American Garage:
Pat Metheny

Gibson ES-175 Info Page

Page Created: January 3, 2001
Last updated: August 2, 2022

Pat Metheny's Gibson ES-175 Guitar

Brand: Gibson
Plant: Kalamazoo, Michigan USA
Model: ES-175DN
Serial Number: A32764
Year: 1960
Finish Color: Natural
label: orange
Top Wood: Plain Maple, 3-ply with poplar core
Back & Sides Wood: Plain Maple, 3-ply with poplar core back, Solid Maple rims, head/tail blocks, rim stays.
Neck Wood: 1-Piece Mahogany
Fingerboard: Brazillian Rosewood
Inlays: Split Parallelogram Mother of Pearl
Headstock: Holly wood veneer with Mother-of-Pearl 'Gibson' and 'Crown' inlay. Bound headstock.
Binding: White/Black/White top with single ply White on the back. The headstock also has binding.
Pickups: Two Gibson "Patent Applied For" humbucking pickups. The bridge position pickup and corresponding controls were later removed.
Controls: Volume and Tone potentiometers
Bridge: The original Rosewood bridge, later replaced with a tune-o-matic bridge.
Tailpiece: "Zig Zag"
Tuning Machines: Kluson Deluxe single line double ring tuners, later replaced with Grover or Grover copies.
Pickguard: Beveled 5-ply pickguard, which is removed.
Knobs: 1960 gold reflector cap "VOLUME" and "TONE" labeled knobs.

Pat Metheny's ES-175 guitar (serial number A32764) was made and assembled in Gibson's Kalamazoo, Michigan plant in 1960.

Metheny bought his ES-175 used in the summer of 1968 for $100. The guitar was advertised for $125 in the Kansas City Star and purchased from a gentleman in Missuro, whose son had gone to Vietnam and left the guitar behind. Metheny is unable to recall exactly why the guitar was being sold, but remembers well its 'as new' condition and soft case: "There was this ad for a Gibson guitar in the Kansas City Star; it didn't even say which model it was. It just said semi-hollow Gibson electric guitar. I remember the sensation of knowing it was a Gibson guitar but not knowing which Gibson it was. I can remember very well going to this guy's house and opeing up the soft case to find this gorgeous guitar. Of course, at the point it looked brand new" (Ingram, 1994). Metheny says "The 175 has become a classic; a kind of workman's instrument. It is a very fundamental and simple instrument, which has a particular quality to the way it sustains that's really neat. My 175 is the one thing in my life, other than my family, that has been completely consistent" (Ingram). "I had a Gibson L5. I played a Les Paul for a while. I was trying everything I could and it was a bit frustrating because I couldn't get the sound I wanted. My 175 had been sitting under by bed for about six months while I flirted around with these other instruments and then one day I got it out again. All of a sudden it felt right, that it was the instrument I should be playing." (Guitar Player, 1981).

"It became the thing for me, and remains the standard by which all guitars are judged. The 175, of course, has a fantastic tradition in many ways throughout the history of the instrument, and itís been cool for me to be a member of that.

"Originally, that guitar was a one-pickup, which made it more rare. Being 13, I thought, 'Really good guitars have two pickups.' So I took it to my shop class and cut a hole with the jigsaw and ordered another humbucking pickup from Gibson. But it didnít sound good, and I realized that none of the people I liked used that sound anyway. So I decided to take it out. Thatís why thereís a piece of black tape over the hole that I cut in shop class. With the help of a professional guy, because Iíd messed it up so much, I reverted it back. About two years ago (2014), I finally had my guy, Mark Herbert in Boston, fix where I had duct tape holding it together (on the bottom rim), because the crack kept getting bigger and bigger. And it actually makes it sound a lot better, too. I finally did a deal with Ibanez, because the day-to-day maintenance of the 175 was becoming almost overwhelming for me. I was constantly having to do things Ė raise the bridge, tweak the neck. Part of that is because, from the time I got it until now, Iíve never had it in the shop. Itís never had a fret job; itís exactly the way it was (laughs). And it sounds amazing. Certain notes really sound great; I would never mess with the frets on it" (Vintage Guitar, February 2016 - retreived from:

Metheny's 175 seems to have come from a special custom run as the guitar has a bound headstock. A bound headstock is highly unusual for ES-175 models of this, or any era.

Regarding his sound, Metheny states "To get my sound on the 175 I use flatwound strings and the tone control turned completely off. I used to use some chorus, but so many people have used that sound that it's almost become cliche" (Guitar, 1992).

In the mid 1990's, Metheny retired his ES-175. "It just was getting too rickety in the past few years- and i don't really want to fix it up for fear that it might change it". In 1994, Metheny also retired his amplifier. "I used an Acoustic (brand name) 134 model amp for 20 years from 1974 to 1994. That amp had the SOUND for me; flat, kind of midrangy-bright but mellow and LOUD without any distortion; a hard combination of things to find in one place. Unfortunately it was also really noisy and tended to break alot." (Pat Metheny Question & Answer, March 24, 1999).

An early picture (1970) of Pat Metheny with his Gibson ES-175. Note intact pickguard, selector switch, and all controls.

At the Amazing Grace - Evanston, Illinois (Photo by Charles Seton)

Jaco Pastorius (bass) and Pat Metheny reunite at the Newport Jazz Festival 1979.

Pat Metheny's ES175 has a bound headstock, unusual for 175's

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