New Epiphone ES335 Top Veneer thickness

TheMicster

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Hi everyone, I've taken a bit of an interest in the new Epiphone " inspired by Gibson" ES 335 in paticular the Raspberry tea burst model, I do like that Flame Maple finish. Now on a Gibson i know that they use a 3 layer plywood system of Maple, Poplar, Maple, but with the Epi's they don't really, say it's just listed as layered maple it doesn't say if its 3 layer, 4 layer or possibly 5 layer. The reason for my question is i didn't want a veneer that was to thin or wasn't real Maple, infact some people say that some of the earlier Epi's they were virtually just a print on the top.
Can anyone confirm how these new allegedly flamed maple top es335 models are made and if the top layer has some substance to it. Whilst its easy to swap out bolt on hardware the wood is there to stay.
Cheers Mic.
 

boredguy6060

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The ES 335 has always been layered because that’s how the make them. They use thin veneer cross crossed and put into a hot press. That’s how they get the carved look without being carved. If you put a think piece of solid maple into the heated press I’m sure It would just break it all to pieces. It’s not a method made by Epi to cheapen it, Gibson designed that method decades ago.
Now if you want a carved top that thin I’m not sure who makes one.
Hope that helps, I’ve had to start and stop writing this reply
because I’ve been distracted a dozen times.
Good luck.
Btw, I have the Inspired by Gibson 335 and I’m very pleased with it. I don’t have the Figured Maple, it was on back order so long I gave up and bought the standard top.
I’ve not missed it.
 

BramptonRob1958

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I picked up the Figured Top a couple of weeks ago.

Epiphone did a great job. It looks better in person than in pics.

Badly needs a setup out of the box and the frets dressed. Even with those issues, it's still a very solid and versatile guitar.
 

archetype

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Hi everyone, I've taken a bit of an interest in the new Epiphone " inspired by Gibson" ES 335 in paticular the Raspberry tea burst model, I do like that Flame Maple finish. Now on a Gibson i know that they use a 3 layer plywood system of Maple, Poplar, Maple, but with the Epi's they don't really, say it's just listed as layered maple it doesn't say if its 3 layer, 4 layer or possibly 5 layer. The reason for my question is i didn't want a veneer that was to thin or wasn't real Maple, infact some people say that some of the earlier Epi's they were virtually just a print on the top.
Can anyone confirm how these new allegedly flamed maple top es335 models are made and if the top layer has some substance to it. Whilst its easy to swap out bolt on hardware the wood is there to stay.
Cheers Mic.

The thickness of veneer depends mainly on the species of wood, since it's peeled off of a rotating log. It has to be the correct thickness to be workable without cracking. Gibson maple veneer is the correct thickness and so is Epiphone maple veneer. Epiphone is using a flamed veneer just like Gibson does. I don't know who the "some people" are, but the "print on the top" thing is BS. They're probably thinking about Fender Japan's Foto Flame bodies and necks.

Epi laminated tops and backs are fine. The only consideration is cosmetic, because each guitar has different flame and grain.
 

Fearnot

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I wouldn't lose any sleep over the veneers Epiphone uses. There may (or may not) be a 'real' layer of maple underneath that isn't as pretty as the veneer.

They do the same with their SGs, hiding the 4 and 5 piece bodies beneath some very strongly figured mahogany veneer. Those SG bevels give it all away though. It works better on the slab-sided LP Juniors and Specials.
 

Dacious

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Gibson and probably Epi have used poplar in between layers of maple. But it doesn't really matter a damn except appearance-wise. The 335 is built around a log of maple in the core that locates the neck and bridge. The veneers perform a secondary reinforcement function.

Anyone who tells you they can hear three, five or whatever layers of maple is full of it.
 

jayyj

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There's a lot of hocus pocus with 335 tops and Gibson themselves don't seem to know how they made them early on (there is somewhere in the bowels of TDPRI an amazing thread in which Gil Yaron do as deep dive and uncover exactly how they were made), But traditionally they were four ply maple, in later years poplar made up the inner sections. There were also a handful with birch ply.

