The history of the ES-225 – the last affordable 1950s Gibson guitar?

Gibson ES-225
(Image credit: Future / Neil Godwin)

The ES-225 is to a pre-1956 Les Paul Goldtop what a ES-335 is to a ’Burst. If you compare an ES-225 from 1956 with any pre-1956 Goldtop, you’ll notice identical pickups, potentiometers, tone capacitors, control knobs and switches. Assuming the guitar in question is original, even the truss rod cover and nylon nut are the same.

ES-225 neck profiles and frets evolved throughout the 1950s, and they tracked the Les Paul models very closely. Besides the buttons, the Kluson tuners are identical, too, so that leaves the thinline body as the only significant point of difference. Even the trapeze bridge is a throwback to the earliest Les Pauls and it actually enhances the ES-225 – but more on that later.

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Huw Price

Huw started out in recording studios, working as a sound engineer and producer for David Bowie, Primal Scream, Ian Dury, Fad Gadget, My Bloody Valentine, Cardinal Black and many others. His book, Recording Guitar & Bass, was published in 2002 and a freelance career in journalism soon followed. He has written reviews, interviews, workshop and technical articles for Guitarist, Guitar Magazine, Guitar Player, Acoustic Magazine, Guitar Buyer and Music Tech. He has also contributed to several books, including The Tube Amp Book by Aspen Pittman. Huw builds and maintains guitars and amplifiers for clients, and specializes in vintage restoration. He provides consultancy services for equipment manufacturers and can, occasionally, be lured back into the studio.