Gibson 1940/'41 ES300

The new electric ES300 model made its debut, along with several other electrics, in July 1940, at The Chicago Musical Trade Show. It made its first short-lived appearance in the 1940 Supplement to Catalog AA.

With a long "6 3/4 alnico magnet with adjustible pole-pieces, an entirely new pearl crown inlay in the headstock and parallelogram inlays in the neck (the 1940 L7 also received the crown and parallelogram inlays), only about 60 units were ever created.

The long slanted pickup designed for full tonal range between the bridge and end of the fretboard did not produce very good tone. Thus, by 1941, the alnico pickup was shortened and installed into the all new ES300 version which was made until 1943. 

For more information on the history for the electric Gibson pickup, go to the 1st page 'Gibson Prewar Electric Guitars'.

1940 ES300 and case.

The history of this ES300 is great! According to Joe Spann, this

'ES-300 (serial #96747 - NO FON) was shipped twice. It was shipped first on March 21, 1941 to "G. Fields" in a #600 case. Interestingly a litter-mate, ES-300 (serial #96748) was shipped along with it and is noted as a "left-handed model." This model was evidently damaged (possibly in shipment) and was returned to the factory for repairs. It shipped for the second time as a "repair return" on May 9, 1941 to Carl Seder at Seder's Music Company in Worcester, Massachusetts. It was still housed in the #600 case, but this time a "cord" was included. It is difficult to know if this referred to a guitar strap or an electric pickup cord. I do not know who "G. Fields" was, but he evidently lived in Massachusetts and Seder's Music was likely his local Gibson dealer.'

After arriving at Seder's Music Company in Massachusetts, somewhere along this ES-300's life, it was shipped overseas. When I purchased it, it was located in the Netherlands! At present, it is in my permanent collection in San Francisco, California. Thus, this instrument has had quite a full life of play and travel!

1940 Supplement to Catalog AA. Note the ad pictured an L5 tailpiece.
Note the similarities of 1940's ES-300 tailpiece and the L5's tailpiece.

The tailpiece featured in the above photo is the new rarity that I just added to my 1940 ES-300. The photos on this page show the raised diamond motif tailpiece that was so common to the ES-300 and L7 in the early 1940's. If you view the photo above, the ad is the ES-300's short appearance in 1940's Supplement to Catalog AA. The ad features this very rare tailpiece. To view all of the photos of this tailpiece, click Tailpiece ES-300 vs. L5.

Short-lived, long slant pickup with adjustable pole pieces. Note the original pickguard has crystalized over time.
1940 Supplement to Catalog AA
Bracket for pickguard mounted on Gibson's new natural finish.
1942 Gibson Catalog BB
Famous Gibson crown inlay and parallelogram inlays used starting in 1940 on the L7 and ES300 models. Used up to present day.
1947 Gibson ad, with a 1940 ES300
Original open back Kluson tuners replaced with 1950's gold plated Grover Imperial tuners.
Tailpiece with diamonds is commonly used on 1940 ES-300 and L7 models up to 1943.

Two styles of nickel plated tailpieces used on the 1940 ES-300. The tailpiece to the left is very uncommon. To read more and view more photos of this rare tailpiece, please click, tailpiece ES-300 vs. L5.

Label and serial # of ES300.

Serial # 96747 puts this electrified ES300 model at just over the threshold of 1940.

A.R. Duchossoir's book 'Guitar Identification A Reference Guide To Serial Numbers For Dating The Guitars Made By Gibson' references serial #'s 96600-97300 at 1941. #96747 puts this model just 147 digits off of a 1940 model according to serial # specs.


Like I had found to be true with my 1940/'41 L5, can be found factual about the true date of this model. My L5 model has a serial #96751, which is just 4 digits away from this ES300 model. The L5 FON is 1083F. Letter F is stamped on all 1940 FON of all 1940 models. This ES300 missing its stamped FON inside its body, but they are so close in serial #'s one may deduce they were made about the same time (although one was made electric and the other acoustic).


Factory order numbers, or FON are given to racks, or batches of instruments as they are being produced to keep track and date them. When they are shipped, they are given a serial number on a label to cover the manufacturer's warranty for the consumer. For example, a model may have a FON 1234A and a serial #95100. FON 1234A means it was made in 1935 and #95100 means it actually left the factory in early 1938, thus a 3 year discrepancy in actual FON and serial #.

Being that this shortlived ES300 was introduced at the Chicago Musical Instruments Trade Show in July 1940 and appeared in Oct. 1, 1940 Supplement to Catalog AA and was only offered to just Spring of 1941, I am deducing that this shown model was produced in late 1940 and left the factory in January 1941(check above and after receiving input from Joe Spann, this was shipped in March 21, 1941.....very close deduction!).


Thus, this column will mention this model as a 1940 ES300.

Comparison of 1940 ES300 & 1942 ES300. Note that tailpiece left is most commonly used on ES-300's & L7's in the early '40's. Tailpiece right, is from a late '30's L12.
Comparison of 1940 ES300 & 1942 ES300.
Comparison of 1940 ES300 & 1942 ES300.