Gibson ES-335 vs. 330 vs. 345...

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by markom89, Jan 2, 2008.


  1. markom89

    markom89 Senior Member

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    I've been wanting to get a vintage gibson es for some time now and have come to the conclusion that if I go vintage gibson, I'd like to get one of these 3 models. ES-335, ES-330 or ES-345. My question is: what are the main differences between the 3 models? I know that the 330 has P-90's, but is that the only difference? I also know that the 345 is more often than not a "blinged out" versio of a 335 w/the fancy stereo option, bigsby, etc... Why is that 330's and 345's are quite a bit cheaper than 335's, and lastly, what's a good year to look at for each model without having to spend 5 figures? :) Thanks in advance. Cheers.

    Marko M.

    P.S. You can post pictures if you like :)
     
  2. jackaroo

    jackaroo Member

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    In short-

    330 is fully hollow- 2 p90s

    335 is the classic semi-hollow 2 HB

    345 is a 335 with different inlays and a varitone & gold hardware

    355 is a 345 with block inlays and an ebony board

    In detail-

    http://www.provide.net/~cfh/gibson4.html
     
  3. loudstuff

    loudstuff Member

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    330 also joins the body at a different place than a 335 or 345. I think it joins at the 15th fret instead of the 19th, but I'm not sure.
     
  4. bilbal

    bilbal Member

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    Jackaroo:

    Great link to the Vintage Guitars Info website. Thanks for posting - sorry to interrupt - carry on fellas.

    Bill

     
  5. AaeCee

    AaeCee Member

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    EXCEPT...355s can come with or without a varitone and Bigsby. I have one with neither.
     
  6. MikeMcK

    MikeMcK Member

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    Partly because the 335 was used by some more famous players (Larry Carlton, Alex Lifeson), but partly because of the stereo wiring and Varitone on the 345 and 355. The first time I heard the term "tone suck" was in reference to a Varitone, and the stereo outputs could be a pain...if you only had a standard cable, you could only play through the neck pup.

    Lots of people just modded the 345s or 355s, but who really feels comfortable breaking a vintage solder joint? I had a '64 345. I lived with the Varitone and made a cable to counteract the stereo wiring. Wish I still had that one...

    Regarding years, the early 60's ones were infamous for very thin necks, but my '64 was the same way.
     
  7. jackaroo

    jackaroo Member

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    Like I said...

    In short.

    As for what years are good and cheap enough to get into. Basically after 64 things get more reasonable.

    I'd look for a 65 or 6 with pat# PUs that's been stoptailed. Should run about 3-6 K depending on the seller and the guitar itself.

    Here's mine

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Drew816

    Drew816 Supporting Member

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    Good advice on the above, if you're going 'vintage' then post '65 they get much less expensive especially if it's had the trapeze tailpiece removed (or some other mod's). My 65-68 (below with an RHH Gretsch) has an added toggle switch (ahhh the 70-80's!) which knocks down the value a bit but I actually dare I say, LIKE the trapeze setup and in comparison to other 335's found no practical difference in sustain or tone so I wouldn't discount them just for this reason. BUT they do have some goofy neck sizes so watch out, I like my 1 5/8 nut width with a full neck profile but many don't, if that's the case for you go 1969 or later as I believe the nut widths are much more commonly 1 11/16. I've played very few 'bad' 335's and I dig the looks of the 345's and 55's but the stereo stuff can be a hassle though easily tackled if need be.

    Buy one, you won't be sorry; I sold all my Les Pauls after I got my first vintage 335 (now just down to the one), they're worth it all the way around! Here's a nice one that we discussed on the forum quite a bit in another thread:

    Enjoy and good luck!!!

    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=331840&highlight=gibson+vintage


    [​IMG]
     
  9. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Gold Supporting Member

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    The 60's slim taper necks didn't come into vogue until about 64 I thought. But I could be wrong. I have a couple of early 60's 345's and they have the "rounded" neck carve.
    The 330 neck joined at the 15th until about 67 or 68 (can't remember which) when it was moved to the 19th fret, thus the descriptions of "long neck" 330's.
     
  10. mad dog

    mad dog Silver Supporting Member

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    The 335s found much greater acceptance early on. It's one of the most toneful and versatile guitars ever IMHO. A classic. I don't know much about the 345 or 355, but thanking god right now I picked up a 335 (with issues) long ago. The pre-65 ones have soared in price, no way I'd go there. The '65 and '66 models I've seen have been excellent, by comparison, real vintage bargains. The narrower neck thing is an individual thing. My '66 is one comfortable playing, great-sounding instrument. Love those T-tops too! YMMV of course.

