ES-335 confusion

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by I'm Incinerator, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. I'm Incinerator

    I'm Incinerator Supporting Member

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    Recently bit hard by the ES-335 bug...again...

    Looking at the Gibson lineup via the musicians friend site, it is hard to tell which is what and why.

    I *think* I narrowed it down to these three models. The '59 Historic RI, the '59 RI, and the '59 neck. How do these three compare and contrast in a real-world setting...not on paper or on the Gibson website. I know that the Historics are made in Nashville and the the customs are made in Memphis. Is the fit and finish worth the extra 1k? I mean, the prices are pretty high across the board, so an extra 1k is what an extra 1k is. I've only played one Gibson 335 way back in 2006, and it was a good experience. I've played Epiphone Dots and Elitists, along with a Noel Gallagher sig around the same time, but the Gibby had the better fit and feel, though the Elitist dot wasn't too shabby. I'm sure one of the models I am looking at would be better? I'm still trying to weed through everything before I go and play some...being the well informed customer has its perks!

    The closest thing I have to a 335 is a Gretsch Spectra Sonic with TV Jones Powertrons and a 95 Les Paul Studio, both are great guitars, but I think that a 335 would fit right in or overtake these two, and it would be my tele and a 335...not that I would let go of any of my electrics!

    As far as foreign options, do any Tokais or Navigators stack up to these models of 335s?
     
  2. Quartertank

    Quartertank Member

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    I just went through this and ended up with a memphis built 59 Reissue (non-historic). Has the same electronics, tuners, long/fat neck tenon, solid center maple block, thin fretboard binding, tortoise shell dots. Key difference is that the historic has the wide/shorter frets and the 59RI has the taller/thinner frets. After having the 59RI for about a month now, i'd probably rather have the frets that are on the historic, but probably not worth the cost differential, imo. might have these frets crowned at some point though. My guitar was not set up that well out of the box, got it set up after a couple of weeks and it made a big difference in the playability. My local tech says the guitar has a "bumpy neck"...not sure what he means, guess that is a technical luthier term. ;)
     
  3. Bhodie

    Bhodie Member

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    I went with the Nashville 59 Historic and never looked back... but the answer is try as many as you can, there are clinkers in all of those categories.. and winners too.. and pick one you like.

    If you like the Les Paul R9 type neck.. then the Historic is probably more of the guitar for you...

    As to your question re other brands "coming close".. my personal experience has been "no".. even the Collings I-35.. a gorgeous guitar, is not a 335 tonally.. some like it better, some not, but it is not the same sound. If you want the "335" sound.. only one guitar nails it. (PS.. watch the emporium here.. there are some smoking deals once in a while..)

    Some pron..

    [​IMG]
     
  4. I'm Incinerator

    I'm Incinerator Supporting Member

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    interesting.

    for the 1K difference, you could do a refret on the 59RI to the Historic specs. I suspect that there is some fit/finish differences in there as well. I really need to get my hands around a few and thumb around on them :)...keep an open mind for sure!

    Do the 59RI's/Historics only come in natural/blonde and VSB? Not that I have a bone to pick with any of these colors...infact a natural/blonde one is what I was looking towards...then the vsb had to go and gimme a choice!! Cherry would be the wildcard!
     
  5. Bhodie

    Bhodie Member

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    There are other differences, the value and depth of those have created holy flame wars on several boards for years, so I will not reopen them here. Go to the Les Paul Forum and do a search.. They came in black, cherry, burst and blonde.. with the blondes being the rarest do to the requirements for "clean" plywood :)

    I dont think just changing the fretwire is the same, to me the neck carve and shoulders are different (of the several I have played) plus, then you end up screwing up the fretboard binding, etc.. better just to figure out which one you want, say screw it.. buy it and be done.. trying to get one close and putting money in it to get it to be what you really were after rarely works, at least for me. If the cork sniffery bugs you, find the cheapest one you can and play the snot out of it!
     
  6. I'm Incinerator

    I'm Incinerator Supporting Member

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    :eek:

    Due to the lack of Gibson dealers where I live, I don't think I've ever played many historics. The R9 neck shape remains a mystery. I did play a 58 double cut Jr Historic and that neck was great...granted it is probably chunkier than a R9... I do like beefy necks. This is probably the only complaint I have about my Gretsch and Telecaster. My Les Paul Studio has the slim taper neck which I could probably get along with having more to the neck also!

    I would prefer buying used, the new prices are a little intimidating, but I can save up for things pretty fast. Now I'm just "taking notes"
     
  7. Bhodie

    Bhodie Member

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    Better neck shot showing frets

    [​IMG]

    There are also "traditional" differences around the "ear shape" of the historic vs. others..

    [​IMG]

    With the historic having the true "mickey mouse" ear shape... but it is all bs unless you like it in your hands..

    Gibson did not charge $1k difference (in my opinion) just "because".. and people who buy the Historic will defend (vigorously) that the $1K is "justified".. meanwhile, very happy people play the Memphis or Fat Neck versions and scoff and make fun of the people that "over spent" for their Historics because theirs are "just as good".. and so it goes.

    I happened to get a smoking deal on mine from a friend in the business and try stay out of the middle of any pot stirring! :stir

    Play what you feel!
     
