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View Full Version : Gibson ES-335 vs. Collings I-35


fretnot
10-18-2009, 07:24 PM
For those who have played both, what are your opinions, pros and cons? I know the body shapes are slightly different, as is the construction. Thanks.

It's Time!
10-18-2009, 07:34 PM
Unless you have an endorsement with Gibson that prohibits you from playing other guitars I suggest you get the Collings.

backdrifter
10-18-2009, 07:45 PM
I know it's not quite the same, but I did a full review and comparison between my 1990 Les Paul and my recently acquired Collings City Limits Deluxe. You can read the whole report here:

http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=597830

The long and the short of it is that I sold the Les Paul. I also recently visited the Collings factory in Austin and went on a tour. They are insane about fit and finish and minor details. If you can afford the I-35, I can't think of a single reason that you would regret it.

dbeeman
10-18-2009, 07:51 PM
I have an I-35 and a '61 es345 wired like 335.
I-35 better in every way I can think of.

msr13
10-18-2009, 08:06 PM
I preferred the size of the Collings and found the Collings neck a dream to play. Really wanted a 335, got the I-35 and never looked back.

kingsleyd
10-18-2009, 09:30 PM
I own a '62 ES-335 and an I-35 Deluxe.

In terms of playability -- the neck shape, the fretwork, the overall size -- I like the Collings better. Matte used to gripe about the small cutaways restricting his access to the upper frets. I've never found that to be a major issue, but they are smaller than the 335's cutaways.

In terms of sound, I like the Gibson better, but to be fair we're talking about a really good-sounding vintage guitar with PAFs. I've found 335s, whether pre-1966, Norlin, '80s, or modern, vary tremendously; the good ones are fantastic but they can also be dogs.

Lately even it hasn't been the case so much that I prefer the sound of the Gibson. The I-35 has its own voice which is a little more focused and refined than the Gibson. For what I typically play, that works pretty well, and over the 3 years I've owned it the sound has opened up noticeably. For someone who is really into a prototypical Gibson sound, the extra focus and refinement of the Collings' sound might not be such a great thing.

FWIW, when I posted "blind" clips a while back the differences weren't so obvious that people could tell which was which right away.

All that said, I'd choose my Artinger Hollow Sport over either one if it came to that, but that's just me. :)

JeffD
10-18-2009, 09:44 PM
I'll begin this by saying that personal preference is a big factor, so what others may like best may not apply to you.

I owned a Collings I35. After I traded it, I heard that the example I had beat out another I35 by a significant margin. The people involved have owned many high end guitars. Since then I bought a Gibson Es335 Ritenour signature model. The workmanship on the Collings is much better. To me, it didn't sound anything like a 335. Not a bit. It also felt stiff (as did a Collings CL Deluxe I owned). The I35 sounded antiseptic to me. Not a lot of character. The 335 I got is a good one. The Ritenour's are not Historic models. It has lots of dynamic response. It's more aggressive and expressive. It sounds like a good 335. The few other 335s I've played have not been as good. Maybe it's an unusual example. Sorry if I've rained on any parades, but that's my experience. Only my opinion, and not meant to say it's true for anyone else.

jzucker
10-18-2009, 09:48 PM
just to play devil's advocate, any clips demonstrating the superiority of the collings?

kingsleyd
10-18-2009, 09:56 PM
just to play devil's advocate, any clips demonstrating the superiority of the collings?

I'm not sure if my clips demonstrated anything in particular, but here's the thread I mentioned in my post.

http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=534500

JeffD
10-18-2009, 10:05 PM
I'm not sure if my clips demonstrated anything in particular, but here's the thread I mentioned in my post.

http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=534500


I remember this thread, and I was totally wrong about the identity of all the guitars. Strangely enough, the PRS sounded the closest to what i think of as 335 tone. Shows how much I know.

jads57
10-18-2009, 10:27 PM
I recently tried out a bunch Gibson ES-335's Historic, etc. and a couple of Collings I-35's at Daves Guitar (LaCrosse,Wi.) I played them both through a Victoria Golden Melody they had (Beauitiful cleans) The Collings were superior to Gibsons in every respect, from build quality, less weight, overall feel, and most importantly TONE!
In fairness these weren't tried out at a gig or over a period of time.
But it was extremely clear to me that every time I played the Collings, I was way happier w/ the results! Hope this helps.

Jahn
10-18-2009, 10:28 PM
for me, a guild starfire is like a hot rodded deuce, a gibson ES is like an AC Cobra, and a collings is like a mercedes AMG. they all can go spit fast, just different ways to get there!

ssdeluxe
10-18-2009, 11:02 PM
I remember this thread, and I was totally wrong about the identity of all the guitars. Strangely enough, the PRS sounded the closest to what i think of as 335 tone. Shows how much I know.


I think it just goes to show its the player not the axe that translates ;)

imho, they are diff. and should be judged on an individual basis or what is important and desired by the individual.

for me: I played the 135 alot, and wante to buy it, but my broken neck (2wice !) project 63 335 just had more of what I wanted: bigger body, those sculpted carved horns (I love that), more midrange, and more "bounce" , less hi fi sensebility (if that makes sense). I guess I like plywood and not solid on these things. !

xray
10-18-2009, 11:19 PM
The I-35 Deluxes I've played all sounded a little stiff/sterile. The Historic 335's coming out now are the best things next to vintage I've played.

slopeshoulder
10-19-2009, 08:27 AM
335 is a cardboard Chevy.
I-35 is a platinum Bentley.

My 35 was neither stiff nor sterile, but after a year...it was loud and resonant and toneful like you wouldn't believe. I switched to CL, but nothing beats an I-35 for semi-hollow. Sell you car, sell your mother, just get one.

jzucker
10-19-2009, 08:45 AM
335 is a cardboard Chevy.
I-35 is a platinum Bentley.

My 35 was neither stiff nor sterile, but after a year...it was loud and resonant and toneful like you wouldn't believe. I switched to CL, but nothing beats an I-35 for semi-hollow. Sell you car, sell your mother, just get one.

Not to be obnoxious but I've yet to hear one of these booteek guitars prove itself to outshine the workhorses...Just sayin...

KRosser
10-19-2009, 09:01 AM
Not to be obnoxious but I've yet to hear one of these booteek guitars prove itself to outshine the workhorses...Just sayin...

A Gibson 335 has been a critically necessary tool in my working toolshed since I was 13 years old, back in the 70's. I've gone through a couple and am currently playing an '87 w/a limited run ebony fingerboard and upgraded the pickups to Lollar Imperials. Is it "the best" 335, or 335-type guitar out there? Beats me. It completely satisfies me and the needs of the many gigs I use it for. When/if it doesn't, I'll shop around. Until then, I've stopped seriously looking.

I've played a few of the Collings I-35's. They're impressively made guitars, no questions about it, but they just didn't deliver the goods for me in terms of overall flexibility, feel, depth of sound & response and compatability with what I want to hear in that type of instrument.

It wasn't even close.

jackaroo
10-19-2009, 09:06 AM
I've only played a few I-35. They're very pretty.


I prefer the sound, vibe and feel of a good 335.


Whatever...

Fuchsaudio
10-19-2009, 10:23 AM
I've played both (many times), and both have merits. It depends on the individual guitars as much as the models and brands. Lord knows, Gibson can put out a stinker every now and again...Collings seems to be pretty consistent in terms of fit, finish and quality. The Collings is a hardwood top, Gibson is plywood. Not a measure of good nor bad, but they will (and do) sound different.

Forum member LVC has a Collings that's truly stunning. It sings notes to the point of stupidity, it looks and feels great, and I'd be able to live with it easily. A guy who works with me has a Blonde 335 from '85. It's marked '2' below the serial number, which means it was somehow less than perfect. It kills as well. Lets also not forget Heritage, who's stuff is excellent, and very fairly priced.

Carlton has said there are 335's and there are "special" 335's. I think both guitar makers can build impressive stuff. Like anything, play 'em side by side, to make the decision that's right FOR YOU.

JPERRYROCKS
10-19-2009, 10:43 AM
Collings is insane about QC. But you also have to consider how expensive they are and getting a slim 10% discount on a 5k plus guitar. You expect perfection for 5 grand.

You'll have to hunt for the gem's in Gibson's somewhat sporadic QC, but when you find a good one for a good price, it can be magic.

amc
10-19-2009, 11:23 AM
i have a '65 gibson trini lopez standard and a collings i-35dlx.
imho: the collings beats the trini in everything but the "cool factor" and the tone.
http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q199/amc115-photos/COLLINGSI-35guit1-1.jpg
http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q199/amc115-photos/COLLINGSI-35top-2.jpg
http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q199/amc115-photos/IMG_0461.jpg
http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q199/amc115-photos/IMG_0458.jpg

the i-35 has lollar imperials while my '65 trini has incredible sounding original pat.# pickups.

i'm happen to be somewhat vertically challenged (short, 5'6") and the physical size
of the larger gibson is less comfortable for me than the smaller bodied i-35.

there is nothing quite like a great gibson, but you have to run the racks to find
a great 335.

with a collings i-35 you have perfection.

play both and buy what you like...............

just my 2 cents

Muzikant
10-19-2009, 11:37 AM
The I-35 Deluxes I've played all sounded a little stiff/sterile. The Historic 335's coming out now are the best things next to vintage I've played.

