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  1. #1

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    I tried two new es-175s last week.
    They had the same tops as two others I tried this summer.
    One thing that always struck me:
    The tops are kinda S shaped. I will try to explain.
    Holding the guitar in the playing position and looking at the end pin you see the top arch up. The apex is at the bridge. It decends towards the neck. Just before it reaches the neck pickup it starts to ascend again.
    I know I am describing this badly but I couldnt find any pics on the weeb.
    When did Gibson start doing this? I have never noticed it on 175s before but maybe the effect is more pronounced or maybe I just wasnt paying attention.





    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by SamBooka
    Holding the guitar in the playing position and looking at the end pin you see the top arch up. The apex is at the bridge. It decends towards the neck. Just before it reaches the neck pickup it starts to ascend again.
    Drew, your description seems accurate and mystifying!! I don't have one of those guitars but I looked at my L-4CES, which I've always thought was identical except for carved top and some upscale doo-dads. I don't see any abnormal curves ... here's a photo from the side.

    I have seen old Ovation flat-tops with weird shaped curves, usually attributable to defective bracing ... I'm sure you would have recognized that type of flaw. Maybe one of the 175 owners can enlighten us.


  4. #3

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    My '67 ES-175DN is looks like so.

    I bought it on realtime.

    It's a one of famouse characteristic.
    (I checked on the Web by keywords"sink" "sinking" "sank" "sunk" "fall" "top" "arch" "shape" "humid" "ES-175" "ES-175D"etc and I saw the relation comments and photos.)

    Causes are stock in high humid(Japan) and long time busines trip and once a time wrong tuning on the first time join in the bigband(they use the Bb)the some low strings was broken with a bang sound and schoks,the after I baught a tuner.

    But now best sounds.

    It's a lovely my music tool not a collections.

    I think thin top is necessary for good sounds.

    I have a "Oville by Gibson ES-175DN"(maufactured by japanese company with licence and mounted on Gibson pups),only looks good,narrow and thin sounds.

    Most importance is a sounds.

    Sorry! my strange language.

    Best regards.
    Last edited by kawa; 12-12-2009 at 07:33 PM.

  5. #4

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    I pulled out my blond ES-175 copy and I can see what you're talking about. The fretboard over the body and the top isn't parallel like on most guitars. The body dips away from the fretboard so it's end is further away from the top than where it joins the body. The front pickup is on a little rise of the body's contour.
    Attached Images Attached Images Gibson ES-175 - S-shaped Tops-dream-175-body001-jpg 

  6. #5

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    That sounds right.. I havent be out to try one since I noticed it. I will try to get a profile pic with my blackberry next time.

  7. #6

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    I have played a vintage 175 for 30 years. I understand your concern. I recommend you consider buying an older instrument. Times are tough. Look for the early 60's models. My 175 is older than me, and still plays and sounds fantastic, although I admit to considerable pampering.

    But I have played recent copies and some of Gibson's reissues, and found them to be good, and all updated wiring/pickups/etc. - but it's a crapshoot with the recent stuff, so if you see something you don't like don't buy it. There are too many great guitars out there for sale, and the prices won't get too much lower - especially for the workhorse of the jazz guitars, the ES-175.

  8. #7

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    Perhaps I didn't understand the original post, is there a concern? I thought an anomaly was being described, not a deficiency. Not meaning to be argumentative but performance isn't necessarily related to appearance, right?

    Drew, how did the two guitars play and sound? (I certainly don't NEED an ES-175 but the desirable heritage -pun intended- of these instruments makes me wonder why I've never owned one. So I always read anything related to the model.)


    PS: Kawa, you're expressing yourself well with an unfamiliar language. Your comments are always interesting.
    Last edited by randyc; 01-07-2010 at 01:23 AM. Reason: add PS

  9. #8

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  10. #9

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    Hi Folks.
    Sorry for the confusion. I was trying out the 175s because in the little hole where I live that is all they sell for .. ahem.. "highend" archtops.

    Kawas pic from the frets page shows exactly what I am talking about. Pic #3 you can see it. In reality it is even more pronounced because in this pic the top is collapsing.

    I found this odd. I like my flattops flat and my archtops arched
    It was more of a curiosity comment because I had never noticed on a 175 that the "twist" was so pronounced. This is probably not a defect since 4 guitars from 3 different stores all are like this and the pickup rings are installed to accomodate this. I just found it odd.

