Gibson ES-335 vs. Collings I-35

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by fretnot, Oct 18, 2009.

  1. fretnot

    fretnot Gold Supporting Member

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    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.
     
  2. It's Time!

    It's Time! Member

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    Unless you have an endorsement with Gibson that prohibits you from playing other guitars I suggest you get the Collings.
     
  3. backdrifter

    backdrifter Supporting Member

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    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.
     
  4. dbeeman

    dbeeman Gold Supporting Member

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    I have an I-35 and a '61 es345 wired like 335.
    I-35 better in every way I can think of.
     
  5. msr13

    msr13 Member

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    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.
     
  6. kingsleyd

    kingsleyd Frikkin genyus Gold Supporting Member

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    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. :)
     
  7. JeffD

    JeffD Very slow but persistent Gold Supporting Member

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    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.
     
  8. jzucker

    jzucker Silver Supporting Member

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    just to play devil's advocate, any clips demonstrating the superiority of the collings?
     
  9. kingsleyd

    kingsleyd Frikkin genyus Gold Supporting Member

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  10. JeffD

    JeffD Very slow but persistent Gold Supporting Member

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    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.
     
  11. jads57

    jads57 Supporting Member

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    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.
     
  12. Jahn

    Jahn Member

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    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!
     
  13. ssdeluxe

    ssdeluxe Supporting Member

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    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. !
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2009
  14. xray

    xray Gold Supporting Member

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    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.
     
  15. slopeshoulder

    slopeshoulder Member

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    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.
     
  16. jzucker

    jzucker Silver Supporting Member

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

    KRosser Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2009
  18. jackaroo

    jackaroo Member

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    I've only played a few I-35. They're very pretty.


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


    Whatever...
     
  19. Fuchsaudio

    Fuchsaudio Member

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    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.
     
  20. JPERRYROCKS

    JPERRYROCKS Member

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    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.
     

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