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  1. #1

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    EDIT: Interested in more ES-140 info? Keep Reading! I will update this post with new information that I find on the Gibson ES-140 ... Now back to the post
    -----------------------------------------------

    Well, after selling several archtops and holding back on buying more I finally bowed down to GAS. I've always thought the little 3/4 scale ES140s were neat and surfing Craigslist last night I saw a freshly posted beauty and negotiated a fair price. ...

    A one owner (family) 1956/7 Gibson Es-140T- natural! Only 57 natural ES140Ts were made from 1956-58. The owner stated his grandmother had bought it in late '56 early '57. She passed away in late 1957 and it essentially sat under a bed until recently when his grandfather passed. The guitar and faux alligator case are in exception condition... Hardly any checking. The only thing I found to be replaced was the tail piece as it has a chrome ES-140 full body tail piece. Not surprising as these tail pieces are known to fail just as the ones on old ES-175s.

    I dig it. The body is very similar to a Les Paul... 22 3/4 scale... 1 9/16 nut. Here it is with my 1956 ES-125...

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-image-2899277939-jpg 1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-image-3780865086-jpg
    Last edited by Steve Z; 12-05-2018 at 02:28 PM.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Nice, never seen one before.

  4. #3

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    Congrats, it's a beauty. Credit to you for caring for an instrument that (due to the short scale) others might pass on. How does it feel to play?
    Looking at it next to the other Gibson, I'm just wondering how on earth did Tal Farlow manage to cope with that fretboard.

  5. #4

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    That's gorgeous. Never seen one in natural finish. And I bet it plays like butter.

  6. #5

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    Congrats !
    Funny to see the 125 grand sister and the little 140 side by side
    Never seen one in natural finish.
    What a good find !

    How does it sound acoustically ?

  7. #6

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    First sight here too ...
    Very Neat. Nice high fret access too.

    Congrats !

  8. #7
    The little ES-140 really is a fun guitar! I've been picking away on the guitar every day since I bought it. I like smaller bodies guitars and this thing probably weighs under 4 lbs.

    The quality of the build is the same as any other Gibson from the period (mid-1950's) The neck joint is tight and the neck, though narrow nut of 1 9/16, has some meat to it and feels hearty when playing. The low profile frets are to my liking as I don't bend much and it has a similar feeling as my 1957 ES-125 (same low profile frets) and 1970 Les Paul Custom Fretless Wonder.

    The small scale is actually quite easy for me to adjust to. I tend to like telecaster narrow nuts so this is just a bit narrower, though noticeable. The smaller scale is becoming more natural... just don't try to play with your eyes closed until you get used to the scale as you will likely end up a half tone sharp or flat.

    The acoustic properties of the ES-140 are surprising good. While playing it the sound is thin and not so great (partially due to the $3.00 extra light strings the seller put on it), but if I hold it away from my so I can hear what a listener would here the ES-140 sounds pretty acoustically alive. Granted, it's not a 17" carved top arch top so let's not try to compare, but this little fella holds its own for its size.

    I don't have an amp so I use a little Vox AC30 plug headphone amp to test the electronics and the P-90 sounds really nice. The pots have a nice taper with very little scratching. I guess it helps that the guitar has been just sitting for nearly 60 years.

    Here is a size comparison to my 1970 Les Paul Custom (I bought this in high school back around 1984 for just under $500 with the original late 1960s orange lined case... but that's another topic for another time on how now classic expensive guitars were once just old/used beaters )...

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-image-2774794561-jpg

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-image-3670677509-jpg
    Last edited by Steve Z; 08-31-2014 at 07:01 PM.

  9. #8

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    What is a "fretless wonder"?

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Broyale
    What is a "fretless wonder"?
    The "Fretless Wonder" Les Pauls have frets that are low and flat, as opposed to the usual medium jumbo frets found on other Les Paul customs. Since the frets are barely felt the guitar was given the nickname "The Fretless Wonder".

    Since the frets are so low, bending strings is rather challenging. No problem for me since I don't bend notes much... I find the low flat frets very fast for not playing (not that I can play fast ) and switching chords is almost effortless.

  11. #10
    Well, after some searching and searching and perhaps a little more searching I believe I have located the correct tailpiece from my little blonde ES-140T.

    As I mentioned in the original post, the tail piece had been replaced by a 1960's chrome version from a ES-140 (wide body) or similar 3/4 scale guitar. Here's hoping that my find is the correct tail piece as it could become a bit expensive trying different tailpieces since original 1950's parts are not cheap .

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-screen-shot-2014-09-11-12-11-27-pm-png

  12. #11

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    Johnny Carroll's guitar player played one; here he is in a clip from the greatest rock and roll movie ever made.

  13. #12
    Great video.

