Current Production ES335's?

HowardMusic

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
452
Haven't thought about 335's in a long time, but was listening to Larry Carlton on Joni Mitchell's Help Me, and started to get interested.

So I started looking at the current production 335's and there are so many I don't know where to begin. Assuming I want to stay around $3K, what are my options among the current production models? The one's I can identify here in Tokyo now are:

Dot Satin
1960 Slim Neck
1960's Block
1959 Reissue
50th Anniversary 1960
Dot Plain Top

Pros and cons? I know neck and pickups might be different (the 1960 Blocks have Burstbuckers, I think, which I like on my SG, the others have Classic 57's which I also have heard and liked on the LP Traditional), but are there other differences that I should be aware of? Which one do you think will have the more traditional 335 tone (assuming that this can be defined)?

Thanks !
 

dspellman

Member
Messages
8,310
I'd look for pre-80's, used. That pretty much solves the problem of what "traditional 335 tone" is (because they are traditional 335s), gets you a guitar that won't depreciate as you walk out of the store and largely circumvents the whole "which model" dilemma. Even Norlin had the good sense to keep its hands off the 335, and you can find a vintage instrument for around the price of a new one these days. While you're at it, you get to look at 345s and 355s as well; the versions with the Varitones aren't as popular with collectors, thus cheaper, and either of those combines 335 sound with upgraded appointments/inlays. A 355 with ebony fretboard, real MOP inlays (it's sort of the Custom of the 335 world), Varitone, gold bits and stereo output may be sniffed at by collectors, but it can be played exactly the same way as a 335 and sounds exactly the same and, it seems to me, the folks in the production line took just a bit more care with it. I have a '68 335 that I love, but a good 60's-70's ES-355 is definitely on my short list.
 

dspellman

Member
Messages
8,310
Oh, and there's this: The new Tyler/Variax guitars (modeling guitars) have a 335 model that's simply spot on. Toward the end of Jeff Miller's video, here, you'll hear some 335 sounds. Jeff's guitar is home-made, but he's stuffed the Variax bits into it. And these are the OLD model Variax electronics. The new ones are better...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tXbj7XTYcc

 

Jazz2Punk

Member
Messages
1,618
Haven't thought about 335's in a long time, but was listening to Larry Carlton on Joni Mitchell's Help Me, and started to get interested.
Speaking of Carlton, I played one of the LC 335 models and it was a very nice guitar! I would've bought it but I couldn't hang with the narrow nut width. Otherwise it was an amazing instrument.

I ended up purchasing a 2010 Fat Neck ES 335 a few months ago and it is one of the best guitars I have ever owned! Weighs in at 7.75lbs, is flawless in build quality and is extremely resonant. It's just a joy to play! :aok
 

HowardMusic

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
452
Thanks for the responses - I'll look used to see what's out there over here, and see also if there are any Fat Neck's out here as well. As always, I'll just have to play a bunch and see. Thanks again.
 
Messages
3,043
ES-335's were made at the Kalamazoo plant until '82, so anything before '82 can be a, "Real ES-335. Check the serial number though, not all the 80's ones are Kalamazoo since it was a transition phase. Chances are you'll find one of those cheaper than a new production one anyway, Gibson's kinda out there with the new ES-335 prices.

I personally play a Kalamazoo-made '81 ES-335 and it's the best guitar out of all the ones I've owned or still own. Sometimes I try to pretend like I like a new guitar better after getting one, but I always end up playing the ES-335 after not too long.
 

StanG

Member
Messages
4,667
I've got a recent 59 reissue that I bought used in your price range that is a truly awesome guitar in every way.
 

JimmyR

Member
Messages
3,790
I don't know about "even Norlin had the good sense to keep it's hands off the 335"... By the late 70s they were made with 5-piece maple necks, terrible pickups with a bad coil-tap (non) function, often a trapeze tailpiece and flattened contours. I've had 335s from every era and my favourite one is my current VOS '59 Dotneck. The current Fatneck 335s are very good too, although not finished quite as well as my quite perfect VOS. They sound great though.

My VOS is an '09 and is simply the best finished Gibson I have played. It sounds incredible, plays beautifully and certainly sounds like any good 335 should. I like it a whole heap better than the '60s 335s I have had.

I would suggest just play a bunch and when one feels right, get that one. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a good recent 335. As in any era there are lesser and greater 335s. I actually think in the past few years they have been extremely good. Not a fashionable thing to say around here, but true in my experience!
 

mark norwine

Member
Messages
17,158
If, like me, you are not bothered by a 1-9/16" nut, then I'd suggest looking for a late 60's / early 70's that has had a stoptail installed.

This makes for a vastly superior piece, IMO yet destroys the "vintage value" (i.e. "big savings"!).....allthewhile leaving you with a piece which is likley to be way more resonant & "alive" than anything built in the 90's or more recently.

I have a '71 brown 345, varitone guts removed, with "335 wiring", stoptail added......in my hands for under $1800, and it's a killer piece.

 

HowardMusic

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
452
Thanks again everybody, I think I'm going to look for a Fat Neck or a 59 VOS among the current production models, and keep looking for a used one. Thanks.
 

bluesjuke

Disrespected Elder
Messages
24,141
I suggest a used '59 Historic 335 if that they way you're leaning.
Right around your price range or very close.
You can pick up an awesome example if you look.
 

blkjazz

Member
Messages
160
ES-335's were made at the Kalamazoo plant until '82, so anything before '82 can be a, "Real ES-335. Check the serial number though, not all the 80's ones are Kalamazoo since it was a transition phase. Chances are you'll find one of those cheaper than a new production one anyway, Gibson's kinda out there with the new ES-335 prices.

I personally play a Kalamazoo-made '81 ES-335 and it's the best guitar out of all the ones I've owned or still own. Sometimes I try to pretend like I like a new guitar better after getting one, but I always end up playing the ES-335 after not too long.
My 1983 ES 335 was made in Kalamazoo according to the little sticker they put inside.
 




Trending Topics

Top