Some of you know that I just took a position at Des Moines Iowa’s best guitar shop: Professional Music Center. Pro Music is the one place in Des Moines where you can actually try out and buy the gear you actually want. There always have the best stuff and it is always in the best condition. Needless to say, I was a customer long before I was an employee.
As part of a new redesign for the shop, Pro Music now sells vintage guitars. Many of the guitars are going to be priced somewhere between $800.00 to $3,000.00; however, there is one 1956 all original Gibson ES-335 (Mono) with a Bigsby sitting in the case priced at $25,000.
Our guitar tech, Shane, has been going through the guitars getting them ready to be sold. Yesterday it was time to give The Gibson some TLC. Normally it takes him about a half an hour to forty-five minutes to get a guitar ready. For the ES-335 he spend a little over two hours because he was so nervous something was going to go wrong.
Of course, when he was done he had to give it a test drive to make sure everything was in top condition. He plugged it straight into a Dr. Z MAZ and let it sing.
It was the first time I had heard real PAFs. Not just pickups designed based on PAFs, but the actual pickups that were being produced while the patent was pending. It was like a religious experience. These were the most musical, creamy, articulate pickups I had ever heard.
I’m standing there in a daze as Shane is playing this guitar and feeding me all sorts of gold nuggets of information when suddenly he holds the guitar out towards me.
I was a little surprised, but I wasn’t going to say no.
It felt like I was using china as cymbals. I couldn’t play well enough for that guitar, but it didn’t matter. It was astonishing. Every note was clear, perfectly balanced and beautiful.
After about ten minutes I gave it back (time stops when you are playing that guitar). I realized that I had just played and heard the Holy Grail of humbuckers. From here on out, this is what I will compare every other Gibson too.