Whats "The Scoop" on 70's Gibson 335's with Coil Tapping?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by shawntp, Apr 28, 2008.

  1. shawntp

    shawntp Member

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    So I played one of the coolest guitars this weekend - it was a 1976 ES-335 TD with coil tapping. The guitar had such a wide range of sounds - the neck was great (not too small like a 73 I also tried). The coil tap made the thing just have so much spank - it really ripped.

    On the flip side when it was switched to single coils the guitar seemed pretty noisy but I was in the middle of a large city. Finnish was great - I think it was listed in the $3500ish range.

    Anyone know anything more about these? I hear the trapeze tail piece was undesirable - and understand in general "70's" Fenders/Gibsons were considered to be of declining quality - but obviously they still both put out a lot of good ones still kicking around.

    Anyways, I played 3 different 70's with coil tapping too and they all seemed so cool - one really stood out in terms of neck/fret quality.

    Anways ...below is a pic - I was just wondering if anyone had any information to add on these guitars (whats good / what can be an issue /etc).

    [​IMG]
     
  2. dunara

    dunara Member

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    Horrible.
    Misshapen bodies, oversized headstocks, bloody volutes, trapeze tailpieces, stupid extra switches (have a coiltap if you must - but use push-switches on the tone controls or a micro switch embedded beside the other controls; the lower-bout switch totally unbalances the looks of the instrument), highly inconsistent quality control.
    The Norlin corporation presided over the 'dark ages' of Gibson - the 'Corvus years', if you will, and this is a prime example. Sure, you get a few that have been worked over by a good luthier or repairman and have been turned into acceptably playable guitars, however ugly; but overall the reputation is not good, and this is reflected in poor resale prices compared to other eras of Gibson production.
    $3500K is way, way too much for this guitar. That kind of money will get you a smart new (or recent secondhand),much bonnier and more solidly built 335, and leave you enough change for a half decent amp. That strikes me as a far better way of parting with your hard-earned.
    Sorry.:(
     
  3. shawntp

    shawntp Member

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    Thanks - I was sort of curious. I know 70's fenders get a bad rap too for Fenders but I have a 74 Tele custom that I just love.

    One of the differences I noticed though was that a new tele might sell for a 1K where 70's might go for 2-3 times that. With the 335, a new one costs 2-3 G and it seems the 70's were just over that (essentially not being worth much more than what a brand new 335 goes for).

    I might be just more intrigued by the coil tap in the 335 as ive never seen one before, but the guitar did seem to have a great feel.

    Ive often thought about getting a used ES-333 (since its basically asking to be rebuilt with the low cost/back access plate) and gut it out - putting a coil tap in one of those might be a neat project guitar.

    Anyways - if anyone has any other opinions - feel free to share.
     
  4. pir8matt

    pir8matt Member

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    If you want the 335 playability but also want the coiltapping, get an ES-347!

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Rotten

    Rotten Silver Supporting Member

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    My favorite guitar is my 1973 ES-335. My big problem with it is it is 1 9/16" at the nut, very slender. I also put a stop tail piece on it. It is my best sounding guitar. You should be able to find one for under $2K.
     
  6. Rotten

    Rotten Silver Supporting Member

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  7. dunara

    dunara Member

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    Check the shape of that 347 - that's exactly what I was talking about. I personally think that it looks like a badly engineered copy. Compare the shape to the current 300-series Gibsons on their website. It's a different guitar.
    More recent (late 80s-) 347s are a much nicer (mid-60s 335) shape - similar to that lovely walnut 335 above, and relocated the ugly coil tap switch to the 'control area' under the bridge. They also dropped the TP6 tailpiece - functional but unsightly. The post-Norlin, better shaped es347 is a great guitar IMHO, and if you can get one at the right price, it would be a good buy.
    Great call on the 333, btw. Great value, and easy to modify, thanks to the cavity access plate on the back.
     
  8. jackaroo

    jackaroo Member

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    I think a good one is a good one. When I find a good example of a guitar I don't own and it bonds with me...it's hard not to buy it.