    As for sound. I tried 4 guitars that day. 2 175s (one standard and one cherry with gold hardware). Also an Epi 175. The two Gibbys were well built, fit and finish but sounded remarkably bland (of the two the cherry sounded better.. nothing to do with the finish probably, just a different guitar). The best sounding and worst built was the Epi.

    The nicest I actually played was en epi zephyr regent (like an older es165 non-float). Remarkably warm tone. Again fit and finish was underwhelming but sounded great and played well. I had tried it before and was impressed but was affraid it might sound too dark so I passed on it and bought an EmpReg instead.

    If I were to buy a Gibson I would buy an older model for sure. $3000 canadian for a 175 new. My issue with used is that I can only buy online as I live in a small city where the DJs killed off all the musicians so there is not instrument market. Ok. done ranting.

    Thanks alll ...especially KAWA for the great link.
    Last edited by SamBooka; 01-07-2010 at 10:36 AM.

  11. #10

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    I started another thread about nightmare guitar purchases and described something like what I think this thread is about. This is a photo from the side of the guitar I had a problem with. Notice that the strings have to be a straight line. The string comes down the neck (from right to left) and the neck bows away from the string at the last few frets. It bows so much that the strings almost dissapear under the line of the side of the guitar, meaning that the strings, the space between the strings, the frets and fretboard are all under the level of the top of the guitar. Compare to the nice Gibson photo a few posts back up. This may be what you are talking about. The top of the guitar is caving in. The guitar is: 1: defective 2: was strung with too heavy and too tight strings and left that way until the strings defeated the structure of the guitar 3: The guitar was stowed in a humid . hot environment which allowed the strings to defeat the strength of the wood.

    As this was an imported cheapie under a good brand name, I'll assume that it was just junk out of the box and it went to live somewhere else as a pretty guitar. You could however play the heck out of this thing and ever as it was would make a great beginner guitar. Funny things is it held tuning just fine, indicating that whatever was wrong, had finished moving around.

    It had a great action right up to the 9th or 10th fret or so and sounded great, and looked great.


  12. #11

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    Drew, Epis are a good choice, I have 2 (a Sheraton & an Emp) and do most of my gigging with them. My post was more generally bemoaning the slippage in QC in guitar manufacture over the years. I love my 175, but in fact it is just laminate ("...cardboard"... as Jim Hall once quipped about his!). I bought it because so many of my heroes played that model, and I was young enough to believe that might make me sound better!

    There are many firms out there still making high quality instruments for not too high prices, including the Godins up in CA. They make a remarkably inexpensive and versatile archtop in the sub $1K range, I think it's called the 5th Avenue. Just an example - plenty of other threads here & elsewhere with others' opinions. Anyway, just fyi.

  13. #12

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    Wait - WAIT! are you telling me that if I buy a new guitar I'm not going to sound better ???? Forgedaboudit!


  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Vermillion
    Wait - WAIT! are you telling me that if I buy a new guitar I'm not going to sound better ????
    ...but if you buy a really old one, and play it for a few decades, you might.

  15. #14

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    I'm shocked to learn that an expensive guitar won't make me play better. Shocked, I keep buying guitars hoping I'll play better, but no.
    BUT! My old rednecked Gibson ES-135 taught me finger picking. My old Guild taught me bar chords.
    I've got this blond ES-175 copy thats too new to have any old mojo in it, but if there's a guitar that's built to teach me jazz guitar it's an ES-175. I just wish the sustain block wasn't there so it would sound better unplugged.
    Each guitar has a soul, and needs you more than you need it. My old restored archtops look up and smile at me when we play together.
    The secret is to keep progressing and not getting into a rut. I'm 60 something and am trying to see if I can learn to play Jazz guitar like Gabor Sczabo, Wes, or Benson.
    Attached Images Attached Images Gibson ES-175 - S-shaped Tops-dream-175-body001-jpg 
    Last edited by TAHOEAGLE; 01-07-2010 at 09:32 PM.

  16. #15

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    Getting back on topic, have we learned anything about recently manufactured ES-175 guitars? SamBooka said: "This is probably not a defect since 4 guitars from 3 different stores all are like this and the pickup rings are installed to accomodate this."

    Has a design change occurred to the most popular (according to many) jazz guitar ever made? Seems unlikely that a change of this magnitude could go unnoticed ... Any new 175 owner's out there that can comment?

