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  1. #1
    Who's lucky enough to own both or have compared both: the post-war ES150 (P90) and the ES125?

    I'm wondering what difference in tone the different body width (17" vs 16") and the different scale length (25 1/2 vs 24 3/4) can produce?

    Gibson ES-150 vs ES-125-gibson-es-125-jpg Gibson ES-150 vs ES-125-gibson-es-150-jpg


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  3. #2

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    My ES150 Experience was not ideal. Bought on ebay an lost a tone bar during shipping so I tuned it up and played it very briefly (VERY briefly) and with a missing brace I am sure it sounded a little different.

    I also have a 64 ES125 (the 150 was 55 or 56... hard to tell).

    I was thinking very much like you.. I have an Epiphone Emp Reg and liked the 25.5 17in thing so in my mind the 150 was like a 125 but BETTER.. (it was the first Gibson to have crown FB inlays).

    When it arrived damaged I had a dilemma. Beat the sender down on price an get it fixed and ditch the 125 (my original plan) or send it back since.... well... I wasn't in love with it.

    Having switched back and for the between 17 and 16 in guitars I didn't even notice the difference. On electrics I do, I still don't like playing les pauls.

    So since the specs weren't that important to me anymore (GAS .. you fall in love with something that looks good on paper... ) I had to try and compare the two guitars.

    the 150 had very small frets. By 64 the frets were larger, which I preferred.
    Those lovely crown inlays had begun to yellow and shrink.
    I had a 150 that would have lost some resale value because of the repaired braces (one completely off.. the other loose)
    I had had my 125 for about a year and knew it well.. liked it.. and since I had an out with the seller because of the damage I sent it back. If it had not been damaged I would have kept it and decided after a few years to clear the 125 or the 150.
    (that said.. I said the same thing about my 125 and my 165.. but they are too different so I am (for now) keeping both)

    Buying the 150 was such a humph moment for me that it actually cured my GAS. I haven't coveted another guitar since.. saw my dream strat for sale locally at an amazing price.. and in my head said "meh.. don't need it". I still have Amp Aquistion Syndrome but after having to move/store them all during renovations I think that is in remission as well.

  4. #3
    I just have this dilemma, I can buy either one, but the ES150 is more expensive because it's rarer than the ES125, but is is any better? and what's the difference tonally speaking between these two body width and scale lengths, everything else on these two guitars being the same, same woods, same pickup...

  5. #4

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    Oh.. you cant play them side by side?

    Only you know what is better. I was a died in the wool 25.5 fan until I got the 125/165.

    Also I wasn't playing with the same strings so I guess that doesn help either. I DIDNT notice a difference with the 125. It probably was there but wasn't enough for me to say "wow.. " or "beurk..."

    For playability I was more distracted by the little frets to notice the difference in scale length.

    Hopefully someone with real experience will chip in but I found they were surprisingly similar.

  6. #5
    I don't know what's better, I just know which one is more expensive... just trying to figure out if there is a big difference between these two models.

  7. #6

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    actually... where are you in the world?

    I haven't noticed a huge difference between the the prices of 125s and 150s.

    I overpaid a little for my 125... 1100 CAN with a new case
    The 150 from ebay was 1300 and that was with shipping.

  8. #7
    $1300 for the 150!!? that's why it was ready to fall apart, I've been searching for months, and they always go for more than $2000 even the ES 125 sometimes, though it's still possible to find the 125 for less than two grands. I'm in Switzerland but I'm not talking about the prices here in Europe, I'm talking about the prices in USA on Ebay or in vintage guitar shops.
    Of course I know that on the craiglist they could be less expensive, but being in Europe the craiglist is of no use for me.

  9. #8

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    The only issue with the 150 before it was shipped was new keystone tuners.

    Had been watching ebay for a while and found the 1300 was in the ballpark at the time. Some were more expensive, some were cheaper BUT they didn't ship to Canada.

    800$ more seems steep BUT I know nothing about the European market.

  10. #9

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    Consider buying both and planning to sell one. Bear in mind the considerable costs (shipping/shipping insurance/customs duty/VAT/brokerage fee on customs clearance) of importing into the EU if buying from outside the EU!

  11. #10
    Yes I know, but even with the shipping and all the taxes, they are always less expensive in USA than in Europe. In Europe you can still get some deals with privates but in the music shops, just forget it!

