“I asked him what song he wanted to hear and he picked a difficult one in the key of F# – ‘Just One More Chance.’ I turned my amp way up and I tapped out the chords with just one hand on the fretboard. “I told him that I would have a guitar made for him – any kind he liked. “In the hallway, the doctor told me that his case was terminal and he probably wouldn’t last one week.
I called Ted Mc Carty at Gibson immediately and said I needed a guitar – take an ES-175 and paint it gold.
As with many things in the guitar universe, it was Les Paul who sparked the development of the ES-295.
In 1951, he asked Gibson to spray one of its ES-175 models in gold lacquer for an ailing World War II veteran who was a fellow fretter. “Mary Ford and I were playing at Wood Hospital, in Milwaukee, for injured war veterans.
Paul had created the tailpiece in search of added sustain, but a design snafu on the solidbody routed the strings the bridge and any advantages of the new bridge were dampened. It didn’t make you play any better – it just made you look better.” .
On the 295, however, the strings went over the top and added the kind of hollow-body sustain Chet Atkins would later strive for with his aluminum bridge and nut on the Gretsch 6120. “When I was in the Navy during the Korean War, my buddies and I bought Japanese Fender knock-off guitars that were so bad the frets wore out in three months.
“All I did with my guitar was try to enhance what Elvis was doing,” he said.
“There were just three of us in the band, with Bill Black keeping time on his bass, and when Elvis wasn’t singing, I was all there was.
rock and roll guitar, its fancy gold finish as outrageous as the music it suddenly represented.
In retrospect, it was the perfect choice in an era when men wore gray-flannel suits, Betty Crocker was the homemaker’s heroine, and tail fins on cars were merely a gleam in some designer’s eyes.
Moore believes that his choice of the ES-295 was essential to the sound of Elvis’ early rock and roll.
“Well, the guitar [serial number A-9196, registered in Gibson’s logs on December 4, 1951] arrived, but the vet never saw it. His wife received the guitar and sent it back to me with a letter explaining the vet’s passing.” Nothing more came of that one-off golden guitar.
Spraying a perfectly good 175 in gold paint was either sacrilegious or just downright silly, depending on your point of view.
We would carry our guitars and amps from room to room.