Help me to date and value my vintage Gibson ES-335

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by littlegiop, Feb 9, 2015.

  1. littlegiop

    littlegiop Member

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    Hi,
    i'm from Italy and this is my first vintage guitar I purchased 15 years ago.
    I think the guitar had some issue so I need your help to date and value correctly 'cause i would like to sell it.

    I can see that:
    1) back neck had a refinish
    2) maybe guitar had a factory bigsby replaced with a stop tail
    3) fretboard refretted

    Someone sees other strange things or changes.
    I purchased as 1965 and you can see serial from pics.
    However serial is 512485.

    Thank a lot for your precious help.
    Cheers from Italy!!

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    Last edited: Feb 13, 2015
  2. Mark Robinson

    Mark Robinson Member

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    Is the serial number on the label inside the body, the same as the number on the headstock? The headstock number gives an ambiguous 65 or 68 finding.
     
  3. RnB

    RnB Member

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    A difficult task dating Gibsons from the 60's. Took me quite awhile to find out exactly what year my '63 ES-330 was made. I had to pull the wiring harness to get the date codes off the Centralab Pots to finally get some resolution. Other indicators for me were; Single Line Kluson Tuners & a 1 11/16'' nut width.

    Gibson nut widths narrowed after '64 & returned wider in '68 approx. Post '64: Kluson tuners were Double Line/Double Ring. Seeing as your's has a stoptail, would indicate that it might be a '65, since Trapeze TP's came about in that year as well, unless your's has been converted to a stopbar. Look to see if there are any extra holes where the strap button is located at the bottom. A removed Bigsby would had left a couple of small screw holes in the top. If so, there will be evidence...

    Like Mark R said: #512485 ~ 503405 to 520955 = 1965 or 1968

    Helpful Links:
    Gibson Serial #'s
    Vintage ES-335 Info
    ES-335.org
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2015
  4. Jura

    Jura Member

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    Judging by the wide F-holes, it looks to be late 60s.
    1968 it is than. The pot knobs are not original to the guitar.
     
  5. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    I think you're going to have to dig deeper and read the date codes on the pots to know more closely. The knobs are period correct for '65-'67,switched to witch hats in '68, but that by itself doesn't mean much.

    I agree it looks like a factory Bixby was removed an a stud tailpiece installed - that's a good thing in my opinion. It looks to me as though the top may have been refinished possibly - not easy to tell from these pics. The bridge is right - TOM with nylon saddles.

    That said, it looks like a pretty cool guitar. Does is play well and sound good?

    It's a bit of a pain in the rear to remove one of the pots, but I think it would be worth the effort in this case.

    Looks cool, hope this helps, Dana O.
     
  6. Sweetfinger

    Sweetfinger Supporting Member

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    From what I can see, the whole thing except the headstock face has been oversprayed, maybe refinished.
     
  7. littlegiop

    littlegiop Member

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    ...thanks to all for precious support!!!
    Please, to complete the info about this guitar could you give me your opinion about bridge and pickup?
    I decided to not remove the pots because I'm not so expert.
    There is a trick to inspect the pots without removing them?

    Thanks again!!

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  8. 335guy

    335guy Member

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    The bridge is late 60's bridge. In '65, it would say Gibson ABR-1. Your says Gibson with the patent #, which indicates it's after 1965. But the nylon saddles date it to the later 60's. The pickups are not from 1965. I'm not even sure they are Gibsons. Gibson didn't wax their pickups like that, and the construction is different than Gibson T-tops, which would have been stock for a late 60's era 335.

    These also traditionally came with trapeze tailpieces. I see evidence that Bigsby was on there. That MIGHT have been done at the factory, OR, done afterwards. Hard to say. I think the guitar is a late 60's 335 ( you can check the pot codes by looking through the f-holes with an angle mirror and a light source ) that has had some parts changed on it. It also looks to have been re-sprayed or re-finished. I'm leaning toward a re-spray.
     
  9. K-Line

    K-Line Gold Supporting Member

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    You can sometimes see the pot codes with a small telescopic inspection mirror and flashlight...if they did not solder over the pot that you can see that is.
     
  10. Sweetfinger

    Sweetfinger Supporting Member

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    Definitely not the original pickups. Those look like "Tarback" humbuckers from the 70s.
     
  11. littlegiop

    littlegiop Member

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    ...thanks again!!
    I'll get a telescopic inspection mirror for the pots.
    Cheers from Italy.
     
  12. littlegiop

    littlegiop Member

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    ....last question is...what do you think about headstock with 1965/1966 typical high crown?
    Many of you said it is a late '60, so the crown should not be high.
    Thanks again for help!!

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  13. 335guy

    335guy Member

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    It appears that the serial # dates it to either a 1965 or a 1968. Some have said that in 1968, Gibson went back to the 1&11/16" nut width that they had previous to 1965. But this expert ( http://www.es-335.org/ ) says not so. The 1&9/16" nut width began in '65 and according to es-335.org, that width was used into the 70's, so, we cannot use nut width to determine the year of your guitar.

    You bring up an interesting and important point about the crown inlay position. Yes, they were higher in the early to mid 60's and got lower starting in '67.

    Your body shape appears to have the "pointier" ears introduced in 1963 -1967, and after that, the ears become a bit more rounded.

    Putting all this info together, it is very possible and maybe even probable, that you guitar is basically a 1965 ES-335 with some changed parts, most notably the pickups. Those pickups are definitely not from any 60's era Gibson. Now, the bridge is the later version but MAYBE, Gibson introduced that version in the later months in 1965, OR, it was changed at some point. The headstock with it's logos does appear to be from 1965.

    Being able to see the pot date codes may help solidify the year of manufacture. So far, things do point strongly to it being a 1965, that has been "modded" to a degree. Most of these changes don't hurt the value too much, except for the pickup swap and the re-spray. Those things alone de-value the guitar by as much as $1000 or more, IMHO.

    But guitar values are an odd thing, as the market fluctuates, just like any collectible. And collectibles are worth what someone is willing to pay at a particular moment. To get a pro appraisal, George Gruhn or Charlie Gelber ( es-335.org ) would be the guys to contact.
     
  14. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    I'd trust Charlie far more than Gruhn. I've owned several guitars that came with appraisals from him and they were just plain wrong (most notably a 58 LP Custom that you can read the story of over at the Les Paul Forum, suffice it to say that the story as outlined in his appraisal letter bore little to no resemblance to the truth).
     
  15. Jura

    Jura Member

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    Why do you all ignore the f-holes? They are wide, that means late '60s, no way around it.
     
  16. chrisjnyc

    chrisjnyc Member

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    Yea, looks like it was refinished.

    Also, get in touch with Gibson (via email) and send them some pics. They are pretty good about dating old 335's
     

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