  12. #11

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    I have played many ES-175, L-4, L-5 and a few L-7, ES-125, and ES-150 that weren't mine but I have no direct experience properly A-B'ing ES-125 and ES-150 since these guitars were set up with different strings and I played them in different environments and with some time apart.

    On the other hand, I do have some experience in regards to owning vintage Gibson archtop guitars that I could play consecutively, next to each other. Here is what I observed with MY guitars that were tried within the same parameters (wearing the same strings, played the same day, in the same room, with the same temperature and RH level, using the same playing technique, etc.).

    I have 1930's and 1950's L-4/L-4C and a 1950s ES-225 (16" body and 24.75" scale length). I also have a late 1940's L-7 (17" body and 25.5" scale length). Although they are one inch smaller than the L-7, both L-4/L-4C as well as the ES-225 have stronger bass response than the L-7. It's not so much that the bass is louder on them, it's just fatter, warmer, closer to the sound of a bass. I'd say that the middle range is as prominent on the L-4/L-4C as on the L-7. The high range is almost on par, with an advantage in favor of the L-7. The three 16" guitars are mellower and darker but definitely not muddy, while the L-7 is brighter and more focused and offers more note definition. Acoustically, my L-7 might be louder than my 1930's L-4, but I am not even sure. It's pretty close. Both are louder than the L-4C, though.

    I know that these do not represent a huge sample to reach conclusions, but I could probably reach the same conclusions if I looked back on most of the guitars that I mentioned in the first sentence of this post, including ES-125's and ES-150's.

    I think that the one major factor for the tonal differences is the scale length and the different tension. Besides the size of the box, the other factors that differ from one guitar to another and which may influence the tone, are the type of bracing and the materials (neck, top, back and side woods, arched or carved top and back). As far as just the ES-125 and ES-150 are concerned, I don't think that those from the 1950's had many structural differences other than width and scale length, but I am not an expert so someone, please correct me if I got this wrong.
    Last edited by Eddie Lang; 04-04-2013 at 06:28 PM.

  13. #12

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    Eddie, you are correct.
    Tonally the only factors that are different are the scale length and the size of the body
    That is, at least comparing my150 to my 125

  14. #13
    Yes, but what are exactly those tonal differences? Talking about a real classic, the ES 175, the 125 should be closer to the 175 than the 150 since they share the same body width and the same scale, and this florentine cutaway should not have a big impact tonally...

  15. #14

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    There were a few people who said that tonally the 125 and the 175 are very similar BUT, And I am sure there are members who can attest to this, Not all 125's are created equal.
    There have been some really great ones and some real dogs.
    I think mine is fair to good although the neck angle is pretty steep

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jangle Rainart
    Yes, but what are exactly those tonal differences? Talking about a real classic, the ES 175, the 125 should be closer to the 175 than the 150 since they share the same body width and the same scale, and this florentine cutaway should not have a big impact tonally...
    Tonally, between the ES-125 and ES-150, all things being equal (which they never truly are), expect the 125 to be darker and the 150 to be brighter. Unless they have an ear for it, some people hearing you play both models may not always hear the difference...

    ES-125 and ES-175 are not quite the same in terms of feel. I may be wrong but for some reason, I think that 1950's ES-125 have less consistency than the ES-175 from the same period [EDIT to ADD: as Sam Booka just pointed out].

  17. #16
    So the deal should be to find a good 125, but buying it from the web, it"s trickier to be sure to not get a dog.

  18. #17

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    Yes, there are some very reputable dealers who will steer you clear of the dogs.
    The only issue is that you usually pay a premium with these dealer. If you get a guitar out of it, it may be money well spent

  19. #18
    And who are those dealers? Pm me if you don't want to tell it here, thanks.

  20. #19

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    Last edited by Eddie Lang; 04-04-2013 at 11:01 PM.

  21. #20
    Thanks a lot, so I already knew the good ones, because except for just a few ones, they were all in my bookmarks.

  22. #21

    To me this is a 175 sounding ES 125...
    Last edited by Jangle Rainart; 04-05-2013 at 01:31 AM.

