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  1. #1
    Hi all, I recently bought a very unusual vintage 1950 ES-150, which upon closer inspection has solid carved flame maple back and sides, carved Spruce top and three piece flame maple neck with black stinger/centre strip accent- exactly like an L-7, but with the 150 spec single P90 and other cosmetic details:

    https://i.imgur.com/CI0MKiZ.jpg

    https://i.imgur.com/bgPhYXL.jpg

    https://i.imgur.com/0sgO5hI.jpg

    https://i.imgur.com/Bl0dY5S.jpg

    https://i.imgur.com/USPDVZC.mp4

    I tried to dig up some background on this really usual guitar and the seller told me it had come from the estate of his luthier partner, and had belonged to Jimmy Raney, who had left it for repair decades ago.

    I wonder if, as Jimmy Raney was a Gibson endorsee and player at this time, and throughout his career, favouring a pre war ES-150 with CC pickup, this could be a special order, specifically to try out the new P90 pickup in the same solid wood 17” body?

    What do you guys reckon?

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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by jumping@shadows
    Hi all, I recently bought a very unusual vintage 1950 ES-150, which upon closer inspection has solid carved flame maple back and sides, carved Spruce top and three piece flame maple neck with black stinger/centre strip accent- exactly like an L-7, but with the 150 spec single P90 and other cosmetic details:

    https://i.imgur.com/CI0MKiZ.jpg

    https://i.imgur.com/bgPhYXL.jpg

    https://i.imgur.com/0sgO5hI.jpg

    https://i.imgur.com/Bl0dY5S.jpg

    https://i.imgur.com/USPDVZC.mp4

    I tried to dig up some background on this really usual guitar and the seller told me it had come from the estate of his luthier partner, and had belonged to Jimmy Raney, who had left it for repair decades ago.

    I wonder if, as Jimmy Raney was a Gibson endorsee and player at this time, and throughout his career, favouring a pre war ES-150 with CC pickup, this could be a special order, specifically to try out the new P90 pickup in the same solid wood 17” body?

    What do you guys reckon?
    If you're trying to find out whether that was really Raney's guitar, you could try reaching out to his son Jon through his site (https://www.jonraney.com/welcome-to-...egacy/contact/). Jon might recognize it or know something about it.

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    If you're trying to find out whether that was really Raney's guitar, you could try reaching out to his son Jon through his site (Contact Me – The Raney Legacy). Jon might recognize it or know something about it.
    Thanks John, that’s an excellent suggestion.
    it is a really unusual guitar- an all carved L7 with single P90 essentially, and I think it would have to have been a special order?

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by jumping@shadows
    Thanks John, that’s an excellent suggestion.
    it is a really unusual guitar- an all carved L7 with single P90 essentially, and I think it would have to have been a special order?
    I don't know much about this subject, so could only make an uninformed guess.

  6. #5
    Anybody else have some insight on this unusual spec guitar?
    The only markings are ES-150 stamped on the inside, with no other indication it’s a custom specification.
    Jimmy Raney was a Gibson endorsee throughout his career, and played a pre war ES-150 with Charlie Christian pickup, so I wondered if he might have wanted to try the same spec guitar with the newly offered P90 pickup perhaps?
    All speculation I know!

  7. #6

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    Nice finding but hard to say about Jimmy.
    As a big Raney fan, I know he played an Epiphone in his early years, and then his famous ES-150-CC which was stolen at some point (I think in the early 60's). If i recall well his album "the streetswingers", along with Jim Hall, was the last one where he played his ES-150-CC before the steal happened. During his come back, in the very late 60's-early 70's, I think he played various ES-175, before switching later for a Hofner (Attila Zoller signature).
    I never heard he would have played a post-war ES-150 but there is obviously a hole in the history of his guitars, between the ES-150-CC and the ES-175 series.
    Just my 2 cents.