Do you mean the '59 or the '63?

Deacon
10-19-2009, 11:59 AM
Can't offer any comparison since I've never seen, much less played an I-35.

I own a Gibson '59RI ES-335 and it's a wonderful instrument. I went through a bunch of 335-like guitars and many were excellent instruments too (AS-200, H-535, etc.).

For me, the Gibson is just "it". Feels right, looks right, sounds right.

Not really interested in the I-35, although I'm sure they're really well-made and gorgeous guitars. They look too pretty for me.

Trandy
10-19-2009, 12:09 PM
Collings I-35...better fit and finish....better pickups...better hardware...better company to do business with....more comnfortable to play (15" across vs. 16" across for the 335). IMHO. YMMV.

Tag
10-19-2009, 12:28 PM
I played both together at Mando bothers. The Collings totally knocked me out acoustically, and KILLED the Gibson. Then I plugged them in. The Collings had a SLIGHTLY better clean tone (To me, others could say the Gibson was "woodier" and I would agree), but once you turned on some overdrive, it was all Gibson. Both GREAT guitars that do different things better than the other.

Tag
10-19-2009, 12:35 PM
I'm not sure if my clips demonstrated anything in particular, but here's the thread I mentioned in my post.

http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=534500


Really nice playing! I just listened, and surprisingly I thought #3 was the Collings because of the clearest tones. Surprise...335! Not thw way i heard it live. Then again maybe your 335 is a Killer. Which do you prefer with overdrive? The Collings was to buzzy for me.

jhvox
10-19-2009, 12:42 PM
I've had both - an I-35 Deluxe and a '59 Historic 335. I ended up selling the Collings. The Collings are beautiful guitars and are definitely built perfectly. However, the I-35 and the 335 are simply different guitars. IMHO, If you are buying an I-35 to get the classic 335 sound you might be disappointed. I found the Collings to be more refined and a tiny bit polite and sterile. My 335 has more bite, bark and attitude. I found my 335 to definitely be the more versatile guitar. However, as is true with many Gibsons, you might have to swap out the pots and pickups to get to the guitar's true potential.

Also, if you're considering an I-35 - buy used! Deluxes in perfect condition are going below $4,000.

kingsleyd
10-19-2009, 01:24 PM
Really nice playing! I just listened, and surprisingly I thought #3 was the Collings because of the clearest tones. Surprise...335! Not thw way i heard it live.

Thanks, Tag! There's a clarity to the high end in PAFs that I rarely, rarely hear in modern humbuckers. It's especially apparent in the both-pickups setting on my 335 and my conversion LP. Which is btw why I gave up on the Historic 335s. Good ones have that great warm sound that shouts "Gibson!!!" but when I wanted the clarity I couldn't get it.

Then again maybe your 335 is a Killer.

I sure think it is. As do others who have played it and are familiar with vintage Gibsons.

Which do you prefer with overdrive? The Collings was to buzzy for me.

335, not even close. The I-35 sounds to me like a guitar that was voiced by someone whose idea of overdrive is a Super Reverb on 4. Any more gain than that and it just sounds unhappy. I mean... it's possible to dial my amps in so it's not totally horrible, but it seems like a lot of work and never really gets there. Whereas the 335 is, like, dude... bring it on!!!

But if I was going to bring one of the two down to the Tuesday night jazz jam, which is pretty straight-ahead, I'd grab the Collings. (which is a false hypothetical, as the TNJJ happens in NH which is the land of my Artingers)

Tag
10-19-2009, 01:27 PM
Thanks, Tag! There's a clarity to the high end in PAFs that I rarely, rarely hear in modern humbuckers. It's especially apparent in the both-pickups setting on my 335 and my conversion LP.



I sure think it is. As do others who have played it and are familiar with vintage Gibsons.



335, not even close.

But if I was going to bring one of the two down to the Tuesday night jazz jam, which is pretty straight-ahead, I'd grab the Collings. (which is a false hypothetical, as the TNJJ happens in NH which is the land of my Artingers)

I think our ears are pretty much in alignment regarding these two guitars. :beer

jhvox
10-19-2009, 01:29 PM
I played both together at Mando bothers. The Collings totally knocked me out acoustically, and KILLED the Gibson. Then I plugged them in. The Collings had a SLIGHTLY better clean tone (To me, others could say the Gibson was "woodier" and I would agree), but once you turned on some overdrive, it was all Gibson. Both GREAT guitars that do different things better than the other.

My experience exactly. The Collings is amazing acoustically, rings for days. Plugged in the 335 takes the lead. Your assessment of their respective clean tones is what I experienced as well, but I slightly preferred the Gibson.

They really are different guitars.

kingsleyd
10-19-2009, 01:38 PM
with a collings i-35 you have perfection.

Ya know, that's sort of what I don't love about the I-35, and Collings' guitars in general. Perfection in guitars and amps isn't necessarily a good thing.

I don't mean the perfect-for-me thing, it's the "let's see if we can fix everything that's wrong with this old 335 design and make it perfect" thing. I always end up bonding more with guitars that seem to have a few warts. Or, like the Artingers and good Gibsons, some real character.

jzucker
10-19-2009, 01:43 PM
agreed that perfection ain't all it's cracked up to be. Look at the strat and the tele. Tom Anderson perfected those. Yet, the nasty strat and tele sounds we all know and love are/were created using cheap slabs of wood. The andersons are so perfect that they remove the imperfections that cause the character we all love IMO...

kingsleyd
10-19-2009, 01:47 PM
agreed that perfection ain't all it's cracked up to be. Look at the strat and the tele. Tom Anderson perfected those. Yet, the nasty strat and tele sounds we all know and love are/were created using cheap slabs of wood. The andersons are so perfect that they remove the imperfections that cause the character we all love IMO...

Ha!!!! You'll love this story, Jack... ...back in '96 I spent a whole lotta dinero on a custom-order Anderson (from our old pals at Ohio Guitar Center in N. Olmsted) which I played for years but never really loved... ...eventually a Cunetto-era relic Strat came along and showed me what Strat tone was really all about. Bye-bye TAG. The Fender didn't play nearly as well, and had all the quirks that everyone gripes about with Strats, but damn, it sounded so good and so inspiring that I didn't care.

jzucker
10-19-2009, 01:50 PM
Ha!!!! You'll love this story, Jack... ...back in '96 I spent a whole lotta dinero on a custom-order Anderson (from our old pals at Ohio Guitar Center in N. Olmsted) which I played for years but never really loved... ...eventually a Cunetto-era relic Strat came along and showed me what Strat tone was really all about. Bye-bye TAG. The Fender didn't play nearly as well, and had all the quirks that everyone gripes about with Strats, but damn, it sounded so good and so inspiring that I didn't care.

I had the same experience buying a few items from those guys. The were the original cork-sniffers before TGP even existed! :D

Jahn
10-19-2009, 01:53 PM
i hear you all. by all accounts my ES345 has no biz sounding as good as it does. original nylon saddles, varitone pulled for some mystery pots and caps in a single vol/tone mono config (yep, the other vol/tone knobs and the varitone are cosmetic now lol), honestly, it sounds like ass when played acoustically, it's the 3-ply '69 gibby skinny neck, so on and so forth.

but it unleashes the anger of the gods when plugged in, with those patent number pickups. unreal. i had an RS premium upgrade kit here to wire it into a normal vol vol tone tone es-335 type way, but in the end i chickened out and put it on my LP Jr. Lite instead because i did NOT want to fool with the ES-345's perfectly dialed in raging mojo. a collings makes me afraid to play it because it's so nice, the ES-345 makes me afraid for different reasons.

Oh, and I was tempted to pick up one of those burnt Morgan Music collings just so it would already have some mojo worked into it and i could play it with abandon. i know, strange of me.

kingsleyd
10-19-2009, 02:05 PM
While we're on this tangent about why perfection might not be the greatest goal for a guitar builder/designer, here's an innaresting tidbit about Paul Reed Smith, who certainly seems to strive for "perfect" in the guitars his company sells, to the detriment of tone and character in the eyes of a lot of folks.

Paul's personal guitars are noticeably NOT perfect. His Modern eagle was deemed unsalable when it was on the line because it had that big "heartwood" effect where the stain didn't wash in evenly on the maple top. He had a McCarty that I played in his office a few years back that was destined for the firewood pile as well; he rescued it, finished it himself, and I'll tell ya, that guitar sounded like God. (OK, yeah, we're playing it through his Dumble! Still...)

While I was there he had some of his personal vintage guitars in the office as well (a P-90 goldtop LP; a cherry double cut Junior; a '63 Strat; funny enough almost the exact same vintage models I have! No 335 though...) and his firewood-pile McCarty smoked 'em all. The kicker is, if you saw that guitar on the wall in Guitar Center you wouldn't give it a second look.

jzucker
10-19-2009, 02:16 PM
Another imperfection story. Friend of mine had an early '60s strat. The bridge was rusted. He took the bridge off and soaked it in something to remove the rust. Afterwards it just did not sound the same. He ended up leaving it outside in the rain for a few weeks until it rusted again and it sounded much better. Rock & Blues is an imperfect music. Distortion is an artifact of poor audio design as is noisy single coil pickups. When you improve upon these things you change the character...

backdrifter
10-19-2009, 02:19 PM
I've never compared a 335 to a I-35, so I can't comment there, but I certainly don't think it's fair to say that because Collings strive for physical perfection, it is impossible for their instruments to attain aural perfection. Or that they are "sterile".

