Vintage Gibson Es-335 --- issues but sounds GLORIOUS -- would you buy???

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Eskimo_Joe, Jun 1, 2015.

What say you?

  1. Go for it

    9 vote(s)
    32.1%
  2. Don't do it

    19 vote(s)
    67.9%
  1. Eskimo_Joe

    Eskimo_Joe Rocker, roller, way out of controller Supporting Member

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    I have a friend who is selling a vintage 1963 Es-335.

    SITUATION
    Everything is original/authentic, but there's been some work done on the top. It was like that when he got it, so there's no official explanation. There's a cosmetic blemish that borders the edge between the binding and the top the entire way around the guitar. Who knows? Could the top have been replaced? Or taken off and put back on for some crazy reason? The back strap button area shows that a tailpiece/Bigsby had been there, but there's no corresponding marks on the top of the guitar. ??? All that said, the top looks old/vintage.

    BUT
    The guitar plays great and sounds completely GLORIOUS. I mean, G-L-O-R-I-O-U-S. Freaking amazing. It couldn't sound better (unless someone else was playing it). :)

    THE DILEMMA
    He wants $9000. Without the issue, it might be more like $16,000 +/-. I've been looking for a Custom Shop 335 for a couple years. Knowing that would set me back $3500-$5500 depending on what I get. So, in my mind, I'm asking, is it worth the extra $4000-ish for the vintage player 335 that sounds truly incredible?

    Now, that's a lot of money. Keep in mind I have about $7500 of gear for sale currently.
     
  2. Bogner

    Bogner Member

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    I guarantee you can find one that plays just as good minus the issues for a lot less cash. I would go that route (and did) and couldn't be happier.
     
  3. Zacharia Matilda

    Zacharia Matilda Member

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    I would take if to a luthier I trusted to see if I could find out what happened to the top. I wouldn't spend that kind of money with a big unknown like that.
     
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  4. Mr. Mukuzi O

    Mr. Mukuzi O Member

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    the plywood might have delaminated at one point
     
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  5. Elduderino73

    Elduderino73 Member

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    Check reverb and look for the late 70s and 80s period of Japanese semi-hollows, Greco, Tokai, Orville by Gibson, Burny, Yamaha, Ibanez, etc. I'd bet for less cash than what that guy wants you could find a killer deal on something just as good and it would have some old wood mojo.

    Or, stay with Gibson and you can easily find another 335 for a lot less.

    $9k is A LOT of money to spend on something with an issue like what you've described. You could always buy a new or new-ish 335, then send it to Historic Makeovers.
     
  6. DBBlues

    DBBlues Formerly fullertone Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm not an expert on these guitars at all. It sounds like you love the guitar and that you want to buy it. But the Bigsby marks one place and not the other suggest that the top was replaced. So, in my own version of what something is worth, a replaced top drops a guitar value more than a refinish. I think of a refinished vintage guitar as usually worth about half of the same guitar with an original finish. So, for me, the issue is the price, which might be an awkward topic with a friend.
    The price then gets into resale. Presumably, you'll lose a lot of buyers with the changes that are there. I'm hoping that Gibson experts will weigh in. Maybe it is more like a $6000-$7000 guitar. Could it be worth even less?
    Then there is the issue of the items that you have for sale. Are you counting on those to sell to make this purchase okay? I put more than that price up for sale, and I've sold maybe ten percent in terms of dollars.
    Again, I'm just trying to help as a guy who can fall in love with a guitar and desperately want it. If I am any help, it is because I'm not in love with this one!
     
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  7. slowerhand

    slowerhand Supporting Member

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    If you've played tens of them and this one still stands out, go for it. But as others mentioned, the price is rather high for that kind of issue.
     
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  8. Eskimo_Joe

    Eskimo_Joe Rocker, roller, way out of controller Supporting Member

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    Great response, thanks! The refin analogy makes sense to me. I think the $9K asking price is probably too much even though I do love the way it sounds and plays.
     
  9. ELmiguel

    ELmiguel Member

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    The guitars I have left in my little collection are still with me because they play and sound great (in my opinion, some of my friends don't agree). Most of them have been played a lot and show it. If ever I were to sell one of them, I'd get beat up on the price because of the dings, dents, scratches, checking, etc. None of them were new when I bought them. The previous owners didn't baby them. When I bought them I probably paid too much for most of them. But, the mojo was there. And I wasn't planning on reselling them in the near future. So, getting my investment back wasn't really an issue since I planned on keeping them until I pass. I'm not suggesting paying more than a guitar is worth. In my case, I paid what I had to in order to get the guitar I really wanted.
    I guess my point is, are you willing to just buy it and forget about the money? Just enjoy owning it and playing it? Or, is getting your investment back important to you?
     
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  10. russ

    russ Supporting Member

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    Here's my '61..
    [​IMG]
    It's got some damage on the body. More than this photo shows. While I didn't pay upwards of $9K, ( I got it about 20 years ago), it's a great guitar. And due to the damage, I'm not reluctant to take it anywhere.
     
