Gibson has always recognized the value of working with leading artists of the day, and Tal Farlow has been both a first-call sideman and a popular solo artist of the 1950s and ’60s. His performance credits read like a who’s who of the jazz world: he joined Margarie Hyams’ band in 1948, was a member of the Red Norvo Trio (originally with Charles Mingus) from 1949-’53, when he joined Artie Shaw’s Gramercy Five for a spell, before forming his own notable trio.
The Tal Farlow model, first released in 1962, has a body that is outwardly reminiscent of the popular ES-5 in its basic dimensions, but from there it departs in its own unique model form as dictated by this gifted guitarist. It’s trademark faux-scroll rounded cutaway (Farlow’s own design), upside-down J-200 fingerboard inlays, double-crown headstock inlays, and Tal Farlow trapeze tailpiece with inlaid rosewood block set it apart from any other archtop Gibson had ever created. This unusual signature model has always been a rare bird, and only 215 examples were produced between 1962-’69.
Body and Neck
Gibson’s Custom Shop makes the Tal Farlow today in the exact image of the original, down to the enlarged five-point pickguard and the Farlow scroll cutaway, created—now as then—by curling the binding into the body at the cutaway to create the impression of a mandolin-like scroll. It’s a full-sized archtop at 17” wide and, more comfortable than other models of its day, 3” deep. As preferred by many professional jazz guitarists, including Farlow, the ES rounded neck profile is made to a 25 1/2” scale length, with a 1 11/16” nut width. The model also features multi-ply binding on the body’s top and back, single-ply white binding on the fingerboard, headstock, and f-holes, and is available in vintage sunburst and viceroy brown.
Fully acoustic, it is also a fully electric model, with two set-in humbucking pickups with individual volume and tone controls, and a three-way selector switch. Its floating rosewood bridge base carries an ABR-1 tune-o-matic bridge for full adjustment of individual string intonation and excellent sustain. Outfitted with L-5 Electric .012 strings, the Tal Farlow model comes with the standard Gibson Custom case and certificate of authenticity.