  8. #7

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    Gibson did do a lot of custom work for stars and others, I think it’s a very plausible theory.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Archtop
    Nice finding but hard to say about Jimmy.
    As a big Raney fan, I know he played an Epiphone in his early years, and then his famous ES-150-CC which was stolen at some point (I think in the early 60's). If i recall well his album "the streetswingers", along with Jim Hall, was the last one where he played his ES-150-CC before the steal happened. During his come back, in the very late 60's-early 80's, I think he played various ES-175, before switching later for a Hofner (Attila Zoller signature).
    I never heard he would have played a post-war ES-150 but there is obviously a hole in the history of his guitars, between the ES-150-CC and the ES-175 series.
    Just my 2 cents.
    Thanks for the insight, I really appreciate it!
    The guy I bought it from acquired it from the estate of his luthier friend and partner James W Dale who owned/ran D’Leco Guitars, and it was he that stated it was brought in by Raney decades ago for repair, and I did actually find the original P90 harness had a loose ground solder which I touched up, which perhaps was the issue.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by 6v6ster
    Gibson did do a lot of custom work for stars and others, I think it’s a very plausible theory.
    This is my feeling also- I’ll wholly admit the Raney connection is hearsay, but this is a very unusual guitar imo.
    At no point did Gibson offer a fully carved non cutaway single P90 archtop (bizarre really!), with only CC and Alnico options on the cutaway models, and I would think a notable archtop player such as JR would be interested to try/hear the newly offered P90 in the same 17” body as his main squeeze.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by jumping@shadows
    Thanks for the insight, I really appreciate it!
    The guy I bought it from acquired it from the estate of his luthier friend and partner James W Dale who owned/ran D’Leco Guitars, and it was he that stated it was brought in by Raney decades ago for repair, and I did actually find the original P90 harness had a loose ground solder which I touched up, which perhaps was the issue.
    Your story sounds very solid. Jimmy never possessed fancy guitars like L5, Supe 400 or D'Angelico. I remember an interview in a guitar mag where the journalist asked if he would be interested to own a D'Angelico. He answers it was just too expensive to make "bling bling". He had a great sense of humor.
    Clearly a postwar ES-150 could have been his workhorse guitar for a period of time. I am less convinced that a solid vs. laminated ES-150 would make a big difference in the choice Jimmy could have done. Laminated postwar ES-150 are really killer guitars for bebop. If you hear Sacha Distel, a distinguished French guitarist and big fan of Jimmy, he sounded like Jimmy although he used a 1954 ES-150 if I am right. I would rather bet that Gibson was continuously doing weird models, outside the standards found in catalogs, and this could have come across Jimmy's path.
    When you play like Raney, you don't need fancy guitars...
    Last edited by Fred Archtop; 05-17-2022 at 01:56 PM.

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Archtop
    Your story sounds very solid. Jimmy never possessed fancy guitars like L5, Supe 400 or D'Angelico. I remember an interview in a guitar mag where the journalist asked if he would be interested to own a D'Angelico. He answers it was just too expensive to make "bling bling". He had a great sense of humor.
    Clearly a postwar ES-150 could have been his workhorse guitar for a period of time. I am less convinced that a solid vs. laminated ES-150 would make a big difference in the choice Jimmy could have done. Laminated postwar ES-150 are really killer guitars for bebop. If you hear Sacha Distel, a distinguished French guitarist and big fan of Jimmy, he sounded like Jimmy although he used a 1954 ES-150 if I am right. I would rather bet that Gibson was continuously doing weird models, outside the standards found in catalogs, and this could have come across Jimmy's path.
    When you play like Raney, you don't need fancy guitars...
    Very interesting, thank you!
    Your comment about him eschewing ‘blingy’ guitars, certainly chimes with this example, as it’s an all solid maple/Spruce top L7 in laminate mahogany ES150 guise !

  13. #12
    Bumping this thread for visibility :-)

    Has anyone come across a similar guitar? I know Gibson did some really wild stuff back in the day, but this seems very understated for a custom order- why use the most premium timbers but then paint it as a lowly ES-150? Seems the bean counters would have stopped that happening very early on in the production line, if it was just a fluke?

    Could anyone offer a ballpark value also? I should think it’s the only vintage 1950 factory single P90 L7/ES-150 out there!