As I posted above, my City Limits Deluxe beat out my 1990 Les Paul in a back to back comparison that lasted a week before I made my final decision. Nevermind the physical fit and finish of the Collings (which is orders of magnitude better than the LP, and I considered mine to be a well put together LP), but it sounded better (to me). I miss the LP, but I stand by my decision, for now anyway. Maybe I'll trade again in the future, who knows.

Point being though, I don't think the physical perfection of the Collings takes away from their mojo. If anything, I'd put my money on the majority of the difference being due to the smaller body size and the solid top of the I-35. I'm betting Mr. Collings could make quite a 335 clone if he wanted to, but as we know, he opts to make his instruments just different enough from the classics that inspired them as to give them their own identity.

Bluzeboy
10-19-2009, 02:29 PM
I have a mid 60's 345/late 60's 340 and a 68 335.. I had a Collings I 35.. just couldn't bond with it.. Neck was GREAT but, cutaways bothered me, Pretty guitar and all but, nah, I'll take my 335 with most of the finish worn off. Of course as everyone else has said it's pretty much personal preference.

kingsleyd
10-19-2009, 02:51 PM
Rock & Blues is an imperfect music.

As are all other forms/types/genres of music!

But yeah, warts and "character" are more highly valued in some places than others.

Note: it's not that I think it's wrong or bad to strive for perfection, or to try to improve on some things. If Jol Dantzig/Paul Hamer, Paul Reed Smith, and others hadn't said "I could do a whole lot better!" when confronted with '70s-era G and F guitars, the de-evolution of G and F might have been terminal. It's just that, for some of us (actually: a lot of us would be my guess) there's something that seems to get lost when too many of the imperfections get ironed out.

At the same time, hey, I've owned an I-35 for three years! I do understand the appeal!

AaeCee
10-19-2009, 03:58 PM
I've played a few of the Collings I-35's. They're impressively made guitars, no questions about it, but they just didn't deliver the goods for me in terms of overall flexibility, feel, depth of sound & response and compatability with what I want to hear in that type of instrument.

It wasn't even close.+1. To put it more simply (and simple mindedlyhttp://www.thegearpage.net/board/images/icons/icon11.gif ) ES-335s have the.....dare I say it.....mojo! As I always advise those who query, if you want a guitar that sounds like a 335, get a 335.

phoenix 7
10-19-2009, 04:07 PM
Matte used to gripe about the small cutaways restricting his access to the upper frets.

I owned a 2006 ES-335 and an I-35 Deluxe at the same time. In general, the-I-35 was substantially better. I had the same issue as Matte with upper-fret access on the I-35, though, and that guitar was a little neck-heavy. I ended up selling both of them. And yeah, the 335 had a certain character that the I-35 lacked.

slopeshoulder
10-19-2009, 04:54 PM
Can someone who likes 335 (I've owned several, used to be my main gigging guitar, and always preferred to all comers, until now) tell me how a plywood guitar, with a dense wet rock maple center block and crap QC can touch a guitar made from real lightweight and resonant mahogany with a carved and tuned maple top and an alder center block and a nitro finish, tonepros parts, 50's wiring, and a slightly longer scale with incredible QC, made by hand by people who live to make the best guitars possible? let alone be better?
I don't get it. I've never played a 335 that wasn't a tone toy compared to the Collings. But yes, YMMV, and does. But it just sounds loony to me. Maybe the 335 has more low mind honk? Maybe Collings should try a bigger body?

amc
10-19-2009, 05:04 PM
i would imagine that comparisons made by those lucky enough to own seasoned "old wood" gibson 335's with pafs or pat.# pickups would be different than using new gibson products.

my '65 trini lopez is a special guitar with tons of character
imho, very few guitars sound better overdriven than my 44 y/o trini lopez

with that said, newer gibson 335's are not in a league with good "old wood" 60's 335's

so............

old 335: overdrive sound and mojo factor beat the i-35

i-35: superior construction, wood, hardware, fit, finish, clean sounds beat the old 60's
gibsons

new 335: can't compare to an i-35 without a complete makeover

just my 2 cents..........

xray
10-19-2009, 06:04 PM
I'll easliy compare my '63 historic to the I-35. The I-35's may be more consistant and they are certainly a beautifully made guitar, but if you get yourself
a special Gibson your done.

jzucker
10-19-2009, 06:22 PM
Can someone who likes 335 (I've owned several, used to be my main gigging guitar, and always preferred to all comers, until now) tell me how a plywood guitar, with a dense wet rock maple center block and crap QC can touch a guitar made from real lightweight and resonant mahogany with a carved and tuned maple top and an alder center block and a nitro finish, tonepros parts, 50's wiring, and a slightly longer scale with incredible QC, made by hand by people who live to make the best guitars possible? let alone be better?

I dunno. Maybe you can tell me how a bolt together guitar made by housewives plugged into a factory amp also made by housewives could end up making so much beautiful music? The fact is that care and craftsmanship don't make something fabulous by themselves. Eastmans are also hand-carved from light weight wood with nitro finishes. Is it possible that makes an eastman equal to a collings?

jzucker
10-19-2009, 06:24 PM
I owned a 2006 ES-335 and an I-35 Deluxe at the same time. In general, the-I-35 was substantially better. I had the same issue as Matte with upper-fret access on the I-35, though, and that guitar was a little neck-heavy. I ended up selling both of them. And yeah, the 335 had a certain character that the I-35 lacked.

To me that's just stupid design. Gibson made that mistake with the 336 guitars and heritage did the same thing with their 555 guitars (555 neck-heavy and restricted upper fret access) due to the cutaways being too small. Neck heavy is a deal killer to me. A $4k guitar that has worse upper access than a 335 and is neck heavy? Sorry but no. You would think with all that craftsmanship and talent they'd get that right. Sorry but that's my point of view...

Tag
10-19-2009, 06:27 PM
i would imagine that comparisons made by those lucky enough to own seasoned "old wood" gibson 335's with pafs or pat.# pickups would be different than using new gibson products.

my '65 trini lopez is a special guitar with tons of character
imho, very few guitars sound better overdriven than my 44 y/o trini lopez

with that said, newer gibson 335's are not in a league with good "old wood" 60's 335's

so............

old 335: overdrive sound and mojo factor beat the i-35

i-35: superior construction, wood, hardware, fit, finish, clean sounds beat the old 60's
gibsons

new 335: can't compare to an i-35 without a complete makeover

just my 2 cents..........

I played a Brand new production 335 against it. Nothing special about it at all, and acoustically it was pretty dead, and the Collings ate it alive. Plugged in, completely different story. IMO, it goes to show that the best sounding acoustic guitars are not always the best sounding electric guitars.

I just bought a new 335, and IMO, they are very very close to the best vintage ones. My old (new, now sold) 359 could hang with the best sounding 58 335 I have ever played. I liked the extra bottom of the bigger 335, and thats really the main difference. The vintage pups have slightly less output, and are slightly darker than the new 57s, which sound fantastic to me.

Tag
10-19-2009, 06:31 PM
I dunno. Maybe you can tell me how a bolt together guitar made by housewives plugged into a factory amp also made by housewives could end up making so much beautiful music? The fact is that care and craftsmanship don't make something fabulous by themselves. Eastmans are also hand-carved from light weight wood with nitro finishes. Is it possible that makes an eastman equal to a collings?

Guitars are crazy, and I would hate to be a builder. The best keep them consistent, but I agree better quality does not equal better tone in many, many cases. It can drive you NUTS. I have picked up lightweight, BEAUTIFULLY crafted archtops by some of the best builders ever, with stunning woods, that were just DEAD when you played them. Pure insanity.

jzucker
10-19-2009, 06:35 PM
Guitars are crazy, and I would hate to be a builder. The best keep them consistent, but I agree better quality does not equal better tone in many, many cases. It can drive you NUTS. I have picked up lightweight, BEAUTIFULLY crafted archtops by some of the best builders ever, with stunning woods, that were just DEAD when you played them. Pure insanity.

Yep, same here. I think the builders that actually play guitar well have an advantage too. (And this goes for amps as well). Some builders who do not play have to rely on others for feel, tone and vibe.

AaeCee
10-19-2009, 07:12 PM
Can someone who likes 335 (I've owned several, used to be my main gigging guitar, and always preferred to all comers, until now) tell me how a plywood guitar, with a dense wet rock maple center block and crap QC can touch a guitar made from real lightweight and resonant mahogany with a carved and tuned maple top and an alder center block and a nitro finish, tonepros parts, 50's wiring, and a slightly longer scale with incredible QC, made by hand by people who live to make the best guitars possible? let alone be better?
I don't get it. I've never played a 335 that wasn't a tone toy compared to the Collings. But yes, YMMV, and does. But it just sounds loony to me. Maybe the 335 has more low mind honk? Maybe Collings should try a bigger body?No, I just think that a 335's distinctive sound, for better or worse, is what a lot of us 335 lovers prefer. Not to say that the Collings or others aren't spectacular on their own, but they usually don't sound like that exact tone we've heard so often on recordings with 335s, and have in our head as one we'd really like to replicate. FWIW, I have an older Nashville Custom Shop 355 that is a monster, and anything but a 'tone toy'.

pinner
10-19-2009, 07:20 PM
Anyone change their pups in their Collings? Wondering how much difference this would make?

jads57
10-19-2009, 07:27 PM
Doesn't the Collings have an alder center block as opposed to the spruce/maple one on a 335? I think that as well as non ply construction probably accounts for the tone differences. I had a Pat Martino & Johnny A Gibson as well, that were constuctucted out of solid woods as well. Very nice instruments, and both sounded great. Especially after swapping out the p/ups to Wolfetones & Fralins respectively.
I still will say though after owning a GREAT 1959 ES-355 Mono w/ Bigsby and am currently playing a PRS SC Hollow Std. (all mahogany) which am as happy with as any of them. I thought the Collings I-35 was notch above! I'd love to be able to try one on a gig and compare it.

dbeeman
10-19-2009, 08:10 PM
Definitely different for different folks.

