335 quest. Which Gibson trim level is actually well made?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Shaft, Feb 24, 2015.

  1. Shaft

    Shaft Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2014
    Looking for a 335. I bought an SG a few years ago that I felt was poorly made and swore I'd never buy a new Gibson again. I can't understand Gibson's latest tiers and lines (Memphis, VOS, various reissues, etc) so please let me know what are the 335s with dignity and which to avoid. Does it have to be Gibson custom shop to be good in 2015?

    There must be a significant change between a $2300 and $6500 335, but convention wisdom says at either price point you should be getting a great instrument. I just know with Gibson that isn't true.
  2. Average Joe

    Average Joe Member

    Jan 1, 2010
    On a chair, behind a desk
    If you've sworn off Gibson, there are several asian makers that will do it for you. I'm partial to Tokai myself

    As for Gibson. You should be able to get a good instrument at either price point, but never buy unseen.
  3. archtop

    archtop Member

    Jan 10, 2007
    Sydney, Australia
    I have a '59 335 made in Memphis that's a beautiful instrument. Nothing to complain about. At the price point, I can't help but wonder if I should've checked out a Collings i35LC, but they're pretty rare around here.
  4. budglo58

    budglo58 Member

    May 12, 2009
    I have 2 335 Dots that are flawless and have great tone. I think the difference in price has more to do with "period correct" specs and appointments than anything else IMO. It depends on what you are looking for. Artist 335s are great like the Warren Haynes and Trini Lopez as well. Nice stuff coming out of Memphis for 2015 as well.
  5. Teletech

    Teletech Member

    Dec 7, 2014
    Iceberg Alley
    Wouldn't hurt to have a look at Heritage.
    I have a H535 thats an amazing instrument.
    American made, ebony fingerboard, nitro laquer finish, stainless steel frets, ebony pickguard, Lollar pickups.
    Very well made. Sounds and plays great
  6. Chicago Slim

    Chicago Slim Member

    Oct 31, 2004
    Bowling Green, KY
    After owning a '67 ES335 and two other '60's hollow-bodies, I decided to look for another 335. After two years of looking, I bought a Heritage 535, and an Ibanez. Most of the Gibson's were OK, but to me, not wort the price.
  7. Drew816

    Drew816 Supporting Member

    Feb 22, 2007
    Raccoon City
    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG]Buy used vintage gear and you'll be all set. Chose your period as per the neck and specs and go for it, you'll not regret spending those "new guitar" level dollars on a really cool vintage axe. I'm partial to the smaller, more narrow necks on the late 60's, early 70's models I have a 66/68 and a 70 335 now and used to have a '67 330 as well. What I paid for these you'd barely be able to touch a new reissue for and let me tell you, these sound and play a heck of a lot better let alone the MOJO!

    Mid 80's, some great 335's in the 90's, take your pick.

    Not to say there aren't alternative brands as mentioned above.

    Good luck!
  8. ixnay

    ixnay Member

    Jul 10, 2011
    I've had 335s from satin models to Historics and have never seen one that wasn't 'actually well made'.

    Where are you finding all of the ones that are so poorly made and what was wrong with them?
  9. treedroppings

    treedroppings Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    San Jose, CA
    Played a BB King model. It owned the whole shop! 2800 bucks us
  10. rmconner80

    rmconner80 Cantankerous Luddite Silver Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2005
    Clifton, VA
    I'd just buy a used one at a good price. If you like it, great. If not, chalk it up to a lesson learned and flip it and move on.

    If you really want total price protection in terms of returns, buy a used one from a big shop so you have an approval period. The downside here is that you pay more.

    I've bought almost all my Gibsons used, sight unseen and have had no problems.

    I wouldn't buy a new one ever.
  11. C-4

    C-4 Member

    Mar 23, 2009
    Here for now, Europe when I die. Am I dead yet?
    I played Gibsons, as well as other company guitars from 1955 through 2008. The crap I hear about how it's "hand made" so naturally you will find differences and maybe imperfections, is a bunch of BS.

    I've had other guitars that were hand made by other companies and they came in perfect, with no discrepancies.

