Teach a 335 noob...

Shades of Blue

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I've put off this day for a long time, but I'm finally looking at a 335. I just don't know if I should go standard, VOS, or something different? I'm working on selling a couple things and can probably afford around $3000. I mean, it has to be vintage sunburst, and I'm not a huge fan of the satin version.

What should I look for? Are the standards pretty good? Are they all labeled "Custom?" I noticed a lot of used ones have a Custom Shop case. What pickups from Gibson are typically the "go to" set? What upgrades are typical to 335s?

Anything else in general to look for?
 

Steadfastly

Member
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2,577
You might want to give these a look as the quality is every bit as good as a Gibson and perhaps better. You can also keep some money in your pocket.

 

Shades of Blue

Silver Supporting Member
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2,221
Thanks everyone. I agree that I don't want to change out electronics at all if I can help it. I've heard incredibly clear sounding ES-335s, and I've heard muddy ones. My only playing experience I had with one was with a Studio I bought a few years ago. It was incredibly muddy and bland sounding.
 

Jon C

Gold Supporting Member
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17,315
The ‘59 Historic (Nashville) I have and a couple of 2013ish VOS’s are superb... far above any contemporary 335s I’ve seen. I’d focus there.
 
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Shades of Blue

Silver Supporting Member
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2,221
I bought a Memphis '58 in 2016. I haven't returned to any of my other guitars, been 4 years.
A Memphis or at the new Custom Shop is where I would look.
Mine keeps getting better and better.
I think that is probably the direction I'll go if I decide to order sight unseen. Otherwise, I may look around locally for a Standard of some sort.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to approach this the old fashioned way as well, by searching and saving. I had considered selling my Custom 24 and possibly my Silver Sky, but I love those guitars too much. The only other things I have to sell would be my Two Rock or Marshall heads, and those aren't going anywhere for now either.

I've never been in this situation, where I love all my gear enough to actually keep it and not move anything. It's.....eerie lol.
 

Mtt02263

Silver Supporting Member
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420
I would not buy a 335 sight unseen. From my experience they tend to be more variable than a solid body which is tricky enough buying without trying. If you can afford it, I would go Historic, but the Memphis models are also very nice. A great 335 is really magical, but I would really try to play one if you can, not all of them are great.
 
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I tried one, a 2000 , in 2001, in a store and bought it , insane low ball cash offer that they surprisingly took , but over the months I couldn't bond with it. I was playing it through a twin reverb . It was very clean sounding . I did use a boss blues driver to give it a little edge at times . I saw a pick of a advertised as 69-71 335 and it was beautiful and a decent price since it had been modified . I bought that and it was great . I traded the other 335 for a 330 .

I think it's a great idea if you can just check out a few in a store before buying . I once tried every SG in a store and was surprised the one I liked best was the cheapest but I didn't like it enough to buy it . I got my little SG and Firebird whim outta my mind that day.....have some cash in your pocket to make a offer just in case
 

Jon C

Gold Supporting Member
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17,315
57 classics sound great in a 335. I don't think that you need to go historic to get a good one.
my ‘01 Historic has them and they sound great in it, but the rest of the instrument is also critical to the tone and feel that has a dozen of my pro musician friends lined up wanting me to sell this particular guitar to them because it reminds them so much of real ‘59s they’ve known. :idea :dunno

No regular production 335 I’ve seen or heard comes close. :YinYang
 
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ESW.

Member
Messages
322
Like everyone else is saying, there's a HUGE variance in these guitars. I have a '69/70 ES-335 that I bought about 25 years ago. Incredible sound, super lightweight, very skinny neck. If I were in the market for a semi today, I'd make a point of looking at the different PRS options, too.
 

Benz2112

Memba?
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5,140
Like everyone else is saying, there's a HUGE variance in these guitars. I have a '69/70 ES-335 that I bought about 25 years ago. Incredible sound, super lightweight, very skinny neck. If I were in the market for a semi today, I'd make a point of looking at the different PRS options, too.
Very much in agreement with this. I am not of the mind to advise about trying out a guitar unplugged first, but a 335 is somewhat of an exception to the rule for me. The fundamental tone of the guitar is fairly transparent in the plugged in tone. This is why there have been tons of threads about what type of saddles to go with, because it really comes through when you play something like a 335. I bought one during the CME blowout, and it just didn't do it for me. That one had Titanium saddles, which I don't think I liked, the neck moved a lot, could not stay in tune regardless of attention to the nut, new tuners, etc. The Burstbuckers were pretty good A2 hot PAF's, definitely spec'ed to be rock pickups. All things being equal, even if it was a good one, it was a guitar that was appealing to me visually more than ergonomically. The size of the upper bout, and the Gibson neck angle was just not something I was ever going to get use to.
 

fenderjapan

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5,016
I'm going to say my unpopular opinion: the best 335 I ever played or owned was a red Lucille (closer to a 355). My brother, who owns a vintage, Kalamazoo-made 335 agrees.
 

doublescale1

Suhr S-Classic, V60LP's, Soft V neck
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5,857
I found this '03 production model Memphis ES335 used at Elderly Instruments in '04 for $1,850.00. The only thing I did was install a set of Peter Florence '59's. The stock BB just were way too spiky-trebley. This 335 replaced one I had, and for what could only be described as temporary insanity I sold it off at the end of the century. Being able to play before you buy with a 335 is advice that should be considered as sound advice. Weights will vary quite a bit, the necks vary quite a bit as well - my example has a 60's Slim-Taper and I couldn't be happier with it. If you have the ability to try a few, you'll get a better idea of what's available, I for one don't feel this guitar lacks anything a Custom Shop model for waaaay more money could provide. My "beater" 335-type is a '94 Epi Sheraton II that I did put a Gibson 57 Classic in the neck and a 57 Classic+ in the bridge. Those do sound great in a semi-hollow. Good Hunting.
 

GCDEF

Silver Supporting Member
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27,799
Anything after 1992 should be okay. I had one from around 77 that was awful. Really thin neck, really bad feedback and very muddy when you roll the volume down.
 




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