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Favorite 335 alternatives?

Frank Lee

Member
Messages
238
This isn’t the first time I’ve been the odd-man-out, one-man cheer squad for the Fender Starcaster, but it is my favorite alternative to any semi-hollow, shallow-body 335-inspired guitar.

True, it’s currently out of production, other than the budget-friendly Squire reissue; but now that the cunife WRHBs are back, I’m expecting some sort of reissue from Fender USA.

Also, classic examples from the 70s can easily be found for about the same price as a new 335 (or any boutique 335 alternative), generally in the $3- to 6-grand region. A Bilt, boutique Starcaster-inspired guitar is also an option. The Bilt Volare is a fine guitar, with lots of options https://biltguitars.com/collections/guitars/products/volare

Though, if you’re really looking for something that sounds a whole lot like a Les Paul, only woodier, with a bit less sustain, going with something like Eastman, Heritage, Collings or Yamaha would be the ticket.

Or maybe, if you want to go for something just a little off-the-path, possibly a Fret King Etheridge or maybe even a Hanson Chicagoan.

(And back to oddities: though they’re both discontinued and can be hard to find, I have loved playing both Yamaha’s Troy Van Leeuwen signature and the Elitist Epi Chet Atkins signature.)
 
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gitapik

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
873
Gibson ES Les Paul, Smaller than a ES335 but different enough from the typical Les Paul that brings a smile to anyone who knows about guitars.

They are their own category and that makes its special.

Get a used one made in Memphis before that shut that Shop down. Eventually Memphis made guitars will become a thing.
i played a Gold Top version, years ago. Excellent guitar!
 

Frank Lee

Member
Messages
238
My 2 cents:

Any brand of semi-hollow guitar is going to be susceptible to the hit or miss factor and will open up over time, like an acoustic. Some brands seem to have a few more misses than others.

Heritage 535: I've played a bunch and some were outstanding, while others were simply ok. I'd strongly suggest making sure you play one before buying if at all possible.

Gibson: It took a while for my Government Series 335 to open up, but it's a fantastic guitar. I've played some that were stiffer than others, but the vast majority of used ones had opened up nicely. Never played one that was awful.

Schecter Corsair are pretty underrated as most people don't know much about them. I have a one-off that is chambered instead of ply that I use for a stage guitar because of the feedback rejection. The new models are built well (correct ply construction) and often come with a Bigsby, if that matters. I've played several that were consistently good, but they were definitely a little stiff.

Ibanez: Low end models are great for the price, I've owned a few, would love to try a prestige semi-.

Washburn: Better than you would expect for the money.

Eastman: played a bunch before I bought my 335 and they're a conundrum. Some were quite good, others were quite bad. There's no way I would ever consider buying one of these without playing first based on my first hand experience. The good ones were still stiff, but I haven't played any well-used ones to compare.
I completely agree. A classic, pre-Fender “Spanish-guitar” design is going to be a bit hit-or-miss.

Gibson, traditionally, gets some hate or criticism for this, but it isn’t just Gibson. Any guitar built with what people think of as a Gibson-esque design will, necessarily, be a bit hit or miss, especially across larger runs. It’s the nature of the designs: set necks, wood combinations, three-to-side headstocks, etc. There are way more factors going into it all than more modern designs (many of which were developed, primarily, to both cut costs and infuse more consistency).

It’s kinda like the argument between handmade and machine-made. Machine-made may not reach the heights of the finest handmade instrument, but machine-made will be far more consistent, with far fewer lemons or dogs.

The more variables present, the better (and the worse) things can turn out. More variables = more variation.

In my experience, ES-style guitars, jazz boxes and acoustic guitars are where that variable to variety ratio is often most apparent.
 

alkooloid

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
60
Korean made Hamer Echotone FTW.
Solid maple front and back, 25.5" scale,
bound f holes and fretboard, side jack, great
neck, etc.

I swapped out the pickups, put on some Sperzel tuners and a Bigsby,
and it's amazing.

They moved the production elsewhere after a while, and those tops and backs
are not solid, but my '99 and '01 are both Korean, and are super well made, play great, sound amazing
and look killer too.
Oh, and $300 each used.
 

TooMuchFiber

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
874
I've owned two Heritage H535's, and both were duds. Not uninspiring, not less-than-great, they were flat-out duds.

I owned an Ibanez AS-200 and an AS-100, and both were screamers, excellent guitars.

I've owned eight or nine Gibson ES-x35's, and only a couple or three didn't stick.

If I were shopping, I would try to find a used Ibanez, or an Eastman.
What was wrong with the two heritage? That's surprising. I'm in the market for a 335 (or copy), and as an owner of two other Eastmans, I'm really considering their T59v. Haven't found any local yet, though. They blow away my Ibanez arch top, but to be fair they are in a different price bracket.
 

Khromo

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,214
What was wrong with the two heritage?...
They were both beautiful, and they played very well. It had nothing to do with "feel", or "build quality".

But they sounded awful! They had that dreaded plinky response that bad semi-hollows can sometime suffer from, and it was dreadful. No way to cover that up! I tried like a beaver to like those guitars, but they sounded like crap.

That was my only complaint, but that is the most important element of an instrument to me.
 

GordRD

Senior Member
Messages
136
Ibanez AS2630 - better in all respects. If you get a chance to play one then you'll see, feel and hear why they are so good.
 

COYS

Member
Messages
6,269
One thing I am noticing is that I really like the aesthetic of these 70s and 80s Japanese guitars. They all have unique little quirks about them, shapes that are different or interesting little details, but all well made. I like the 70s/80s Japan look of some of the Yamaha SAs and the SBGs and of the old amps from the period. Cool style, with that "only a select few are going to know what I'm playing" thing about them. :)
 

slickguy2000

Member
Messages
15
I love my 1995 MIK Epiphone Sheraton II, which the serial number indicates is from the acclaimed Samick factory with the amazing quality control. I missed a couple of opportunities to buy a +2000s Sheraton for a hundred bucks less, but what seemed like heart break at the time now seems like this particular guitar was destiny. Fell in love with this guitar from early Dr. Dog records and every Vampire Weekend record. It's the perfect guitar played cleanly through a tube amp. Stock everything. I think the stock pickups are most of it.
 

COYS

Member
Messages
6,269
I love my 1995 MIK Epiphone Sheraton II, which the serial number indicates is from the acclaimed Samick factory with the amazing quality control. I missed a couple of opportunities to buy a +2000s Sheraton for a hundred bucks less, but what seemed like heart break at the time now seems like this particular guitar was destiny. Fell in love with this guitar from early Dr. Dog records and every Vampire Weekend record. It's the perfect guitar played cleanly through a tube amp. Stock everything. I think the stock pickups are most of it.
Even the new Sheratons are great I think. I haven't spent a huge amount of time with them but I had one for a little bit and it was very nice.
 




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