None of it really matters in terms of getting a good guitar for the money, plywood is part of the recipe for 335s and if it sounds good and it holds together ok it's a good guitar!
 

musicalmartin

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A guy stripped an EPi 335 many moons ago and the top veneer was paper thin.be warned .I had a lovely Epi Dot Block SE with flame maple in about 2008 and it looked great .I stripped all the metal off it except the frets :) and replaced it all with top quality fittings ,better pickups,switchcraft .CTS etc and also did a fret level .Transformed it into a near Gibson playability and feel .No cheapness about it .Of course I sold it ....as you do . :(
 

TheMicster

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Thanks for the reply's people, one of the main reasons for the question is that i was considering the idea of buying one, sanding it down to do a green stain with a clear finish over the top.
 

archetype

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Thanks for the reply's people, one of the main reasons for the question is that i was considering the idea of buying one, sanding it down to do a green stain with a clear finish over the top.

I wouldn't do that, if I were me. You'd be sanding to remove color from veneer that's typically 0.5 to 0.6 MM thick. There's a chance you'll sand through the figured veneer when trying to get the color off. Maple is dense and not readily absorbant, but the figured grain may absorb more than a straight grained maple. Same with chemically stripping it. You still may need to sand.

IMO you might ruin the top. At that point, all you can really do is shoot a solid color over it.
 
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jayyj

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Thanks for the reply's people, one of the main reasons for the question is that i was considering the idea of buying one, sanding it down to do a green stain with a clear finish over the top.

I agree with the above, the odds on it working well are not great. The ES330 in my avatar is a refinished one where I had the refin redone from a cherry red - originally we were going to go blonde or Argentine grey (a type of sunburst) but the refinisher, who is one of the best in the business, couldn't get rid of a pale red in the grain lines. And that's the better case scenario, the worst is you sand through the top veneer and then your options are limited to a solid colour. Depending on the existing finish and how it was applied there's a chance you'd get away with it, but it'd be gambling a lot of work finding out.
 

TheMicster

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I wouldn't do that, if I were me. You'd be sanding to remove color from veneer that's typically 0.5 to 0.6 MM thick. There's a chance you'll sand through the figured veneer when trying to get the color off. Maple is dense and not readily absorbant, but the figured grain may absorb more than a straight grained maple. Same with chemically stripping it. You still may need to sand.

IMO you might ruin the top. At that point, all you can really do is shoot a solid color over it.

So is the Gibson figured Veneer being a three ply on the ES335 a lot thicker than the Epi. figured veneer and thus a lot easier to refinish?
 

archetype

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So is the Gibson figured Veneer being a three ply on the ES335 a lot thicker than the Epi. figured veneer and thus a lot easier to refinish?

We don't know that each ply is thicker on the Gibson.

You're ignoring the advice you asked for and trying to find some logic for just going ahead and doing what you want to do.
 

jayyj

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So is the Gibson figured Veneer being a three ply on the ES335 a lot thicker than the Epi. figured veneer and thus a lot easier to refinish?

I can't remember off the top of my head how the modern are made but vintage 335s are four ply maple. The earliest ones used four thin pieces but these often cracked at the jack socket so they were soonq beefed up with the middle two being thicker then the outer two thin. Sanding through the top veneer was easy and I've seen it a few times on refins - it was also occasionally done at the factory, and some of those were flushed through with a thick hides-all-sins sparkling burgundy finish.

Poplar is quite a spongy wood and I imagine easier to press a thicker sheet into shape than maple, so I'd guess the modern ones keep the outer veneers thin.
 

loopfinding

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Not really i was seeing if a similar result could possibly be achieved on perhaps a older used Gibson ES 335.

all the older dot RIs from around the late 80s to early 00s had figured tops (i would have preferred a plain top on mine tbh).

if you can settle for a cherry burst or iced tea burst, there's bound to be some out there.

or you can get an eastman t486.

Eastman-T486-Goldburst-HERO@1400x1050-400x300.jpg
 

EsquireOK

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It doesn't matter how thick it is. You have a bound edge on that guitar, so the thinnest veneer looks just as good as a piece of solid flamed maple – and CAN look "better," subjectively speaking.

You just need to know if it is real wood veneer, or a photo-flame-type B.S. If the official specs say it's a wood veneer, then it is.

Sanding is an awful technique to use for stripping a guitar, especially one that has an arched top. Scraping, heat, and chemicals, in some combination, are much better routes to take (though plywood and binding make even these difficult). Light sanding comes at the end, as prep for the new finish.