    I've owned Gibsons with no imperfections or discrepancies. Unfortunately, finding them along with ones that have the feel and sound you want do take time and patience, even more so now as most workers are made to build faster, and with less thought to the really small points involved in getting the guitar to 100%. The more guitars a company decides to build, the faster the workers have to work, and that can be a disaster. Ask Henry. He's the one with the whip.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2015
  12. modavis99

    modavis99 Silver Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2010
    New Jersey
    The consensus is that for 2013 and 2014, Gibson Memphis, which makes the 335s, is producing very high quality guitars, on par with the Gibson Nasville custom shop which makes the Les Paul historics. I have only seen positive reviews of the '59 (thick neck) and '63 (thin neck) reissues ... I have a 2014 '63 reissue that plays and sounds amazing. People also love the 2013 Warren Haynes and Rusty Anderson models. I would call Curt at House of Guitars in Rochester ... Don't pay MAP!
  13. Jura

    Jura Member

    Oct 13, 2008
    Czech Republic
    I'd love a Heritage, but the body shape of their 335-like guitars turn me off. It just looks ugly and disproportional to me.
  14. josephvman

    josephvman Member

    Feb 11, 2013
    Houston, TX
  15. sws1

    sws1 Member

    Aug 19, 2002
    East of the west
    I would never buy another Gibson NON-custom shop without seeing it first. The fit and finish of my last one was pathetic. I kept it anyway because it plays and sounds good, but for a $3-4k guitar, it should not have:
    - crooked strap pins
    - Flaking nitro on the nut
    - Glue around the frets
    - Loose knobs

    I called the dealer and complained, and they told me that they tell this to Gibson all the time. But I guess when they are the king of the hill, they can do what they want.
  16. strangec

    strangec Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    St. Paul, MN
    Its always interesting to me that whenever someone asks about 'new Gibsons,' many experienced people chime in and suggest buying a used Gibson, vintage Gibson, or another brand altogether as a way to avoid the 'issues' with new Gibsons. This advice seems to follow many Gibson threads; certainly insight to a trend. The consensus seems to be while a good Gibson escapes the factory now and then, so do many mediocre ones. You rarely see threads saying, "Tell me which Fender CS guitars are good" or "Which Collings are well made." The fact one has to ask, "Which Gibsons are good" is telling.

    Which brings me to my recent experience playing numerous 335 type guitars at Daves, Wilie's American Guitars, and Guitar Center. The Gibsons I played varied widely in quality and tone. Some Gibbys were good and some were really not good. Whereas the Collings' at Dave's and Willies were consistent and very good.

    A Collings I35LC can be found new for $4050. The Gibson '63 Historic runs $5199 at Musicians Friend. There are so many Gibson models that I'm sure some are more and some are less, but I cant understand what one gets for the various prices. However in any case, the 'quality' Gibson line may likely cost more than you would pay for a Collings or other boutique guitar that doesn't seem to have the quality and tone questions following it.

    Construction quality aside, Collings uses Tone Pros bridges, Lollar or Throbak pickups (a couple options for each brand available), bone nut, CTS pots, Gotoh tuners, vintage wiring, bigger necks, etc... Things you often read about people upgrading on some Gibsons.

    Anyway, just thought I'd chime with my experience and $.02 in since I had been playing a lot of 335s and I35LCs lately.

    Good luck in your quest.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2015
  17. rummy

    rummy Member

    Jul 12, 2008
    Heritage, Collings, or even Edwards.
  18. Faded

    Faded Member

    Dec 17, 2009
    You can find a gem at every price point, but every price point is not a gem.
  19. RG955TT

    RG955TT Member

    Oct 24, 2014
    My Gibson ES335 Cherry figured from 2013 is a killer specimen, sounds and plays fantastic. I knew when I first picked it up it was a winner. Purchased at GC so go figure....
  20. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

    Aug 9, 2004
    If you can go to the store and play them, I'd certainly consider anything out of Memphis now. If you can't, call Dave's or one of the other big Gibson retailers and have them hand select on that fits your desires.

    While I normally agree with the "buy vintage" advice, in the case of 335s I'm not so sure. The price point doesn't start to get down to Historic levels until the late 60s, and those all have the narrow little necks I hate. Then from the 80s on pickups and quality are not as consistent. If you like the narrow necks, it's hard to argue with the value of a late 60s model. If not, then I'd probably go new...

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