Tal Farlow with his signature Gibson
In 1960 Gibson approached four prominent musicians players about a namesake signature guitar. Those four players were Barney Kessel, Johnny Smith, Tal Farlow, and Trini Lopez.
Arguably, Ted McCarty, the President of Gibson was barking up the wrong tree because jazz was on its way out of the mainstream. Additionally, both Smith and Farlow were on the backend of their playing careers by 1960 despite being young guys. Trini wasn't far behind and he soon had his sights set on acting.
All five guitars (Trini had two models) are gorgeous, however, not surprisingly none of the signature models sold exceptionally well for Gibson. (Johnny’s did okay, so did Trini's signature "Standard).
The Tal Farlow model is striking, based on the ES-350 that he played earlier in his career, it has a binding scroll in the Venetian cutaway accentuated by a delicate pickguard that differentiates this from all the rest.
Farlow grew up playing the mandolin before switching to the guitar so perhaps this is a nod to the famed Gibson F-5.
Another distinct feature is a reversal of the bow-tie fret inlays as found on a J-200. This model was offered from 1962 to 1967 with a total of 215 guitars ever made.
Gibson reissued this as part of their “Historic Collection” from 1993-2018.
Original Tal Farlow guitar specs:
- Maple top and back
- Curly maple neck
- Rosewood fretboard
- Dual humbuckers
- Two volume, two tone controls
- 3-way switch
- Tailpiece had a rosewood insert with “Tal Farlow” inlay