The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Gibson ES-150 Archtop Electric Sunburst, 1948

This Gibson ES-150 example dates to approximately 1948, based on its construction and features. It is definitely post WW2 – production of the model had ceased from 1942 to 1946 – and in 1950, the position markers changed to split-parallelograms and the fingerboard received binding. On this guitar, the P-90 pickup and pots were replaced in 1999, along with the trapeze tailpiece bracket. The pickguard is long gone.

For its entire production, the Gibson ES-150 sported a non-cutaway full depth body. The top is solid Spruce, likely Sitka as by wartime, Adirondack or Red Spruce had been overharvested. For feedback suppression reasons the sides and back are Laminate Maple. The body blocks, linings and neck are Mahogany, with a Brazilian Rosewood fingerboard and bridge. The neck profile is not too full and is comfortable; it is presently strung with flatwound strings.

This 1948 Gibson ES-150 is sold with its original black Geib case.

The Gibson ES-150 appeared in 1936 as one of the first efforts towards an ‘Electric Spanish’ (hence the term ES) guitar as opposed to ‘Electric Hawaiian’, and became the company’s first successful archtop electric. Previously, Gibson was supplying pickups and amplifiers, but hadn’t offered a guitar with a factory-installed pickup though their competitors were starting to. By 1935, pressure from customers like Montgomery-Ward pushed Gibson into installing pickups on some non-Gibson branded models. This showed a need for an up-market Gibson branded model, and in late 1936 the first ES-150 shipped. It was immediately picked up by top players like Charlie Christian.

At launch, the 16.25 inch wide Gibson ES-150 had an X-braced Spruce top, flat Maple back, and Mahogany neck with Rosewood for the unbound fingerboard, a floating Ebony bridge and a trapeze tailpiece. The ES-150 was produced with what is commonly referred to as the Charlie Christian pickup, and this is known as the V1 variant.

For 1940 and the V2 variant, the pickup and its placement were changed. To provide more treble to cut through the sound of a band, the pickup was moved to the bridge position. The ‘new’ pickup itself was known as the P-13, and was used until production was suspended for WW2, from 1942 to 1946.

When production resumed in 1946, many things changed. The body was now 17 inches wide, the top, back and sides were pressed laminate Maple with tone-bar bracing, and the pickup was the ‘new’ P-90. In 1950, the position markers changed from dots to trapezoids and the fingerboard was bound. The ES-150 stayed in production until 1956 in favor of thinner, cutaway archtops and solid-body guitars.


Price: $3,250.00 CAD
  • Model: ES-150
  • Year: 1948 | Approximate year
  • Finish Sunburst
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: N/A, no serial or FON, features indicate 1948 at Kalamazoo
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Good
  • Date Posted: 02/05/2024

  • Consignment Item

  • Including original Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 5.15lbs 2.34kg
  • Scale Length: 25.4in 645mm
  • Nut Width: 1.715in 43.57mm
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