    I have yet to find any 335 from the 1980's up that has what I've liked in the older 3XX guitars I've played. So, while I might not state my opinion as firmly as "dunara"- I'm not of his mind at all. I think you should play some others and see what you think.

    That 3.5K seems pricey but still they're not that different from the ones on the mid sixties now north of 5K so go figure.

    I own 2 '66 335s as my main guitars and I love 'em.

    Peace,

    JD

    edit...
    Misshapen bodies, oversized headstocks, bloody volutes, trapeze tailpieces, stupid extra switches (have a coiltap if you must - but use push-switches on the tone controls or a micro switch embedded beside the other controls; the lower-bout switch totally unbalances the looks of the instrument), highly inconsistent quality control.

    To address your points...

    Misshapen bodies
    I thought the body shape changed in the early 60's from the Mickey Mouse ears to the less rounded shape so knock the 70's 335 for that is like knock a '64-9.

    oversized headstocks
    Is the headstock bigger?...I don't think so. Les Pauls yes, but 335s?

    bloody volutes
    Not sure..I don't remember them on 335s, but lots of other Gibbies have them after '70 so who knows?

    trapeze tailpieces
    The Trapeze is up to you to like or not like...I think they sound pretty good personally- here's an example of my trapeze 335.
    http://soundclick.com/share?songid=6021645

    I'm not a fan of the switches either, but it's not a deal breaker if the guitar is great.

    Is the '70 a tough time for Gibson and Fender? Yes. Less collectible? Yes. But some are really good instruments. If you've found one of those, I'd persue it if you like it more than what else you've played.
     
  9. musicman1

    musicman1 Member

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    I think its insulting to Gibson/Norlin owners to completely denegrade an entire era of Gibson gtrs. It wasnt like the consumer had an abundance of gtr buying options back in the 70's. If you wanted a top end gtr you bought either a Gibson, a Fender, a Gretsch or a Guild. Im not including small gtr companies of the 70's like BC Rich or Travis Bean etc. Norlin produced what they did period. Some were good and some weren't...sounds to me exactly the same as it is now.

    My 1976 sunburst 335 has the coil splitter..again this was not an option...it came that way from the factory. I love that fact that I can get more tonal options than what just a three way switch provides. In some respects it sounds as good as a Tele when split.

    Yes, I swapped out the trapeze tailpiece for a stop tail piece...I changed the tuners...I eventually changed the pickups..I eventually had a re-fret done...I changed the nut. I did nothing that many owners of 335's have done since the original company started making 335's... My gtr's pots, switches and wiring are still stock 32 years later. The neck is straight. The finish is unchecked. I think thats pretty damn good construction. A hell of a lot better than alot of the cookie cutter crap they produce now.

    Listen, if you like the gtr and it works for you buy it. Forget who made it and when.
     
  10. HRydarcik

    HRydarcik Member

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    The more pointed horns on the late 60s and 70s 335s are hideous.
     
  11. gadzooka

    gadzooka Member

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    Hooray for sensible talk! And your sound clip backs you up eloquently. Every other trapeze 335 in the world can be swapped for a stop tail; my '67 will remain stock. Sounds fabulous, and the trapeze is part of the recipe.

    The most bothersome thing for me about Norlin-era 335s is the very short neck tenon. I suppose the tenon could be perfectly fine, but with the pre-Norlin guitars, you can at least look under the pickup to see the fit. But if I found a great Norlin 335, I would go for it in a heartbeat.
     
  12. PSaulino

    PSaulino Silver Supporting Member

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    A 1979 ES-347 was one of the very best guitars I ever owned.

    Paul
     
  13. Stratand335

    Stratand335 Member

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    I have a walnut '76 w/ the coil-tap. I didn't want the tap when I was shopping for this axe but I tried it anyway and I liked the sound so much that I bought it on the spot. I also didn't want the trapeze either but the tone of this guitar was just what I was looking for.

    As far as problems go, one that I've had to deal with is the pickups. The neck pickup lost about half of it's output six months ago... I found out that these pickups were potted in epoxy and it's difficult if not impossible to get them repaired. I've been trying to find an old replacement for six months but a couple days ago I gave up and ordered a pair of Lollars.