A lot has to do with perspective and your ears I think.

One poster here claimed "everyone knows you can get the dumble sound with a good pedal".

While I have heard and own some good pedals in that vein, whenever I compare them side by side with a good dumblish amp, they fall short.
My 345 falls short of my Collings too., in the same way. Now, some folks may like the 335 sound better, that is fine. I just wonder if some people's ears are missing some of the differences others hear.

jzucker
10-19-2009, 08:19 PM
I just wonder if some people's ears are missing some of the differences others hear.

I think it's more likely folks hear what they want to hear based on the perceived value of the piece they own.

kingsleyd
10-19-2009, 08:21 PM
Yep, same here. I think the builders that actually play guitar well have an advantage too. (And this goes for amps as well). Some builders who do not play have to rely on others for feel, tone and vibe.

That can go both ways. Builders who also play can get very wrapped up in their own ideas.

Leo Fender didn't play. Neither did Ted McCarty. What both of those guys did extremely well was to pay attention to people who could, and to interpret that information in new and creative ways, coming up with solutions that a player might not have ever thought of.

fretnot
10-19-2009, 08:27 PM
I think it's more likely folks hear what they want to hear based on the perceived value of the piece they own.

and/or the name on the headstock.

kingsleyd
10-19-2009, 08:45 PM
I think it's more likely folks hear what they want to hear based on the perceived value of the piece they own.

People hear what they want to hear based on all sorts of preconceptions, misconceptions, and lack of conceptions in the first place.

Then you put 'em in the same room and they hear the same thing, not because they actually do but because of social conditioning.

It's kinda funny sometimes, because I'm sure everyone here would say "Hell yeah, I can hear the difference between a PRS Hollowbody spruce and a vintage ES-335 with PAFs. What, are you kidding me?"

But then put up some blind clips and it's not so easy.

;)

Funny, though, one time I had my GF sit in the room as I played my guitar through four different cables, one of which was very expensive, at least in terms of common guitar cables as a benchmark. The test was single blind, i.e., she couldn't see which cables I was using. I played the four cables, one after another (same guitar and amp setting; I had it set up so it was about a 5-second gap between 'em) calling 'em A, B, C, and D. After that she was able to identify them with 100% accuracy (as "A" "B" "C" and "D") and had very clear opinions about how they sounded different and which one sounded best.

backdrifter
10-19-2009, 08:54 PM
To me that's just stupid design. Gibson made that mistake with the 336 guitars and heritage did the same thing with their 555 guitars (555 neck-heavy and restricted upper fret access) due to the cutaways being too small. Neck heavy is a deal killer to me. A $4k guitar that has worse upper access than a 335 and is neck heavy? Sorry but no. You would think with all that craftsmanship and talent they'd get that right. Sorry but that's my point of view...

Everyone is different, the I-35 feels fine in my hands. What I find really interesting is the earlier comment that someone's I-35 was neck heavy. I find that interesting and a bit hard to believe (though I'm certainly not disputing the comment). I have a Collings City Limits Deluxe and a D1 acoustic guitar and they are both amazingly balanced guitars. In fact, while at the Austin City Limits festival a few weeks ago, I went to Collings and took a tour. Every piece of wood for every guitar - necks, bodies, even fretboards, were organized and arranged by weight in ounces, down to decimal points. They pick and choose woods for good balance. Taking a tour of their facility is absolutely eye opening. It's really cool how much effort and attention to detail they put in their guitars.

I think the biggest thing to take away from this is that the 335 and the I-35 ARE different guitars, and are supposed to sound different. Mr. Collings does not want to be an exact "me too" kind of guy, and you can see and hear that in all of his instruments. My D1 doesn't sound just like a Martin. If you're a Martin lover, you may like your Martin more than my Collings. My CLD doesn't sound like my Les Pauls have. If you're a die hard Les Paul fan, you may not like my CLD. Keep an open mind though, and go out and try what's out there. I feel sad for someone that might dismiss the I-35 because it doesn't sound as much like a 335 as a 335 does though. I also feel sorry for someone who may dismiss a Gibson because of a perceived lack of QC. They're just missing out on experiencing new and possibly great things.

kingsleyd
10-19-2009, 08:56 PM
FWIW, my GF's clear preference with respect to the ostensible topic of this thread is for the I-35.

She's not big on the overdrive/distortion thing, though. (despite the fact that she likes Robben F just fine)

And she likes the Artingers better than either of the "35s."

See... social conditioning! :love:

JimmyR
10-19-2009, 09:40 PM
I've only played an I35 once, but it impressed the hell outa me! As a long-time 335 player, I have owned quite a few. My favourite never-to-be-sold 335 is my "Fatneck" 335 from '07. Not quite as smokey on the neck pickup of my old '65 but much fuller and aggressive in the bridge position - in a good way! Plus the neck is MUCH easier to play for me. I love my 335 and it just happens to be the right guitar for me. I have a Lollar in the neck but kept the stock '57 in the bridge as it has a lot more "character" than the Lollar in that position. Not as "perfect" but a lot more fun.

I suspect that might be the issue I had with the I35 (apart from price). When I played the I35 the first thing to hit me was "this thing is PERFECT!" And it really was. I have never seen a better made guitar. In comparison my 335 is laughable. I like perfect - my Gretsch 6120SSLVO comes pretty darn close to perfect and it's probably my favourite guitar ever. But the I35 was on another level. I doubt it gets any better.

I had no issues with playability either. Didn't feel stiff to me at all. Plugged in I noticed a greater difference between the pickups than I would on a 335 - the neck pickup seemed more neck pickup-y (!) and the bridge pickup had more twang. Definitely more acoustic sounding. The neck pickup reminded me a bit of my beautiful Guild Starfire III - very smokey, full, dark but well balanced. The bridge did too I guess. More open sounding than my 335. I suspect that if I owned an I35 the bridge pickup would get swapped for something with more character.

Two things stop me from buying an I35. I loved the example I played - dreamt about it for months afterwards! One is that I reckon it's too pretty for me to play at the venues I play at. They should make a plain top version. Not black, but just plain natural or cherry or vintage sunburst. The other thing is price. I don't doubt for a second that the price is justified because of the way they're built, etc. But my wonderful 335, as badly finished as it is, cost me half of what I would have to spend on an I35 and I simply cannot justify the money. As perfect as it is I doubt I could like it any more than I like my 335. Maybe I just like ruder guitars?

58gasman
10-19-2009, 09:48 PM
I dunno. Maybe you can tell me how a bolt together guitar made by housewives plugged into a factory amp also made by housewives could end up making so much beautiful music? The fact is that care and craftsmanship don't make something fabulous by themselves. Eastmans are also hand-carved from light weight wood with nitro finishes. Is it possible that makes an eastman equal to a collings?


Good points.

I played a few of the Collings I-35s. Wonderful build quality, weight, etc. They struck me as kind of cold and clinical sounding when compared to the Historic 59 or 58 335 reissues. The Gibson's just seem to have more of a vibe I prefer. I had the same reaction to a Tom Anderson Tele I bought and sold a few years ago.

Let's face it Gibson and Fenders defined the electric sounds we love and, rightly or wrongly, people are going to compare the Collings, or similar builder, on an apples to apples basis when perhaps an apples to oranges basis would be more appropriate.

KRosser
10-19-2009, 10:06 PM
Can someone who likes 335 (I've owned several, used to be my main gigging guitar, and always preferred to all comers, until now) tell me how a plywood guitar, with a dense wet rock maple center block and crap QC can touch a guitar made from real lightweight and resonant mahogany with a carved and tuned maple top and an alder center block and a nitro finish, tonepros parts, 50's wiring, and a slightly longer scale with incredible QC, made by hand by people who live to make the best guitars possible? let alone be better?
I don't get it.


Often greatness is more than the sum of the parts.

I don't know how to put it any better.

I've never played a 335 that wasn't a tone toy compared to the Collings.

I've never played a Collings that impressed me beyond the woodwork. They have a sort of 'fussiness' to them that I find kind of annoying. Sorry. Lots of people I respect like them. They ain't for me, though.

Bigger body, maybe...shorten the scale, definitely. But then they'd be making 335's.

dbeeman
10-19-2009, 10:53 PM
I think it's more likely folks hear what they want to hear based on the perceived value of the piece they own.

Hmmm....