If you're going to do all that, just get a Precision Guitar Kits guitar. You'll spend less time putting that together than you will stripping a new Epi, and end up with a better looking product that will probably be worth more some day than a user-modified Epi.
 
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TheMicster

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It doesn't matter how thick it is. You have a bound edge on that guitar, so the thinnest veneer looks just as good as a piece of solid flamed maple – and CAN look "better," subjectively speaking.

You just need to know if it is real wood veneer, or a photo-flame-type B.S. If the official specs say it's a wood veneer, then it is.

Sanding is an awful technique to use for stripping a guitar, especially one that has an arched top. Scraping, heat, and chemicals, in some combination, are much better routes to take (though plywood and binding make even these difficult). Light sanding comes at the end, as prep for the new finish.

If you're going to do all that, just get a Precision Guitar Kits guitar. You'll spend less time putting that together than you will stripping a new Epi, and end up with a better looking product that will probably be worth more some day than a user-modified Epi.

Understood.

The main reason for asking the question is if the veneer is thicker is it would be easier to re finish to a color of my choice.
You see the Epi is cheap compared to building a custom guitar from scratch, or even buying and completing a kit build. I disagree with you that it is less work in building and completing a guitar from a kit rather than disassembling and refinishing an existing one (providing that its in good condition), just as the the comments above stated there is a risk in refinishing a really thin Veneer. This is why my question was asking about veneer thickness as I was unfamiliar with the Epi guitar's construction techniques they just say "Layered Maple", it was difficult to get more info than that. i could then at least make a decision as to which way to go. It was also a way to draw a comparison in possible construction differences between the Gibson and the Epi, my thought process was if the Gibson veneer was thicker then maybe i'll just go with that. You see when gibson says they are a three layer "Maple/ Poplar/ Maple" my assumption was layers would be of similar propotions, maybe a slightly thicker in the central layer, so i thought the top maple layer would be approx 1.5-2mm enough to be forgiving for a refinish. Anyway if the Epi was similar having that really nice flamed top and being cheaper here in Oz than a used gibson i'd go with that.
By the way i did check the sides of the F holes on the Epi and Gibson but they were painted enough to completely cover the end grain so i couldn't really see. However you could see the end grain on a flat finish Drab green Casino and that was Five ply with the Top, bottom and middle being really thin maybe less than .5mm and the alternate two layers being thicker maybe 1.5mm, just a guess really and it doesn't mean the figured model is the same.
Anyway still unsure,
Cheers Mic.
 

jrblue

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Sorry you couldn't get a straight answer to your question about the actual -- not supposed, assumed, or imagined -- lamination and veneering of an Epi top.I can't help you because I have only owne4d one Epi -- a Sheratron -- which I disliked and sold quickly. Perhaps someone can give you facual information about current Epi lamination practices. My guess is that there is a cosmetic, not structural veneer that should not be worked on, but I could be wrong. Epi seems to generally use the thinnest veneer possible -- one thing I dislike about them. But even if I had a Gibson-thickness laminate, I would not do the work you suggest. Even a more comventional thickness lamination does not offer enough substance to sand to even the surface (especially if stained) to an evenness required for refinishing. The % of owners who have sanded through laminations and veneers while working on a finish project nears 100%.
 

62 Jazzmaster

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[...] The % of owners who have sanded through laminations and veneers while working on a finish project nears 100%.

Here is an example of the pitfalls of sanding thin laminates:

UwG4f1g.jpg



MVKKazr.jpg

My Cousin got it in this state very cheap off craiglsist. It took a lot of time and skill to make a guitar out of it again:

zAUdDLW.jpg


Some comments from my Cousin
It looks good in this picture, but in person, it’s still pretty rough. It needs to be sanded and filled again, then sanded, primed and painted and of course buffed after that. Then it might look acceptable. You should warn him that poly paint they use is extremely tough and doesn’t sand well, if you go the Aircraft Paint Stripper route, you will melt the plastic binding and the paint will still not all come off. That’s what the guy did on mine, it left a mess of paint that was almost impossible to sand.

Another one, you can see where it was sanded through the laminate down by the tailpiece:

jMONlvt.jpg
 
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