    I've always been curious about 330s, especially so lately, given how much I've come to appreciate the 335. Finally getting to scratch that itch. One should be on the way soon.
     
  11. kmcmichael

    kmcmichael Member

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    As has been said the 330 is an ENTIRELY different guitar. A good example of 330 nast tone is the beatles intro to revolution. It is also in my opinion a GREAT rythem guitar.

    Mine is made in 62 but had black pu covers and a very narrow thin neck. I have had it for over 30 years. Although the neck is terribly small for me, it sounds so good that I cannot part with it. I have a Eastman 185 that sounds kind of like it.
     
  12. candid_x

    candid_x Supporting Member

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    I had an original 65 330 (my first guitar) and my friend had a similar year 335. The differences as I recall: his had more frets/longer board, humbuckers rather than P90's, an entirely different bridge set up, a more tapered neck, and they felt/played/sounded entirely different, acoustically and electrically. I greatly preferred my 330 back then. Now, who knows?

    Michael is correct, imo, the 330 is an outstanding rhythm guitar, but won't match the 335's singing and sustained leads.
     
  13. frank62

    frank62 Member

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    One of the nicest ones I have ran across was a 325. Mini hums, all maple, huge frets, same construction as a 335. Mine was in the dark "walnut" finish.
     
  14. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Gold Supporting Member

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    Come to think of it, you may want to check into a 340. Started in late 68' with a few but basically it's a 335 with a maple neck, different controls. 4 knobs but a master volume and mixer controls. the toggle switch had settings of pickups in-phase, pickups out-of-phase, and standby.
     
  15. alanbass1

    alanbass1 Member

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    Typically from '65 to early '69 is when the thin necks came in, which is one of the reasons post '64 ES' are seen a lot cheaper.
     
  16. gadzooka

    gadzooka Member

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    I currently own a '67 ES-335 and a '68 ES-345. They both have the narrow nut but a rounded neck profile. The '68 feels particularly full in the hand...very nice. Both guitars sound great to me and quite distinct from each other - the 335 being somewhat more aggressive and articulate.

    I have recorded simple noodlings using all 6 Varitone controls on the ES-345 HERE if anyone's interested to hear the effect.
     
  17. dB

    dB Member

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    I picked up a great '59 ES 330 (single p90, trapeze tailpiece) about a year ago for $1900. My main guitar is a 336, but i wanted a fully hollow, larger bodied guitar as well. These are really sweet guitars, but you'll need to learn to embrace the feedback if you are playing in a loud situation. A 335 will be a much more versatile choice.

    I'd probably put a vintage Epi Casino on your list as well.
     
  18. JohnCovach

    JohnCovach Supporting Member

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    I have an early-70s 345 that I modded back in the 70s. I made the varitone into a master volume and put in a stop tailpiece (actually, a TP6). I had push pots installed and coil taps--a Schechter Z-Plus assembly, as I recall (those were the days, eh?). These are all things you would never do now to a vintage 345, but I think they really improved the guitar. Now if you could find a guitar like that, you'd be getting a good guitar at a significantly lower price than the unmodded ones. I actually avoid vintage guitars because you can't really change anything on them--it's a little like living in a historic district or something. But we all have our preferences, I suppose.
     
  19. dudeunitx5000

    dudeunitx5000 Senior Member

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    I have this early 1960 ES-330TD. It has a relatively big neck. I am very pleased with the wide variety of sounds I can get out of it.
    [​IMG]
     
  20. Digitalman

    Digitalman Member

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    Hey Markom -

    I've had a '72 335 for about ten years now and it's by far my favorite guitar. If I had to keep only one guitar, it would be the 335. But recently I purchased an Epiphone Casino Elitist after years of wanting one. It's essentially identical to a Gibson 330 - fully hollow with single coils, as opposed to the 335 which has a center block and Humbuckers. Completely different guitars, but they look a lot alike. Different sounding enough that I found it reasonable to own both.

    My advice is to start with a stock 335 and go from there.

    I see you already have a Strat. Mine's a CS '69 NOS. IMO - a Strat and a 335 are the two best guitars anyone could own.

    As far as the neck joint issue is concerned, the 330 meets the body at the 16th fret and the 335 meets at the 19th. Three frets don't seem like much, but for upper fret access, the Casino is rather restrictive and the guitar seems much shorter. Here's a shot of my Casino and 335 hanging together. The Tennessean meets at the 14th fret.

    [​IMG]
     

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