1966 Gibson ES-120T Hollowbody Electric Guitar (Modded)

This pretty, iced-tea sunburst, thinline hollowbody guitar started life as a "normal" ES-120T. That means it's a stripped-down version of a thinline ES-125. Its longtime-owner removed the original harness and pickguard unit (all surface-mount on these guys), converted it to lefty stringing, and fit a '70s US-made DiMarzio PAF-style humbucker in place of the original (almost-Stratty) single coil pickup. This made it into a pseudo-ES-175.

Said original harness and parts are now long-missing, so when he brought this in for consignment I sized the project up and improved upon his idea. I "rightied" this again, did some fretwork that was needed, and then reinstalled the DiMarzio humbucker with a dogear P90 cover so that it'd look a little more old-fashioned and hide the original, oversized pickup rout (which had been expanded slightly by said owner to fit the bucker). I used a "blank" cover to mount it, though, and so was able to cut it to allow access to the polepieces for string-to-string balancing.

On the wiring harness side, I added a ground to the tailpiece and made a simple volume + jack circuit. There was already a larger factory-fit hole in the top on the lower-bout that allowed the original pickguard/pickup unit to fit correctly, so I made a small control plate from pickguard material and fit the volume pot and new jack in that area.

The result of all of this effort is a lightweight, fast-handling guitar that sounds a lot like a same-period ES-175. It's clean and clear and articulate but has that velvety, crunchy, mwah-sound that you only get from a Gibson hollowbody with a nice old bucker in it. It's terribly fun to play, has a look all its own, and a classic tone. The neck has the later, slim-nut Gibson feel but to me that's perfect if you're playing closed-position chords up and down the neck (jazz-comp-style, anyone?) all night long. Clearly, though, I have no problem whipping-out lead work on this neck, too.

As a bonus, the "acoustic" sound of these bodies is plenty good-enough to jam with a buddy or two or to practice your licks. This currently has a heavier, metal, ABR-style adjustable bridge on it and unwound-G 10s for strings and it still sounds decent acoustically (for such a thin body). If the gauges were bumped-up to 11s with a wound G and the bridge saddle was replaced with rosewood or 1-piece aluminum (Bigsby!), I think it would sound quite nice as couch-rocker in "acoustic" mode.

Repairs included: fret level/dress, cleaning, replacement wiring harness, pickup install/reinstall, setup.

Body wood: ply maple, tonebar bracing

Bridge: rosewood base, ABR (original Gibson) bridge

Fretboard: rosewood

Neck wood: mahogany

Pickups: 1x 1970s US-made DiMarzio PAF-style humbucker

Action height at 12th fret: hair-over 1/16" bass and 1/16" treble (fast, adjustable)
String gauges: 46w-10 w/unwound G nickels

Neck shape: slim C

Board radius: ~10-12"

Truss rod: adjustable

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: wider/lower

Scale length: 24 5/8"

Nut width: 1 9/16"

Body width: 16"

Body depth: 1 3/4" + arching

Weight: 5 lbs 2 oz

Condition notes: the neck came here with a mild "ski-jump" at the extension over the body and a mild "dip" just before it. That's totally normal for almost all old Gibsons of this style. I ameliorated this by leveling and dressing the frets to work around it and... it worked! The neck now effectively plays "straight" and action is quick and easy.

Other things: ...well, it's missing its original pickguard, pickup, and wiring harness. It also has some filled/patched mounting-screw holes on the body and a mild "shadow" in the finish where the edges of that whole big pickup/guard unit was fit to the guitar. It's not obvious from a small distance, though.

The finish: ...has a couple bigger scratches on the back and then mild/light scratching and usewear throughout. Mostly, though, it has tons of weather-check and weather-crackle -- most of that's obvious on the back of the neck, headstock, and here and there on the body.

The hardware: ...tuners, nut, frets, bridge and saddle, and tailpiece are all original. One strap button is new and one is a replacement. I've got the ABR bridge-topper/saddle turned-around from normal so that the set screws face the tailpiece. I'm not a fan of this bridge style because if it's turned-around the other way (ie, normal), the tension from the strings is often not enough to keep the adjuster screws from rattling-around from time to time. With it turned-around this way the tension bears on the part that needs to be "kept down" and thus overall sound improvement and usefulness is guaranteed...

Last but not least: I added a small bit of pickguard material between the end of the fretboard and the pickup. This is because on the ES-120Ts, the neck was set into the body almost like a Les Paul or 335 and so there is a small "routing channel" at the end of the neck "pocket." That pickguard material hides it and tidies-up the look.