• Hugh Hardy

Gutting and Re-Wiring a Vintage ES-345 Doesn’t Phase Me!



G.A.S. got me again, and I drove to Sudbury (3 hours each way, give or take) for this 1962 Gibson ES-345… a nice outing for me and the wife (who co-incidentally had a piece of her Mum’s furniture to pick up there… so it was “all good”).


The skinny – there’s a Bigsby repair, and a re-fret, but not much else touched. Even the pickups are still sealed! I just can’t live with Stereo or Varitone, so the first thing I normally do with these is rip out the Varitone and harness and put in a premium mono harness with great caps and pots. Better tone – plus a savings on the weight – this guitar now Varitone-less, weighs in at 8lbs 5oz. I actually bought a teeny weeny little circular saw for my Dremel Tool – my best bet at opening one pickup to flip the magnet, before gently re-soldering the cover back on. You may not know this, but most ES-345s have the pickups out-of-phase. It doesn’t affect the middle position when you’re using 2 amps in stereo, but it sure does if you use one amp! When I say “most” ES-345s have out-of-phase pickups, according to my 300 series guy, Charlie Gelber at OK Guitars, this was a bit “random” at the Gibson plant, and some ES-345s actually have in-phase pickups…


Well, low and behold! It’s a miracle! This ’62 has in-phase pickups! And it’s double good fortune, because these are sealed PAFs, and although I was prepared to molest one (delicately) in the name of TONE, I actually don’t have to.


Let me add that this guitar is a monster! The tone is full yet articulate.

The Bigsby works great – SO GREAT, that I wasn’t prepared to pull off the “Custom Made” plaque and use the pre-drilled stop tail holes (often another “standard practice” for me) to ditch the Bigsby and save another 1/2 lb or so. The neck is wide and a medium depth front to back, yet it has “shoulders” – and is therefore very comfortable to play.

All-in-all, I’m smitten (again).

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