Mark Hitt's Gibson ES355
This early 60's 355 has belonged to Mark Hitt of "Ratrace
Choir" for almost 35 years. If you lived In New York, New Jersey or Connecticut
over the past 30 years you probably remember seeing Mark playing this guitar.
(it used to be sunburst). This Guitar was played very hard 7 days a week
for over 30 years and if you ever saw Ratrace play you know what I mean.
(Look up Ratrace Choir on You Tube)
Some of the greatest music I ever heard in my life came out of this
guitar. In fact seeing Ratrace was one of my life's major inspirations and a
large reason for me getting into the music business in the first place. I
remember hearing Mark play Hammer-ons in the early 70's long before I ever heard
of Eddie Van Halen. I'll bet this neck saw more beer bottle slides in it's life
than most people can drink. I can remember guitar players stacked 6 deep
standing in front of Mark with their Jaws on the ground staring at his fingers
(I was one of them).
I swear to God!!! I once heard Mark make this guitar sound exactly like
the Hammond Organ solo on Deep Purple's "Hush".
So when Mark asked me to repair it I was flattered and honored. and a
The condition of this guitar was nothing less than totally horribly
atrocious, The neck had been repaired twice from two separate breaks the repairs
were done well but they were 100% visible. There was literally no binding left
on the guitar, the wood on the top was worn almost through in several places.
The electronics were rusted out and a total mess the frets were played down to
the wood and the fingerboard was almost scalloped by Mark's fingers. Mark uses
very heavy strings. The body had major cracks in the wood and the seams. The
guitar was just about ready to literally come apart top sides back and neck
joint. Mark had resisted fixing the guitar for so long for the simple fact that
he used it daily and simply could not make a living without it.
Fixing this guitar required a new fingerboard, frets, totally rebinding
the body & neck and some serious surgery to the top, back, sides and neck. Mark
was not in the least concerned about originality he was not worried a bit about
resale value. What he was concerned about was reliability and functionality and
tone. I installed a Mike Christian Piezo System and reworked the pickups that
were custom wound for Mark by Larry Dimarzio In 1980. (Today
Mark is using Seymour Duncan's)
When the guitar was done I was very worried that Mark might be
displeased. I was quite nervous because I had been tampering with black magic.
You always hear about guitars getting redone or re-fretted and losing their tone
and or magic. When a man and an instrument are as close as Mark and this guitar
I knew I was seriously playing with fire. I'm sure that Mark knew every
centimeter of that guitar, I am sure he knew every dent in every fret and every
divot on the fingerboard well enough to give them all separate names. Here I
was making literally hundreds of changes to this guitar.
I delivered the guitar to Mark one rainy night in 1993 at a gig in Mahopac New
York. I don't mind telling you I was a bit jittery. I asked him how it looked
and he seemed quite pleased. (I wasn't worried about how it looked I knew that
was cool) I also knew it would be at least a week before I would find out what
he really thought.
To make a long story short Mark loves the guitar and takes it with
him everywhere he goes. Most guitar players carry several picks in their
wallet. Mark carries his guitar (this guitar) everywhere. Mark was given many
new Gibson 335's by the Gibson factory, He doesn't use them.
See The new Blues Deluxe which is made from real wood !!!!!!!
Mark Hitt uses A
Quicksilver Guitar. Occasionally he still
pulls out the 355 but the Quicksilver smokes it, Ask him he will tell you !!!