What Are the Different Types of Gibson Electric Guitars?

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What Are the Different Types of Gibson Electric Guitars?

Electric guitars have gone through various stages of evolution. They started life as the hollow-body type used by the 1930's era swing bands. Though still in use, particularly by jazz musicians, hollow-body guitars have largely been overshadowed by solid-body types. The semi-hollow design is an offspring of the two types, attempting to integrate the best features of both.

About Gibson Electric Guitars

Gibson is a well known and respected brand that manufactures a diverse line of electric guitars worldwide. The iconic Gibson Les Paul guitar which was designed by Ted McCarty and Les Paul is the company’s six-string flagship product. Other Gibson guitars, such as the EDS and SG series, are also highly prized by guitarists and treasured as collectible instruments.
In addition to the electric guitars that carry the Gibson name, several other brands, including Epiphone and Kramer, are owned by the company. Epiphone, a former rival company later acquired by Gibson, still makes its original models such as the Sheraton and Casino. It also produces more affordable versions of popular Gibson guitar designs like the Les Paul.
In 1977, Gibson adopted an 8-digit serial number system which was stamped on the back of each guitar as its unique identifier. The series of numbers indicate the date and place of production, as well as its particular order in the assembly line. Since 2006, an additional number has been inserted as the 6th digit of the series to show its batch number.

Types of Gibson Electric Guitars

The Gibson family of electric guitars may be classified according to the three basic body types, namely solid, hollow, which is also called semi-acoustic; and semi-hollow. Each body type is identified with specific music genres and playing techniques. The choice of body type may also be a matter of a musician’s personal preference or influenced by a fashion style trending at particular times.

Solid Body

The most common or standard type of electric guitar is the solid body. The only hollow areas are there to make space for pickups and electronics. Made solidly of wood, this guitar type lacks a resonating chamber.
The sounds produced by solid-body guitars largely rely on electric pickups, amplifier and speaker, together with the quality of the wood. Gibson guitar bodies are typically constructed of mahogany, spruce, alder or maple while the fretboard is usually made of baked maple or rosewood. Gibson solid-body guitars include Les Paul, SG, Explorer, Flying V, Epiphone’s classic models like Wilshire and others.
A solid-body guitar is the instrument of choice for rock ‘n’ roll, but its flexibility extends to other genres. The diverse range of tones and volume selections it generates make it an ideal option for masters and beginning students alike. Their precise, clean cut tones provide a fitting starting point to learn how to play an electric guitar. Novices also appreciate the instrument’s versatility and adaptability for experimenting with playing styles and exploring a number of musical directions. The other advantage of solid-bodied instruments over their hollow-bodied counterparts is the noticeable absence of annoying feedback.

Hollow Body

Hollow body or semi-acoustic guitars are built of thin sheets of wood and consist of a sound box with electronic pickups. Contemporary models are equipped with a variety of pickups such as single coils, piezo electric or humbuckers.
They create uniquely mellow, sweet and clear tones originating from the combined vibrations of the hollow chamber and the strings. Their warm, funky and plaintive sounds are ideally suited for jazz, blues, pop of the sixties, vintage country and indie-rock genres. Guitar players should control the volume and distance from the amplifier to avoid unwanted feedback or snarling sounds.
Hollow-body guitars have fairly reasonable acoustic power for live gigs. It’s better to play them unplugged for rehearsals and intimate shows. Their sounds generate a rich, more responsive and dynamic performance than that of solid-body guitars. Examples of Gibson hollow-body guitars include Gibson ES-150, Epiphone Casino and Gibson ES-125 which sport cutaway designs and Gibson ES-175 with an arch top.

