owned the guitar for 40 years and I don't recall a refret, but I am an old guy who remembers some things and not others. I am the kind of guy who remembers the horsepower of the Bismarck, but can't find my socks 6 mornings out of 7. And forty years is a long time.

    I don't think that there is anything truly unusual about this guitar, other this weird circular "fill" in the fret board. It had gold grovers added before I got it. I think that it had a factory Bigsby and I think that I had it removed. In any case, I still have a gold Bigsby in a box somewhere (I just came across it a few months ago). It had no pickup covers when I got it but I put those nickel-plated replacements on soon after. Oddly enough, I cannot remember what colour the bobbins are. Both pickups are PAF's. For most of it's life with me, I never used the middle position because it seemed to have much less volume than other two positions. About 5 years ago (I think), a guitar tech I know solved that problem by reversing one of the magnets. It was like having a brand new guitar after that. Instant BB King (minus the talent). He said that that the pickups had not been opened before he reversed the magnet.

    The volume on the treble pickup is a master volume but I just assumed that the guy who previously owned it had that done. I am going to change that.

    The only other thing that comes to mind is that the label inside says "ES-345 TD" and not "TDC" (even though the guitar is clearly cherry).

    I would be happy to send more photos to someone who can post them for me. I don't seem to have that option. Let me know what you want to see and I will snap a few/

    I appreciate the interest and the questions. It isn't much of a collectible, but it is a helluva player.

  14. #14

    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc W View Post
    I am the kind of guy who remembers the horsepower of the Bismarck, but can't find my socks 6 mornings out of 7.
    Glad I'm not the only one.

    Interesting about that fretboard. I wonder if it could have been a custom order where the customer had a change of mind just before or after the guitar was delivered. Anyway, I think we've all seen the occasional oddballs such as 330's and 335's with parallellograms, 345's and 355's with dots, etc.

    The absence of a "C" in the model designation on a cherry guitar doesn't surprise me in the least. Gibson were inconsistent when it came to those kinds of label details. I have a 1966 L5 (venetian cutaway, natural finish) that was custom-ordered with a Charlie Christian pickup. The label just says "L5N".

  15. #15
    Les Paul Forum Member GuitarMikey's Avatar
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Here's a few more pics of the guitar in question...






    GuitarMikey

  16. #16

    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    That's a fine looking ES345 indeed!

    The pictures don't give me any new info or insight.

    That you've owned it for 40 years just reminds us about the nature of vintage guitars: i.e., this one had nearly 20 years on earth before it found a home with you.
    It even made it through the '70s with only a few modifications! (My '59 merely obtained Schaller tuners sometime in the '70s...)

    Determining the "originality" or the degree of modifications would have to be done by an in-hand examination by a proper expert.

    Some minor thoughts: As it appears to be a 1961, the bobbins are almost certainly double black. The pickup covers on 345s were gold. (The mix of nickel and gold hardware looks a little funny, but it's a matter of taste!) The pick guard looks huge to me...they're all different, but I've not seen one that sticks out so much. It's probably the picture angles playing tricks on me. Lastly, I like the look of the Grovers!

  17. #17
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Do all the frets with position markers have the fill in? Can you see any fill ins at the 12th fret?

  18. #18
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Quote Originally Posted by VamboRool View Post
    Do all the frets with position markers have the fill in? Can you see any fill ins at the 12th fret?
    The first fret has a fret marker, but no fill. All of the other frets that normally have markers have the fill, except 12th. With regard to the 12th fret - and I will try to get a photo of this - there is a black dot, much smaller than the fills at the other frets. It doesn't look like the fills at the other frets and in fact it doesn't even look like a fill. I don't know what it is. I will get a photo soon.
    Last edited by Doc W; 02-26-20 at 05:15 PM.