My 61 345 is worth about 13 to 15k per George Gruhn
My Collings is a lot less ...


of course that wouldn't apply to comparison with a newish 335.
But I don't doubt some people think more $$$ equals better, if that is what you mean.

and of course some people discount what they can't afford too ... you know "ahh it can't be that good". I may be in that camp when it comes to those Bluesmasters.

slopeshoulder
10-19-2009, 10:54 PM
Anyone change their pups in their Collings? Wondering how much difference this would make?

I put in Wolfetone Dr. Vintage and almost cried with joy.
I think Lollar's are engineered to sound consistenty very good, but they never move me. I prefer the Wolfetone's. And Throbak's may find their way into my CL.

The bear
10-19-2009, 10:57 PM
I own a Collings soco deluxe that i bought a year ago from Rudy's guitars.
It is similar to a I-35, but with a singlecutaway design.
It is a very pretty guitar, but has become my workhorse guitar.
My friend who owns a vintage 335 from(early 60's) was blown away by it.
Here are a couple of soundclips recorded when I first got the guitar in Nov. 08. I think it sounds even better now. For me it is the best semi-hollow(or any guitar) I have ever played, and I wouldn't change a thing with it. I think(like all guitars) it has to be played to be fully appreciated.
Clips recorded with zoom h2, with some abersold coming out of the computer.

Clean:

http://soundclick.com/share?songid=7043326

Dirty:
http://soundclick.com/share?songid=7043395

slopeshoulder
10-19-2009, 10:59 PM
Collings detractors:
Try to play one that has had the pups swapped.
BTW, you are not my enemy because if you dislike Collings you probably HATE PRS and we can definitely agree there!
I never owned (or even played?) a 335 older than '69, so I exempt all earlier ones (but they are still plywood, so...)

slopeshoulder
10-19-2009, 11:01 PM
I own a Collings soco deluxe that i bought a year ago from Rudy's guitars.
It is similar to a I-35, but with a singlecutaway design.
It is a very pretty guitar, but has become my workhorse guitar.
My friend who owns a vintage 335 from(early 60's) was blown away by it.
Here are a couple of soundclips recorded when I first got the guitar in Nov. 08. I think it sounds even better now. For me it is the best semi-hollow(or any guitar) I have ever played, and I wouldn't change a thing with it. I think(like all guitars) it has to be played to be fully appreciated.
Clips recorded with zoom h2, with some abersold coming out of the computer.

Clean:

http://soundclick.com/share?songid=7043326

Dirty:
http://soundclick.com/share?songid=7043395

The Soco has a bigger body and a great cutaway, so it's very worth adding to the mix. Thanks for the clips. Nice playing.

Tag
10-19-2009, 11:02 PM
Collings detractors:
Try to play one that has had the pups swapped.
BTW, you are not my enemy because if you dislike Collings you probably HATE PRS and we can definitely agree there!
I never owned (or even played?) a 335 older than '69, so I exempt all earlier ones (but they are still plywood, so...)

I think the PUP change would really help, but I really dug the Collings as is too. If it were for cleaner jazzier playing and I had both, I would grab the Collings most of the time. For overdrive, the 335. The one I played was loud enough acoustically where you could probably even do a two piece dinner gig with it, no amp needed. VERY nice!

Tag
10-20-2009, 12:22 AM
I own a Collings soco deluxe that i bought a year ago from Rudy's guitars.
It is similar to a I-35, but with a singlecutaway design.
It is a very pretty guitar, but has become my workhorse guitar.
My friend who owns a vintage 335 from(early 60's) was blown away by it.
Here are a couple of soundclips recorded when I first got the guitar in Nov. 08. I think it sounds even better now. For me it is the best semi-hollow(or any guitar) I have ever played, and I wouldn't change a thing with it. I think(like all guitars) it has to be played to be fully appreciated.
Clips recorded with zoom h2, with some abersold coming out of the computer.

Clean:

http://soundclick.com/share?songid=7043326

Dirty:
http://soundclick.com/share?songid=7043395

Great playing! I am right across the bridge. I will make it to one of your upcoming shows. :aok

Oz Hofstatter
10-20-2009, 07:12 AM
IHMO, the I35 is only inspired by the ES-335. Similar shape (I35 is a bit shorter and have more playability), but the construction is different. Both have their own sound. The ES-335 is a classic. The I35 can be. It isn't "apple and apple", neither "apple and orange", maybe a "orange and tangerine" comparison.
Cheers,
Oz

pinner
10-20-2009, 07:14 AM
Great playing! I am right across the bridge. I will make it to one of your upcoming shows. :aok

If you do, you should bring your Bruno for him to play through. I imagine some magic tones.

dbeeman
10-20-2009, 07:23 AM
I own a Collings soco deluxe that i bought a year ago from Rudy's guitars.
It is similar to a I-35, but with a singlecutaway design.
It is a very pretty guitar, but has become my workhorse guitar.
My friend who owns a vintage 335 from(early 60's) was blown away by it.
Here are a couple of soundclips recorded when I first got the guitar in Nov. 08. I think it sounds even better now. For me it is the best semi-hollow(or any guitar) I have ever played, and I wouldn't change a thing with it. I think(like all guitars) it has to be played to be fully appreciated.
Clips recorded with zoom h2, with some abersold coming out of the computer.

Clean:

http://soundclick.com/share?songid=7043326

Dirty:
http://soundclick.com/share?songid=7043395


Really nice lines there. Good high end on the clean stuff where I could hear what your fingers were doing.

cholula69
10-20-2009, 08:33 AM
This makes for an interesting read, thanks.

I have been looking at getting in to a Collings at some point. Hopefully soon!

smalahove
10-20-2009, 08:39 AM
Over the last 5 years I've tried about 10 new Gibson LP Stds, and roughly the same amount of (new) 335s. They've all been major disappointments. Lackluster finish, feel and sound. I've owned an early 90s Gibson LP std that I sold due to the weight - none of the new ones were anywhere close. I've also owned an Epi Sheraton II and a MIJ Epiphone es-335 block ri (only sold in japan, with the gibson open book headstock) - both were way better than all gibson 335s I've tried. I stupidly sold them to finance the real thing ...

Point being; Gibson today is not the same company as in the 60s or 80s or 90s.

Btw. I do own a Collings CL which is the best singlecut I've ever tried. haven't tried any Gibson historicals ... btw. a new GIbson LP std retails for about 2/3 of a Collings CL std where I live.

Deacon
10-20-2009, 08:53 AM
Point being; Gibson today is not the same company as in the 60s or 80s or 90s.



You could say that about a bunch of guitar companies ... Fender, PRS, Hamer, Gretsch, Heritage, etc.

Companies mutate over time.

I'm no fan of Gibson's sometimes questionable strategic moves and their QC sometimes leaves much to be desired.

That said, my 2002 R8 and my 2007 '59RI ES-335 are both fantastic guitars.

Rule of thumb with Gibsons is if you come across a really good one, hang on to it like grim death. :-)

Jahn
10-20-2009, 09:01 AM
Rule of thumb with Gibsons is if you come acorss a really good one, hang on to it like grim death. :-)

Ain't that the truth! No matter how old or new, Gibson has some stunningly good and stunningly bad axes. I've tried some acoustics that were worse than Baby Taylors, and other acoustics that sounded like the Voice of the Forest. Inconsistencies in the manufacturing process really make it fun, eh? Like digging through old vinyl in the Village - sometimes you come up with a gem.

smalahove
10-20-2009, 09:01 AM
You could say that about a bunch of guitar companies ... Fender, PRS, Hamer, Gretsch, Heritage, etc.

Companies mutate over time.


+1

Gibson's no worse than the other big companies ;-)
Esp. Fender's seen a fall in QC on their US std guitars (the lower priced guitars otoh, are getting better and better)


That said, my 2002 R8 and my 2007 '59RI ES-335 are both fantastic guitars.

Rule of thumb with Gibsons is if you come acorss a really good one, hang on to it like grim death. :-)

I'd love to try an historic Gibson. Thing is, I'd have to buy one to try one, and they start at 1,5-2X the price of a Collings here ... Gibson prices are crazy.

backdrifter
10-20-2009, 09:08 AM
btw. a new GIbson LP std retails for about 2/3 of a Collings CL std where I live.

Yep - and it's a great time to shop for used Collings. They typically hold their value very well, especially compared to other "boutique" gear, but the poor economy means people are selling for various reasons. I picked up my mint CLD for the price of a new LP Standard. At that price, it was a no brainer for me - I bought it just to try it out. If I didn't like it, I would've sold it off.

backdrifter
10-20-2009, 09:13 AM
What I think is interesting (and I'm just playing Devil's advocate here - I have no problem with Gibsons, hell, I own a couple of Gibson gems myself) - is that everyone seems to accept that Gibson has some diamonds and some duds.

Everyone has echoed again and again - search MANY Gibsons, find a GREAT one, and NEVER let it go! We all know that all manufacturers build guitars that vary from instrument to instrument, no matter how insanely good their quality control is (Collings). So, if we apply that same sentiment to Collings, and you were to put the same effort into finding a really spectacular Collings, don't you think you would end up with something extremely, EXTREMELY special?

I haven't tested my theory, but it makes sense to me. :dunno

The bear
10-20-2009, 09:18 AM
Great playing! I am right across the bridge. I will make it to one of your upcoming shows. :aok

Thanks!

smalahove
10-20-2009, 09:39 AM
Great playing, indeed.

