Jazz Guitar Beauties: Gibson ES-295 – Paolo Dondoli

Jazz Guitar Life would like to thank Guitarist Paolo Dondoli for sharing this beautiful arch-top with us all! Enjoy 🙂

The Gibson ES-295 is seldom, if ever, considered a jazz guitar though it’s basically a gold lacquered ES-175 with ivory binding, cream pickguard and compensated bridge. Maybe too flamboyant for jazz players, its fame is only due to being the guitar that invented rock’n’roll: you say ES-295 and everybody thinks of Scotty Moore backing Elvis. So, it comes as no surprise that its production stopped after only seven years while the venerable ES-175 is still a mainstay of Gibson production.

It’s impossible to trace back all the owners of this guitar, but as far as I know it came to Europe in its original HSC in the eighties, sitting comfortably in its case in a collector’s house for 35 years. Then it was sold to the previous owner who in turn sold it to me not a long time ago. A long residence in its case has warranted the guitar a near mint condition, except for some tiny crack on the paint and some greenish spot on the neck. The only noticeable repair was on the pickguard, who has a crack near the upper screw; the one in the pics is a repro pickguard, but with the repaired original in the case.

First year of production, 1952, serial number A-11172, good old Kalamazoo factory stock, it has all the features of the parent ES-175: 16” body, laminated maple arched top and back, florentine cutaway, 24 ¾” neck, two P-90 pickups (actually 2 pu’s ES-175 were first produced only one year later).

From my standpoint the body fits well in my arms, the neck is smooth and the infamous compensated bridge is not the deadly enemy of good intonation I feared.

While unplugged it has a distinctive voice, clearly resonating without being too dry. When running through a decent amplifier – I usually use a Silver Face Pro Reverb or an old Gibson GA-20T – sounds best! Every note comes out well defined, the overall sound is creamy without being muddy, but it can turn to stingy with the proper adjustment of controls. You can switch effortlessly from blues to jazz to country to rockabilly to rock’n’roll! It’s like having an Encyclopedia of American Music in your own hands.

Final remark: I own some really good guitars, but nothing can even remotely compare to this ES-295.

Paolo Dondoli

While not a professional musician, Paolo Dondoli likes to call himself a “Guitar Enthusiast” as he has a daytime job and plays guitar alone or with the guys in his band every now and then.

Please consider spreading the word about this beauty and Jazz Guitar Life by sharing this review amongst your social media pals and please feel free to leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you 🙂

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