LOT 41 CHRISTIE’S 2004
EST: $60,000 - $80,000
WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR A GIBSON GUITAR AT TIME OF SALE. THIRD HIGHEST PRICE PAID FOR A GUITAR AT TIME OF SALE.
Serial No: 67473
Body: Double cutaway thinline semi-hollow, maple, f-holes, maple centre block, cherry red finish
Neck: Mahogany, 22 frets, rosewood fingerboard with block inlays
Headstock: Pearl Gibson logo, crown inlay, black three-ply (black/white/black) truss cover engraved ‘Custom’
Bridge: Nickel-plated Tune-o-matic with stop tailpiece
Pickguard: Black five-ply (black/white/black/white/black)
Pickups: Two humbucking with nickel-plated covers
Controls: Two volume, two tone
Switches: Three-position pickup selector
Label: ‘Style ES-335 TDC/Gibson/Number67473 is hereby/Guaranteed/against faulty workmanship and materials./Union Made/Gibson Inc/KalamazooMichigan,/U.S.A.’
Case: Original Lifton hardshell case, stencilled on the lid in white ‘CREAM/DELICATE/HANDLE WITH CARE/DELICATE ELECTRONIC INSTRUMENT/ HANDLE WITH CARE/EC G ES’, with adhesive tape inscribed ‘Auction (SADLY!)/Gibson Cherry Red-Cream/’64-335-#67473’
ERIC: "The second electric guitar I ever bought. The Kay got me into The Yardbirds, and then when we started making money, I found I had nothing else to spend it on but guitars. Though we weren’t yet in the big-money league, we were making enough for me to buy my first really serious guitar, a cherry red Gibson ES-335, which was the instrument of my dreams, of which the Kay had been but a poor imitation.
"Maybe once a month throughout The Yardbirds I bought a guitar. The unfortunate thing was I didn’t keep them. In those days, I was less of a collector. I didn’t have the money or facilities. I wasn’t really sure where I was living half the time, and it would have been cumbersome to have had more than two or three guitars. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to think, ‘Oh, for this song I’ll use that’ – I wouldn’t have thought like that at all.
"I just was very focused on a guitar and would play that exclusively for a year, two years and then for some reason I’d go somewhere else. The only one I held on to was the ES-335; it was the oldest guitar in my collection. Well, not the oldest, but the one I had the longest.
"Throughout my life I chose a lot of my guitars because of the other people who played them, and this was like the one Freddie King played. In The Roosters, Tom McGuinness brought in ‘Hideaway’ by Freddie King, and the B-side was ‘I Love The Woman’, which is still one of the greatest. That’s the first time I heard that electric-lead-guitar style, with the bent notes. I’d never heard anything like it, and it was what immediately made me want to carry on. I knew that was where I belonged, finally. That was serious, proper guitar playing, and I haven’t changed my mind since.
"I still listen to his music in my car or when I’m at home and I get the same boost from it that I did then. There wasn’t a great deal of footage or still photos or album covers that I could refer to that showed examples of this model, but I did see a Freddie King instrumental album and he was playing one of these. I think the cherry Gibson ES-335 was really acceptable on every front. It was a rock guitar, a blues guitar – the real thing.
"Even in those days I may have had reservations about Fenders, in that they were solid, whereas this one was semi-acoustic. What I love about Fenders now I would probably have held in a little bit of contempt in those days, in that they didn’t have any purfling down the side of the neck, and so on. This guitar had all the finish you would ever want and all the credibility a guitar needed at that time. The fact that Alexis Korner and I played those Kays was because you couldn’t get these Gibsons in England – you didn’t see them. You got copies, German guitars like Hagstroms, Hofner. I bought this brand new either from Denmark Street or Charing Cross Road.
"The ES-335 is beautiful, and I loved it. It was played regularly over the years. It got on albums, it never really changed. It never got old, it never wore down. It never lost anything. I’d play it now.
"Anything that’s been that long in my life and is still functional – there aren’t too many things that can command that kind of respect. I’ve had no cars that long for instance. There are no other tools in my life that have been as long-serving. After I sold the red ES-335, I bought a sunburst one. It’s a great guitar and it’s so loud. I’d forgotten how loud they were."