Duane Allman’s 1959 Gibson ES-335

There’s a photo of Duane playing a sunburst Gibson ES-335 with the pickguard and pickup covers removed dating back to June 13, 1970. Although the guitar’s origins are still a mystery, there are two versions of what happened to it after Duane’s death.

Duane Allman playing a Gibson ES-335 guitar.
Duane with the ES-335.

First Theory

The first one is that the guitar ended up with Dickey Betts. Dickey allegedly later gave it to Eddy Shaver, who was his student at some point. After Eddy’s death in 2000, the guitar ended up with Willie Nelson, who supposedly keeps it locked up in his safe.

Second Theory

The second version of the story is that Donna Roosmann took two guitars from Duane’s house after he died, one being the Cherry-Burst ’59 Les Paul, and another one a 1959 sunburst Gibson ES-335. She loaned the ES-335 to Tommy Talton, but it was stolen from him sometime later. [Galadrielle Allman, Please Be With Me, p. 325]

The third possibility, of course, is that we’re actually talking about two different guitars. As one of our readers noticed, in an interview with Swampland.com Billy Joe Shaver mentioned the ES-335, but he didn’t talk specifically about the color – which leaves some space for speculation. In Galadrielle Allman’s book, however, it is mentioned that the guitar that was stolen from Tommy Talton was a 1959 sunburst model.

All in all, the sunburst Gibson ES-335 is one of the more mysterious guitars of Duane’s. As always, if you happen to know anything about it, please leave a comment below.


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Philip lane
Philip lane
4 years ago

I saw him playing the sunburst 335 several times in 1970. Cosmic Carnival Fulton county stadium Atlanta GA june 1970- there are pics of that show; the scene nightclub fort Lauderdale FL around the same time. In those days he usually played a gold top les paul.