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Microphone Month 4

Switchmaster

This model name refers to Gibson’s 3-pickup ES-5 archtop guitar. The 1949 Gibson ES-5 was the first guitar ever made with three pickups. However, it originally had no pickup switching. Instead, each of the onboard black plastic, “dog-earAlnico 5 single coil pickups, which were designed by Walt Fuller, had its own volume control, along with a master volume. In 1955, the guitar was given a 4-way toggle switch that allowed players to select any of the three pickups or all three at the same time, and it was at this point that Gibson dubbed this guitar the Switchmaster. Although the pickup selector did not allow for other pickup combinations, such as the bridge and middle pickups together, the guitar still had three volume controls, along with a tone control for each pickup. Thus, with the switch position selecting all three pickups, the player could turn the volume down on any pickup, thereby allowing for a wider range of tones. In 1957, along with all the high-end Gibson guitars, the Switchmaster was equipped with three humbucking pickups. The last Switchmasters were produced in 1960 or early 1961.

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