70s Gibson ES.... 325? 335?

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garyfanclub
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70s Gibson ES.... 325? 335?

Post by garyfanclub » Wed Feb 20, 2019 9:40 pm

As a guy with a ton of bright twangy guitars, I’m feeling the need to round things out a bit with something a bit woodier and warm sounding.

So who has experience with 70s Gibson 325s or 335s? Love them, hate them? I’m leaning 325 because I love minis, but haven’t played one or even seen one in person.

Any years to avoid? I’ve read “skinny neck” a bunch but that’s not a bother for me.

Should I just track down a 60s Guild Starfire and forget all this? :fp:

Fire away!

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Re: 70s Gibson ES.... 325? 335?

Post by sookwinder » Wed Feb 20, 2019 11:45 pm

I'd add in the years 68/69/70 to your searches.... quite surprising what bargains have been around due to the "oh anything after 64 is shit" attitude.
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Re: 70s Gibson ES.... 325? 335?

Post by HH1978 » Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:48 pm

Why not 66/67 too? They seem to go in the same price range as the 68/69.
According to Charlie Gelber (es-335.org), still very good years, and you have a chance to get pre T-tops (look for Phillips head screws on the baseplate. Slotted head are apparently always T-tops, phillips head can be either of the two).

I scored a '67 es-345 a couple of months ago for a very decent price, and had the good surprise to discover the pickups were very early patent#, still wound with plain enamel. The gold plated pickups with one reversed magnet probably accounts for this as the stock remained longer, and it's unlikely to happen on a 1967 es-335. Yet the T-tops were not so common these years (still according to Charlie Gelber).

I know some like T-tops, I don't so I'm partial. To be fair I only have had T-tops on a 1977 Les Paul, so I don't know how they sound on a semi-hollow. To me they are bright (not necessarily a bad thing), but they lack output and, more importantly, harmonics compared to other humbuckers.

I can't speak for the es-225, as I've never played one, but it's a very appealing guitar, much easier to work on if you like to tweak, and the extra-brightness of the minihums for a semi-hollow looks good on paper.

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Re: 70s Gibson ES.... 325? 335?

Post by sookwinder » Thu Feb 28, 2019 2:31 pm

yeah 66/67 are great as well (I have a very very early 68 ES335 ... the features are actually 67 build, Pat no. PUPs) and it is awesome, none of this too thin neck stuff etc) ... but in my experience there is a slight premium of 66/67 over 68/69 models
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Re: 70s Gibson ES.... 325? 335?

Post by garyfanclub » Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:38 am

Thanks for the replies, dudes!

Unfortunately, looks like the 4-5k for the late 60s stuff is well outside of my budget. Looking at the 2k-2.5k 70s stuff that’s more in line with what I have available.

Any thoughts on build quality/pickups on these? I’m sort of waffling between a 335 or a late 60s Guild Staefire V, which I hear are more consistent than the Gibson stuff.

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Re: 70s Gibson ES.... 325? 335?

Post by Despot » Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:46 am

So I'll jump in here.

I've had a few of these guitars - and though I know this offends some people, I'm going to post priced paid/year so that you've an idea of price range:
1971/2 ES345 - 3,000 euro, 2014
1976 ES355 - 3,250 euro, 2012
1968 ES335 - 5,000 euro (didn't pay that as I traded - but that was the list price), 2016

Those are the three I'll focus on, as I've had McCarthy year models too but I think these are outside your range. Also consider that these prices are about 25/30% more than you can find these guitars for in the US (that's the price mark up and tax impact here).

Okay ... so here goes.
T-tops pickups - not all are created equal.
In my experience T-tops vary more than folk seem to credit. I've had them in SGs (a '69 Custom and a '69 Standard that I still have) and ES guitars (two set out above). I've had them in a '71 LP Custom too. They all sounded different, but within a certain range.

The nicest sounding of the ES guitars was that early '70s ES345. It had a quite loud set of pickups (which were legit t-top patent numbers - I had considered that they might have been replacements as they were louder than I've usually experienced with t-tops). After that the '68 ES335 was a close second - bright, clear and open pickups with just enough body. The '76 ES355 - my first vintage ES - was a different story.