    I knew about Tal Farlow using a custom ES-140 and I have done quite a bit of research trying to find a good picture of it, but all I could find is the album cover nopedals posted.

    Here's a little on the Tal Farlow ES-140 story I found... (source: Tal Farlow's Verve Sessions Guitar)

    --- Quote ---
    In summer 1951 the trio was booked into New York's Embers club for a residency. During this time one of the TV stations wanted to run aseries of broadcasts featuring the trio using brand new color TV technology... [edit to remove non ES-140 info]

    ...Although the technology being used for colour TV at that time was quite effective it was very primitive by today's standards, and perhaps that explained why the producer made a somewhat bizarre request that the musicians' instruments be painted in strong primary colours - in the case of Tal's guitar they wanted bright red. Once Tal had convinced the producer that that was not the sort of treatment that one could mete out to a cherished ES-250, the producer vowed to find him a guitar which could be painted. Of course Tal realised that he would quite likely be landed with a low quality instrument and although not contracted to Gibson he had a very good relationship with them and did not wish to offend them by being seen on national TV playing another manufacturer's guitar. So thinking quickly he suggested that the producer contact the Gibson guitar company and explain the situation.

    Naturally enough once the company had had a chance to speak with Tal they were happy to oblige and came up with a special bright red three quarter size ES-140 which had a short scale length of 22.75" which was significantly less (by about two inches) than the already shortened scale length of Tal's modified ES-250. Tal can be seen playing the red ES140 guitar on the cover of the LP Howard McGhee Volume 2.


    Larry Grinnell

    --- End QUOTE ---

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-tal-farlow-jpg
    Last edited by Steve Z; 09-11-2014 at 06:16 PM.

  14. #13

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    Congrats! You've got a beautiful one!

    I have been tempted by these for many years now, but I never pulled the trigger when a good occasion presented itself because I wasn't sure about whether or not I could adapt to the very narrow nut width.

  15. #14
    I found this picture of a 1950's price sheet online showing the ES-140...

    I wish the original owner I bought my ES-140TN from would have spent the extra $31.00 for the "faultless" hard case...

    I know, $30 was a lot of money bank then...about $250 in today's money - Ouch!

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-es-140-price-list-catalog-jpg

  16. #15
    I finally got around to swapping out the ES-140T full body tailpiece for the ES-140T that i bought on eBay. The main difference between the two tail pieces is that the ES-140T tail piece has a hole in it for the strap pin while the full body strap pin in located below the tail piece so no hole.

    I also changed out to the strings from the cheap electric 9s that the previous owner had tossed on it with some Chrome Flat 12s... Wow, what a difference. It actually stays in tune now! Those previous strings were terrible.

    Still digging my little 140!

  17. #16
    Here is a snapshot of a chart with the numbers of ES-140Ts produced...
    Attached Images Attached Images 1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-es140-spec-sheet-jpg 

  18. #17
    Giving my daughter a guitar lesson! The 1957 Gibson ES-140, originally sold as a student guitar, is just the right size... and it stays in tune unlike the modern 3/4 scale guitars

    The ES-140T is just the right size for kids... little kids and us big kids
    Attached Images Attached Images 1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-10703976_352645414897239_2165970097561085808_o-jpg 
    Last edited by Steve Z; 11-04-2014 at 08:34 AM.

  19. #18

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    that guitar is the perfect size for her!

  20. #19

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    On ebay:

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-es-140-jpg

  21. #20
    I found another image of an old advertisement for the ES-140 from the '50s that would fit the info in this thread...

    Source of image... Catch of the Day: 1958 Gibson LG-2 3/4 | The Fretboard Journal: Keepsake magazine for guitar collectors

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-gib58p12-jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images 1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-gib58p12-jpg 
    Last edited by Steve Z; 10-23-2015 at 02:52 PM.

  22. #21
    Another price list from an July 15, 1957 Gibson catalogue... http://vintage.catalogs.free.fr/gibson5.pdf

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-gibson-catalogue-es140-pricing-july-1957-jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images 1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-gibson-catalogue-es140-pricing-july-1957-jpg 

  23. #22

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    Congrats for the guitar. Seems you took it out of the time capsule. Any chance of a demo to hear how it sings ?

  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Archtop
    Congrats for the guitar. Seems you took it out of the time capsule. Any chance of a demo to hear how it sings ?
    Thanks Fred. No demo from me as I am more of a fan of guitars than a player. Let's say I am to guitar as Jay Leno is to cars... except I'm not rich

    I have been a fan of the ES140 and ES125 for many years. Since starting this thread I like to add new info the I find on the ES140 as a sort of on-going thread of knowledge. As you can see, others have posted great info as well which I hope continues.

    If I ever get the means to record a decent demo, then I'll share my 3 fancy chords that I know to demo the ES-140.