Semi-Hollow Body

Semi-hollow body guitars are constructed with a block of wood lodged through the centre of the guitar. This configuration creates hollow left and right chambers. The hybrid design serves as a compromise to address the feedback issue posed by hollow-body guitars. They may be fitted with P-90s or humbuckers.
Semi-hollow guitars produce a comparatively clear, precise sound and adequate vibration. The winged chambers create sweet, warm tones and enough versatility to accommodate jazz, rock, pop or country. Loyal fans of this type of guitar also claim better acoustic resonance and improved sustain over solid-body instruments. Although semi-hollow guitars create lovely mellow sounds, grinding noises can still happen.
Gibson ES-335 is a classic model of this type of guitar. Upscale versions are the Gibson ES-345 and Gibson ES-355.
The following table gives a snapshot of Gibson electric guitars that represent each body type, with their basic features and associated music genres.

Body Type

Popular Models

Typical Features

Music Genres

Solid with arch top

Gibson Les Paul

Double humbucker pickups
Fixed bridge tailpiece
Thick sound with full-bodied sustain
Mahogany body and neck
Carved maple top
Rosewood fretboard

Rock ‘n’ roll and most other genres
Blues
Heavy rock

Solid with flat body

Gibson SG

Twin horns
Cutaway body
Long neck
Classic tune-o-matic bridge
Double humbucker configuration
Full sound with enough power
Mahogany tone wood
Rosewood fretboard
Slimmer and lighter than Les Paul

Blues
Rock
Metal
Indie

Hollow body with arch top

Gibson ES-175

Deep body
Thin neck
Two humbucker pickups
Thick and dark tones

Jazz
Blues
Rock

Semi-hollow body

Gibson ES-335

Cross between solid and hollow body
Solid block in the middle of the body interior

Electric blues
Fusion
Indie

Gibson Series and Models

Gibson guitars are also categorised by their series names, with the Les Paul and SG being frontrunners. Basically, SG is a modernised version of Les Paul. Other favourites include EDS, Explorer and Flying V. Some models have soared to popularity just because they happen to be the personal picks of music bands and other celebrities in the entertainment world. Gibson artist models are available for musicians looking for a particular guitar that is identified with their much-loved performer. Gibson also offers guitars according to individual dexterity types; specific models are designed to accommodate left-handed guitarists.
Seven-string electric guitars have re-emerged on the music scene. Due to their extended bass range, they are the instrument of choice of metal bands. Some guitarists like to play using the lower keys. Heavy metal, hard rock, progressive metal, jazz and experimental musicians are avid champions of this type of guitar. Gibson's seven-string models include Explorer and Flying V.
Double-neck guitars have their own following, particularly musicians who favour playing the six strings and bass or twelve strings simultaneously. It’s also easy to switch from one to the other during live gigs. Gibson EDS-1275 is one such type of guitar.
Gibson has launched the self-tuning guitar option for recent models of its Les Paul, Flying V, Explorer and SG series. Using robotics technology, it takes only a couple of seconds to tune itself.

Finding Gibson Electric Guitars on eBay

For a general search of Gibson electric guitars available on eBay, click All Categories on the eBay home page, scroll down the list, look for Musical Instruments and click Guitars. On the left pane of the results page under the Guitars category, choose electric. Check the box beside Electric Guitar under Guitar Type and select Gibson under Brand.
Refine the search by checking the options under Guitar Subtype according to preference. Pick one of the Gibson series, for example, Les Paul, SG or ES. Alternatively, choose a particular genre, for example, Jazz. Note that the listings may show items under other brands with descriptions such as semi acoustic jazz guitar like Epiphone or Gibson 175.
Narrow down the selection based on individual choices. For example, choose the condition (e.g. new), dexterity (e.g. left-handed), number of strings (e.g. 6 string) and size (e.g. three-fourth). Enter the price range to yield results within a specified budget and adjust the figures accordingly based on available offerings.

Conclusion

Gibson electric guitars have secured their place in history for their quality as well as special association with the iconic personalities of the music industry. The hollow-body Casino model was made in honour of John Lennon. At Woodstock, Alvin Lee performed his place in music history strumming “I’m Going Home” on a Gibson ES-345. Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin played “Stairway to Heaven” with his custom-built Gibson EDS-1275. Gibson’s wide variety of electric guitars sold in a broad range of price points make them accessible to striving musicians of all persuasions.

 
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