  8. Blanket Jackson

    Blanket Jackson It's Time For Action Silver Supporting Member

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    I don't know if you are interested in "off-brands" but I've been meaning to post my thoughts over a recent acquisition so this seems like good a time as any ...

    I recently acquired a 1987 Ibanez AS200 (pre-Sco model Artist) from my teacher. The finish is a joy to behold, but the thing that makes this model magical is the resonanace. I have not played any vintage 59/60s 335s (i.e. Gibsons), but this Ibanez responds like it is actually alive. The entire instrument seems to react to each note, and I was totally not expecting that. I have owned a couple of Heritage 535s, and I own a Collings I-35, and this instrument ranks higher in my tool chest than any of them right now.

    It may be a layman's opinion, but I might steer you over to one of these vintage instruments. They can still be had for less than you might drop on a Nashville or Historic, and you may be equally surprised at the amazing build quality from this "off-brand"
     
  9. I'm Incinerator

    I'm Incinerator Supporting Member

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    Bhodie,

    I think your 335 is what resparked my GAS for a natural/blonde 335. I think I've seen those pics in a previous thread! Now VSB is running neck and neck with the blonde!


    I have been curious about the off-brand or foreign Gibson types. They look great and they seem like a pretty good value. Not sure which maker or model would give me the closest specs to the Nashville Historic, Memphis 59 RI, or etc, but they do look nice.

    I'm getting the feeling if it's something that I really want then only that can scratch the itch. "Buy once cry once", yah? I will just start saving now and do research in the mean time :).

    Due to the relative nature of pickup and electronic swaps in semi-hollows...how are the electronics and '57 Classics in the higher end 335's? would I need to get the RS kit or similar for good measure? I usually play the hell out of what's there for a year or two before I really consider a swap.
     
  10. BarryE

    BarryE Member

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    So I have the thick necked one from the Memphis Custom shop, I guess that is the 59ri but not the historic. Best guitar I have ever owned or played, everything I wanted. I also have a Heritage 535 which while also excellent is not the 335. The 57 classics are great pickups and the electronics are fine. I usually redo the electronics in my Fenders and in the Les Paul I had but these are fine, not worth the effort in redoing.

    As for Memphis or Nashville, I would say it comes down again to playing various ones and getting the one you like. If you can't play that many then the minor differences may not matter since you won't being comparing one to another. I am not sure which are the more expensive, I suppose that would be the Historics but I am very happy with the Memphis one that I have, can't imagine what the others have that I am missing.
     
  11. Navigator

    Navigator Supporting Member

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    Can't say much about current/recent Gibsons, but will agree that finding a great one usually means playing a few.

    I just wanted to share my experience regarding Navigators, since you asked. I have a Navigator 335 replica that is outstanding. I also have a 1968 335 as well, which is a great guitar, although I'm not a fan of the trapeze tailpiece.

    Back to the Navigator. I bought it without knowing anything of the brand. It was just a great sounding and feeling guitar. It's extremely woody sounding and has what feels like a perfect "59" neck on it. I've since read that the Navigators are pretty much ESP's "custom shop" models with the best woods, etc. Others can probably tell you more than I can. But in my experience, the Navigator 335 rocks.

    Best of luck in your search. 335s are really special guitars.
     
  12. sixty2strat

    sixty2strat Member

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    Sort of had the jones for onelast monthand started thinking with all the **** at gibson really don't want to wind up having to buy anew one made MDF and dyed pine mad that came from unsaleable forclosures, went to afew shops and bought the one that awed n shocked me. Had the cash for a top of the line, but a used 2009 regular Gibson USA in Red, made in memphis, wrong shape every other flaw. Felt and sounded like one of the best 335 I ever played.....So use your senses not the lable. I will admit I'd rather have the nitro like on the Historics, but price feel and tone trumped that luxuary
     
  13. Drewski

    Drewski Supporting Member

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    To the OP, do NOT overlook the 81-86 es 335's. The original dot ri's with fat necks, and Shaw paf's. Ive recently acquired one and its a very good instrument stock. The Shaws blow 57 classics out of the water. I have ordered a Callaham abr1 for it, due to bridge sag on the original schaller, but Im leaving the electronics stock. With the Callaham and a Faber tonelock lightweight tailpiece I imagine itll go from very good to great.
     
  14. romo

    romo Supporting Member

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    I recently picked up an '83 Dot. It is a really great guitar. Mine did have the pots and caps updated but it is otherwise stock and sounds awesome. I do have a Callaham ABR-1 I could throw on it but I am reluctant to mess with it because it has such a sweet tone already.
     
  15. Drewski

    Drewski Supporting Member

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    My stock bridge is sagging a bit, reverse radius to the saddles so Im changing it out before it gets too bad. Ill be pulling the Nashville studs and installing the Callaham conversion studs. Ive heard nothing but great things about this mod. It shipped today!
     
  16. ChazMania

    ChazMania Silver Supporting Member

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    What's is your opinion's on the ES333? I picked up a used one to fill my 335 GAS and I'm loving it so far, granted it is my first semi-hollow body as I've been a strat/tele guy for years.
     
  17. I'm Incinerator

    I'm Incinerator Supporting Member

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    I'm definitely not forgetting about the early 80's 335s or any of the other 335 lineup. The Memphis and Historic 59RI's just caught my eye first, I suppose (naturally).

    Good to know about the conversion studs...have to keep that in mind for my Les Paul Studio!
     

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