Barney Kessel - Signature Gibson (that wasn't "very signature")

Barney Kessel - Signature Gibson (that wasn't "very signature")

In the early 60s Gibson was on a roll with artist model guitars in the hollow body and thinline series. Players like Johnny Smith, Tal Farlow, and Trini Lopez all signed endorsement deals between 1961 and 1964

Barney Kessel (The Wrecking Crew among many accolades) was on the list too with a signature Standard and Custom model that first appeared in 1961. Prior to the endorsement deal Kessel was known to play an ES-350 with a Charlie Christian pickup, his guitar hero.

Even after getting his name on a guitar, more often than not Kessel continued to gig and record with the ES-350 over his own model. Likely that was his personal preference, but it has also been written that Kessel and Gibson had a tumultuous relationship.

One theory adding to the lukewarm feelings with Kessel and Gibson is that Kessel never had any input to his guitar. That it was already a Gibson prototype and they essentially brokered his name on it. 

Regardless, his signature model sported a few appropriations that had been reserved for Gibson’s flagship Super 400 including the 400 headstock and neck.

Despite having a long-lived run in the Gibson catalog the guitar never sold very well and was priced similarly to other more successful Gibson hollow bodies at the time. It was discontinued in 1974.

Custom Specs:
Maple top
Maple back and sides
Mahogany neck
Rosewood fretboard with bowtie inlays
Dual PAF humbuckers
Rosewood bridge
Barney Kessel signature badge on the tailpiece

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.