Is this the Soco as well?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPOsQZq2HJs&feature=related

Anyways, loved that clip :-)

Deacon
10-20-2009, 09:39 AM
+1

I'd love to try an historic Gibson. Thing is, I'd have to buy one to try one, and they start at 1,5-2X the price of a Collings here ... Gibson prices are crazy.

Yep ... that's why I buy used, Don't get whacked by depreciation so much if you decide to flip it.

jhvox
10-20-2009, 01:15 PM
Everyone has echoed again and again - search MANY Gibsons, find a GREAT one, and NEVER let it go! We all know that all manufacturers build guitars that vary from instrument to instrument, no matter how insanely good their quality control is (Collings). So, if we apply that same sentiment to Collings, and you were to put the same effort into finding a really spectacular Collings, don't you think you would end up with something extremely, EXTREMELY special?

I haven't tested my theory, but it makes sense to me. :dunno

Your theory makes perfect sense and I'm sure the guitar would be stunning, it just wouldn't sound like a good 335. These guitars are similar, but not the same.

Deacon
10-20-2009, 01:34 PM
What I think is interesting (and I'm just playing Devil's advocate here - I have no problem with Gibsons, hell, I own a couple of Gibson gems myself) - is that everyone seems to accept that Gibson has some diamonds and some duds.

Everyone has echoed again and again - search MANY Gibsons, find a GREAT one, and NEVER let it go! We all know that all manufacturers build guitars that vary from instrument to instrument, no matter how insanely good their quality control is (Collings). So, if we apply that same sentiment to Collings, and you were to put the same effort into finding a really spectacular Collings, don't you think you would end up with something extremely, EXTREMELY special?

I haven't tested my theory, but it makes sense to me. :dunno

I'm not sure.

PRS's QC is about as good as I've ever come across. I'm sure Collings is at least that good.

I've owned about 10 PRS's over the years, and not one ever really grabbed me. From a purely objective standpoint, the PRS's were always really well-made guitars, great looking, played well, and set up really well from the factory. But they still didn't speak to me.

With Gibson, I've had some guitars that were just ... well ... turds, kind of. They were not good, and tryring to *get* them to good would probably have been an iffy proposition.

But I've owned 3 Gibby's that were just about the best humbucker-based guitars I've ever touched. I still own two of those. I was stoopid enough to let the other one get away.

svenhoek
10-20-2009, 01:45 PM
Within reason, one could argue that some of the inconsistencies in the Gibson line are what indeed result in a truly character guitar.

The construction of a Heritage 535 I had far surpassed the 07 Gibson 355 I bought to replace it, but there was a weird magic in the 355, warts and all. Sometimes when a guitar isn't crafted to a level of "perfection" its "flaws" are what make you love it.

That said, I'd happily take a Collings, 'cause man, them's some nice g-tars!

Tag
10-20-2009, 02:10 PM
Not sure about all Gibsons, but I just picked up a 59 RI from the Memphis Shop and the workmanship is stellar. It seems pretty much flawless, and the setup and tone are excellent. I have not totally bonded with it for some reason, but that may come in time. There is nothing I would change, other than an ebony board and I dig block markers, but I wanted the nice fat chunky neck that these have. Fantastic guitar!

phoenix 7
10-20-2009, 02:13 PM
I'm pretty much a boutique guy, but I have to say that I preferred my 2004 R8 Les Paul to both my I-35 and to a Collings City Limits Deluxe that I A/B'd extensively with my R8. And I'm a big Collings fan (I've owned 5 of their acoustics and electrics over the years).

The bear
10-20-2009, 09:18 PM
Great playing, indeed.

Is this the Soco as well?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPOsQZq2HJs&feature=related

Anyways, loved that clip :-)

Thank you! That is the soco on the clip, love that guitar!

lukeII
10-21-2009, 12:57 AM
I wanted a 335 hollowbody type for years. I must've tried about 12 ES335 and only liked 1 out of the 12 but it wasn't for sale. On a hunch i decided to order an I-35 took 6 months to arrive but when it did I was really blown away. the build quality is astounding but the tone is IMHO just to die. I have a couple of friends who own guitar stores and we spent some time pitting it against various 335 (Usa, Custom and Vintage) the only guitar that we thought was better was a 64 ES335 that is just a phenomenal guitar in every way.


I actually prefer the tone and options that the I-35 offers over the 335 although I still think an early sixties red 335 with block markers is visually the coolest guitar ever made

TRawker
10-21-2009, 02:52 PM
It's the I-35 for me...not that I HATE a good 335. Hell...can I have both? haha

kingsleyd
10-21-2009, 04:30 PM
not that I HATE a good 335. Hell...can I have both? haha

Works for me. :)

amc
10-21-2009, 06:01 PM
Works for me. :)

me too...........

will richardson
10-27-2009, 11:16 PM
Stevens Classic - Can't touch dis!

Stevens worked for Collings for two years and magically
Collings came out with good quality electrics soon after Michael's departure.

Some say Collings electrics have a have a stiff sound. They are much better that much of what is out there.

Stevens guitars fetch their original sales price and/or usually more immediately after their first delivery. Nuff said!

If you can't hear it you can't be helped.

Thanks for holding the hate mail.

Keep on pickin'.

Not politically correct,

Will Richardson

smalahove
10-28-2009, 03:47 AM
Stevens Classic - Can't touch dis!

Stevens worked for Collings for two years and magically
Collings came out with good quality electrics soon after Michael's departure.

Some say Collings electrics have a have a stiff sound. They are much better that much of what is out there.

Stevens guitars fetch their original sales price and/or usually more immediately after their first delivery. Nuff said!

If you can't hear it you can't be helped.

Thanks for holding the hate mail.

Keep on pickin'.

Not politically correct,

Will Richardson

I think you should refrain from innuendos/slander about another brand, seeing you're a Stevens endorsed artist - at least you're listed on his website:

http://www.stevensguitars.com/artists/artists-willrichardson/willrichardson.html

cholula69
10-28-2009, 03:55 AM
...Stevens worked for Collings for two years and magically Collings came out with good quality electrics soon after Michael's departure...

Will Richardson
Perhaps you can clarify your point regarding this comment because I don't understand why this is of any significance.

From my point of view, an idea is just that if you don't act upon it. Clearly Collings did something with an idea, no matter where the inspiration came. Additionally, the history of guitar making is such that many designs are based or grounded in something beforehand so the pressure to be original has it own weight.

Collings did something great and pursued it to his own version of perfection. I find that commendable.

smalahove
10-28-2009, 04:03 AM
Rules of Conduct on TGP (http://www.thegearpage.net/board/faq.php)

8. If you have ANY affiliation with any builder or company that engages in the business of making or selling music gear, you must include that affiliation in your signature.

JPERRYROCKS
10-28-2009, 09:30 AM
I think you have to fair when making tonal comparisons and look at the bottom line.

You can't compare guitars that are more mass produced and that can be bought for 3000-3500 brand new vs. an $8000 guitar.

Collings is somewhere in the middle of those price wise. So you need to have realistic expectations.

I'd expect an $8000 electric guitar to be magical and pretty much perfect. That's why it's $8000

TNJ
10-28-2009, 09:45 AM
I've owned both...335 and I-35.
Both great guitars.
To me, a better comparison to the I-35 would be the 339 or even 336.
The body size is more similar, and they both share more of a similar tonality.

A good 335 is a thing of total beauty to me.
I've owned a couple...and wish I had a good one right now.
Clean or overdriven, they are their own thing...and that is a very good thing indeed.

The I-35 is a killer too...just not quite as much 'air' around the notes, and a bit too much snap for my semi-hollow taste. Like the 336 or the 339. Dont get me wrong...I'd love to have both in my arsenal.
But if I have to choose...I choose the lam top/stop tail/PAF loaded/full size ES335.

S.j

Tag
10-28-2009, 10:01 AM
I think you have to fair when making tonal comparisons and look at the bottom line.

You can't compare guitars that are more mass produced and that can be bought for 3000-3500 brand new vs. an $8000 guitar.

Collings is somewhere in the middle of those price wise. So you need to have realistic expectations.

I'd expect an $8000 electric guitar to be magical and pretty much perfect. That's why it's $8000


Sure you can. You would THINK that, but many times the less expensive guitar sounds better.

JPERRYROCKS
10-28-2009, 10:11 AM
My point was that higher end guitars are subject to much more attention to detail and a 1 man shop can spend countless hours working and prefecting each guitar.

That's why it can be double the cost of other guitars.

So it's hard to brag that your $8000 guitar beats one that costs $3500-4000.

It probably should.

I had a low-end Gibson Gospel that I used throughout the 90's in and out of the studio and playing/practicing. It had a multi-ply back and sides, but it sounded better than some other acoustic guitars that cost 2-3 times as much. Wood is unique and sometimes you just get one that sings to you, and how much you pay for it may not be equated to how great it sounds.

52ftbuddha
10-28-2009, 10:33 AM
As an owner of an I35 I would offer the following. The two instruments listed are completely different in construction. That said after 27 years of playing they both still sound like me, at least I hope or what's the point. My choice is not about the differing tonality but about the neck fretwork and consistency of construction provided by Colling's. I know this is TGP but as I become older I would rather be playing guitar than searching for the perfect instrument. Colling's makes that easier, their instruments are consistently excellent and sound very much alike from one to the next. The customer service is second to none. Gibson is a mass market product with a large corporation behind it non existent customer service and serious quality control issues. I love my R8 but it took me almost two years and 60 instruments across most of the western US to find it. I then had the fretwork done changed the tuners the bridge and the pots and caps.
Buy from people you can have a relationship with and it will be more meaningful

rob

Tag
10-28-2009, 11:29 AM
So it's hard to brag that your $8000 guitar beats one that costs $3500-4000.