  23. #22

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    Never played an ES-150, so cannot tell, but owned a '55 ES-125 for some years and played a ES-175 and a charming Guild X-500 often by that time. I preferred the 125 over the 175 or the Guild, at least regarding those particular ones. Big difference. Anyway, I traded the 125 for a '51 Harmony H-51 and never regreted it. It was clearly superior to both the Gibsons and the Guild. Soon after I got another, an '53 H53 (same thing, different year, different model name) and it was better than the Gibsons and the Guild too. I learned not to care about brand names at all, just the guitars themselves.

  24. #23

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    I have to agree w Jabber, that's a high price for a player, maybe not so much for a collector if the condition is tops.

    I've played both and own an ES125. Acoustically the larger ES150 naturally has a bigger sound, esp the later models with arched backs. In the vid above, Woody's not plugged in and it sounds better than most set-pup laminate archtops, but the P90s are the same so plugged in the difference diminishes. I play mostly plugged and like the 16" body size so I prefer the 125. I like the appointments on the post-war 150s (neck binding, flowerpot inlays) but why pay more for a body size that for me is less comfortable? Scale length is not a big issue for me, both have advantages.

    (I am keeping my eyes open for the very rare ES130, basically an ES125 with bound neck and fingerboard inlays... beautiful! Google images will bring up a few but they almost never come up for sale.)

    Mine sounds like the 125 Jangle posted... very 175-ish. Other than the cutaway and bling I think the major difference (125 v 175) is collector-driven prices. With your eyes closed you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference IMO.

    Here's my 125

  25. #24

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    Not to bump an old thread, but I'm surprised no one compared the PICKUPS of the 2 guitars, isn't that one of, if not THE, biggest difference (electrically anyway?)

  26. #25

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    I have made this comparison. It comes down to scale length. The 125 is essentially a plain ES-125. To me, it sounds and plays the same...just less ornate. I have owned both. Great vintage guitars.

    The 150 has the longer scale length. I really have gravitated to the 25-1/2" scale over time. Today, I would choose a 150 over a comparable 125...just because of the way the longer scale sounds. It's just jazzier, to a Tal/Barney vs Joe/Herb sense.

  27. #26

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    I thought folks wanted a comparison of post-war 150s with 125s. The early 150s, of course, had solid-wood bodies and the CC pickup. They were marvelous fact, the BEST electric guitars I have ever played.

    I am comparing the post-war 150 guitar with the 125. They both have P90 pickups and differ principally in the scale length and the fact that the 150 is a 17" guitar, while the 125 is a 16" guitar.

  28. #27

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    Yes, I deleted my post when I thought I might not have all the info, went and did some research... and in doing so, not only found the differences in the pre-war and post-war ES-150s, but also YOUR POST declaring the pre-war ES-150 "Charlie Christian Guitar" the greatest jazz box ever built LOL

  29. #28

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    Tim Lerch Loves his... and plays the hell out of it.

  30. #29

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    I love my ES-125. Once you play a 125 I don't think you'll feel the need of spending more on a 150 :-)

  31. #30

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    I currently own a ES-125 from 1954 that is in great shape and, although I'm very much a beginner, I find it to be wonderful on so many levels.

    While perusing a local "sale site" I ran across a 1953 ES-150 that looked to be in decent shape. Kinda made me curious about the 1" size difference, block inlays and what else this model may have to offer in comparison to the ES-125.

    Anyone have some first hand experience with both? Much sound difference? PReference between the 2 and why?

    I look forward to reading responses and further avoiding work at the office!

  32. #31

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    Cool topic. One source of sound difference would be the pickups. ES 125's from that era have single P90's right? ES 150's have CC pickups I think.
    Body dimensions and scale lengths are different also I believe.

  33. #32

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    I think you have to go older than the 50's for the CC, but I will definitely defer to the experts.
    The one I'm looking at appears to be a 1954 according to the serial number and it has the P-90 in it.

  34. #33

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    I like the bigger body 150, a bit of a fuller sound in general, but 125's are excellent too.
    And yes, CC pickups were done after 1940 except by special order.

  35. #34

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    OK makes sense. The reason I thought they may have CC is because I recently played a 50's model that had CC. That must have been a special order then.

  36. #35

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    Just strike a compromise and have them both. Choosing the right axe is an important pre-gig ritual, at least for me.

  37. #36

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    How is the ES-150 different from the ES-300?

