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As demand for thinline electric archtop guitars grew during the mid- to late-1950s, Gibson added a so-called “budget model” to its line, the ES-120T, which carried a sticker price of under $150. Its body dimensions and styling were the same as the former “budget model,” the ES-125T, but that guitar’s P-90 pickup was replaced with a combined pickguard plus pickup, similar to the setup found on Gibson’s budget Melody Maker solidbody. All the wiring and controls were mounted on the plastic pickguard, meaning less time was required to complete the guitars, themselves. The back and sides of the ES-120T were constructed of plywood, and that, along with the lack of a cutaway, is clear evidence that this was indeed meant to be a starter or student instrument.

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