The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Gibson S1 Solidbody Maple Natural, 1978

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The Gibson S1, the last design for Gibson by Bill Lawrence, appeared in late 1974 in a bid to challenge the tonality of the Stratocaster, and was removed from the Gibson catalog in 1980. During this period, Gibson (and other American builders) faced stiff competition from new offshore competitors, and had to reduce costs.  While the model was dropped from the 1980 catalog, sales of remaining stock continued into 1982. 

Recognizing this, construction of the Gibson S1 moved away from several traditional Gibson practices. The neck bolts to the body, and the pickups and electronics all bolt to the pickguard for faster assembly, installation and removal. Gibson-branded tuners are on the arrow-shaped headstock, and a ‘Harmonica’ style long-travel adjustable bridge (likely made by Schaller) is paired with a standard stop tailpiece.

Here we’re looking at a Gibson S1 built in Nashville TN, with a date of April 19 1978. This guitar is built exclusively of Maple, used for the three-piece body, three-piece neck, and fingerboard. This example is in largely original condition, except for the bridge pickup. Some time ago, the original single coil was removed, put in the case, and replaced with what looks like a Duncan Hot Rails. The other two Bill Lawrence design pickups with distinctive clear covers are original. The clear, nitrocellulose lacquer satin finish is original and has some honest play wear on the back. Fret wear is light.

Overall, this Gibson S1 is in good working order, plays well and has a wide array of available sounds.

The electronics are where the Gibson S1 really stood out.

There are three Lawrence design single coil pickups, a four-position rotary pickup selector, master volume and tone, and a two-position toggle ‘Bypass’ switch.

The Rotary ‘Transfer’ selector originally offered these settings:

  1. Neck and Middle pickups in humbucking mode.
  2. Middle and Bridge pickups on
  3. All three pickups on
  4. Neck and Middle pickups out of phase

The Gibson S1 ‘Bypass’ switch enables only the Bridge pickup, regardless of the position of the Transfer switch.

During later 1978, the ‘Transfer’ switch was redesigned by Pat Murphy to allow a missing but key setting – the neck pickup by itself.

The original Gibson hard shell case is included, and contains the original bridge pickup.


 

Price: $2,800.00 CAD
  • Model: S-1
  • Year: 1978
  • Finish Natural Satin
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: 71098578, dated to April 19 1978 at Nashville
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Good
  • Date Posted: 15/07/2021

  • Consignment Item

  • Including original Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 9.5lbs 4.32kg
  • Scale Length: 628.6mm 24.75in
  • Nut Width: 43.25mm 1.702in
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