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMgolf66
    How is the ES-150 different from the ES-300?
    AFAIK it's cosmetic. Both are laminated, P90 equipped, 17 inches wide, no cutaway and rosewood fingerboard. The ES-300 was the top of the line for electrics immediately post war whereas the ES-150 (post war, not CC unit) was a more economical model (no binding on the neck until 1950 then binding until 1956)). They went through several variants over the years and they were discontinued at the same time around 1956.

    Both are damned good guitars and bebop war machines.

    Highly recommended!


  39. #38

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    Apart from what has already been mentioned, the 125 has 24.75" scale while the postwar 150 has 25.5" scale.

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  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Archtop
    AFAIK it's cosmetic. Both are laminated, P90 equipped, 17 inches wide, no cutaway and rosewood fingerboard. The ES-300 was the top of the line for electrics immediately post war whereas the ES-150 (post war, not CC unit) was a more economical model (no binding on the neck until 1950 then binding until 1956)). They went through several variants over the years and they were discontinued at the same time around 1956.

    Both are damned good guitars and bebop war machines.

    Highly recommended!

    Agreed. I own a 1947 blonde ES 300 and it is a much more luxurious guitar than my 125. Very pretty woods (flames galore) and bindings on the 300. Sounds bigger too than the 125 but both are definitely from the same vein and the 150 is too. The 300 was Gibson's top of the line after the war whereas the 125 and 150 were economy models.

    Yesterday I posted a new video in the showcase section on the 300. That's pretty much what it sounds like.


  41. #40

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    I have never played a 300 or a 350, but own a very well conditioned ES-125 from 1957. Apples-to-Apples (condition wise)Its a big jump in price from a 125 to a 300/350, it seems. I also get the feeling I could rationalize judging from the beautiful ones that you own, Dick. Also, Fred Archtop's examples are in the same league.

  42. #41

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    I have a special occasion coming up six months from now for which I want to buy a special guitar. I want to keep a reasonable budget at 2-3k $. I love the sound of ES-125s and ES-150s I've heard in many demos. I'm not familiar with the market for those instruments. How consistent was the production of those guitars ? How hard is it to find a good specimen ? What would be the potential pitfalls? How superior or different is the solid wood 150 compared to the 125?

  43. #42

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    Regarding tone, not superior at all. Just different. Flatwound strings on a plywood box with a P90 is an inspiring sound.

  44. #43

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    FWIW I haven’t played a 125 I haven’t liked

  45. #44

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    The post war ES 150 is laminated, just like the ES 125. Same guitar, only bigger body and neck scale.

    Potential pitfall for both are worn frets, tail rise and cracks (of course). I don't think sunken tops are much of an issue on these.

    I used to own a 1951 ES 125 and now own a 1964 one. Not much difference though I like the 64 a bit more than I remember liking the 125.

    My most recent clip (Like Someone in Love) in the showcase section was played on my 125.


  46. #45

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    Thought about an ES-300? This one needs some nut work that I haven’t gotten to yet, but looks great otherwise.

  47. #46

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    Would that be in the 2-3K budget? It's a stunner!

  48. #47

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    Great replies That's all very encouraging, looking forward to the hunt a few months from now. That guitar just speaks to me, it's really beautiful in its simplicity and sounds first-rate. Judging by the number of quality clips, it seems to have quite a following. Big thanks to DB for that clip and the many other awesome clips you share online.
    @ThatRythmMan sure, depending on what comes up. I'm unfamiliar with many of the less common Gibson models, but any of those is worth exploring. It does look gorgeous.

  49. #48

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    I have a 1952 ES-150, pictured below, in excellent condition listed for $3,100 on Reverb here:

    Gibson ES-150 (1952) Sunburst with HSC | Orrin's Boutique | Reverb

    Here is a video of the instrument:

    As there are numerous offerings of this model, with its variations, at lower and higher prices, I would encourage you to study all descriptions and attendant photos and, of course, ask questions, gathering as much information as possible to inform your decision.

    Gibson ES-150 vs ES-125-joibd1xooi0jpkzsnleo-jpg

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    Would that be in the 2-3K budget? It's a stunner!
    Pushing that budget hard. I’m not sure I could go quite as low as $3000, but not a whole lot more.

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    Would that be in the 2-3K budget? It's a stunner!
    I own a 1947 ES 300. At the time the 300 was the top of the line laminate Gibson. They are NOT in 2-3k realm. Not by far unless it has serious issues. I have seen the rare blonde ES 300s go for over 7k on reverb.