Best ES-335 Era - On a Budget

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by pagedr, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. pagedr

    pagedr TDPRI Member

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    So I'm looking for a Gibson ES-335 and would like to stay under $5K tops, but ideally under $4K. Which eras would I want to look at in terms of best quality for the buck? I see a lot of late 60s and 70s 335's well within my range but I know these weren't necessarily the best years for Gibson. Would I be better off just buying something brand new/built within the last 5-10 years? Appreciate any guidance.
     
  2. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

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    Prob my fav guitar. Def have to go play em. Took month on the search..even had custom shop for a weekend. Buddy shoots me pic of a Epi.Korean Dot... go get it...for me ..there it was....the tonal results i was searching for. Almost kept the Gibby...prob played about 10 ...all varied..all good..just found my match
     
  3. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    The Warren Haynes sig model looks cool if you like the specs.
    Vintage looks with new frets and pots etc. Exact replica of his 61 es335.

    [​IMG]

     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
  4. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have a ‘72 ES345... T Tops, glorious sound, best inlays of any Gibson, all original.

    It’s actually round my neck right now sitting on the sofa as I read this. I am playing through an old Boogie. Lovely!

    I love how it can effortlessly do jangle, rock, blues, funk and jazz.

    I really like the laminated neck of this particular vintage as I think they are much stronger and more stable and there is no scarf joint to ever break.

    Suggest you let the snobs miss out and just try everything. There are good and bad examples out there both new and old, so you have to try a few. You’ll know the keeper.

    The new figured ones look lovely.


    B18505A1-3B54-45B4-A46C-623E5F392196.jpeg

    image.jpg
     
  5. max_twang

    max_twang Tele-Afflicted

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    If I was looking for a vintage guitar but also wanted to maximize bang for the buck, I'd look for something that has been refinished, maybe something with a well-repaired headstock crack.

    I would take the conventional wisdom that late '60's to early '70's Gibsons were not the "best quality" with a grain of salt. There is lots of variability from guitar to guitar. I have a '78 335 that is one of my favorite instruments -- I've had it for almost 40 years (holy cow!) and will likely never part with it.

    Be aware that there was a period (late 60's to mid 70's) when Gibson necks were super narrow. That would be a deal killer for me. You might consider the dot reissues that came out in the early '80's -- those are well regarded and have definitely appreciated in value.
     
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  6. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Friend of Leo's

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    a friend had a Gibson Es-335 late 67 to early 1970 when I was growing up,it was definitely pre 1971. It was a pretty sweet guitar. I wish I would have bought it from him..

    pretty much made me a sucker for hollow bodies, now I've got 6 or 7 various brands, only es-335 I have is a kit on my workbench, which hopefully will be my winters work..
     
  7. doc w

    doc w Tele-Afflicted

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    My 1961 345 has that very thin neck! I don't like it but the guitar sounds incredible.
     
  8. bcorig

    bcorig Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Buy a Heritage
     

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  9. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

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    for the price range you are considering, you owe it to yourself to try as many as you can. In that range, many Gibsons are available as well as some very fine Epiphones, Heritage (as mentioned above) and a few others. Regardless, this shouldn't be something to buy online, IMO. For me, part of the fun would be trying out as many as you need to.

    I have no idea what part of California you might be in - or even if you're in California at all, but if you're serious about this quest, start considering which stores are going to carry the kind of guitar you're looking for and start planning how and when to visit.

    Take your time, and don't worry as much about different eras or the vintage as you do about what it feels and sounds like to you.

    When you find the one that feels right, you'll know what to do.
     
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  10. pagedr

    pagedr TDPRI Member

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    Appreciate the insights here. I live in LA so was planning to hit up several shops that I know will have 335's from various periods (Norm's, McCabe's, etc) and try some different stuff out.
     
    bcorig and Hiker like this.
  11. POS Guitars

    POS Guitars Tele-Meister

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    Check out Imperial Vintage Guitar in Burbank. They often have nice things.
     
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  12. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's

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    What’s your preferred neck profile? That’s a limiting factor. No sense buying one based on affordability without factoring in the neck.

    You’re going to have to play a lot of them.
     
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  13. 39martind18

    39martind18 Tele-Meister

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    What a HORRIBLE fate! Having to play a lot of 335s! Oh, the aural agony! :eek::lol: My fave is a 2006 Epiphone Sheraton USA Reissue. It has a fairly narrow neck, but I love the snap of the mini-humbuckers, especially through my '71 Deluxe Reverb (2x10 JBL equipped) or for larger gigs, my 1968 drip edge Twin Reverb. They pop up on ebay or reverb for under $2500 fairly often.
     
  14. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Afflicted

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    Ok, let's take this 'not the best quality' thing first.