  19. #19
    Les Paul Forum Member Strings Jr.'s Avatar
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc W View Post
    The first fret has a fret marker, but no fill. All of the other frets that normally have markers have the fill, except 12th. With regard to the 12th fret - and I will try to get a photo of this - there is a black dot, much smaller than the fills at the other frets. It doesn't look like the fills at the other frets and in fact it doesn't even look like a fill. I don't know what it is. I will get a photo soon.
    If it was a re-purposed dot fingerboard, it wouldn't have had a dot at the first fret.
    Also, the 12th fret would not have a dot in the center.

  20. #20
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Strings Jr-That's what I was thinking, no dot at the first fret and then it looks like the dot's diameter is larger than the parallelogram is wide so you should see four parts of the two fill in dots at the 12th fret if it was a re-purposed board.

  21. #21
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Quote Originally Posted by VamboRool View Post
    Strings Jr-That's what I was thinking, no dot at the first fret and then it looks like the dot's diameter is larger than the parallelogram is wide so you should see four parts of the two fill in dots at the 12th fret if it was a re-purposed board.
    I will try to get that pic tomorrow. It is hard to explain, but given what you just said, let me try a little harder. I completely forgot that, of course, there would be two dots at the 12th fret on an ES-335 fretboard. If this were repurposed for a 345, each of the dots at the 12th fret would have been replaced by a parallelogram. A "fill" dot between the parallelograms would therefore not have been necessary. However, between the two parallelograms in the 12 fret is a black dot, no more than 1/4 the size of the fill dots in other frets. Most importantly, it does not look like the other fill dots at all. This may sound goofy, but it looks like nothing more than a mark indicating where to drill.

    This is getting so interesting. Thanks for all the input. I promise to get that photo posted here asap.

  22. #22
    Les Paul Forum Member GuitarMikey's Avatar
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Here's the 12th fret


    GuitarMikey

  23. #23
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Thanks for posting that, Mike.

    If you compare this 12th fret dot to the other frets in there are those fills (little round "plugs") you can see that this is quite different. The other frets make sense, if this was a fretboard which originally had a dot. In those cases, the fret markers are parallelograms and the dot was simply filled in. But what the heck is that little ... whatever... in the 12th fret?

  24. #24

    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Freaky...

  25. #25
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    That's interesting. Also after seeing your photo of the 12th fret it reminded me that the parallelograms get wider as you head towards the nut. How about a photo that shows the 3rd and 5th fret markers. Is there a "2" on the back of the head stock denoting a factory second? I don't think there will be. BTW-this is fun!

  26. #26
    Les Paul Forum Member Strings Jr.'s Avatar
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Looks like remnants of plugs at the 12th fret also.

    Look at the outside edges of the inlays.

  27. #27

    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Quote Originally Posted by Strings Jr. View Post
    Looks like remnants of plugs at the 12th fret also.
    Interesting. The guitar looks like it has been re-fretted. Could it have received an entirely new fretboard? I can't tell if the size of the inlays is off or not. (They don't look immediately suspect to me...) What do the binding fret markers look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Strings Jr. View Post
    Look at the outside edges of the inlays.
    What should Doc W (and the rest of us arm chair authenticators) be looking for?

  28. #28
    Les Paul Forum Member GuitarMikey's Avatar
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Quote Originally Posted by brandtkronholm View Post
    What should Doc W (and the rest of us arm chair authenticators) be looking for?
    I think he's talking about the plugs on the outside edge of the 12th fret markers.
    GuitarMikey

  29. #29
    Les Paul Forum Member GuitarMikey's Avatar
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    .
    GuitarMikey

  30. #30
    Administrator MikeSlub's Avatar
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    My ES 345's:

    Mike Slubowski

    * "Gibson guitars are like potato chips - you can't have just one!"

    * "So many Gibsons to love, so little time..."

  31. #31
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Quote Originally Posted by brandtkronholm View Post
    Interesting. The guitar looks like it has been re-fretted. Could it have received an entirely new fretboard? I can't tell if the size of the inlays is off or not. (They don't look immediately suspect to me...) What do the binding fret markers look like?


    I don't think that it has been refretted. If it was, it would have been done pre-1980. Same with a new fretboard. If either were done, the question would be "why"?

