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Gibson ES-335 is laminated? Why so expensive?

Discussion in 'Guitar Owners Clubs' started by itsGiusto, Apr 11, 2021.

  1. itsGiusto

    itsGiusto Tele-Holic

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    I just found out the other day that Gibson ES-335s are laminated, not carved-top. Full-disclosure here, I don't know too much about guitar construction, but I don't really understand, if it's just made of laminated pieces of wood, why are they so expensive? Is there anything that actually separates the quality of the Gibsons from the Epiphone Dots, other than the pickups and the nitrocellulose lacquer vs polycarbinate? Or is the ginormous price tag predicated mostly on the name and headstock logo?
     
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  2. Suproman

    Suproman Tele-Holic

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    Most of the Gibson archtop models are laminated tops, as far as I know.
     
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  3. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    They're expensive because they are handmade in the US.

    People will take issue with this, but it's true. Yeah, the neck blanks may be carved on a CNC, but all the parts are hand assembled and hand finished. Human hands-on increases production costs.
     
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  4. Steve Holt

    Steve Holt Friend of Leo's

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    The cost of the wood to make a guitar isn't that much whether it's carved, solid, laminated etc. I'm building a jazz bass and I bought enough wood to do that, an extra neck, and have leftover body wood for 63 bucks including tax and a 3% credit card fee. I promise that the container loads of lumber Gibson is buying are cheaper than what I paid.

    The cost of the guitar is in the construction and parts. It's paying the guy to glue it together, paying a guy to paint it and all the overhead that's incurred by having a front office staff and a roof over everyone's head.

    Archtop guitars, regardless of material are more complicated than solid body guitars to manufacture, so that's a cost too. If you're curious about the difference between an epiphone and a Gibson I don't really know. But I can make a guess based on what I know about Squier and fender guitars. Go pick up a Squier affinity and an American ultra Strat. They're made of the same solid wood, but the difference in fit, finish, parts, attention to detail is very different. Hundreds of YouTube videos will ask the question does one really sound better than the other, but that's beside the point. That's your difference.
     
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  5. loopfinding

    loopfinding Friend of Leo's

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    Substantially more labor intensive than making a solid body guitar. It’s built sort of like an archtop. It’s not a thinline where they just route it out and slap a top on it. Even among import lines, they are generally considerably more expensive than solid bodies.

    Overseas archtops and acoustics are cheap because labor is cheap. But there is probably also less money spent on QC. If labor wages were fairer and QC was top notch you’d be looking closer to Eastman prices. And that would sort of defeat the purpose of that market.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2021
  6. Sax-son

    Sax-son Tele-Holic

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    There are cheap facsimiles of Gibson products coming from all over the world, but they are not the real thing. It costs money to produce quality goods in the United States. I doubt the working conditions at Gibson are the same as the slave labor in China as well as the lax environmental concerns so there financial disadvantage in comparison. Gibson has the Epiphone line that caters to those who can't afford the Gibson models but also doesn't want to be shut out of that market either.

    Those cheap knock offs will do in a pinch, but I am no longer buying them. I would rather pay payments and invest in quality than to have a room full of cheap junk. For the record, Gibson 335's have always had laminated tops. It is not the laminated tops that gives those guitars their mojo. They are a thinline design which is a chambered solid body guitar.
     
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  7. Collin D Plonker

    Collin D Plonker Tele-Afflicted

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    Where do you buy your wood? That sounds like a good price.
     
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  8. Steve Holt

    Steve Holt Friend of Leo's

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    It's also just less wasteful if you ask me. Taking a 1" slab of maple or something and carving it into a curved piece compared to starting with a thin piece and bending it. I'm always out to waste as little wood as possible. So I'd prefer the laminated myself.
     
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  9. Steve Holt

    Steve Holt Friend of Leo's

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    I was pretty shocked too. I got it locally north of Hutchinson KS. My jazz bass is going to be a soft maple body with a Hard maple neck. Chambered body to reduce weight. So I bought so it was just two boards but only 4.99/bdft
     
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  10. Dano-caster

    Dano-caster Tele-Meister

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    ES 335s are pricey because they look cool, sound cool (in some hands) and are very durable.Iconic one may say... But Gibson does make many carved top guitars as well...
     
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  11. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Buy your wood from a local hardwood supplier (look 'em up...they exist). You get to personally inspect each piece you pull.

