1957 Gibson C-530


When Gibson’s steel guitar sales started to slide in the 1950s, they responded by introducing several models that were more affordable than the company’s existing line. The Console Grande was complemented by the Consolette, another D8 model that was simpler to produce and consequently cheaper to purchase. Toward the end of the decade, the Skylark was introduced as a student-oriented lap model. In between, Gibson attempted to revive sales by revamping their existing products. 1956 saw the Console Grande gain all new pickups and wiring, plus a few other design changes; it was soon given the additional designation of CG-520, and soon the original name was dropped altogether. Around the same time, the Consolette was completely redesigned and shortly thereafter renamed the C-530.

The C-530 differed from the original Consolette in a number of ways. The old korina body was replaced by “a revolutionary method of Hard Maple Laminate construction to achieve new heights in pure tonality”. It may have sounded good, but apparently the sandwich construction was deemed unsuitable for a natural finish. Instead, it was obscured under an opaque yellow finish described as “Lustrous blond”. The two “glare resistant” fretboards now featured 36 frets, half an octave more than the Consolette. The big label on top of the old model was replaced by a highly-visible plaque on the front of the instrument, leaving the audience in no doubt of who built the great yellow beast in front of them.

From a historical point of view, the most remarkable feature of the C-530 was its pickups. These had been designed by Seth Lover around 1955 as Gibson’s first hum-cancelling design, though it took news that Gretsch planned to introduce their own Filter’Tron for Gibson to start selling them. Thus, the first “hum-bucking” pickups were shipped in late 1956 on the first batch of the redesigned Consolette, several months before a similar 6-string design was introduced on Gibson Spanish electric guitars. The actual technology was nothing new – hum-cancelling pickups had been around for over 20 years – but Gibson’s decision to advertise the quietness of their pickups ensured that generations of musicians would associate humbuckers with Gibson. The C-530’s pickups were not used on any other model, and unlike their 6-string equivalents, their non-adjustable poles protruded through the cover.

The C-530 also sported a pair of push buttons, a momentary “Audio cut-off” (often described as a “stutter” switch) and a “du-wah” switch that produced a bassy tone for rapid effects. Master volume and tone knobs plus a neck selector switch completed the controls. Four legs made it sturdier than Gibson’s earlier 3-legged consoles. The instrument overall was of a professional quality, and it initially sold for close to the CG-520 ($215 vs $287.50). The C-530 was also simpler than its sibling; it lacked some quirks of the CG-520’s pickups and wiring that not all players found favorable. It was offered well into the 1960s, though few were actually sold in the last few years.