At Matt’s Guitar Shop, factory black Gibsons are kind of our thing. Matt has found a few very cool vintage black beauties, including a factory black ES-330 and a factory black SG Junior, and this one is a very worthy addition to that list. The ES-345 was introduced as a slightly fancier variation on the ES-335, including gold hardware, a varitone circuit, a stereo output and parallelogram fretboard markers.
It was usually made in cherry red or sunburst, and this black 1967 is the only one of its kind we’ve seen so far. It almost ceased to exist too: that guitar was in a fire in its home of Chicago and it was eventually saved, but the headstock still bears the scars from that traumatic experience. The gold hardware having faded to nickel could just be from having been played a lot.
The fire story is reminiscent of one of rock’s most enduring myth, which is how B.B. King gave the name Lucille to his guitar. This ES-345 wasn’t the original Lucille, but it indeed used to belong to B.B.. Even though Lucille’s definitive specs as a signature model make it closer to an ES-355, one of its defining characteristic is its ebony finish. Maybe this ES-345 is the one that gave B.B. the idea to pick that color for his model a few years later. In any case, that semi-hollow has played some seriously soulful blues licks in the hands of an absolute master.