  25. #24

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    I love that ES 140T. Or anything else with a similar scale length! Anyone got any suggestions?

  26. #25
    Just adding another recent pic of a Gibson ES-140 in action... I dig these guitars! This post is slowly becoming my archive of bits of info I find

    Nora Jones playing a 1956 -'58 Gibson ES-140... She is playing the rare natural finish full body version. I had read that there were only around 30 or so made (I need to find the source and post it).


    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-ep-151029662-jpg
    Last edited by Steve Z; 01-08-2017 at 12:32 PM.

  27. #26

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    Nice! It's all neck! Might make a good travel guitar!

  28. #27

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    I would LOVE to get one of these for my wife - a concert violinist, small hands, she likes guitar.
    Last edited by Woody Sound; 08-02-2017 at 09:36 AM.

  29. #28
    I've found very few custom ES-140s so I was pretty excited to find these pictures of Larry Collins of the Collins Kids playing a custom Gibson ES-140. Larry Collins, being a kid in the 1950's, endorsed the ES-140.

    circa: 1954-1955

    note: Bigsby pickup in the treble position and stock Gibson P-90 in the neck position.

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-20131020175429-jpg 1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-20131020175418-jpg
    Last edited by Steve Z; 01-29-2017 at 12:35 PM.

  30. #29
    Had one a while back great guitar. YOu can pick up a nice gig bag as the Taylor baby guitar gig bags work quite well for the 140. They have a lot of padding and can be had for under 50 dollars. Great guitar with a lot of history. They didn't make too many naturals. ENJOY

  31. #30
    I love your beautiful ES140t IN blonde - very special.
    Please let me know if you are interested in selling it at some point as I have been looking for one for a long while here in the UK and they don't ever seem to come up.
    Thanks, mike

  32. #31
    Here's a unique white Gibson ES-140 played by Jesca Hoop...

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-white-es-140-jpg



  33. #32
    Looks like Rudy's bought Tal Farlow's red Gibson 1951 ES-140...

    For sale on Gbase... 1951 Gibson ES-140 Red > Guitars Archtop Electric & Acoustic | Rudys Music

    Description on Gbase listing...
    The Red Norvo Trio was hired to play on the Mel Torme Show on CBS-TV which was to be the one of the country’s first color TV broadcasts. The producer felt the brightest colors were needed for the broadcast and wanted the musicians to paint their instruments red. Tal explained that the instruments were delicate and you couldn’t just paint them. The producer said this was so important for CBS (which had a competing color system with NBC) that he would try to get them colored instruments. Tal, being associated with Gib- son, knew that Gibson would not be happy with his appearing on TV with anything but a Gibson guitar. Gibson agreed to make something special for the occasion. It is a standard ES-140 3/4 size laminated maple top. the whole guitar was painted a bright, almost day-glow red.
    This instrument can be heard on Howard McGhee (Sextet)

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-p1_uvgq10jbj_so-jpg1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-p2_u2nmyyeyg_so-jpg

  34. #33
    Here's a pic of the Howard McGhee album with Tal Farlow playing the red ES-140 in the above post...

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-howard-mcgee-jpg

  35. #34
    Tal's red ES-140...

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-tal-farlow-custom-red-1951-gibson-es-140-guitar-aficionado-may-june-2017-justin-borucki-jpg

  36. #35
    Here's an addition to the ES-140 pics I found online... I dig the blonde trio!

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-screen-shot-2017-07-18-9-44-14-am-jpg

  37. #36
    Here's a collection of YouTube video clips I put together of Es-140s and ES-125 3/4 guitars in action...
    Last edited by Steve Z; 08-02-2017 at 09:29 AM.

  38. #37

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    Great looking Gibson guitars up there, congrats on the new buy! And not to leave out my babe, here's my 1953 Gibson ES140, no T it's the thick one that looks like a small ES175! I love this guitar, I've had it for over 46 years! I'm glad someone put up the price list! ~Cheers!
    Attached Images Attached Images 1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-ibanezfg100-coins-034-jpg 1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-ibanezfg100-coins-009-jpg 1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-guitar-027-jpg 

  39. #38
    Just to update this Gibson ES-140 thread a bit... here's a rare 1955 Gibson ES-140N (full body) [non original tailpiece, but a sweet find none the less]... these ES-140 and ES125 3/4 guitars are some of my favorites.


    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-8328_07-jpg1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-8328_01-jpg

  40. #39

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    Quite late to the thread, but:
    Attached Images Attached Images 1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-es140tn-jpg 

  41. #40
    Oh my... that is sweet!

    Is the finish original? Pickup covers (possible pickups) and bridge are not original, but is the dual pickup routes original?
    Last edited by Steve Z; 07-25-2018 at 03:47 PM.

