Gibson, Crest Gold, 1970 - Steve Howe


Crest Gold
Serial Number: 
Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood
Honduras Mahogany
Brazilian Rosewood
Johnny Smith Mini-humbuckers
The Story Behind

One of the rarest and most distinctive Gibson thin-lines ever, the ultra-premium Crest model was built only between 1969 and 1972. At twice the price of the ES-335, the Crest was produced in two versions, the Silver and Gold, named according to the plating employed.

Designed for a warm versatile tone, the Crest featured lightweight fully hollow body construction, just 6lb.10oz., notably lighter than contemporary Gibson thin-lines. The instrument is fitted with surface mounted Johnny Smith mini-humbuckers unique to this model, and most dramatically a body, fingerboard, pick-guard and tailpiece made of genuine Brazilian Rosewood.

Alone in the entire history of Gibson guitars, the Crest was the only electric ever to employ this scarcest and most sought-after of exotic tone-woods.

The Gibson Crest was only built in a very limited run of some 162 pieces of which some were the Crest Gold, before it disappeared. Rather than the typical maple of other thin-lines, like the high-end ES-355TDSV it featured gold hardware, split diamond headstock inlays, and was bound throughout. Unlike other thinness at the time (ES-335, 340, 345, and 355), the Crest had no central maple block running down its centre (like the ES-330) which meant it had to use floating bridge, pickups and tailpiece. Electrically it was much the same as the ES-330, or ES-355TD, having a 3 way switch, 2 tone and 2 volume controls. This exquisite, high-end thin-line electric was available during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Setting it apart from its ES counterparts was its laminated Brazilian rosewood body, this guitar also got its panache from a rosewood scratch-plate, bound headstock, floating custom “Crest” tailpiece and inlaid marquetry down the spine.
Great looking instrument but it couldn't convince the guitar players at the time it was produced. As indicated by Steve Howe, despite the great look, the Crest has only a limited use for most guitarists.

This Guitar was bought by Steve Howe (Yes) in 1979. The guitar is shown and commented on in the book 'The Steve Howe Guitar Collection'.

Some comments Steve Howe makes about this guitar:

"Here's an example of a guitar acquiring a reputation for rarity and luxuriousness, but not actually delivering as a playing instrument.  ...  I had heard that Crests sounded rather good because of the Brazilian rosewood body, and it sounds rather nice - a bit like a Gibson Johnny Smith, I suppose, because it has similar tiny pickups on it. But it drives me crazy not being able to get anywhere on it. The way the neck joins the body at the 16th fret (like Gibson's ES-330) is quite catastrophic, because you can't use the frets above F-sharp or so, and that just is not good enough for guitarists like me, ... "

As all instruments having been in the 'The Steve Howe Guitar Collection' it is signed by Steve in invisible ink!

Nevertheless a fine piece of history!

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