Especially if it doesent! :p;)

bearbike137
10-28-2009, 01:02 PM
So it's hard to brag that your $8000 guitar beats one that costs $3500-4000.


Who the flip is paying $8000 for an I-35? An I-35 Deluxe goes for less than $6000 new, and an I-35 Standard will run you less than $5000 new.

kingsleyd
10-28-2009, 01:38 PM
The Stevens is what costs $8K.

JPERRYROCKS
10-28-2009, 01:49 PM
you beat me to it and I was referring to the Stevens @ 8 G's or so.

bearbike137
10-28-2009, 01:55 PM
The Stevens is what costs $8K.

Dang :jo -- perhaps actually reading the thread may be useful... :o

Matticus
10-28-2009, 02:22 PM
I think you should refrain from innuendos/slander about another brand, seeing you're a Stevens endorsed artist - at least you're listed on his website:

http://www.stevensguitars.com/artists/artists-willrichardson/willrichardson.html

+ 1


Please modify your signature to accurately reflect the extent of your relationship, Will.

jads57
10-28-2009, 02:30 PM
I like Tag's comment that a less expensive guitar can sometimes sound better than an expensive one! But that said, Michael Stevens take on a 335 theme sure looks NICE!

JPERRYROCKS
10-28-2009, 02:51 PM
For a higher volume shop, Collings does have amazing consistency in all of their guitars.

So as in-between price point of Gibson and Stevens on the high end, you can't fault anybody for going with the Collings. It's tough sometimes to buy a Gibson sight-unseen. But you usually don't have to worry about that kinda stuff with Collings.

There is merit to the Stevens design, but it's not so classic body shape and bit of weirdness is a turn-off to some.

jett1963
10-28-2009, 03:51 PM
Disclaimer: At this point in time. Currently. I am not being sponsored by Collings. Yet.

But: I do own an I35d which I play smoking well for a non pro who is not that great of a guitarist.:band


I LOVE MY COLLINGS!!!!:knitting

magnus02
10-28-2009, 04:41 PM
i'm not sure but i don't think will is sponsored, i don't think michael stevens gives guitars to anybody, he might acknowledge who uses them on his sight but i'm pretty sure even junior brown is paying for his guit-steels...

i've played plenty of 335's, a few I-35's, and will have my first stevens in a month or two.

i love 335's but you have to deal with quality issues but great ones are certainly great. I found collings a little uninspiring in a way... but i don't really like fancy tops so that might have been the turn off. amazing build quality though and a gorgeous piece.

stevens is where i'm putting my money, and if it isnt worth the price tag its going back. i feel confident after speaking with others who have played everything else out there and after spending ours on the phone with michael that this guitar will be exactly what i want... either way it will be posted here!!!

Matticus
10-29-2009, 12:37 AM
i'm not sure but i don't think will is sponsored, i don't think michael stevens gives guitars to anybody, he might acknowledge who uses them on his sight but i'm pretty sure even junior brown is paying for his guit-steels...

That's all fine and good, magnus02. Even if he's just a featured artist or occasionally eats lunch with the guy, his signature should conform to the rules to which he agreed upon joining TGP. It's a unilateral agreement (a/k/a "take it or leave it").

Rule 8:
"If you have ANY affiliation with any builder or company that engages in the business of making or selling music gear, you must include that affiliation in your signature."

TRawker
10-30-2009, 03:52 PM
I think the only 335 I'd ever take over an I-35 would be a pre 1965 one...if it was a good one. But that's a no-brainer I suppose.

ultra
10-30-2009, 04:17 PM
I know Michael Stevens quite well. I have been dealing with him for over 11 years.

I endorse them as a wonderful and magical instrument.

I pay for my Stevens, as does every other Stevens owner.

http://pic20.picturetrail.com/VOL22/558358/19800066/372003842.jpg

magnus02
10-30-2009, 04:32 PM
that watermelon stevens makes me want to sell my car and have one built....

ultra
10-30-2009, 04:38 PM
that watermelon stevens makes me want to sell my car and have one built....

Ha ha ....... that why I drive crap vehicles

smalahove
10-30-2009, 04:52 PM
I know Michael Stevens quite well. I have been dealing with him for over 11 years.

I endorse them as a wonderful and magical instrument.

I pay for my Stevens, as does every other Stevens owner.

http://pic20.picturetrail.com/VOL22/558358/19800066/372003842.jpg

Those are friggin' gorgeous!

How does the lack of f-holes affect the sound? How do they compare to a 335?

thanks.

magnus02
10-30-2009, 05:44 PM
hmmm maybe a stevens les plank in the watermelon scheme... with a skyway!

52ftbuddha
10-30-2009, 06:57 PM
That Toffee colored one is killing me. We are living in a golden age my friends.
rob

JZWest
10-30-2009, 07:05 PM
hmmm maybe a stevens les plank in the watermelon scheme... with a skyway!

what a vision that would be!

ultra
10-30-2009, 08:43 PM
Those are friggin' gorgeous!

How does the lack of f-holes affect the sound? How do they compare to a 335?

thanks.

Both the Stevens Neo Classic and Classic are chambered. They are both quite loud acoustically and very articulate. Every note on the fingerboard is evenly present.

Do they sound like a great ES335 ? Yes, but in a slightly different way.
The tonal range is somewhere between a Les Paul and a 335 but more to the 335.
Played clean, the notes are better defined than the above and are piano -like in character with great sustain.
Crunch it up a bit and the voice sings with clarity but without the mid hump that can muddy up some guitars.
With high gain amp settings, the Stevens has a tonal complexity that for me is unsurpassed.

It is all there.... whatever you want from it (as a guitar)

ultra
10-30-2009, 08:45 PM
Some more?

http://pic20.picturetrail.com/VOL22/558358/19800066/372003852.jpg

52ftbuddha
10-30-2009, 09:46 PM
wow that top carve is really pronounced almost mosrite like. Are the back carved also?


rob

ultra
10-30-2009, 09:49 PM
The korina Classic has a back carve and the watermelon Neo Classic has a flay back but with waist and leg carves, as per the pic

http://pic20.picturetrail.com/VOL22/558358/19800066/372003847.jpg

will richardson
10-30-2009, 09:51 PM
Please reread my post. "They are (Collings Guitars) are much better than most of what is out there."

Most people do expect a more expensive guitar to sound better but more expensive does not necessitate sounding better.

As Ultra stated, everyone pays for a Stevens. My first Steven, Has a Fender Custom Shop Logo on the back of the headstock, so the purchase of such was not based on an endorsement.

Much of this forum is a quest for excellence. Strong opinions should be welcome, so thanks for your passionate comments.

Repectfully submitted,

Will Richardson.

ultra
10-30-2009, 09:59 PM
Will,

PM sent.

Tag
10-30-2009, 10:02 PM
Those are friggin' gorgeous!

How does the lack of f-holes affect the sound? How do they compare to a 335?

thanks.


Beautiful guitars! They are going to sound WAY different than a 335 or even I 35 however. Not a good or bad thing, just very different for sure.

Tone Disciple
10-31-2009, 09:12 PM
There is much to agree and disagree with in this thread.

I own an amazing I-35 that is a favorite of mine at the moment. It has opened up considerably since I picked it up. It has great tone, versatility and playability. Clean to mean with just the volume knob. Jazz to Blues to Rock, it can do them all very well with superior tone.

In the '60's I frequently played a 335 and an Epiphone through a black face Super Reverb. Both nice guitars, but to be honest I do not remember them sounding as good as my I-35. On the other hand I may just not be remembering them that well. It was a while ago. I do know the Epi had fewer issues than the Gibson on terms of quality and construction. Surprised?

I currently also own a Robin Savoy Classic which I have had for over 10 years. It too is an amazing guitar in the 335 vein (larger bout than the Collings). It also has opened up to be a much better guitar now than it was when new.

I owned a Johnny A for a good while and loved it. I wanted to buy a custom JA and Gibson was just too slow and difficult to work with. They were not at all customer friendly and definitely treated me like a large corporation being pestered by a pesky musician who was, after all, only going to buy one guitar. Oh, by the way, the quote on the Gibson was way more than my custom I-35 cost.

On the other hand, Collings let me order a custom color at no charge and allowed me to visit and pick out the woods for my guitar as well as monitor the progress.

I think the point is not which one is better, but which one I use for the sounds, style, touch and feel I want at the moment.

I do not think we should berate any of these guitars but rather look forward to being able to have as many of them as our style and tastes will allow for the different tone, feel and touch they inspire in our playing.

I do not have a 335 at the moment, but I would love to find a good one. I have been wanting a Stevens for a while now as well. They both would have to go some to be better than my Robin and Collings though.

Are they different? Sure! That is why I tell the wife I must have at least one of each!

Ogre
10-31-2009, 09:27 PM
Michael Stevens guitars are second to none.

bluesjuke
07-26-2011, 06:32 PM
I've owned both...335 and I-35.
Both great guitars.
To me, a better comparison to the I-35 would be the 339 or even 336.
The body size is more similar, and they both share more of a similar tonality.