  17. #16

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    I don't think it's a defect. I think the rise for the bridge pickup has to do with the sustain block. It's designed this way. Maybe the body falls away to allow for bridge pickup adjustment?
    If the body's parallel to the fretboard, the space available for the bridge pickup would be minimal, like on a Les Paul. Somehow this arrangement pulls the pickup back far enough to provide space for adustment. On an acoustic archtop the pickup has a place to go when kept low because there's a hole in the top to accept the pickup. The ES-175 has that block there. My guess at Gibson guitar design theory.

  18. #17

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    You lost me - the ES-175 isn't a semi-hollow instrument like the 135, 335, 345, 355 type guitars. I don't think that it's a defect either, the chances of SamBooka encountering four defective ES-175 guitars is improbable, at best. He's wondering if and when the design changed, I think, and I'd also like to know that.


  19. #18

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    To the extent that the ES-175 and the ES-135, etc, have a sustain block that stops the top from vibrating, it is, to me, a semi acoustic but not semi hollow, its hollow, but not an acoustic guitar. It's a deep bodied semi acoustic because of the block. That's why the thread author didn't like its sound unplugged. Neither do I.
    The ES-175 came out in 1949, and was designated the 175 because it cost $175.00 new back then. It might have had the P-90 pickups in it then requiring this shape come to think of it.
    Humbuckers didn't come out untill the Les Paul, which came before the ES-335's.
    Last edited by TAHOEAGLE; 01-07-2010 at 11:37 PM.

  20. #19

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    ?? where is the sustain block.
    I looked a KAWAs pics and I dont see a sustain block ??

    Randy caught the gist of my question. When did the amount of S to the top change (or has it always been like that).

    When I try out guitars I rarely plug them in. Strings and pickups all can be changed. You dont need to plug a guitar in to know if it is a good one for you. Amps on the other hand...

    And parts of Joe Pass's Virtuoso were recorded on a miked ES175 (although I dont think he was very happy about it). Take this with a grain of salt as it is possible just internet folklore.

  21. #20
    The ES-175 reissue has no block inside, mine is fully hollow like an acoustic...

  22. #21

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    Sorry man, I'm still not getting your point. The ES-175 doesn't have the device that you refer to as a "sustain block". It's basically an accoustic guitar (albeit with laminated top + Florentine cutaway) and either one or two pickups permanently installed, so it's not a particularly efficient accoustic guitar. (Joe Pass was about the only guy I can recall that actually played one accoustically ...)

    I noticed that you are a new forum member, cheers! The guys that hang out here are very knowledgeable regarding details of guitar and amplifier design/construction and it's possible to learn a lot from them. For example, I'm a retired design engineer, older than you are, been playing guitar for over fifty years and I'm STILL learning from these guys

  23. #22

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    My ES-175 has the block, maybe a real one doesn't. But I've been told my copy is built better than the real thing.
    No piont to be made other than that my Robelli Epiphone Emperor knock off sounds better unplugged than the ES-175 does because it's built as a true acoustic archtop guitar without a sustain block that stops the top's vibrations.
    I think the ES-175's shape is "Tradition" because of the old P-90's needed relief under the strings. Thanks for the mental exercise. I never gave the shape much thought.
    I'm a retired architect, draftsman, designer, Navy corpsman, silversmith, archtop restorer, electric Cigar Box guitar builder, am 60 something, and have underware old enough to vote.
    Thanks for the greetings randyc, I love this place.
    Last edited by TAHOEAGLE; 01-08-2010 at 12:56 AM.

  24. #23

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    You guys are right. No block. What I thought was there is just the support under the bridge. Great. I'd rather find out I'm wrong and get educated than think I'm right when I'm not. Thanks. I love this place.
    Now I'm more confused. Why isn't it as loud unplugged as I think it should be? Maybe the top's stiffer than my other archtop that sounds louder. I'm going to change the strings to a heavier guage. That's about all I can do to make the top vibrate more. What guage do ya'll run? I live in a small mountian town that dosen't have a music store, so flatwounds would have to be ordered, but I might be able to find some regular 11's or 12's.
    Thanks again for the enlightenment.

  25. #24

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    The sound posts use to protecter for sinking top.
    The sound posts use to adjustable the vibrations.
    Last edited by kawa; 01-08-2010 at 08:38 PM.

  26. #25

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    Dear Sambuca, my 175 is exactly as you described.