Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by ungarn, Dec 10, 2005.
What is a good alternative to a (high priced) Gibson USA 335?
the hamer newport pro (seth's and stop tail) or hamer newport (bigsby and phatcats) are amazing guitars and sized more like the 336 model. usa made, no plywood or laminates. you can get a spruce top (stock), maple (12 string or soldi colors), mahogany or korina. the back and sides are one piece carved mahogany. i have two pros and they are fantastic for a fraction of the price of a good 335.
Not an alturnative...........but a clear cut choice IMO.
What price range are you hoping for? New or used? Various alternatives, depending...
BTW, +1 on the Hamer suggestion. I recently purchased a used Artist (25th Anniversary), and I'm thrilled with the tone. I haven't tried Heritage, but have heard lots of good things about them.
Early 80's Ibanez AS series.. with the super 58 pup's AS50 or AS200
I have an AS-50 (slightly smaller than an ES-335) that sounds AMAZING! It does the Jazz thing, and the Rock thing.:AOK
I've owned the following full-size 335 versions:
- Epiphone Sheraton II (korea) ... good but needs better pickups
- Heritage 535 (kalamazoo) ... excellent out of the box
- Guild Starfire III (westerly) ... excellent out of the box
- Gibson ES-333 (memphis) ... I wanted to love it but it had this raspy tone that even new Classic 57s couldn't remove
Also check out the smaller-bodied 336-sized semihollows from a variety of makers. Somewhat different tone, and a more manageable body size (usually 2 to 3 inches less wide across the body).
I believe the guitars coming out of Korea, China and Japan these days are excellent values. Really well built, very good finishes, and excellent players.
Their one shortcoming continues to be the pickups: Most come with inexpensive ceramic magnets to meet a price point. You may find, as I have, that a pickup swap (to alnicos) gets you a terrific guitar for relatively few beans.
Putting all this together: I picked up a Jay Turser 336-sized semihollow used for $200, put in $100 of used 57s, and have my main gig guitar.
I own some expensive guitars and I'll confirm that they have That Extra Tone. The value is there. But the good news is that these days, there are some terrific guitars coming out of Asia - and that's everyone's good fortune.
If you decide on a Heritage. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in a Heritage "Factory 2nd". I will be helping them sell thru about 20 or so 535 and 150 models. I've not seen them yet - but I understand it is mostly small cosmetic issues - not functional at all. Could be a great way to grab one of these great guitars cheap
The ES 335 is the 3rd most cloned guitar so the choices are vast.
Ibanez Artcore AS 73
Hamer Echotone (MIC)
Ibanez John scofield
Yamaha SA 2200
The lower end guitars will need a pickup/pot change but my Artcore AS 73 with StewMac Golden Age humbuckers and CTS pots is a great axe for under $450.
I'd say a used 333. Add some covered pickups to it and you're set.
Thanks everybody for some great suggestions. I started looking at used Gibson 335 prices and well...wondered about alternatives. I kinda forgot about Heritage, and was definitely thinking about Hamer.
I have a Heritage 535 Classic that I absolutely love. It came with Seth Lover pickups, vintage style hardware, and without a pickguard. I thought it was a great value for a great instrument..
I know. It's been said before. Heritage.
The Heritage 535 has a thinner body, and a short neck tenon. If those aren't important issues (not suggesting they should be) then that might be a good way to go. Resale value is poor on these, which makes buying used a good deal. The Hamers...among the best-built guitars at any price point. I've read good things about the Yamaha SA2200, but have never played one. I see one for sale in the emporium, but know nothing about it. Nor do I know the seller.
Maybe the Epi Elites?
Guild Starfire IV:
Hamer Newport Pro!
I used to have a '67 ES-335 and an '83 MIJ Ibanez AS-50, so when I started looking I had pretty high standards. I picked up an Epiphone Sheraton II as I searched for a Gibson. After a year of looking, I came acroos Heritage 535's. To me, they felt more like my old 335. They now have a PLEK'ed fretboard. These newer models no longer have fret problems, and seem to hold value much better.
I also liked the Epiphone Elitist Sheraton and Hofner Verythin. They were about the same price as the Heritage 535. The 535 just felt more like my '67 335. I do gravitate to hand made guitars, and pick G&L's over Fenders. YMMV.
Thanks again for the great comments and guitar suggestions!
-Have a great weekend!
My pre lawsuit Agile AS 820, that I bought from Deacon, is an extremely fine guitar right out of the box. Fit, finish and playability are excellent and the stock Alnico buckers are just fine. Is it as good as a $2000 EX 335? Probably not, but for under $400 with case and shipping it fits my needs for a gig worthy guitar that I don't have to watch like a hawk.