Witch-hat knobs on '66 Gibson?

jhumber

Member
Messages
1,399
Hoping to pick your collective brains regarding this guitar, a '66 ES-355. The pot codes are 22nd week of '66, and the serial looks to start 801xxx which confusingly various websites show as ‘66 or ‘69.

I've read in a couple of places that witch-hat knobs didn't come in until the very end of '66 or into '67. Could those be the original knobs given the serial number, pot codes and other appointments?

Aside: Is there anything else to look out for on that era of 355? I believe the Maestros quite often had shallow break-angles over the bridge, so would be interested to play this one. Thanks in advance.
 
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ctreitzell

Member
Messages
2,391
When I bought my Byrdland in 2007, I had suspected it was a '66 after some initial research. It has witch hat knobs.

Then, when I took delivery (collected in person at the shop), the clerk looked it up and told me it was a '69. After few months research having this Byrdland, the serial number and viewing all the images online I could possibly find lead to the conclusion that it is a '74-'75. So, it seems that clerk was being dishonest...I don't know, I'm not sure he meant to be incorrect....but maybe. The place to start, IMO, is the serial. Pay close attention for Made In The U.S.A. stamp.

If it were me I'd ask @Jayyj to have a look.

ugh, yeah, sorry...my internet connection isn't fast enough to look at those enormous photos in that listing...sadly, many folks don't know how to optimize images for online.
 
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ctreitzell

Member
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2,391
Yeah, if you are looking in the UK (I bought my Byrdland in London)
and you think the serial says 1966 yet MADE IN U.S.A. is stamped on the back of the headstock as well, then you need to look at the the serial #s with MADE IN U.S.A.
MADE IN U.S.A. stamp is a Gibson export. Witch Hat knobs screams 70s to me :)
You require the full serial if you are seriously interested.
 

Jayyj

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,226
I'm at work so a bit short for time to double check, but top of my head witch hats start to show up in '66.

It's not a '69. Gibson re-used the same serial number blocks in '66 and -69 but the small unbound F holes rule out '69 or later. Also if you look closely at the horns of the ATB guitar, they're the super pointy fox ear shape - these started sometime in '66 and disappeared a year or so later. An early '66 would have slightly softer ears but also probably reflectors.

As UK dealers go, ATB seem to be pretty decent and reliable - always a good idea to double check facts but I wouldn't immediately distrust them (if that's damning them with faint praise I might have been in the game too long but hey, they don't make forgeries or consort with Russian crime syndicates so add the UK so they're better than some of the old hands!).
 

drewl

Member
Messages
8,565
I usually don't like those knobs, but they look okay on that guitar.

I prefer the earlier type as on my '64 and '65 SG's.
 

monkeybrains

Member
Messages
850
I was also looking a a guitar from ATB. I decided not to get it simply because I didn't feel experienced enough to make a really educated decision. They do seem to know their stuff as far as I can tell. But like I said I'm certainly no expert. Interested to see what others make of them.
 

sladest

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
98
I own a 66 es-335 tdc serial 857xxx...
Mine is all original outside of a stop tail mod and grovers... regular black silver top knobs not witch hats on mine. Another unique characteristic that I've read about from this era is the neck shape. For the record, I've never compared it to a 69 335 but the 66 has a very "full feeling" neck profile for a 1 9/16 nut. I used to own a 69 sg and while its understandable that the necks on these two guitars would be very different, the 66 335 felt significantly larger. Another give away would be the orange gibson label sticker. Dont quote me on it but the 66s are more likely to have a stamp vs the 69s are handwritten. Lastly, and this is the most significant... look at the crown inlay on the headstock. The 66s have the crown set higher up on the headstock. Well above the 2 middle tuning pegs. The 69s are almost even with the middle tuning pegs.

Hope this helps.
 

Jayyj

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,226
I own a 66 es-335 tdc serial 857xxx...
Mine is all original outside of a stop tail mod and grovers... regular black silver top knobs not witch hats on mine. Another unique characteristic that I've read about from this era is the neck shape. For the record, I've never compared it to a 69 335 but the 66 has a very "full feeling" neck profile for a 1 9/16 nut. I used to own a 69 sg and while its understandable that the necks on these two guitars would be very different, the 66 335 felt significantly larger. Another give away would be the orange gibson label sticker. Dont quote me on it but the 66s are more likely to have a stamp vs the 69s are handwritten. Lastly, and this is the most significant... look at the crown inlay on the headstock. The 66s have the crown set higher up on the headstock. Well above the 2 middle tuning pegs. The 69s are almost even with the middle tuning pegs.

Hope this helps.
Neck profiles are all over the place in '66 - typically they start the year fairly similar to a narrow nut '65, but they can be Jazz Bass skinny or tapered and fairly chunky. Early '66s seem to quite commonly have a 1 5/8" nut and at least two of us on here have a '66 with 1 5/8ths nut width - both also have the '65 body shape (which changed a little way into '66) and a high crown.

'69s tend to be skinny at the nut but get very chunky further down, although again it's not a hard and fast rule. My '69 330 is huge by the 7th fret, positively 50s feeling although it also has a positively tiny 1 1/2" nut.

The one absolute rule that tells '66s and '69s apart is the F hole: no '66 should have large F holes and no '69 should have small ones. 355s also had bound F holes by '69 which helps in the OP's case.
 




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