Heritage 535 vs. recent Gibson ES-335

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by AshlandBump, Aug 30, 2005.

  1. AshlandBump

    AshlandBump Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm in the market for a semi-hollow ES type guitar, I'm sure it will either be the Heritage 535 or a Gibson ES-335 Dot Reissue (not the historic, $3000+ model, the one that goes for around $2000-2400). Aside from the obvious, i.e., the price, what are the differences between these guitars, if anyone has done a direct comparison of them? I know Gibson has some QC issues, let's assume I get a good one - I wouldn't buy a Gibson, or any guitar for that matter, that didn't feel right. Is the tone similar between these two? the feel? etc.? Thanks.

    Yes, I know both these guitars have been discussed and I've read as many posts as I can about them.
     
  2. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    I have a 2002 ES-335. I've also owned more Gibsons than I can remember easily. Rumors of poor Gibson QC are greatly exaggerated in my experience. Mine have all been flawless or very close to it. The 335 is an amazing guitar. I played a Heritage in a music store for a while once. That's all the Heritage experience I have. It was nice, perhaps a little more flame on the top. It was substantially lighter and a little thinner. A realy 335 is quite heavy. For some reason, most of the copies lack that bulk. Personally, if I got a substitute, there'd always be a nagging feeling that I should have the real thing. If you think of all the pros that could choose either, how many choose Gibson vs. Heritage. There's a reason.
     
  3. Randy

    Randy Supporting Member

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    I've played a bunch of 335's and ended up buying a H535 which I couldn't be happier with. It's incredibly light and resonant and plays like a dream, plus the flame is amazing. The Gibson's I've played have all been heavy and clunky in comparison. The only way to know for sure though is to play them side by side and see which one you like better.
     
  4. tommyg

    tommyg Member

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    Since I've owned Gibson LP's and SG's and now own a Heritage 535 and a 150, I believe I'm qualified to base an opinion here.

    I disagree with your statement "if you think of all the pros that could choose either, how many choose Gibson vs. Heritage. There's a reason" is based on money and not quality. Do you seriously think Gary Moore left endorsing Heritage's H-150 Gary Moore model LP to go to Gibson over quality? I think not.
    Gibson provides big bucks for endorements and Heritage provides very little if anything. Artists not only switch endorsements for the free gear (in many cases) and the cash (most cases) but also to attract/retain their fan base and get free publicity in advertisements. When's the last time you've seen a Heritage add? Heritage's advertising budget is probably not even 1/10th of what Gibson's is.

    That's my view anyway...
     
  5. sanhozay

    sanhozay klon free since 2009 Silver Supporting Member

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    I’ve been trying to track down a semi-hollow body guitar that I like for the past three years. And, trust me, I’m not an ultra fussy person. The hardest part for me has been to wean myself away from the whole concept of buying something other than the ES335, but that’s pretty much resolving itself every time I play a Memphis ES335. Most of the examples I’ve played {or owned} are too heavy and way too flat sounding, plus I find the skinny necks uncomfortable after playing them for a long stretch of time. I guess it’s a complicated guitar to manufacturer but when they get them right they are outstanding and incredibly versatile. Not the newer guitars that have found their way into my hands, though. I’ve played about six older ones {1969-1972} that sounded great but were over my budget.

    I have fallen in love with a guitar that you may want to check out – the Hamer Newport. Holy cow what a great instrument! Fat, resonant tone with excellent articulation and lots of versatility and lightweight, too!
    Not as thick and mid-heavy, which I guess some would call “flutey” as an ES335 but totally capable of a respect worthy bluestone. I just can’t get over this guitar. I think they are a bit awkward and clumsy looking, probably would look great with a pickguard, but the Bigsby model I played balanced great and there was easy access in the upper registers. Nice chunky neck, too! I want to try a non-bigsby model but haven’t been able to track one down. Anyway, I’d thought I’d let you know where my journey has taken me. It would all change in a heartbeat if I could find an ES335 that I like but I’m discovering that style of guitar just doesn’t speak to me in a version {by Gibson} that cost less than $2000. As a class alternative Heritage comes up all the time but I’ve yet to play one that blew me away like the Hamer Newport did.

    I understand that Jay Wolfe is the go to guy for a Heritage fix. He sure gets in some lookers, that’s for sure.

    Best!
     
  6. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    Gary may have endorsed Heritage, but he's always played Gibsons and Fenders.
     
  7. fjs1962

    fjs1962 Silver Supporting Member

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    As much as I love my two Gibsons (I own a R7 Les Paul and a CS-356, both recent) I'll be the first one to say they have issues. But I probably wouldn't be so critical if I hadn't owned PRS, Suhr, Anderson, Grosh and Hamer guitars that came out of the box flawless. I have yet to pick up a Gibson in a store over that past few years that didn't have some issue that needed to be addressed, even if it was something minor. My R7 came with the E and A string saddles cut off-center, a cracked knob, and the nut cut too shallow which made the action feel higher than it was until it was fixed. My 356 has two nut slots cut a little too deep causing the open strings to rattle against the first fret unless you have too much relief in the neck (which is how it came). For the kind of money they charge you'd think Gibson wouldn't let that sort of stuff out the door. Still, I love the tone and feel so much (once the issues are repaired) that I still buy them.
     
  8. Pedro58

    Pedro58 Member

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    sanhozay--- I am on the same quest. I want to replace my '63 ES335 with something less valuable but with a similar tone/vibe.