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by jumping@shadows
    Thanks for the insight, I really appreciate it!
    The guy I bought it from acquired it from the estate of his luthier friend and partner James W Dale who owned/ran D’Leco Guitars, and it was he that stated it was brought in by Raney decades ago for repair, and I did actually find the original P90 harness had a loose ground solder which I touched up, which perhaps was the issue.
    so what is the background story here? did jimmy sell the guitar or did the luthier just keep the guitar when jimmy passed away?

  15. #14
    I wish I had more info.
    I was told it came from the estate of now deceased luthier, and that the guitar had been left disassembled and set aside for many years (I bought it so covered in mildew and grime I couldn’t even see the neck was maple!), so it must have been there for a very long time indeed.

  16. #15

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    I have nothing helpful to contribute, but I will say that's a really fascinating instrument and I am looking forward to hearing what some of the experts around here can add. Thanks for posting. I love a good mystery. ;-)

  17. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Flat
    I have nothing helpful to contribute, but I will say that's a really fascinating instrument and I am looking forward to hearing what some of the experts around here can add. Thanks for posting. I love a good mystery. ;-)
    Thanks man! I honestly bought it as grubby ES-150, so to discover the really unusual specs, then hear of the alleged Raney connection, I was super excited as a hardcore vintage Gibson nerd ;-)

  18. #17

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    That’s a really nice guitar. The back looks exactly like an L7 (fully carved, two-piece maple with dark finish). In the picture of the top that you posted though, https://i.imgur.com/CI0MKiZ.jpg, I can’t see a center seam or the straight grain lines that you normally see in a carved spruce top. Are you sure it isn’t a laminated maple top with carved back and sides? If that is the case, it may simply be an ES-150 with L7 back and sides. Combinations of wood from different bodies have shown up from time-to-time.
    Keith
    Last edited by floatingpickup; 05-18-2022 at 08:31 AM.

  19. #18

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    Yuuki, it's tremendous to see you here. I'm so glad you signed on!

    Folks, people all over the web follow J@S' work restoring 50s Gibson guitars. He's a for-real star on LP Forum and The Gear Page.

    + + +

    That is a super-cool guitar. No doubt, you don't see ES-150s with L-7 back, sides and neck often!

    Quote Originally Posted by jumping@shadows
    1950 ES-150, which upon closer inspection has . . . . carved Spruce top
    Not to spat but I'm not seeing spruce here. No grain lines, no center-seam, no cracks (for what that's worth) and the top of the bass-side f-hole seems to show laminations. What does a mirror show on the inside? What shows in the pickup rout?

    I bet it sounds tremendous through tweed!


    Last edited by Sam Sherry; 05-18-2022 at 01:25 PM.

  20. #19

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    I don't see what about the top or the back looks like it's solid carved. The top definitely looks like standard maple laminate. The back is flame but that doesn't mean it's carved. ES 300s/350s also had flamed laminate backs.

  21. #20

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    Just curious, how did you determine its all carved?
    I doubt Gibson was making custom 150s, it was a budget model.

  22. #21

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    All I know is that when I saw Jimmy Raney live, I asked him where the Gibson was. He said it was stolen out of his trunk in Jamaica, Queens, as Fred Archtop said.

  23. #22

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    I don't see anything more than a standard ES-150. The neck looks like mahogany to me based on that chipped lacquer patch by the first and second fret position and the exposed tuning machines holes. Look at the grain and the colour-it is mahogany. The top looks like laminated maple. The appearance of a back seam does not make the back solid carved maple for certain.

    The Jimmy Raney connection is an interesting story to tell by a jazz bar to Jimmy Raney fans but it is not provenance.

    As for value, I bought a 1953 ES-150 in 2014 with a Lindy Fralin P90 and an ES-175 tailpiece with lacquer in better condition and I paid $1685 all in.

    The ES-150 is a nice guitar and I would play the hell out of it. Check the inside for a FON number. The FON could tell you something.

  24. #23

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    Stick an inspection mirror under the top. Look at the edge of the f-holes. That should tell you if it is laminated maple or solid carved spruce. Check the inside of the back plate. That should also tell you something.

    As for the neck, well, I am going by what I see in the tuning machine holes and worn exposed lacquer patches. Looks like mahogany. I bought a 1966 Epiphone Howard Roberts with a maple neck whose black lacquer is worn down to the bare wood in the same playing positions. Worn maple looks different.