  42. #41

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    There’s some good news and bad news with this 1957 ES-140TN”D”.

    The good news is, yes, it is the original finish.

    The bad news is, no, the bridge pickup is not original. I bought it online already modified. Along with adding the extra pickup, knobs, and switch, the tuners and bridge are newer, and some fool screwed the bridge to the top—what the...? I recieved it with chrome pickup covers and replaced them with cream.

    The good news is because of all the modifying it was quite affordable.

    The bad news is because of all the modifying it will always be relatively affordable.

    The good news is whoever modified it did a very good job (except for screwing the bridge to the top—what the...?)

    The bad news is only 57 ES-140TN’s ever left the facory (see above post from Duchossoir’s Gibson Electrics: The Classic Years), so modifying this particular piece is nothing short of a travesty.

    The good news is I own one of only 57 ES-140TN’s Gibson ever shipped.

  43. #42
    Another ES-140 live band use...
    Jay Salem, 1950s rock-a-billy guitarist in Johnny Carroll & the Hot Rocks, often used a Gibson ES-140D (full body depth with dual pickups is definitely rare... custom?). Likely playing a 1950-55 ES-140 based on the style of tailpiece.

    ...At 15, Johnny organized his first band, the Texas Moonlighters; they had their own show on Cleburne's KCLA radio. In 1955, the band won first prize in a talent contest, and enrolled second prize winner guitarist Jay Salem in the band along the way...
    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-jay-salem-guitar-es140-jpg


  44. #43
    A bit more info on the Tal Farlow wned Gibson ES-140... looks like it sold...

    Replacing the Silvertone, he moved on to a short-scale Gibson ES-140 ¾, custom finished in a blazing orange-red that was once owned by the jazz guitarist Tal Farlow. This was a different caliber. He went downstairs to ask if he could play it. The store manager, Gordon French, told him he could and took him back up to the loft.

    Mr. Pearce sat on a leather bench and began to strum, trying out a few plaintive Jeff Buckley riffs, a Bob Dylan song. “It’s nice with the flat-wound strings on it,” he said. When the guitar is plugged in, Mr. French told him, “It’s incredibly warm and fat. Kind of luscious.”
    “Mellow,” Mr. Pearce said. He probably meant buttery. Sadly, another customer already had a deposit on it.
    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-red-es140-jpg

  45. #44

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    After seeing smmllr's 57 I feel like I should add mine to the list.
    I received it with the bridge already nailed in place and a few other mods already done. Amazingly I was also given the original bridge, volume and tone pots with bumblebee cap and tuners when I purchased the guitar.
    Neck p-90 is original and I had all cutting and drilling for the extra pickup done by a pro.

    When I first received the guitar my intent was to return it to normal but before long I realized this was something I will never part with, it holds no monetary value to me. When I'm gone someone else can cuss me and figure out what it's worth, I just hope it goes to someone who loves playing it as much as I do.

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-dsc00801-jpg1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-dsc00802-jpg

  46. #45
    Thanks for sharing. What year is your little ES-140? Inside one of the f-holes should be a factory order number. There will be a letter in front of the numbers. The letter indicates the year.

    Year Letter
    ---- ------
    1952 Z
    1953 Y
    1954 X
    1955 W
    1956 V
    1957 U
    1958 T
    1959 S
    1960 R
    1961 Q

  47. #46

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    Its a 57, U938 15.
    Thanks for starting this thread Steve, I don't think there's as much ES-140 content in one place anywhere else on the web.
    Hopefully it will continue to grow.
    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-dsc00810-jpg

  48. #47
    Mine is a '57 as well... U 9848 32.

    I will continue to post ES-140 info on this thread as I find it. I hope others do the same.

  49. #48
    Here's a Gibson price list from Nov 1959... notice the price of a ES-140 was $205.... the price of a '59 / '60 Les Paul Sunburst was $280... I bet all those folks that bought an ES140 new and still own it wish they would have spent the additional $75 for a 'Burst


    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-1959-60_pricelist-png

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-1959-60_gibson-procelist-jpg

  50. #49
    1952 ES-140 was $152.50.... add $15.00 for natural!

    Les Paul... $210
    L7-C... $220.00... add $15 for Natural
    L5-C... $470... add $15 for Natural... Wow!

    (FYI... 1951 price lists were the same prices)

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-screen-shot-2018-12-03-8-46-55-pm-png 1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-1952_gibson-pricesheet-jpg

  51. #50
    1967 ES-140 price... $275.00
    faultless (hard) case.... $70.00
    Durabilt (fiberboard soft) case... $13.50

    1956/7 Gibson ES-140T - Natural-screen-shot-2018-12-03-9-05-50-pm-png