The Money Shot: 1959 Gibson ES-330TDC

You won't see too many of these red ’59s around.

Rare vintage guitars don’t come much rarer than this. The ES-330 was introduced as the successor to the ES-225 in late 1959, by which time Gibson was already moving towards slimmer neck profiles. This example’s sumptuously full ’59 carve situates it squarely in the first few weeks of the model’s production, but wait – it’s supposed to be a blonde, right?

Just 82 natural-finished ES-330 models shipped in ’59, with this deep cherry red stain only officially available the following year. Red ’59s exist but we’re talking single digits and hen’s incisors here. Throw those factory parallelograms on the fretboard and the crown headstock inlay into the mix and, well, find another one if you can.


The custom truss-rod cover is engraved with the name Heidi Barkentin, believed to have been a client of one Irving Kessler, head honcho of the Hawthorne Guitar Studio in Hawthorne, New York. Kessler ordered a number of custom instruments from the Kalamazoo factory in the late-1950s and early-1960s – many of them in this vivid cherry hue.

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