    Gibson 335s made between 1965 and 68 are not massively different to those made earlier in the decade. They made a lot of them in the late 60s and you do see a few signs of sloppier building, but it tends to manifest itself in minor cosmetic things that after 50 years are pretty insignificant. Otherwise they're still amazing guitars.

    They have a narrower nut width and some people dislike that nut width, but it's easy enough to find out whether or not you're one of those people. The actual width varies: officially Gibson aimed for 1 9/16ths, as opposed to 1 11/16ths, but the tolerance they worked to was around a16th so you can find anything from 1 1/2 to 1 5/8. Late 60s Gibson necks are quite sharply tapered so even if they're a bit tight at the nut they get bigger once you're out of the cowboy chord area.

    At the end of '68 the design changed to a shorter neck tenon and three piece neck construction and at the end of '69 the dreaded volute appears - many feel at this point that the sound will be effected by the changes so the vintage connoisseurs tend to bow out at that point, if they weren't already put off by the neck joint. I also don't like the larger f holes that came in at the tail end of '68, so that puts me off later ones a bit. There's also a load of changes later in the 70s, but I'm running out of essay wiring time...

    However, it's important to note that just because they might sound a little different, they're not necessarily inferior. Personally I think 70s 335s can be great guitars, and possibly my favourite 335 of the several I own is a '79.

    With a budget of $5k I'd look for a '66-'68. I just bought a '66 this year for $4k (although without its original pickups) and it's awesome. Late 60s 335s have rocketed in value recently so if you can grab one for under $5k you're doing ok, and they should at the very least hold value well. Just check you get on with the neck profile before you commit. Oh yeah, and dealers seem incapable of dating these guitars correctly, so if the year is important learn to date them yourself.

    Here's my new '66:

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    ^^^ yep. There can be great guitars in any decade.

    For me, the dreaded volute & three piece neck was not even discussed as a topic when I got my ‘72 in the late 70’s. It was just a great guitar. It’s a modern myth imo.

    3 piece + volute...

    = neck through headstock physical strength and stability

    = virtually no chance of your guitar having or ever needing a headstock repair

    = less tendency for neck to warp or twist

    It was introduced to address a known technical weakness as much as to maximise lumber stock.

    My 345 has had 40 years of gigs, multiple falls off stands and will doubtless do another 40 years without any worries for the next custodian.

    The whole broken headstock Gibson thing is a sad joke... the snobs bring it on themselves with romantic but false ideas.

    Some myths and the romanticisation of earlier, poorer 50’s and 60’s design choices, just need challenging. The idea that you could detect the tone impact from a volute or neck tenon is pretty ludicrous. Some of the top acoustics are bolt ons! I’ve also seen plenty of 60’s ES’s that have completely collapsed and essentially imploded in the middle with bridges set flat on the body to get close to a working action.. the prices were ridiculous for what are broken guitars. So much for the tenon arguments.

    To argue for a price premium on one item, marketers will denigrate another for no other reason than to create a false schism. 70’s instrument’s have been that.

    BTW.. If you can find a vintage casino, they have their own thing going on.

    If you find a ES3xx with P90s, give it every chance. Could be perfection. These pickups from my ‘64 Casino on a centre block semi hollow would be heavenly.

    Enjoy the hunt! A good ES3xx has to be one of the best, most versatile electrics ever made.

    image.jpg
     
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  16. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    The 80’s ES347’s can be badass bargains... hotter pickups but with a great split switch.

    I nearly traded for one I fell in love with.
     
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  17. Texsunburst59

    Texsunburst59 Tele-Afflicted

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    I have a '70 Gibson 335 that I traded glass work for 6 yrs. ago, and it's a fine sounding guitar.

    I love the T-tops, but I hate the thin neck at the nut. I don't really like playing it much.

    I also have an '83 Gibson 335 Dot I picked up at a pawnshop about 5 yrs. ago that's amazing.

    It has a perfect hand filling neck that just feels right, and awesome sounding Tim Shaw humbuckers.

    To me this guitar is overall way better in playability and tone compared to my '70 335.

    I picked this up for $1400 in 2014, which I think was a bargain.

    OP, I think these '82-86" ? Dots are some of the best bang for the buck in the 335 line up.
     
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  18. nocastermike

    nocastermike Tele-Meister

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    Early eighties reissue Dots are spectacular guitars. Great necks on these..not skinny at all. Grab one while you still can.
     
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  19. bill in kc

    bill in kc TDPRI Member

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    I have an '82 Dot Reissue that is the one. Tim Shaw pickups, and well used. Larger neck. I paid less than $2k.
     
  20. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    +1 This is the best advice. Start playing as many as you can get your hands on. As others have mentioned, there are many variations over the years, so only your hands will find the one that fits. I would concentrate on neck feel and tones. Especially beware of the neck width variations. Good luck and have fun shopping.
     
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