    If you buy online, shipping adds a substantial amount to the total cost, and you get what somebody else pulled for you.


    Laminated tops, backs, and sides have one huge benefit that many players seem to forget about: they don't crack and split in dry weather.

    Despite that, it does help greatly to keep them humidified to maintain the neck joint/neck angle. These guitars are made in humidity-controlled conditions, and keeping at least a little humidity in the wood goes a long way to keeping the guitar in good operating condition for many years.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2021
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  12. G.Rotten

    G.Rotten Tele-Afflicted

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    "Yes" should cover most of what's here.

    IMO the price is mostly due to the name on the headstock. Gibson does have the higher quality guitar and to me also the better playing guitar.

    That being said Epiphones in general are also decent and a better bang for the buck. A few higher end parts and some effort turns many Epi's into road/studio worthy guitars.

    The lamination thing is just the way it is though. Very few of those style guitars are not laminated.
     
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  13. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    The 'laminate' is three solid sheets of maple or maple/poplar/maple glued with grain at right angles. It's not cheap wood or process. Then it's steamed to shape. It would be cheaper but less stable to use a solid carved top. The Hawk line and Midtown/336 lines are attempts by Gibson to reduce production cost by using machined solid mahogany rears like a Les Paul with a laminate front.

    They just continue the construction of 40s jazzer big body f-hole acoustics. I have a 60s Bavarian made Framus with a solid spruce front but back and sides are laminate.

    Making one with accuracy including a set neck, binding etc requires a skilled luthier workforce. Unlike making boltneck solid body guitars.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2021
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  14. otterhound

    otterhound Poster Extraordinaire

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    Try keeping a log of all time and expenses incurred during the build . It just may surprise you . All time . Even the time needed to go to look at and purchase the wood . Tools and machinery . Postage . Taxes . Space required for the build . Insurance . There is almost no end to expenses with a business as compared to some hobby or pastime .
     
  15. Collin D Plonker

    Collin D Plonker Tele-Afflicted

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    Wow. I have to find out if there any mills near me.
     
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  16. dreamingtele

    dreamingtele Friend of Leo's

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    if you want solid top and back, go Edwards.. it is a company under ESP Japan - Deviser.

    Very high quality MIJ guitars..

    https://espguitars.co.jp/products/edwards/e-sa/


    But there's speculation that Edwards guitars were made in a remote China factory, bodies/necks/assembly then finished and set up in Japan.. but I dont know how true that is..

    Ive played these instruments and they're top notch, and the response and feel is very different from a Gibson 335.. they are their own thing.. Also made with the "Open book" Headstock everyone likes over the epiphone one.. :)

    I'm actually really GAS'ing for their 335 Black beauty custom.. I can live with it not being a Gibson.. for reasons of being unique/different specs.. however, Id like to have this, and a 59 Reissue Gibson in my collection.. LOL

    https://espguitars.co.jp/product/4745/

    [​IMG]


    https://espguitars.co.jp/product/4727/

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  17. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

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    Carving and tuning a top is one thing.


    But, beyond that, a 335 in it's traditional form requires a lot more work than most guitars. Top/back veeners need to be cut, glued, pressed. They're solid 1 piece veneers btw, not chipboard here. Sides need to be cut, glued, steam bent, joints need to be kerf'd, center block needs to be kerf'd and a perfect fit at that, sides need to be taped/bound/painted/scraped, etc.

    They're not really low on the labor end in the world of electric guitars.


    And, cheap?

    You want a real carved top American archtop on the cheap that doesn't cut corners? Cheapest I can think of is the Heritage Eagle which is a damn good price at around $4700 no frills option.



    You mean they don't crack through?

    Because, they sure a **** crack all over, it's just never an issue because there's more wood underneath.
     
  18. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    That's not plywood, son; that's a high-quality laminate!
     
  19. dreamingtele

    dreamingtele Friend of Leo's

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    My 330 actually really is just thin acoustic with P90's..

    its so loud I cannot use it at home for practicing unplugged because I can wake up the bub in his room.. we live in an apartment with thin walls and doors.. if I strum in the living room, you can hear me inside the bedroom! LOL
     
  20. wblynch

    wblynch Tele-Meister

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    There are some wonderful YouTube videos on the Gibson factory building ES-335’s. With the detail and quality that goes into them I’m surprised they don’t cost double.
     
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