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1956 Gibson ES-135 / ES-130

Upmarket ES-125 Jazz Box

Rare chance to buy a rare mid fifties guitar. This deep sunburst jazz box is certainly a class above the average 125. It’s in good condition, with the ‘dings and dongs’ of player-wear that is expected of a 60 year-old.

The trapeze tailpiece has been replaced and the original knobs have no-doubt been ‘re-purposed’ for a Les Paul. The tuners are original, only the buttons have been renewed – a good thing because the old ones disintegrate eventually. The hard case is period correct but not original to the guitar.

Price: £1,999.00
S/N: R412

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1956 Gibson ES-135 Description

Yes, it’s a lot like an ES-125 but it cost $10 more back in the day, and was considered the ‘upmarket’ version. It had a bound neck, trapeze fret inlays and a 5-ply pickguard – fancy indeed!

The ES-135 was introduced in 1954 as the ES-130, then renamed the ES-135 in 1956. Interestingly, the ES-135 model name was to get used again later in the century, but that’s another story.

The limited production of Gibson’s ES135 model makes it more interesting from a collector’s point of view. I mean, everyone’s got a 125 jazz box right, but how many people have a 135 or 130?

To give you an idea of the scarcity of this model, just take a look at the production numbers for 1956:

  • Total ES-125s shipped: 3090
  • Total ES-135s shipped: 211

’56 marked the height of the popularity of the 125 model – remember the cutaways and thinlines weren’t introduced until the 1960s – and it must have made sense to Gibson to offer the ‘student model’ 125 and the upmarket alternative the 130 / 135. However, it didn’t make sense to the buying public, who went-on buying 125s and the 130/135 was discontinued in 1958 after just four years of production.

Only 556 of these guitars were ever made and shipped by Gibson.

1956 Gibson ES-135 Features

  • 16¼” wide full depth hollow body
  • Single bound top, bottom and neck
  • Unbound headstock with Gibson logo decal
  • Laminated 5-ply pickguard
  • Mahogany neck
  • Kluson Deluxe tuners with (replaced) oval buttons
  • Brazilian rosewood fretboard with trapezoid inlays
  • Brazilian rosewood compensated and adjustable bridge
  • Trapeze tailpiece with raised diamond (replaced)
  • Single P-90 pickup
  • Tone-cut and volume controls with gold knobs (non-original)
  • Hard case of contemporary make and style


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