Silver Supporting Member
Have had a Collings i35 and there wasn't anything at all to complain about, not one thing, I don't have it anymore. Do have a couple of 335s still.
I bought a Heritage H 535 and I love it. Sounds great, plays great, beautiful craftsmanship, top notch materials and hardware. Made in the same Kalamazoo, MI factory as the old vintage Gibsons.Im on the hunt for a new ES 335 and just cant seem to find the right guitar right now.I want the closest thing to an actual vintage one for that money...A fairly meaty neck but not massive either , somewhere between .86-.89 I think.I absolutely despise the look of shiny chrome hardware and would prefer something a bit more dull looking..Like old nickel hardware, but doesnt have to be distressed...
Tried a few new regular Gibsons , none wowed me...Havent had a chance to play a custom shop but the ones I played where boring and not inspiring.Ill probably be buying online at this point , so as much as id like to find a used Gibson, Im not sure I can trust Gibson?I do have 3 post 2013 custom shop LesPauls and theyre all great.
I like the idea of a Collings, but from what I gather they dont exactly sound like a true vintage 335.Would love to hear more opinions on that...only a handful in the emporium but those dont fit my criteria I think.
I like Josh Williams MockingBirds but , the wait time is killing me and they are hard to come by on the used market..LA Vintage has 3 now but Im not really digging the sunburst finish all that much...Also worried about the resale case if I dont bound with it.
Where would guys go? Is there a reputable online dealer for those? What should I look for, any brands that Im missing? Heritage and Eastman are kinda meh to me but haven’t played one of those in the last recent years...Im sure they are great instruments for the money but I doubt they are KILLER guitars ? Or are they ?I feel like I maybe in a weird price bracket...Lots of cheaper guitars, or wayyy too expensive but I just cant seem to find a lot of options in that price range.
This is the worst problem to have...all that money to spend and cant find a way to use it...please help !
Yes, right on Tag. Me and my 1999 Nashville Gibson in the studio with Carl Verheyen, Jake Cohara, Curt Schneider (Joe Bonamassa, Five For Fighting), and Brian Macleod (Sheryl Crow, Tears For Fears), recording an original song.A Gibson Nashville 335. Find one under 8 lbs.
I like hearing this as an H535 is, Lord willing, in my near future.Another Heritage 535 vote. Have been searching for a 335 for years and had a fairly large budget (5k). Tried and bought the Collings, two gibbies, and the Eastman before coming home to the Heritage.
Collings: best build quality, by some distance. Beautiful instrument, but didn’t feel right, nor was I enamoured with the tone. I thought for the £, I’d have to adore everything so I returned it. No regrets.
Gibbies: 1 was a modern and one was vintage. Surprised by the modern one... reading on here you’d think they were pure junk but this was quite good. I did notice a few fit/finish issues which ultimately pushed me to return the guitar. The vintage one had excellent tone, best sounding one for sure but it was too expensive to be in the shape it was in, so reverb it went.
Eastman: I own an Eastman E40 OM, so I do have some bias (the OM is so fantastic I sold my 000-28 Martin and pocketed the £800 and haven’t looked back.) Their 335 is quite good too, and very well priced. Honestly for the £, it’s probably the best of all of these but it lacked the real Gibson tone so I returned it.
Heritage: Going to sound like hyperbole but so be it. Second best build quality behind the Collings, second best tone to the vintage gibbie, best playability and brand new to me. Honestly, it’s the best guitar I own (including Martins, PRS, Fender etc), and one of the best I’ve ever played period. Since buying it earlier this summer, it’s really the only guitar I play! Happy my search is over, this is an heirloom instrument. Helps that the guys at Heritage are great to work and deal worth. The best modern 335 on the market for tone and playability, in my humble opinion.
Spent over £15k finding the right one, but it was worth it
Speaking out of my experience, ES-335 type guitars are the most "difficult" guitars you can buy bar none.
When you find The One, it is a sublime tonal experience, unrivaled by any other solid body or hollow body guitar. The problem in my experience is that the variance among them is so great that I would warmly recommend NOT to buy one online, and NOT to order one built to your specs, regardless of which maker you choose to go with.
Specifically, your points of attention are:
- Playability: neck shape is certainly one of the main factors, but so is neck stiffness as well. Two necks with exactly the same thickness and shape can play radically different, and some ES-335 are notoriously hard to play.
- Resonance: we all love a super resonant guitar, it seems like a no brainer. Not so much with semi-hollow guitars. Great acoustic resonance means greater probability of having dead spots caused by phase cancellations, and believe me, a dead upper A or G note on the G string's 14th or 12th fret will kill the playing experience for you.
- Weight: semi-hollow does not equal comfortable, lightweight. Many ES-335s are in the 9+ lbs range, and make a LP feel like a Parker Fly. I am not debating the tonal merits of light vs heavy weight, rather just the playing experience of holding a large, heavy guitar for extended periods of time.
- Pickups: the ES-335 has clearly a stronger acoustic voice compared to a solid body, so be careful on your choice of pickups. Yes, a lower output PAF wind with a touch of microphonic sounds like a sensible choice, but it will feedback more easily and it will sound "wimpier" on those clean tones. Believe it or not, I have listened to great, very righteous ES-335 tones courtesy of a DiMarzio ToneZone, pretty much one of the most bass-heavy, high gain pickups you can buy!
So, and this might sound controversial to some, buying a ES-335 sight unseen, however reputable the builder, is not a good idea. Custom Shop ES-335 59 reissues, Collings I-35s, Heritage, and many other smaller builder ES-335 style guitars are beautiful, well built, any superlative you can think of.
Will all of them consistently sound and play great? Not necessarily. Can you expect the same variance between dogs and golden ones among them as you would with a solid body guitar of equal stature? No. Semi-hollow guitars are more "complex", in construction and tone.
So, in practice, what I recommend is to choose among as many instruments in stock that you can find, and always play before you buy. Recent production, mid-90s to today, Made in USA (as opposed to strictly Custom Shop) ES-335s are plentiful, good value, and you can definitely find the proverbial diamond in the rough among them.
Higher end ones, you generally get what you pay for, but here again, play them first.
I play my I-35lc through solid state amps such as Quilter and Polytone and it sounds great.Collings I-35 hands down. No Question. Your money will go light years further in terms of build quality, and also sound...assuming you have a good quality tube amp. If you compare an I-35 and a Gibson 335 playing through a $22 Mini Amp, some clown can say the Gibson sounds better all day long, and have half a chance at appearing to be right - they'll both sound like garbage.