Gibson ES-330 VOS vs. 1960s Vintage

audiodrome

Member
Messages
759
I am a big fan of single coil PU guitars, especially the unique clean tones of different models. In the past 40 years I've owned a number of different Fender and Gretsch guitars but never a single-coil PU Gibson (I had a mid '70s Les Paul Custom but that doesn't count).

I have always wanted to own a vintage ES-175 and after playing a gig with a friend who had a '54 model I needed to have one! However, $5000-$6000 is a little steep for me right now and unfortunately, Gibson does not make a P90 reissue ES-175. While doing my search I came across the reissue ES-330 VOS and I was really impressed with how beautiful they were. I'm a little partial to the Vintage Cherry model with the Bigsby but the Sunburst is also nice.

I realize that vintage 1960s ES-330s are not that expensive but I'm curious as to how faithful these reissues are to the originals. The guitars themselves certainly look the part but how do the reissue P90 pickups compare to the vintage ones?

This sure is a beauty!

 

Franktone

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,117


Here is a nice one at wildwood for 3899.00 made in Memphis.
You can also find early sixties vintage used ones for around $5000.
 
Messages
2,575
I am a big fan of single coil PU guitars, especially the unique clean tones of different models. In the past 40 years I've owned a number of different Fender and Gretsch guitars but never a single-coil PU Gibson (I had a mid '70s Les Paul Custom but that doesn't count).

I have always wanted to own a vintage ES-175 and after playing a gig with a friend who had a '54 model I needed to have one! However, $5000-$6000 is a little steep for me right now and unfortunately, Gibson does not make a P90 reissue ES-175. While doing my search I came across the reissue ES-330 VOS and I was really impressed with how beautiful they were. I'm a little partial to the Vintage Cherry model with the Bigsby but the Sunburst is also nice.
I don't know if it will float your boat or not but the new Gibson Billy Joe Armstrong ES-137 seems like more or less an ES-175 with P90s to me. Not a fan of Green Day myself but it's a cool looking guitar.



Then there are some other models like the ES-195, which has single coil P94 pickups. I don't know what the difference is between P90s and P94 but I guess a swap is possible. The ES-295 Scotty Moore is also a single cutaway P90 equipped model, although it appears to be more costly than a vintage ES-330. More similar to an ES-330 is the ES-335 Luther Dickinson (semi hollow like a 335, P90s like a 330), and the ES-390 (like an ES-330 but smaller body overall). In general a lot of cool Gibson ES- models right now. When I win the lottery I'll buy a few.

 

Sweetfinger

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,872
unfortunately, Gibson does not make a P90 reissue ES-175.
They can be retrofitted relatively easily. When you look at what you have to pay for a new Gibson archtop electric vs. the selling prices of assorted vintage models it still makes good sense to look for an old one. If you do a bit of looking you can find an equivalent at the same price in many cases.
 

audiodrome

Member
Messages
759
The big question is, do the new Gibson "reissue" P90 pickups sound just the vintage ones? In the ES-330 VOS spec sheet it mentions something about special underwound P90 pickups.
 

Black Squirrel

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,127
Having owned a Bunch Of 330's over the years 50's 60's and VOS i would say all things considered If it were my $$$ I would get another VOS. They are one of the best Custom shops I have played and The one I had was dead on with my 59 330.
 

tweedfix

Member
Messages
1,075
I just traded one here on TGP, those pickups are sweet. I could get some twang out of the bridge, and the neck p-90 was gorgeous. I'll get a good Gibson every few years to try, but I always go back to telecasters. These Vos 330s are outstanding guitars.
 

Seegs

Member
Messages
10,169
I've had a 59' RI for the past 6 months and have left it stock...IMO this is one that Gibson got right...

At the request of a friend and my own curiosity I went to a local vintage shop to compare mine to some vintage examples ranging from a 57' 225 to several 330s from 62-67' through a 73' Vibrolux...

One thing I noticed was that all the vintage examples had nylon saddles which mine does not....

The 57' 225 and 4-5 of the 67s that I played were all dogs...dead wood that sounded dull and boring...

