Gibson Barney Kessel

1966 Gibson Barney Kessel

Gibson Barney Kessel 1966 sunburst beauty

This guitar is in good to very good condition. It has three points preventing it being excellent. The chrome plating has failed in a Dime-sized area on the neck pick-up cover. It has flaked-off and there is no sign of corrosion. There are two dings in the finish at the back of the neck, one behind the 5th fret and the other behind the 12th. The finish has been rubbed-away in a small area under the lower bout, where the guitar was played in a seated position resting on the player's knee. There is a small amount of corresponding wear on the rear upper bout where that player's arm rested on the guitar as he (she?) played. You don't get a more genuine sign of wear than that!

The case is original Gibson with typical yellow plush interior. The original (solid plastic) handle is in the compartment and there is a leather carrying handle fitted that seems more reliable. The original pickguard is also in the compartment, together with a replacement guard and the fixing bracket. The original has curved somewhat (which often happens) and perhaps explains why the owner got a replacement.

The colour is cherry sunburst and it is bright and vibrant. The figuring of the wood on the top and the back is noticeably lovely. Both are one-piece which enhances the effect and make this a very attractive and eye-catching instrument.

Regular readers will know that 66 was a truly great year for Gibson guitars. Arguably the last year of the so-called Golden era, they had got most of the bugs out of  production and design and the models had mostly evolved to greatness.

There really is a wonderful 50’s vintage aura to the overall design of the Barney Kessel and combined with a simply gorgeous jazz/blues tone, this guitar is both stunning to behold and to play.

Price: £3,499.00
S/N: R360

Gibson Barney Kessel – This futuristic looking twin pickup Gibson archtop, finished in a glorious deep cherry sunburst, features a double Florentine cutaway design, maple bound body and a very comfortable to play 20 fret rosewood fingerboard. There really is a wonderful 50’s vintage aura to the overall design of the instrument and combined with a simply gorgeous jazz/blues tone, this guitar is both stunning to behold and to play.

Built in Kalamazoo, Michigan this 1966 model Barney Kessel signature guitar just oozes top level Gibson craftsmanship and tone. In production from 1961 to 1974, the guitar was designed as a high-end artist signature model and it produces a wonderfully rich and descriptive jazz tone, as you’d expect considering Kessel’s standing and reputation in the jazz guitar world.

What makes the guitar doubly interesting however, is its capability of producing some seriously biting blues/rock’n’roll tones via the bridge pickup especially and the model was also popular with blues musicians such as the legendary T-Bone Walker, who was often seen playing one in the 1960’s.

Access to the upper frets is extremely easy due to the dual Florentine cutaway and the neck is slim and fast under the fingers, making everything from gentle jazz runs to soulful blues leads a delight to play. Solo guitar work and chord playing is especially comfortable and the string-to-string definition is second to none allowing for a very rich tone in all registers.

There is increasing market interest in the Barney Kessel signature guitars and this instrument would suit both collectors and working players seeking a unique and stunning sounding jazz/blues guitar. The instrument is in very good condition throughout with only minor player wear and a great action.

Although Barney sadly passed away in 2004, the instrument is a fine testament to his enduring reputation as one the jazz world’s great guitarists and if you are seeking a high quality and versatile sounding vintage guitar that will bridge the gap between jazz and blues guitar styles, then this Gibson will deliver just that.

Features of this vintage Gibson Barney Kessel electric guitar

  • Hollow body with 3-ply binding, 3” deep, 17” wide
  • Double Florentine cutaway with f-holes
  • Cherry sunburst finish
  • One piece mahogany neck
  • One-piece maple ply top and one-piece maple ply back, maple sides
  • Rosewood 20 fret fingerboard with pearloid parallelogram inlays
  • 25 1/2″ scale length
  • Actual measured width at nut: 40.58mm (1 19/32″)
  • Headstock with crown inlay, Gibson logo and Deluxe on truss rod cover
  • Kluson Deluxe tuners with double-ringed tulip-shaped buttons
  • Rosewood adjustable compensated bridge
  • Trapeze tailpiece with engraved Barney Kessel logo insert
  • Chrome plated hardware – a piece of chrome-plating is missing from the neck pick-up
  • Three-way pickup selector and two Gibson humbucking pickups
  • Black witch’s hat reflector knobs
  • Original 5-ply pickguard included, plus a later replacement with the bracket
  • Original black Gibson hard case with yellow lining

Gibson Barney Kessel Sound Sample



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    "...I wanted to let you know how impressed I've been with your attitude and service through this process. Although the guitar wasn't to my taste, everything else was top quality in terms of the experience ~ thanks..."


    Jon, London

    Martin HD 28



    I received the guitar 10:30am on the dot. Basically it was 30 hours from London to my house in Arizona. That is amazing. The guitar is a beauty. For 42 years old it is in great shape, it's just like the one I had as a kid. Don't worry I will not be selling this one like I did my original one. Thanks again for all the personal service, it was a pleasure doing business with you. PS Thanks again for all your help in getting me this guitar. I haven't stopped playing it, except to sleep, since I got it.


    Jim, Arizona, USA

    Gibson ES-125T



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