The Gibson Barney Kessel Pages  (Part 5)
  part 1   part 2    part 3    part 4    part 5    part 6                                           HOME

Below: Barney with customized es-350  with CC pickup, sans pickguard.

     Below:  the tried and true es-350……and fat 1970’s bow-tie.

    In Barney’s hard-cover book "The Guitar", he explains why pickguards are bad….notice it

    is always missing  from his es-350.

    Below: Among the handful of artists that played the Barney Kessel Regular, T-Bone

   Walker enjoyed playing it in the 60’s.  

       The author, in concert, with 1965 Barney Kessel Custom (the parts on this one were

        changed to nickel; it is a “players guitar”).  is ordinarily a fine website for researching the detail characteristics of the Gibson models. However, in their grading of the Barney Kessel models as a “D-” for collectibility and being "an ugly model", they are in complete error and reflect narrow-minded values.  Their writing seems to be based on feelings that may have existed many decades ago. Either that, or their opinion is written solely from the perspective of rock'n'roll values. Their out-of-date evaluation completely disregards fast-climbing market prices for the BK guitars, and seems oblivious to a rapidly changing interest in this model. Like many others, who seem to have a bias towards solid body guitars, they have totally misunderstood the instrument as a top-notch jazz performer which has a highly unique 50’s artistic style design. One could also argue that their grading reflects an evolutionary and cultural error which assigns higher value to solid-body instruments such as the Les Paul and es-335. The solid-body tone is thin and weak, losing almost all of the acoustic properties. In contrast, the archtops – guitars that are much harder to build -  recreate the construction of fine violins, and emphasize the acoustic properties. The finest, most advanced music has been that performed on the hollow-bodies, undiluted with effects: Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian, Barney Kessel, George Benson. A trend is starting that reflects a rediscovery of models that were previously disregarded, including the Barney Kessel models...this list also includes the es-330, es-125, and other archtops that are now vigorously being collected and played.
Evaluation of the Barney Kessel models should be based on (1) the market's interest in collecting those models (which is strong and has changed since the time of writing of the website); (2)  the viability of the models as professional jazz instruments that can be considered as on a par with the L-5 and Super 400 models, and (3) as classic works of art that reflect 1950's 'modern' art.  The error of the web site regarding the BK model reflects the need to take all internet web site opinions with a grain of salt.
Read through the Barney Kessel Pages, look at the pictures, and celebrate the music of Barney and his artist signature model....a model that has enduring artistic appeal, and increasing value as a collectible vintage archtop. 
The Jazz Guitar Hardball Sideshow.....
   -  opinion editorial  -
Sister Rosetta Tharpe with a 1968 Barney Kessel Regular, on her LP "Precious memories".