    The "flutiness" missing from the Neport could be due to the Bigsby. My '63 is a convertible model. It has a Bigsby and studs for a stop tailpiece so that you can go back and forth between the string mounting styles... The tone changes, too, in the exact way that you described the tone of the Newport. The flutiness disappears with a Bigsby. The top end has more sizzle and the mids lose emphasis. So... let us know what the Newport with a stop sounds like if you get a chance to play one!
     
  9. sws1

    sws1 Member

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    I have / had both. Still have the ES335.

    Differences:
    Heritage has wood side vs Laminate sides on Gibson (I'm pretty sure about this).
    Gibby tops are generally nicer, using flame rather than curly. (of course your preference maybe different).
    Jack on side on Heritage vs on Top for Gibby.
    The biggest difference is the neck profile. Heritage has fat neck; Gibson RI has slim taper neck.

    I think the only reason I sold my heritage is that I couldn't get it in tune. No matter how I intonated it, it always seemed off. Plus I liked the top on my Gibson better.

    I did prefer the neck on the Heritage as I like beefier necks. I would love an ES335 with a 50s neck, but I don't want to buy a custom shop.
     
  10. sanhozay

    sanhozay klon free since 2009 Silver Supporting Member

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    I really like the zing that the Bigsby adds! I do have an internet lead on a great Hamer Newport Pro with some bangin' mods from a very honest guy that I can pass on to you if I purchase the Newport w/Bigs.
     
  11. Pedro58

    Pedro58 Member

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    I like the zing, too. But you can't have both at the same time... A Newport that had the Bigsby and the studs would be cool! I spent about 2/3 of the time with the stop on my 335. The Bigsby was fun for tone's sake, but I hardly used it as a "wiggle" bar, its intended purpose! What's a good price for a used Newport? Are they all in that clear, but sparkled, orange? Not sure I dig that! Haven't seen it in person, though.
     
  12. tonefreak

    tonefreak Member

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    I cannot speak for the 535 or 335, but my 4 year quest for a production line Les Paul ended with a Heritage 150CW. The Historic LP was the only one that I like, but the price tag put it beyond my reach.

    I've played probably close to 200 Les Pauls by Gibson and I couldn't find one that I liked... not one. Buzzing, dead spots, poor build quality, etc... I've experienced it all to my frustration. Again, Historics were the exception.

    I finally decided that I don't need a Gibson, and tried out 5 Heritage 150CWs... my search was over in 2-days.
     
  13. The_Whale

    The_Whale Member

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    Not much difference.

    The Heritage has larger frets.

    Different bridge on the Heritage, some players don't like it. (I do)

    Heritage has its jack on the side, not on the front of the guitar like a Gibson.

    I think you gotta try before you buy. I tried both and bought a Heritage.
     
  14. fred dons

    fred dons Member

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    Gary did have his own signature Heritage and he did play it very much in his heavy period
    next to this Gary also was a Hamer and a Charvel endorser and he was more seen with these guitars in the 80 ties than a fender or gibson
     
  15. Chicago Slim

    Chicago Slim Member

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    After owning 60's Gibsons (SG, ES125, ES330, ES335), made in Kalamazoo MI, I never bonded with a Nashville Gibson. I went to Jay Wolfe's, and tried Heritage 535's. I liked them immediately. I didn't see one guitar with any issue's. I don't know if this is because of Jay or Heritage.

    I bought a 535 with Schaller hardware and pickups. It sounds brighter than a Gibson 335, and that was something I liked. It's a little harder to get jazz sounds out of it, but it can also do country and rock-a-billy twangy sounds.
     
  16. AshlandBump

    AshlandBump Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks for all the responses so far -- making it a tough decision.

    Does anyone know whether the Schaller tailpiece and bridge that come standard on the Heritage 535 are interchangeable with a Gibson-style tailpiece and bridge? Are there any issues involved in removing the Schaller parts? I know Wolfe Guitars sells some 535s with Gibson-style parts but I don't know whether a 535 can be retro-fitted with these parts.

    Thanks.
     
  17. JES1680

    JES1680 Silver Supporting Member

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    Take a weekend trip to Memphis and tour the Gibson factory where they make the 335 series. That will cure you of wanting one.

    I'll second or third the option of the Newport, I love mine.
     
  18. Bryan T

    Bryan T guitar owner Silver Supporting Member

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    It sounds like you should be looking at the 535 Classic model. Those guitars come with Seth Lover pickups and "vintage" style hardware. I have one and absolutely love it. Mine came without a pickguard, though I'm not sure if that is typical.

    Bryan
     
  19. NBlair930

    NBlair930 Gold Supporting Member

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    For over 4 years I have been the happy owner of Lefty Heritage 535 in Antique Natural w/ some serious flame, Seth Lovers & a "Gibson-style" pickguard

    My only complaint is that you get killed on re-sale with the Heritage. Also, I could not bond with the "Variphase" on the HEritage, so I had it disconnected. Some people complain that the HEritage Headstock is ugly, but you know what, it serves a purpose of having a very straight string path from tailpiece to tuners.

    As a plus, Heritage factory has a PLEK machine which it uses on all new guitars (solves some fret issues found on older guitars) & solid wood tops, not laminate like Gibson.
     
  20. mbratch

    mbratch Member

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    Laminate tops are not necessarily inferior.
     

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