    Other than that I couldn't be happier with this guitar.
     
  14. Jagsound

    Jagsound Member

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    I don't mind 'em!
     
  15. Bluedawg

    Bluedawg Member

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    I still have a 1980 that I bought new. Mine's very nice even though it's a second.

    Like all Norlins play it before you buy it. If you can.

    IMHO these have that BB King sound more so than the newer ones. I've always kind of thought of the Gibson Lucille as somewhat of a backdoor reissue of the Norlin era 335s. YMMV. The Lucilles even have the 70s three piece necks.

    http://www.gibsoncustom.com/flash/products/signature/lucille/lucille.html
    :BEER
     
  16. dewman

    dewman Gold Supporting Member

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    I almost boght one a few years back. It was a very dark brown ES-335TDC, with the coil tap switch. The deal breaker for me was the guitar was incredibly neck heavy and unbalanced. The tone was only ok. New pps were clearly in order. I played a 64 or 65 with patent pickups the same trip by comparison. I liked the fat neck of the 79 over the 64/65, but the tone was mased totally, most likely by the electronics. The guitar I was looking at was immaculate, but had Grover Imperial tuners (even MORE weight to the headstock) but was only something like 2300 or so, which was ok in that ondition, assuming of course that it sounded better with new pups. Before I'd buy, since Gibson's during that period could be sketchy, is to check out a CS version, ike the 59 historic, or the fat neck newer models, which have killer tone and you can coil tap easily with a push,pull pot. Wiring is a bitch, but a tech can easily do it.

    That being said, I have an amazing 89 ES-335 Dot. Its totally a different beast than the 79 I was looking at, what a difference 10 years made for guitars. A friend has an 82 w/ Shaw pups, and apart from his fret height, its otherwise a perfect guitar, although the 82-90 years are significantly worth more now. The ES-335TDC I was looking at looked almost black, the finish I was immediately struck with I think the guitars were more hit and miss back then, but n general you're probably paying too much for that particular guiar and time period, but that doesnt mean it cant be a real gem.
     
  17. gadzooka

    gadzooka Member

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    +1 The first ES I fell in love with was Lifeson's '76 ES-355, with the pointy horns. The 50's guitars looked strange to me at first the rounded horns. Now I like both.
     
  18. Jagsound

    Jagsound Member

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    Not sure if a push/pull pot will fit in a 335, might have to use a mini-toggle?
     
  19. greuvin

    greuvin Member

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    I personally like the 70's es-335s (both early and late). The shape of the horns doesn't bother me and the trapeze works just fine. Never noticed a problem with the volute. The quality is very nice and never had a problem with the many I have owned. Still own 3 from the '70's in fact. The price of vintage 335s is always high especially considering originality and condition. The wood is getting older...period. I think the "quality problem" many cite is somewhat overstated. Maybe I've been lucky but I don't recall anything that really turned me off about 70's 335s.

    Check this baby out.....

    http://www.gbase.com/Stores/Gear/GearDetails.aspx?Item=1848674

    I recently played the above '79 highly driven at a blues session and was pleasantly surprised by the sustain and response. The coil tap was useful, too. Gibson chose to use a switchcraft switch which (although somewhat balky in 2 position guise) is as indestructable as the selector switch.


    As others have stated, ....bottom line, buy what you like. If you dig the coil tap, get it. Life's too short to worry about it.
     
  20. Cottage

    Cottage Member

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    Many of the 60s and even 50s guitars were dogs too. Sometime you'd have to spend some dough to make them playable, A lot of this huffing and puffing about 70s Gibbos is just a lot of babble by people who often, have either gigged very little, or have spent too much time reading Guitar mags. I've owned Gibsons from nearly every era and my two favourites are a 73 Les Paul and a 73 walnut 335, Yes, folks , I've gigged extensively with them for many years and they are still ticking along nicely.....volutes and a trapeze tailpiece not withstanding. Don't discount any axe that feels and sounds good to you, go for it and make it yours,
     

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