A good 335 is a thing of total beauty to me.
I've owned a couple...and wish I had a good one right now.
Clean or overdriven, they are their own thing...and that is a very good thing indeed.

The I-35 is a killer too...just not quite as much 'air' around the notes, and a bit too much snap for my semi-hollow taste. Like the 336 or the 339. Dont get me wrong...I'd love to have both in my arsenal.
But if I have to choose...I choose the lam top/stop tail/PAF loaded/full size ES335.

S.j



This sure looks like you at :28, could it be?;

sjII3yywsUg&NR=1

TNJ
07-27-2011, 08:18 AM
Nope...that's my soul brother from another mother. :D
Never had the good fortune to see Macca live.
Good pickup, though. :aok

S.
j

patchesprescott
07-27-2011, 01:34 PM
I know Michael Stevens quite well. I have been dealing with him for over 11 years.

I endorse them as a wonderful and magical instrument.

I pay for my Stevens, as does every other Stevens owner.

http://pic20.picturetrail.com/VOL22/558358/19800066/372003842.jpg


These guitars are very interesting. I would love to play one someday. If you find a couple minutes, could you describe the difference in tone and feel between the wraptail and stoptail bridges for us?

Also, the pickups on the watermelon model are inverted - is this for the out-of-phase, Peter Green tones, or something different?

Thanks!

ethomas1013
07-29-2011, 05:30 AM
Resurrecting an old thread here.

So, this thread was started before the I-35 LC was released. Now lets talk about the I-35 LC in comparison to the 335.

I have the opportunity to buy a used Gibson 50th anniversary Historic 1960 ES-335 VOS at a good price from a friend. I am also looking at the I-35 LC which is significantly more even if I find a used one. I like the idea of the smaller body with the Collings but I have never had the opportunity to play one. I did play the ES-339 and while I like the size, I thought it sounded closer to a LP than a 335. So the Collings might be a good fit for me since it comes in size wise between the 335 and the 339.

Does the I-35 LC do a better job of nailing the classic 335 tones we are all familiar with?

GAT
07-29-2011, 09:56 PM
Resurrecting an old thread here.

So, this thread was started before the I-35 LC was released. Now lets talk about the I-35 LC in comparison to the 335.

I have the opportunity to buy a used Gibson 50th anniversary Historic 1960 ES-335 VOS at a good price from a friend. I am also looking at the I-35 LC which is significantly more even if I find a used one. I like the idea of the smaller body with the Collings but I have never had the opportunity to play one. I did play the ES-339 and while I like the size, I thought it sounded closer to a LP than a 335. So the Collings might be a good fit for me since it comes in size wise between the 335 and the 339.

Does the I-35 LC do a better job of nailing the classic 335 tones we are all familiar with?

Absolutely, YES! The LC is much more 335-like than the regular I 35. I've had the I35, and currently own the LC. I also have a killer '82 335 and I've owned several Historics and a '68 335.

So, to make a long story short, the LC is as good as the '82 and fits me better than the larger body of the 335. The '82 is as good as the '68 and so is the LC. The Historics were nice, but alas, not in the same league.

I love the LC and consider it an amazing guitar.

62Tele
07-29-2011, 10:07 PM
I grew up around some great 335's back in the day when it was "the" guitar to own. There are certain tones that only a 335 style guitar will nail, and I get them ALL with my LC. Like a great 335, these guitars are versatile and work extremely well in a mix. Collings nailed it with this one, simply a great guitar.

JeffD
07-29-2011, 10:15 PM
For those who have played both, what are your opinions, pros and cons? I know the body shapes are slightly different, as is the construction. Thanks.

I have not played the newer Collings I 35 with the laminated top. Would like to. However, I owned an I35 Deluxe and have a 335. The Collings have been promoted by some dealers as like a vintage 335. Sure didnt seem like a 335 to me. Very different guitar. As for me, I'd rather have a good 335.

GAT
07-29-2011, 10:17 PM
I have not played the newer Collings I 35 with the laminated top. Would like to. However, I owned an I35 Deluxe and have a 335. The Collings have been promoted by some dealers as like a vintage 335. Sure didnt seem like a 335 to me. Very different guitar. As for me, I'd rather have a good 335.

That's what you get with the LC, much different than the regular I35 I had.

JeffD
07-29-2011, 10:20 PM
That's what you get with the LC, much different than the regular I35 I had.

I'd really like to try one of these, and have read some of your previous posts about the LC. I think our experiences with the Deluxe model were similar.

Mr Deluxe
07-29-2011, 10:38 PM
Hate to even poke my head in here... but do you guys think the Heritage 535 hold's up to either of these guitars? I'm sure the prices for them are much lower, but is the quality that much different from the Collings?

GAT
07-29-2011, 10:39 PM
I've played several Heritage guitars, all but one didn't do it for me. They sounded dull and heavy. Flyin' Brian's Heritage sounded great though.

bearbike137
08-01-2011, 10:02 AM
I had a Collings and, while a nicely made guitar, it ultimately didn't work for me. I found the tone to be dark and "boomy." I think it would be better suited to a jazz-type player than a pop player like myself.

Interesting - I had the same experience with my first I-35. It was a beautiful guitar but was darker and woodier than I preferred. Sounded GREAT when soloing (because the notes were so thick), but I found it less than ideal for pop/rock and country (unless you were going for Scotty Moore) in general. I sold that guitar. I picked up a second I-35 off TGP a couple of year ago. That guitar simply ROCKS. It sounds much different from my first I-35. I spoke with Collings about the difference and they said it is related to the maple top. The top on my first I-35 had large swirling quilt, as seen in the photo below:

http://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa238/SteveKlim/CollingsI-35017.jpg

This guitar sounded warm, woody and big.

My second (and current and probably forever) I-35 has a much tighter flame/quilt:

http://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa238/SteveKlim/I-35closefrontlight.jpg

This guitar is noticeably brighter and more focused than my first one. It works great on everything.

Collings has said this has been their experience as well. As a result, they now try to match a wamer sounding fretboard and mahogany back with the brighter flame tops, and vice-versa.

In the 2008 ToneQuest interview, Bill Collings said, "The I35 really helped us understand the role that the maple tops play in the sound of the guitars. Quilt and flame are entirely different and you really hear it. The flame has much more of an electric quality, while the quilt is much darker and woodier."

Also, from the Collings FAQ on thier website:
Is there a tonal difference between flame and quilted maple caps?
Aside from the cosmetic aspect, the biggest difference between flame and quilted maple is in the weight of the wood. Flame maple tends to be harder and heavier than quilted maple, which can translate to a slightly more focused attack with fewer overtones. Lighter weight quilted maple tends to bring out more of the acoustic qualities of the guitar, which can create more complex overtones. This is a subtle difference that may not be true 100% of the time. Like most statements about wood, there can always be an exception to the rule. The weight of the mahogany body will also affect the tone of the instrument.

ethomas1013
08-01-2011, 10:52 AM
Absolutely, YES! The LC is much more 335-like than the regular I 35. I've had the I35, and currently own the LC. I also have a killer '82 335 and I've owned several Historics and a '68 335.

So, to make a long story short, the LC is as good as the '82 and fits me better than the larger body of the 335. The '82 is as good as the '68 and so is the LC. The Historics were nice, but alas, not in the same league.

I love the LC and consider it an amazing guitar.

Thanks for the input. I did a search and found your other posts on the topic as well. The I-35 LC looks like exactly what I'm looking for. Now to get the funds together....

cholula69
08-01-2011, 12:04 PM
I have been looking for some good information such as this, thanks for sharing.

Chops
08-01-2011, 12:11 PM
I would definitely like to try the I-35 LC; it sounds like its closer to the sound I prefer.

cholula69
08-01-2011, 12:17 PM
I would definitely like to try the I-35 LC; it sounds like its closer to the sound I prefer.
Me too. How close is it in size to a 335? I generally prefer a larger neck and like the 335 body.

motis1953
08-01-2011, 12:43 PM
A Heritage 535 with Seth Lover pickups and good hardware can be amazing.

jetlag
08-04-2011, 03:16 PM
Played a buddies' brand new I35 LC at a gig recently. It was nice. The neck was perfect, great player. I've never played a guitar where you could control the feedback so well. I own an old 335 and have owned an '84 and '91 dot. I thought this guitar sounded great when the volumes were turned all the way up. When they weren't, the guitar sounded real plinky. Since it's not my guitar, I can't fool around with it to determine what caused that thin plinkyness to the tone. I did email collings to confirm they do NOT use a treble retention circuit, which was what it sounded like to my ears when I played it. I do think collings is on the right track with the laminated tops. Build quality is tremendous as is the company. Not sure I'm a fan of lollar low wind buckers though.

62Tele
08-04-2011, 05:37 PM
Plinky? Not getting that out of mine at all, and I work the volume pots all night long. Were you running into a big un-buffered board or using a long cable run? Just a thought.

BTW - the pickups on the LC are supposed to be a higher wind, potter version that what comes on the standard i35.

Autoesq
08-04-2011, 11:51 PM
I have a 95 335 and a i35 dlx. For what it's worth I like the Collings more than the Gibson. In my opinion it plays better, is constructed better and sounds better. I do understand how people like the 335's tone better, but I'm more of a solid body guy and the i35 just fits my style better.