Perhaps one of the coolest artist model guitars to come out of the 1960s (and since, if we're being honest), Gibson's Trini Lopez model took the ES-335 platform to exciting new heights.
Why We Love This
When it comes to artist model instruments, there might not be another that can top Les Paul. However, Gibson has had quite the run of artist inclusivity over its legendary tenure as one of the forefathers of modern electric guitar. Perhaps one of the coolest artist model guitars to come out Kalamazoo is the Trini Lopez model.
Initially released in 1964 alongside a larger double florentine cutaway archtop electric a la the Barney Kessel model - known as the Trini Lopez Deluxe, the Trini Lopez Standard took its queues from the lauded ES-335 platform while adding distinctive features that clearly separated it from the more traditional stylings of the semi-hollow. Diamond holes replaced the F-holes, split diamond fingerboard inlays replaced the small block inlays of the period, and most noticeably the adaptation of the Firebird style 6-in-line headstock replaced the standard open-book configuration. The result? A progressively designed electric with a show-stopping aesthetic that would end up being one of the most identifiable Gibsons made to date.
This is a superb sounding and playing example of the Trini Lopez Standard, made sometime in 1967 based off of its original CTS pot codes and serial number. It also bears the common features for a mid/late 60s Gibson at the time - a narrow 1 9/16" nut and chrome plated parts along with some narrow bevel plastics. It features a super comfortable medium-fat C carve that transitions slightly into a bit of a C/D hybrid shape up the neck along with a nice moderate taper. The frets are original to the guitar and do show some wear, but a recent crown and polish has proven that the guitar still offers up great playability.
While one might assume a Trini could conceivably feature a factory installed Bigsby tailpiece, our sleuthing has proven that this was an earlier modification done by evidence of lacquer shadowing of the original "shield" trapeze tailpiece seen under blacklight. The Bigsby was professionally installed and actually works very well with the guitar, despite it requiring almost every inch of the high E string end-to-end!
Another change - according to its prior owner claiming to have purchased this very guitar from Gil Southworth a few decades ago, the original Patent No. humbuckers were removed and replaced with an early set of Seymour Duncan Antiquity pickups along with some replacement mounting rings. Normally, we'd aim to try and source some period pickups for a guitar like this, but the Duncans sound absolutely unreal in this guitar, so we're leaving them be! Trust us when we say - there's no lack of tone here!
Two rather sizable changes, sure. But most everything else has remained original to the instrument, including the finish, tuners, knobs, pickguard, and wiring harness. The guitar is free from any breaks or body repairs as well.
Trini Lopez model shipping totals pale in comparison to the ES-335 - 783 to the 335-TDC's 3122, so coming across one of these isn't something that happens every day. Modifications aside, this is a truly stellar Trini that skirts the premium associated with fully original examples and begs to be played.
Priced with period-correct vintage Gibson EB hardshell case.