Gibson es-335 vs. Epiphone Riviera

Discussion in '"Vintage" Instruments' started by Gravelrocks, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. Gravelrocks

    Gravelrocks Supporting Member

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    My number one guitar is an early 60's es-335. It hits all the spots for me, and is super versatile for playing everything from soul jazz to Allman Brothers covers and everything in between. I'm close to pulling the trigger on an early 60's Epiphone Riviera, and would like to hear from those who are familiar with both a 335 and a Riviera as to what kind of tonal differences there are. Obviously the full size Pat no. vs. the mini Pat no. is the biggest difference on paper. How much of a tonal difference should I expect between these two instruments? Will a Riviera be able to deliver the Allman Bros types of tones?
     
  2. Jayyj

    Jayyj Supporting Member

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    Come on guys, I just bigged us up on Guitars In General as being the guys to answer this!

    I know a few of us have or had vintage Rivieras / Sheratons - @WornFrets @JimR56 @deytookerjaabs ? There's a couple others with them, aren't there?
     
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  3. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Member

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    It’s been awhile since I had my Riviera but as I recall it was a bit brighter and more “grind” than my 335. Think a really good P90 without the annoying hum.
     
  4. bill's guitars

    bill's guitars Silver Supporting Member

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    Ok, I will try a stab at this.....to me they are actually very different instruments-While I don't currently own a 335 ,I do have a 1963 355 and a 1963 Riviera to compare-(I will not get into the 355's the veritone sound options)
    In my listening to both, while they will do the Allman thing (Dickie more than Duane, but that is kind of my tonal preference), they truly each have their own voice-the neck pup on a Riviera ,is the money.Cuts like knife ,but never harsh ,just pure sweetness.The 355 is "mellower" but really just as righteous,though it can have a tendency towards "muddiness" that the Riviera does not. The middle position on both is amazing ,with the Riviera being significantly brighter, but that's why we have tone controls, which were a huge part of the Allman sound-using your tone and volumes.The Riviera bridge pup can be very bright , but in reversing the pups orientation,it somewhat compensates for that ,but in saying that, I prefer the 355 bridge pup. I think you will enjoy having both . (In my pics of the 355 mine is the cherry one).I hope this is of some assistance.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  5. Gian Pistilli

    Gian Pistilli Member

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    I have a 66 riviera and some 60’s 335s. The riviera has a real nice sound with the mini humbuckers. Not as fat as the full size humbuckers but they have a nice round tone to them. You can get a real nice sound with the neck pickup and some of them can really bite on the bridge. I have heard different ones where the bridge just screams and others that are just ok. Mine is ok. It can be pretty bright in the bridge but you can usually tame it down a bit either with the tone knob or amp setting.
     
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  6. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Member

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    I had a Sheraton but it was an early one with the different construction specs and it didn't have mini's in it.

    But of the Riv's I've played from the 60's only thing I recall is the necks usually being a bit slimmer than a same-year 335 and the Mini's.

    So, it's really a mini vs full size bucker type thing. I concur with the observations above, bright, clear, biting, articulate, etc. Great guitars! But, if one is looking for "Duane Allman" or something like that then a regular humbucker is a regular humbucker and that's that.
     
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  7. Highnumbers

    Highnumbers Member

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    I actually own both - and from the same year (1964).

    As you would expect they are basically the same in terms of general feel and sound (unplugged). The Riviera has a slightly different feel because of the Frequensator tailpiece, which makes the bass strings much longer (and less string tension) than on a 335.

    The big difference of course, is the pickups. Mini hums are totally underrated pickups, the problem is that most people expect them to sound like a PAF and the entire design is different. I still maintain the 335 is the most versatile guitar ever - it can still do things the Riviera cannot do - but the Riv can almost pass for good Telecaster sound if needed.

    The mini hums can be microphonic, but if you can work around that, there are some great tones to be had.

    Plus you have to consider value here. An early 60s Riviera will likely be around 1/3 the price of a 335 (maybe even less) which is outstanding value for money. They’re still undervalued guitars, IMO.

    [​IMG]

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    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  8. WornFrets

    WornFrets Supporting Member

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    I have a ‘67 Riviera and a ‘61 355. The feels on these are very different because of when the Riviera was made - it has a skinnier nut width and chunkier neck. Both are great in their own ways.

    Tonally (comparing bridge pickups only here), with gain, I find them very similar. I’m not 100% sure i could tell them apart i’m a blind test. It’s when they’re played clean that the differences really shine through - the Riviera is far brighter and just seems to touch less of the tonal spectrum than the PAF on the 355. It sort of reminds me of comparing a Strat bridge pickup and a Tele bridge pickup.
     
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  9. JimR56

    JimR56 Member

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    All of these comments line up with my experiences with my '62 Sheraton (w/mini-hums). I've never compared my guitar directly with a 3X5, but I've owned several of those over the past 40 years, and when I got the Sheraton in 2010 it was a new sonic sensation for me. I rarely even use my bridge pickup (personal preference), but the bright yet full sound of the neck pickup is distinctive and wonderful. As with 3X5's, these Epi semis are very versatile guitars, just with a bit of a different edge than their full-sized hb-equipped cousins. Brighter for sure, but also a bit more "in your face" when driven hard. More "grind", as Bluzeboy said, but still sweet.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
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  10. MartinPiana

    MartinPiana Supporting Member

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    I thought longer string length meant greater tension, since you have to tighten it more to bring it to pitch. Head scratch.
     
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