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Gibson Memphis Freddie King 1960 ES-345 Sixties Cherry VOS

When you need to ooze blues ...

 

by Chris Loeffler

 

 

Freddie King is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee often referred to as the Patriarch of Blues Rock, as well as the person who kicked off the Texas Blues scene. The playing style of players like Clapton, Page, and Beck echo his aggressive picking and intensity in solos; King had an immediacy and brashness that stood out from his contemporaries. While his early gigging years most often saw him with a Gibson Les Paul Gold Top with P-90s, his transition to Gibson semi-hollow guitars, such as the Gibson ES-345, is what he is most identified by today. As part of Gibson’s growing Artist series, Gibson Memphis created a limited run of 200 era-accurate ES-345 guitars that exactly replicate the look and sound of the guitar that helped King define the forceful sound that would become synonymous with rock and roll.

 

The Gibson Memphis Freddie King ES-345TCD is a semi-hollow guitar available in limited 60s Cherry Red that is built to vintage specs with rhythm and lead humbuckers, 3-way pickup toggle switch, Varitone switch, and a stereo output jack. The guitar ships with an included stereo instrument cable and a period-correct tan and pink deluxe Gibson hard-shell case.

 

What You Need to Know

 

The Gibson Memphis Freddie King ES-345 I reviewed arrived especially well set up, with low action and zero fret buzz. The mahogany neck is a comfortable and thick 12” radius with a 24.75” scale length, and tiny details like vintage-spec’d fret wire, hot-hide glue, and period correct plastics create a guitar experience so authentically vintage that the line between “tribute” and “re-issue” becomes pretty blurry.

 

The Freddie King ’64 body shape is composed of three-ply (maple/poplar/maple) top, side, and rims, and is era-accurate plain figured with three-ply top binding (tan/black/tan) anchored by quartered Adirondack spruce braces and a maple centerblock for added sustain and feedback control.

 

The pickups carry through on the vintage vibe of the Freddie King 1964 ES-345, with specially voiced Memphis Historic Spec humbuckers that deliver PAF tone. Scatter-wound Alnico magnets (III in Rhythm, II in Lead) are the heart of these V.O.S. gold plated pickups, for a slightly under-wound tone that produces open mids and highs without the sizzle of hotter, modern humbuckers. There’s a lot of sonic ground covered, from country clean to snarling rock, all with a decidedly vintage voice. Simpler tube amp circuits seem especially adept at bringing out the Freddie King’s nuances.

 

The Varitone circuit, a big part of the guitar’s uniqueness and the Freddie King sound, began as a Gibson original feature first found on guitars in the late 50s. It's a six-position switch that selects among circuit bypass (position 1) or five different preset frequency scoops that are mostly mid-focused. The result is several voicings not found in other guitars, each with specific applications in which they would absolutely shine, but in general decidedly specific and "untraditional."

 

The stereo output jack allows players to run their bridge and neck pickups into separate amps, which is a unique and satisfying experience if you can swing a two-amp setup; however, the included stereo instrument cable is equally suitable for a traditional single-amp setup.

 

Limitations

 

While I can’t imagine one would purchase a guitar like this for metal, the Freddie King is not a guitar that’s going to hold up well in modern, high-gain metal settings.

 

Conclusion

 

Like most of the Artist series guitars coming out of Gibson Memphis, the Freddie King ES-345 is a flawless production that achieves its goal of recreating a vintage guitar to the most exacting details. It's beautiful, a joy to play, and is a Swiss army knife of vintage tones.       -HC-

 

 Resources

 

Gibson Memphis Freddie King 1960 ES-345 Sixties Cherry VOS

 

Buy Gibson Memphis Freddie King 1960 ES-345 Sixties Cherry VOS @ Sweetwater (MSRP $6,821, Street $4,849.00)

 

____________________________________________ 

 

Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer. 

 

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AlamoJoe  |  August 16, 2017 at 6:38 pm
Thanks for the scoop Chris...I rever Freddie and while I can't afford one of these gems, it's cool Gibson is celebrating him in this fashion.
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