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Some new additions

October 8, 2012

The reason for the rather irregular posting over the past few weeks has been down to me being busy recently, indulging in my main passion – vintage American guitars. The past fortnight has seen me pass on my beloved 1964 Gibson ES-330TD to a good friend, replacing it with a 1967 ES-345TDSV, oh and then I sort of accidentally bought a 1973 Gibson ES-335TDC too. So one guitar out and two in. Not quite the way the wife wants it to work but it suits me fine…

Both are ‘players’ grade guitars – the ES-345 has a replaced fretboard, and pointing this and everything else wrong with it out in the shop got me £600 knocked off the price, meaning I paid what it’s worth, not Denmark Street’s stupidly inflated prices. With 90% of the work done now (including changing some screws, plastic parts and respraying the back of the neck properly) it’s once again back to its best. And it’s a cracking sounding thing too, the varitone giving a large variety of usable sounds and the original patent number pickups being articulate and clear.

The difference between the shape of this and my early ES-330 and ES-335 is interesting, both those guitars have the hugely desirable ‘Mickey Mouse ears’ body shape, and although the horns on the ES-345 are quite rounded, the actual shaping of the top is much flatter. This can be put down to Gibson having to find ways of speeding up production as demand for thinlines increased through the later 60’s, but it’s something I hadn’t noticed until I had early and later models side-by-side.

The 70’s ES-335 is a different beast altogether – whereas all 60’s models share a similar shape with variations in how pointed the horns are, this is a different shape altogether, almost like Gibson lost the original plans and had someone draw what they thought an ES-335 should look like. The horns are a totally different and the F-holes are now the large style which aren’t anywhere near as attractive as the early models. It’s not an ugly guitar though, just a very different one.

And what it looses in body shape it gains in colour – it’s a fantastic Watermelon red with lots of birdseye figuring in the wood. It’s also a very competent instrument, and even though it needs a re-fret, plays well and sounds huge, whilst also benefiting from being very light, which is actually down to more Gibson cost-cutting in the 70’s – there’s no centre block between the pickups at all – rather than design.

I’ve always kept away from buying Norlin era (1969 – 1980) guitars, mainy because most of them are… well, they’re shite. This one, although not as good as my early 60’s examples is actually a great guitar and cost me half the price of a modern reissue, which is a bit of a bargain really. I have done some work to it, like changing all the hardware to nickle as opposed to chrome plated and the scratchplate has been re-bevelled to the earlier 60’s spec, all of which has made a great difference visually.

The main thing this guitar’s done is made me think I should start paying a bit more attention to early 70’s Gibson products, they’re not as bad as I thought after all. That might have to wait I while though…

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Smartypants123 permalink
    October 8, 2012 12:25 pm

    Shit fella, you’re pretty hardcore with the guitar collecting aren’t you. I know nothing about them but these look lush.

    • October 9, 2012 9:44 am

      CHeers chap, I’ve got a few yeah, it just got a bit out of hand and before I knew it I had a collection. I’m just lucky that I’m in a position to be able to do it and my wife’s very understanding about it (well up to a point).

      But compared to real collectors I’m nothing, I just buy players grade guitars and do them up, they’re still expensive but much, much cheaper than if they were in 100% correct. The guitars above were £2400 and £1400 respectively but if they didn’t have issues I’d have been looking at £4800 and £3000. So it’s a big saving.

      The 1962 ES-335 I bought last year cost £2250, if it had been totally original it would have been £7500, so I own a guitar I never thought I would for a fraction of the price. All they take is a bit of work and you’ve got some brilliant instruments for less then the modern reissues cost.

      The big boys are out there dropping £80k – £200k on the really good stuff, I’m merely at the very bottom of the ladder!

      • Jonny Briggs permalink
        October 11, 2012 12:47 pm

        How come they’re so much cheaper then? just fucked about with? Still a bloody expensive hobby if you ask me mind but they do look nice.

  2. Ettie permalink
    October 9, 2012 6:34 am

    Beautiful guitars, I wish I could afford even one vintage gibson, thank you for posting.

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