    I will take some more photos today.

  32. #32
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Aw, Mike, what didja do that for? Now I got drool all over the keyboard. Dang.

  33. #33
    Les Paul Forum Member GuitarMikey's Avatar
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345





    GuitarMikey

  34. #34
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Mike posted a few more photos. You can see the serial number clearly but the "2" in this case, doesn't mean second. It is just part of the serial number. The other two photos are of frets 3-5, and the very end of the fretboard. I sent that last one so you can see the range of colour used on the markers. That fret has the two most extreme colour of fret marker. One very shiny and almost plain, the other darker and more complex in texture. It varies up and down the neck.

    Brandt, the binding fretmarkers are pretty straightforward: black dots following the same pattern as the main fretmakers, i.e., 1, 3, 5, etc.

    Here is something else interesting: if I run my finger up and down the binding, it feels slightly rippled, unlike my 1952 Les Paul (which has been refretted). I don't know what that means, but perhaps it says that the binding was taken off at one point, for who knows why. Mike what about the binding on your guitars?

    I may be looking at this too closely. maybe I am starting to see things.

  35. #35

    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarMikey View Post
    I think he's talking about the plugs on the outside edge of the 12th fret markers.
    Ah, I see them now. Thanks!

  36. #36

    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc W View Post
    I don't think that it has been refretted. If it was, it would have been done pre-1980. Same with a new fretboard. If either were done, the question would be "why"?

    I will take some more photos today.
    I'm thinking the frets are probably original at this point. Original binding nibs on a 1961 Gibson are entirely different creatures than modern Gibson nibs.

  37. #37
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    I'm hoping to find my first ES335/ES345 this year. And a mono ES345 would be a great result.
    I've been told that there is a tone difference between the ES335 and the ES345. Can those familiar with these models comment on this with your experience with these two models ?

    I'm aware of the Varitone circuit, and that it extends the tonal range. I'm referring to tone differences apart from the Varitone.

  38. #38

    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    AFAIK, '61 is the only ES 345 year for the first fret split position markers and they seem to occur randomly. I happened to have owned a cherry '61 almost identical to the picture Mike Slub posted, including the first fret marker. It positively did not have any rosewood dot fillers in the fretboard and was definitely one complete piece. My guess is that there was a run of first marker boards that were completed, but used randomly, not sequentially, throughout that year. That is also why you find original PAF pickups with gold covers far outside the acknowledged timeline of production (all the way up to '65 in some rare cases). Simple reason, far fewer gold covered pickups were used than the standard nickel covers (mainly on the high end models of each line such as ES 345 and 355, LP Custom, SG Custom, Super 400, L-5, and other various jazz archtops, all with relatively low production numbers). After the pickups were built and covers added, they simply went in the parts bin (inventory) and used until depleted and restocked. The first position boards were probably used the same way and just randomly mixed in with previously completed fretboards. Just my personal educated guess....who really knows?

  39. #39
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    Imho, that guitar has been refretted. All traces of nibs are gone, and the fret ends have been beveled in a manner to indicate a refret with the nibs worked away......imho. Not that that matters much at all with a guitar of that age. Nice guitar....
    "As soon as man does not take his existence for granted, but beholds it as something unfathomably mysterious, thought begins." Albert Schweitzer

  40. #40
    Les Paul Forum Member OKGuitar's Avatar
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    Re: more questions on my ES-345

    My 2 cents. Some 61's have the first fret marker some don't. It is the only year to have the first fret marker. I've never seen a dot board repurposed to be a 345 (and I've owned at least 175 ES-345's). I wouldn't doubt for a minute that this is something done at the factory. I have seen a 335/345 neck repurposed with new wings to be a 355 neck (not the board, just the neck). Thats often what the stinger on a 355 is covering (the tuner holes are in the wrong place on a 335 board if it's converted to 355). Here's what's under the stinger and it's absolutely factory (I've seen at least 3 so far). So, bottom line...anything is possible at Gibson is the 50's and 60's. The 61 in this thread is re-fretted


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