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Gibson ES-335 is laminated? Why so expensive?

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

  1. marshman

    marshman Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I thought that carved tops were more naturally resonant, louder and clearer than laminated tops, so as pickups and amplification became the norm, the construction of the top became less relevant...and I feel like I read somewhere that carved, solid tops were phased out as laminates were less prone to feedback.

    I like to think that carving a top is a more intricate process, even given modern CNC equipment than steaming and shaping appropriate pieces of laminate.

    In a very peripherally relevant point, I've never really laid hands on a "good", vintage, carved, solid-topped archtop jazzbox, but every new one I've ever picked up sounds like a resonator.
     
  2. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

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    Have you ever seen a video of the process? It’s not like they buy laminated wood from Home Depot.
     
  3. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Part of the reason they sound like a resonator is because acoustic roundhole acoustics couldn't compete in a jazz band or big band environment. F-holes for a treblier tone combined with a large body means fragility in carved tops.

    Steel string tension can cave in a carved top - it's the death of many Rickenbacker hollow bodies.

    The 335 has a contoured centre block inside to kill feedback. My Setzer Gretsch has a tonepost between front and back and it's very lively and feedback prone compared to my old 335 Dot.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2021
  4. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Do you know how much TIME and LABOR a proper lamination takes?

    And do you know how GIGANTIC the difference in COST OF LABOR between a 1st world and a 3rd world country is?

    Wood is dirt cheap anyhow so it's a very small % of the actual cost of a guitar.
     
  5. DADGAD

    DADGAD Friend of Leo's

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    In my 56 years of guitar playing, I've owned various 335 copies. None came close to the magic of a real ES335. This one is mine.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. tanplastic

    tanplastic Tele-Holic

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    Correct.
    Lots of info out there about 335 construction.
    Laminated tops are not a downgrade in electric archtops.
     
  7. maxvintage

    maxvintage Poster Extraordinaire

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    There's nothing really more necessarily expansive about a 335. Once you get your jigs, fixtures and tooling set up it's a factory process. The tops backs and sides are machine formed. Gibson always charged a premium for continuing the appearance of traditional luthiery, like the carved top on a les paul
     
  8. tanplastic

    tanplastic Tele-Holic

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  9. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Doctor of Teleocity

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    Saw this the other day- 2 slide guitars!
     
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  10. tweedman2001

    tweedman2001 Tele-Afflicted

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    I didn't see anyone mention the difference with the neck construction. Gibsons are one piece excluding the headstock wings. Epiphones are scarf jointed at the neck and the heels are two piece. The Epiphones are arguably stronger but definitely less expensive to make.
     
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  11. 39martind18

    39martind18 Friend of Leo's

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    I think humidity (or the lack of it) won't be a problem here near Houston. :eek::rolleyes:
     
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  12. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Marketing.

    The Epiphones have a bit more value engineering in them but the bulk of their savings is in reduced overhead costs. Overhead is everything...and, really, the only way for Gibson to compete is their foundational marketing; their "cachet".

    Perception rules. I want a Gibson too...but my lizard brain knows an Epi is better value.
     
  13. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    My Sorrento is the same - thin full hollow, laminate construction.

    I just wanted to comment that plywood isn't simply "cheap" or worse than using regular wood. There are all sorts of applications where plywood results in a stronger, better, more stable product. And the good stuff (void free hardwood ply) isn't any cheaper than regular wood.
     
  14. jvin248

    jvin248 Doctor of Teleocity

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    .

    Cost =/= Price
    Sure, there is somewhat of a loose linkage between them but
    Price is caused by Marketing.

    Gibson guitars are expensive because Marketing causes buyers to want them. That ranges from magazine articles, advertisements, youtube reviews, to pro artist 'gear deals' so the instruments show up on stage (even when a Tele was used to record the studio songs).

    Tone is not caused by Wood. Marketing again convinces people that wood matters to tone, but it doesn't. Own enough guitars, do enough testing, build guitars from scratch, and you'll find how wood is there only to hold all the parts and look pretty. Do a youtube search on guitars made from: pencils, popsicle sticks, plastic, steel, ceramic, cardboard, and cement.




    Marketing.
    [​IMG]
    .
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2021
  15. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Poster Extraordinaire

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    Isn't there the idea that the ply/lam helps to reduce feedback on some level as well? Maybe I am mis-remembering.
     
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  16. DADGAD

    DADGAD Friend of Leo's

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    That is true. The laminate does not feedback as readily as say a spruce top. The 335 feeds back just enough.. just right. It is quite controllable when you want it to sing. :cool:

     
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  17. PhoenixBill

    PhoenixBill Tele-Meister

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    Don’t equate plywood to laminated wood. Plywood typically has a slightly-more expensive top layer with interior layers of soft or inexpensive wood. Laminate (when used for a quality guitar top) uses layers of high-quality wood throughout. Also the grain direction could be more deliberately oriented on laminated products.

    And if you have a solid-body electric with a body that has a cap, technically you could even call that a laminate.
     
  18. knh555

    knh555 Tele-Holic

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    All those great Gretsch hollowbody and centerblock guitars have laminated bodies too. And they sound great. I believe the laminated tops also help resist feedback somewhat, especially on the full hollowbodies, but nothing like a solid body.
     
  19. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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  20. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    Yep, It's not the wood. It's the labor to put a hollow/semi together. Which begs the question; Why is an LP so expensive?
    Although Rosewood and Ebony could be a cost. But Maple and Alder etc.. meh. I doubt there's $10 of Alder in a Strat. Alder is so plentiful up here that it's mainly firewood. I have more than a dozen Alders on my property over 12" diameter.
    Cabinet makers started using it some years ago for kitchen cabinets, most solid wood you buy now days are Alder then they are made to look like other woods with the finish. There's a mill here that probably has a 1/2 -1 acre or more of stacked alder boards maybe 15 feet high serving the cabinet industry. Maple is very plentiful too and grows fast also. Most every maple tree has flame and or birdseye in it. It's not rare.
     
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