Those pickups sounded quite bright - very bright - but didn't have a huge amount of body to them. That's not to say that they sounded bad (they didn't) ... but that guitar was the least ES sounding guitar of any I've ever owned. The difference between the other t-top equipped ES guitars and ... say ... my old '62 ES345 was less pronounced than the difference between that guitar and the '76.

In my experience at some point past 1974 or so (based on guitars I've played) the t-top pickup changed again - maybe it's the number of winds - but the output dropped a bit. Could be magnets - who knows. But I do know that when I play those guitars from earlier years they always sound louder and have more body (if not as much as something like a PAF or PAF type Patent Number).

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Re: 70s Gibson ES.... 325? 335?

Post by garyfanclub » Sat Mar 02, 2019 8:10 am

Despot wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:46 am
So I'll jump in here.

I've had a few of these guitars - and though I know this offends some people, I'm going to post priced paid/year so that you've an idea of price range:
1971/2 ES345 - 3,000 euro, 2014
1976 ES355 - 3,250 euro, 2012
1968 ES335 - 5,000 euro (didn't pay that as I traded - but that was the list price), 2016

Those are the three I'll focus on, as I've had McCarthy year models too but I think these are outside your range. Also consider that these prices are about 25/30% more than you can find these guitars for in the US (that's the price mark up and tax impact here).

Okay ... so here goes.
T-tops pickups - not all are created equal.
In my experience T-tops vary more than folk seem to credit. I've had them in SGs (a '69 Custom and a '69 Standard that I still have) and ES guitars (two set out above). I've had them in a '71 LP Custom too. They all sounded different, but within a certain range.

The nicest sounding of the ES guitars was that early '70s ES345. It had a quite loud set of pickups (which were legit t-top patent numbers - I had considered that they might have been replacements as they were louder than I've usually experienced with t-tops). After that the '68 ES335 was a close second - bright, clear and open pickups with just enough body. The '76 ES355 - my first vintage ES - was a different story.

Those pickups sounded quite bright - very bright - but didn't have a huge amount of body to them. That's not to say that they sounded bad (they didn't) ... but that guitar was the least ES sounding guitar of any I've ever owned. The difference between the other t-top equipped ES guitars and ... say ... my old '62 ES345 was less pronounced than the difference between that guitar and the '76.

In my experience at some point past 1974 or so (based on guitars I've played) the t-top pickup changed again - maybe it's the number of winds - but the output dropped a bit. Could be magnets - who knows. But I do know that when I play those guitars from earlier years they always sound louder and have more body (if not as much as something like a PAF or PAF type Patent Number).
Interesting, thanks! Did your 345 still have the Varitone wired up, or was it disengaged?

Sounds like the early 70's are the sweet spot on these; now if I could only find one to play before I buy! There's a 325 in a shop here in the city that I might need to check out one of these days, but given that I already have a 70s LP deluxe (*love* the way it sounds too), might be a bit redundant to have another minihumbucker guitar. That said, looks like these actually pack Firebird pickups rather than minihums?

Thanks again all!

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Re: 70s Gibson ES.... 325? 335?

Post by Despot » Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:42 am

The varitone was wired up - and it worked well.

I know there are various schools of thought on the 'tone sucker' varitone - but in my experience I've yet to play an old ES345 or ES355 that had this issue.

Yeah ... that early '70s walnut ES345 was really nice now that I think of it - and I'm weird in that I actually like the trapeze tail piece more than a stop tail (you can always pluck the strings behind the bridge on a trapeze).

Another thing to consider in your hunt - late '60s Epiphones, in particular the Riviera. You can sometimes find 'issues' Rivieras coming up for around 3k - and if you've a liking for LP Deluxes with minihums this is going to be your best bet in the ES world. I'd actually have a Riviera or Sheraton as one of my 'final' guitars if I could find one at the right price (but alas not a hope so far).

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Re: 70s Gibson ES.... 325? 335?

Post by sookwinder » Mon Mar 04, 2019 3:30 am

the original varitone in my '65 Epiphone Casino is great. Doesn't such tone at all.
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