Gibson Historians: Need Expertise on my '73 335

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


  1. Rotten

    Rotten Silver Supporting Member

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    Sorry for the long post, but my curiosity is getting to me.

    I have questions regarding my Walnut '73 ES-335. By everything that I've read, it is one of the least desirable ES-335s. However, it sounds noticeably better than any new 335 that I've played, including the Historics. I want to know more about it. If there is a forum for 335 nuts, please direct me where to go. Otherwise, I have the following questions:

    1. The neck width at the nut is 1 9/16" and it is a very thin neck overall. Normally, 335s are 1 11/16" and even the '60s 335s are a bit chunkier. I've never met anyone who actually prefers the slimmer nut width and neck. I would love a 335 that sounded like this with a chunkier neck. Anyone know why Gibson went this direction?

    2. Most 335s have a solid piece down the length of the body. This one stops at the neck pickup and has a separate piece of wood under the bridge. Again, anyone know why?

    3. The pickups sound excellent. They do not have the Gibson logo stamped on them. Anyone know anything about these? They are about 3/4 the output of the Burstbuckers 1 and 2 in my R8, but have the warmes, chunkiest sound with clear note definition.

    4. Why the trapeze? Unfortunately, when I was in high school I butchered the guitar by installing a Kahler. When I came to my senses, I had it replaced with a stop tail piece. The guitar really came into its own after that.

    5. Why the three-piece neck? Given how small the necks were, was it that hard to find one piece of mahogony?

    In all, it seems to me that Gibson was trying to move the 335 to be more of a jazz guitar, which seems odd to me because 1973 was a period of time where they had to have been making much more money from the rock market.

    From all the chatter I've read, this should be one of the worst sounding Gibsons. However, its sustain is unsurpassed and it is extremely lively. Could this just be a function of comparing a 35 year old guitar to a new one? Or, could it be that all those details that people talk about that make a guitary great sounding (e.g. chunky one-piece neck) are somewhat inflated? Thanks!
     
  2. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    I've seen these- and I don't know why- it just bugs me that Gibson would have done that.

    A lot of the measures that Gibson was doing in the early 70s was all about cost saving measures. Whether it was cheaper wood/hardware, smaller chunks of cheaper wood or trying to reduce warranty returns.
     
  3. gadzooka

    gadzooka Member

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    Gibson narrowed the nut in the mid 60's intentionally (i.e., I think for playability, not because of anything to do with the wood supply). Their literature refers to these necks as something like fast and modern...I don't recall exactly. My '67 335 and '68 345 both have the same width, however they are both fairly rounded in profile. The '68 in particular feels substantial in the hand despite the narrow nut...in fact, I swore it had a wider nut when I first held it.

    The 3-piece necks may have been made for greater stability. That's what I've heard.

    1970's Gibsons have a bad rep, and I did not like the tone of my '71 ES-355. However, I have heard PLENTY of fabulous Norlin ES guitars, so I have no doubts that yours must sing nicely.
     
  4. greuvin

    greuvin Member

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    Gibson went to the partial interior wood block because the full block was simply not needed for the trapeze tailpiece (ie, no anchoring point was needed for the stop tail because there was none).

    I'm not sure what you mean about early 70's 335s not being desirable. They are exact to late 60's models except for 3 piece neck and the volute (both of which strengthened the neck). Never had a problem with any that I have owned or still own ( 2 from '72).

    IMHO, those are some of the best "vintage wood" 335s available for reasonable cost these days.
     
  5. gadzooka

    gadzooka Member

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    A couple more differences would be shorter neck tenon and (I think) a fiber headstock veneer. At some point, they went with a maple neck too, right?

    The shortened tenon would be my biggest concern. Even the "long" tenon isn't too long with the neck joint starting at fret 19.

    But again, I agree that 70's Gibsons can be a great deal. I recently tried a '74 ES-345 and was impressed.
     
  6. greuvin

    greuvin Member

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    Maple neck started in mid '78. I don't think the neck tenon length changed. I compared my '72 and my '68 and they are identical.
     
  7. Rotten

    Rotten Silver Supporting Member

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    What confuses me is that the whole point of a semi-hollow body guitar is that it is semi-solid. It seems that the necessity of the wood underneath the bridge affected the whole point of the design. Are the '60s models like that?

    It seems to me that either they felt that the sound was either unaffected or improved by absence of the wood, or they felt that a lighter guitar was more attractive from a marketing perspective.

    In either case, I would have to say that it is a feature that I like, based on this guitar. If I had a signature model, I think the only difference I would want would be a bigger neck.

    Does the current Gibson know the answers to these questions?
     
  8. tonedrip

    tonedrip Member

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    You may find the following link to be a good source . Go to "The other Gibsons " section.

    http://www.lespaulforum.com/forum/index.php?s=
     
  9. gadzooka

    gadzooka Member

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    Hmmm...that's weird. I have only seen pictures of the pickup cavity on 70's Gibsons, but in all cases no tenon could be seen.

    OK, I knew the maple necks started sometime in the 70's. Did Les Pauls start earlier than 78?
     
  10. heybulldog

    heybulldog Member

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    Saw the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club play a fantasic show at the House of Blues this Summer. All Trapeze model 335's through black face Fenders. Unbelivabel tone! My wife even gave me permission to by a blackface Fender to go with my walnut 335 after that show!

    I fear the same experts that told me (in the 80's) my early 70's Teles and Strats would never be more than utiltairian guitars and therefore not worth $3K or more are the same people that say the slim neck 335s Or any slim neck Gibson are no good. I also have a dot neck 82 blond reissue with a monster neck, a real 56 jr and a 74 specal so I know a little about the big necks and want to say this: Don't sell your 335 because of things you read on this board or eslewhere. They are great guitrars (worth at least $2K or more nowso that says something). Play it through a great amp aned it'll sound great!
    Why didn't someone tell me this before I sold my Fenders?
     

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