Watch Freddie King Set the Gold Standard in Gibson PAF Humbucker Tone

Freddie King and Leon Russell perform on stage at the Rainbow Theatre, London, 3rd November 1971.
(Image credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

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.

Freddie King 1960 ES-345 Sixties Cherry VOS with case

Gibson Freddie King 1960 ES-345 Sixties Cherry VOS (Image credit: Future)

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!)

Freddie King 1960 ES-345 Sixties Cherry VOS controls

Gibson Freddie King 1960 ES-345 Sixties Cherry VOS controls (Image credit: Future)

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.

Rod Brakes

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as GuitaristTotal Guitar, Guitar WorldGuitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.