When Gibson launched the Varitone-equipped ES-345 semi-hollowbody electric guitar in 1959 (priced $345) they promised “18 separate sounds" along with "hundreds of voices.” And in this incredible clip from the 1966 TV show The !!!! Beat Freddie King provides a masterclass on harnessing the full potential of the Gibson ES-345 as we hear it echoing through the studio on full tilt.
Following a genuine golden era introduction from legendary Nashville R&B DJ Bill "Hoss" Allen, the band kicks off on a groovy stage flanked by go-go dancers and decked out in quintessential '60s style.
Look out for Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown – guitarist and Musical Director of the show’s house band – who can also be spotted rocking a 345 (albeit a cool early ‘60s Rickenbacker Capri 345 in natural/Mapleglo!)
Guitar strap slung casually over his right shoulder, Freddie King pulls out the funkiest of riffs from his ES-345 as he effortlessly explores the myriad tones of this classic Gibson semi-hollowbody, from sizzling treble licks to full throated grind.
Known to favor Gibson electrics throughout his career, in the mid-‘60s King moved from using a ’54 Les Paul Goldtop to a variety of 3-series semis, including 345s with and without stop tailpieces .
Check out Gibson’s Freddie King ES-345 recreation – the Freddie King 1960 ES-345 Sixties Cherry VOS – here (opens in new tab).
Rod Brakes is a music writer with an expertise in all things guitar-related. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a journalist covering artists, industry pros and gear includes writing hundreds of articles and features for the likes of Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World, Guitar Player and MusicRadar, as well as contributions for specialist books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.
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