  11. straycat113

    straycat113 Member

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    This is a pretty tough one to answer on because some guitars no matter what they have been through(mods/repairs) just sound incredible and can smoke a stock mint model from the same period. The price he is asking is too high by at least 2K in my book and I would say a lot would have to do with where you are as a player at the moment- gigging in an original band or doing some recording work=bottom line are you making money playing? If you are sitting at home playing for your own enjoyment or playing bars in a cover band, I honestly would pass if he is unwilling to come down in price. As the day may come when something else rings your bell and you will take a pretty good hit selling it or offering it as part of a trade. On the flipside if you are looking to make it as a musician and are at a level where it would be your main axe, then paying more then what it's worth on the used market is up to you. But as stated I wouldn't buy a guitar in that price range without having it thoroughly checked out by a top tech/Luthier to find out exactly what the guitar has had done to it.
     
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  12. Jayyj

    Jayyj Supporting Member

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    I don't know if you can put any sort of value in this without properly understanding what is going on with the top. I would first get some photos and see if you can figure it out from there. It might be worth contacting Charlie Gleiber who runs the www.es-335.org blog. He's a dealer but he knows a huge amount about 335s and it's unlikely to be something he's not seen before. At the very least, buy with an approval period and get it to someone who knows vintage 335s inside out for an inhand examination. If the seller has been honest about not knowing what the issue is I'm sure they would understand you wanting to do this.

    The Bigsby could easily have been an aftermarket B3 or B6. Normally if a B3 has been on a guitar for a long time you would expect a bit of fading around one of these and possibly some nitro damage where the felt pads press down on the top, but there's no way of knowing how long the Bigsby was on there, and a little finish work would obliterate any tell tale signs - no Bigsby holes in the top should certainly not immediately point to a retop. The finish issues could be a number of things including replacing the binding - I'm not suggesting there aren't re topped 335s out there, but given the construction of these guitars it would be a big job to do so compared to retopping a flat top guitar, require a mould and press to create the arch. To be honest the only likely scenario for a retop that wasn't an obvious amateur job would be Gibson factory work, in which case the top would not have finish issues.

    If it is overpriced and you still love it, what to do? It depends on your circumstances. If you genuinely think it's a guitar your going to get years of enjoyment out of and resale isn't that big a deal, and the price isn't ridiculously over the top (within ~20% of average market value), then I don't see the harm - you might not be getting a deal but you'd still be likely to take a bigger hit buying a new guitar and selling it six months down the line. If you think you might need to get your money out of it again in the relatively near future and you can't afford to take a big hit then stay away.

    But, and it's a big but, if this guitar has an issue that potentially demolishes the value you need to go into the sale knowing what that issue is - because you're talking about thousands of dollars difference between a retop and replaced binding.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2015
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  13. jimbugg

    jimbugg Supporting Member

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    I certainly wouldn't pay $9k for it, but if it speaks to you I'd be hesitant to get something different...I'd go with your friend to a good guitar shop, try to figure out what the story behind the issues might be, and try to talk him down on the price. But if you're able to afford it and love the guitar even with some issues, I'd try my best to get ahold of it.
     
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  14. lousyatit

    lousyatit Supporting Member

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    Joe, would it be possible for you to post a photo?
     
  15. Franktone

    Franktone Member

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    Give us some photos.
    How obvious or bad does it look and do you have to look really close to notice it?
    Does it have the original pickups which are early patent number pickups?
    If it passes all of the above, I'd just take it.
    While the new ones are great guitars, they are just not quite the same thing as these from
    the early sixties or late fifties.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2015
  16. Krausewitz

    Krausewitz Member

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    $9,000 seems like way too much for any guitar in my book.

    How good can it possibly be?
     
  17. Mark Kane

    Mark Kane Silver Supporting Member

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    If you have the extra hole at the bottom strap pin but nothing on top my first guess would be trapeze which would make this guitar later than '63. What determined it to be a '63.
     
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  18. mad dog

    mad dog Silver Supporting Member

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    What DBBlues says. It comes down to a fair price. That price sounds too high. I definitely understand the dilemma, as the owner of a '66 ES-335 with repaired headstock. In my case, the price was quite fair, so it was a much easier decision.
    MD
     
  19. Tony Bones

    Tony Bones Member

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    I was reading the OP and thinking "What? This guy is all worried about some cosmetic issues? If it's that awesome to play then buy it!" And then I got to the part where he said it costs $9k. I wouldn't pay $9k for anything that I intended to actually play. I mean, Jay Leno can afford to buy every car he sees, and maybe if I had that kind of money I'd buy every cool guitar I could find, but I ain't Jay Leno.
     
  20. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm with the other guys, $9k is too much for a guitar with that many questions. It has to have had a refin if the top is marred like that, and a retop would also also take away value. I'd guess more in the $6k range would be fair. Sorry...
     

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