One of the vintage guitars had it...that dry...raw in your face tone and I loved it..it also had a great neck...it was a 62' with a bigsby....a very resonant guitar with great playability that listed for almost 5k euros...mine lists for a tick under 3k euros

My guitar is more refined...smoother sounding and a bit more polite than the 62'...I preferred it by a long shot over the others and would not have traded it for the 62' as I can easily see my guitar drying out and also sounding amazing in 52 years....unfortunately I won't be here to experience that :)

Conclusion...I had heard that the 330 is one guitar where buying vintage doesn't guarantee you a better instrument and I can now confirm this sentiment...

Chow,
Seegs
 

jamester

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,979
Hey Paul, I've tried sending you a couple PM's but not sure if they've gone through..?
 

73Fender

Member
Messages
3,980
I saw a nice 2013VOS 330 on the North Jersey CL yesterday (in case anyone is in the market)..like new but that lack of upper fret access took away my GAS.
 

teleman1

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
15,202
Coincidentally, I compared my John Lennon Casino to an angelic, rich, deep and warm 66 330 yesterday. First off, I did not plug the guitar in to compare; ONLY UNPLUGGED!I was ready for total humiliation.The 330 won on resonation big time. It had not new 12's on. It really sounded like an acoustic guitar. Shockingly, I liked the Lennons thicker neck;closer to 59. The 330's neck was a traditional 60's thinner neck, but not like the early 60-64's that neck was thin/sucky. The biggest difference was that the 330 had a huge bottom end. The comparison made me comfortable with the Lennon, it plays wonderfully and sounds very nice,brighter.

""""" Conclusion...I had heard that the 330 is one guitar where buying vintage doesn't guarantee you a better instrument and I can now confirm this sentiment...

Chow,
Seegs""""


I think this statement goes across the board for any guitar. I have held pristine guitars that were vintage that just did not do it;even for a new guitar, just duds. Then, you find an example of this heaven we all look for.Some of the old wood tone sounds God given.
 

27sauce

Member
Messages
36,603
Vintage 330s and Casinos are tough. I've played many over the years and can recall only a few stand outs. Many of the problems can be remedied though. They are not bright/jangly guitars, and I think people assume that.

I am very impressed with the VOS 330, especially the build/craftsmanship. Same with Elitist Epis.
 

bluesjuke

Disrespected Elder
Messages
24,126
I am a big fan of single coil PU guitars, especially the unique clean tones of different models. In the past 40 years I've owned a number of different Fender and Gretsch guitars but never a single-coil PU Gibson (I had a mid '70s Les Paul Custom but that doesn't count).

I have always wanted to own a vintage ES-175 and after playing a gig with a friend who had a '54 model I needed to have one! However, $5000-$6000 is a little steep for me right now and unfortunately, Gibson does not make a P90 reissue ES-175. While doing my search I came across the reissue ES-330 VOS and I was really impressed with how beautiful they were. I'm a little partial to the Vintage Cherry model with the Bigsby but the Sunburst is also nice.

I realize that vintage 1960s ES-330s are not that expensive but I'm curious as to how faithful these reissues are to the originals. The guitars themselves certainly look the part but how do the reissue P90 pickups compare to the vintage ones?

This sure is a beauty!





Did you find it necessary to post that pic and taunt me like that!?!
 

davetone

Member
Messages
440
I saw a nice 2013VOS 330 on the North Jersey CL yesterday (in case anyone is in the market)..like new but that lack of upper fret access took away my GAS.
I got to play a vintage one pickup P90 version (330T?) and it was incredible. The one pickup was in a real "sweet spot" that was in between where the neck and bridge pickups normally would be. It made the tone changes by strumming near the bridge or strumming near the neck really evident. (The guitar was brought to me by a friend who worked at a music store. I got to play it for a good 20 minutes.)

Wow, I thought it was a great guitar. But I do remember the way the neck fit into the body of the guitar really prohibited upper fret access. For me, it was like it was blocking those upper frets, and not at all like a 335 or something.

I would really like to try a 330 reissue. I think that upper fret access would be my only concern.

Check out the videos of Greg Koch playing some 330s on the Wildwood Guitars site. He makes them sing!
 




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