Steve Howe's Gibson ES175

ZackyDog

Friend of Fred
Feb 6, 2015
7,582
In the USA
Hi.

I think it is an ES175.

Anyway, that guitar has some serious depth to it, maybe more than Setzer's latest signature G6120.

1657884863149.png 1657885024298.png

Incidentally, I'm not criticizing those guitars. I know that you get can get some deep resonance with thicker bodied guitars.
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,386
Tucson
Howe has been playing an ES-175 for a very long time. I’m not sure how he was able to use one without massive feedback, but somehow he pulled it off.

The 175 in tne picture is beautiful. That sunburst is perfect. I really should get one of those.
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,386
Tucson
I’ve wanted one for years, but strangely never owned one. They were the very backbone of Jazz guitar for decades. Ellis, Pass, Hall, and many other Jazz players either played ES-175s, or ES-350s (which is basically a 17” 175).

These are, perhaps, the most understood guitar, which is amazing, in view of the fact that it was in production for a long, long, time. The 175 was, basically, a laminate version of the L-4. The L-4 was a beautiful 16” guitar, with a carved spruce top. It was sort of a small-bore rhythm cannon. The 175 used a laminate top, but at least part of the reason was that they realized that a laminate top would be more resistant to feedback.

It doesn’t sound like a carved top guitar, but it was never meant to sound like one. Really, I would see this as a link between the carved top guitars and the ES-335. It was deliberately designed to have limited resonance, but it still had enough resonance to be usable as an acoustic rhythm guitar in an intimate setting; a perfect guitar for a Jazz ensemble in a small room.

In the double pickup version, a 175 will Rock, but it’s volume limited, because past a certain point, these will feedback, and do so relentlessly. Keeping in mind that volume levels in the ’50s, on into the ‘60s, were lower, the 175 was a very suitable guitar for a player that was covering a lot of ground.

When Yes came along, and Steve Howe was playing an ES-175, it was pretty unusual. This was the era when Les Pauls were very prominent in Rock, with Strats coming in a close second. You didn’t see archtops in Rock, with the exception of Crosby Stills & Nash, Neil Young, and a few others within that sub-genre. Whatever the reasons, Howe has stuck with the 175 since at least the early ‘70s.

3 and 5/16ths at the horn
Mine is an es 295 but its the same body as the 175. Shown next to a 6120 RHH clocking in at 2 3/4”
I remember that tney were pretty thick. Using the cutaway always seemed like crawling through a blind tunnel. :)
 

Humpblock

Electromatic
Jan 28, 2020
71
Australia
I had a Gibson ES 775 in the early 90s, the all black model with all the gold and mother of pearl. Just an expensive ES175, a short lived model. It was nice but honestly not worth the price of 10 2420s.
 

Neal

Electromatic
Oct 12, 2013
44
Virginia
I own a 1950 ES-125, which serves me well as a "poor man's" vintage Gibson archtop.

No cutaway, only one P-90 in the neck position, and it feeds back like a banshee without a band at moderate levels in my music room. I can't imaging how Steve Howe has played that ES-175 at stage volume for so many years with such success. He must have one hell of a soundman.

Howe bought the ES-175 brand new in 1964. It has only been played by one other person since he bought it. Chuck Berry.

Howe's greatest guitar hero while growing up? Chet Atkins.
 
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Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,386
Tucson
I own a 1950 ES-125, which serves me well as a "poor man's" vintage Gibson archtop.

No cutaway, only one P-90 in the neck position, and it feeds back like a banshee without a band at moderate levels in my music room. I can't imaging how Steve Howe has played that ES-175 at stage volume for so many years with such success. He must have one hell of a soundman.

Howe bought the ES-175 brand new in 1964. It has only been played by one other person since he bought it. Chuck Berry.

Howe's greatest guitar hero while growing up? Chet Atkins.
Chet was my greatest hero, too, but somehow I thought that I could attract an audience with that kind of music. I was a living anachronism. Howe, OTOH, had enough sense to play music that was salable. I remember hearing him in Yes and knowing that this was an excellent player.

To this day, I have no idea how he can use a 175 at concert volumes.
 

Lou Coppolino

Synchromatic
Jul 23, 2022
781
Howell, NJ
I met Steve many moons ago at a guitar show.

It was me oogling and a chance meeting.

He probably won't remember me.

Maybe the person standing still in awe.

He autographed my Steve Howe Guitar Collection book.
 


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