The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by Larry Mal » Tue Oct 27, 2020 6:52 pm

seenoevil II wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:38 pm


I just want to add some food for thought on your 330 v casino experience. Your 330 has the long neck while casinos have the shorter neck. This changes the point where the bridge sits on the top and I imagine other things to do with the neck block and bracing etc. Not saying it accounts for all of the difference between the two, but maybe some?
Well, yeah. It absolutely does change the sound of it, the fact that it's a long neck.

Since it's an acoustic instrument, where you place the bridge and neck matters quite a bit. That's one reason why I like acoustic guitars with a 12th fret neck join, it puts the bridge back on the top and lets the top vibrate a little more freely.

That being said, though, while the sound of a 15th fret ES-330 join and a 19th like I have might change the sound, but it's not going to add it if it isn't there. The 15th fret will sound different from a 19th fret, but when I played the ES-330s with the more typical 15th fret they still sounded good acoustically.

Basically, the modern Casinos aren't made all that well in my opinion based on the one I owned, and it doesn't seem like they give a shit about the acoustic sound. It's hard to make a great acoustic sound, easy to ruin it, and with a guitar that is meant to be played plugged in all the time I doubt they give a shit about the acoustic sound on the Casinos.

None of this matters regarding your Sheraton and an ES-335, though, no matter what you spend on a center block semi-hollowbody it's not going to have much acoustic sound. And I also don't want to make a lot out of the acoustic sound of an ES-330 compared to a Casino, I am not claiming that this necessarily translates into the pickups. I take it as a mark of quality, since it is an acoustic guitar after all. But for all it's flaws, once I put in some Joe Barden pickups in my Casino I did think it sounded very good through an amp.

I fucking hated playing it, though, and since I didn't see that changing I gave it away. The nut was just way too narrow for me to feel happy with, among other things. But if you like the way they play, and the sound through an amp pleased you, then a Casino would be a great guitar for live use where you might not want to bring out an expensive-ass ES-330.
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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by seenoevil II » Wed Oct 28, 2020 8:45 am

seenoevil II wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 9:42 am


For the consumer, when there is a week's-wages option that is a functioning, pleasurable instrument in a vacuum, just by itself, it's that much harder to convince yourself that the two-months'-rent option is a wise choice. They are in different leagues of cost.
Wait. Epiphany. $2000 for somebody who makes 100k a year is a week's wages. A doctor walks into GC. Why on earth would they leave with an epiphone? It all becomes clear.

That gets me thinking. How many units would gibson actually sell in the 50s? Were fancy electric guitars something hobbyist even would buy? Were there hobbyist electric guitarists? Or were expensive guitars mostly tools for professionals?

Like, there are $2000 monitors, $2000 rackmount compressors, $2000 (or more) keyboards, etc. Etc. that are professional level tools that it's way less common for a hobbyist to buy because they're not as fun.

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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by mbene085 » Wed Oct 28, 2020 10:45 pm

seenoevil II wrote:
Wed Oct 28, 2020 8:45 am
That gets me thinking. How many units would gibson actually sell in the 50s? Were fancy electric guitars something hobbyist even would buy? Were there hobbyist electric guitarists? Or were expensive guitars mostly tools for professionals?
I remember there was a thread on the Acoustic Guitar Forum that looked at what buying a Martin D-28 would cost in 1950 vs 1970 vs today, expressed in number of hours worked at American minimum. wage. It was almost perfectly consistent over the years. Let's try to do something similar with Fender.

A stratocaster cost $259 in 1963. That's about $2200 in today's dollars. The strat was midway through the price range. The equivalent in features and workmanship might be the American Original strats, which are $1900 today. That's if you take the Custom Shop as the top end of Fender's price range today - if you use the American Ultras as the top, it's probably the American Professional strat at $1200.

1963's federal minimum wage in the US was $1.25 ($10.57 in today's dollars). You'd work 207 hours (yes yes, before tax, I'm not getting into that level of complexity here) for that strat in 1963. Today's federal minimum wage is $7.25. That AO strat is 262 hours' work, so about 27% more expensive by that measure. The instrument itself is cheaper today but the earning power of a minimum wage worker is lower.

Also, remember that there were virtually no effects pedals in the 50's and early 60's (certainly not widely-owned), venues were quieter, and people didn't have "guitarsenals". You'd probably have your one guitar, and a Fender Deluxe-sized amp. A DR in 1963 was $229, or $1950 in today's dollars. A DRRI is $1200 today. That's 183 hours of MW work in 1963 and 165 hours today. Buying the pair would be 390 hours of work in 1963 and 427 hours of work today (under 10% more).

How many hobbyists these days own $1900 (an AO strat) worth of guitars, and $1200 (a DRRI) worth of amps and effects? I suspect the answer is "quite a few" - they're just probably more likely to own 2-3 cheaper guitars, a cheaper amp and some pedals these days

That's more than a beginner spends these days, but a beginner could have bought a Musicmaster ($129) or Esquire ($159), and a Champ (i don't have the 1963 price, but a 1965 vibro champ was $89). Of course, Fender wasn't the cheapest beginner option.

So, it was a significant investment at the time, but roughly on par with an American made Fender guitar and tube amp today.

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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by Larry Mal » Thu Oct 29, 2020 6:43 am

seenoevil II wrote:
Wed Oct 28, 2020 8:45 am


That gets me thinking. How many units would gibson actually sell in the 50s? Were fancy electric guitars something hobbyist even would buy? Were there hobbyist electric guitarists? Or were expensive guitars mostly tools for professionals?
Well, Gibson has never positioned themselves as anything other than a premium guitar maker. You might disagree, but the fact is that history will show that Gibson competes successfully on the higher end of the market.

That being said, though, the 50's was Gibson very much in flux. They were competing on the solid-bodied electric guitar market for the first time. The Les Paul was introduced in 1952 and the Les Paul Jr came out a couple years later, so you see with that Gibson trying to differentiate their lineup to accommodate entry level guitarists.

That being said, though, Gibson has always tried different things to hit the entry level market without diluting the Gibson brand. Again, you seem to think that Gibson is overrated bullshit, but that's not what history shows people thinking of it as. But differentiating Gibson from the entry level instruments that are very profitable is why Gibson bought Epiphone in the first place, and Epiphone became the mid-level brand that we know it as pretty quickly under Gibson. Later, Gibson wanted to hit an even lower level price point and they spun up Kalamazoo.

As well they should... I bet that Epiphone is more profitable overall than the Gibson line. Entry level guitars are and have always been very lucrative, at least in the guitar era.

The ES-335, incidentally, was always an upscale guitar, marketed as a premium instrument. It cost $267.50 when it was introduced, which in today's dollars is:

Image

So not too far away from what they have it priced at now. And while the $2400 is a little lower than the price of $3000 that the "Standard" is at now, it's worth bearing in mind that in the 50's there was the ES-345 which was an upscale 335 and cost more. Since the 335 is the model that thrived, I guess they priced it up a little bit.

And the guitar was successful, you know? It was hardly a failure in the marketplace even priced at a premium price. It was so successful that Gibson immediately began looking for ways to hit other price points, notably the ES-330 which was considered the entry level in the somewhat confused world of the Gibson ES lineup. The 330 would have had the P90s, which are cheaper to make and would have been considered inferior compared to the at the time new and cutting edge PAF pickups, and the fully hollow body would not have been considered as good as the center block, although Gibson still made fully hollow ES instruments then also that were if anything more expensive than the ES-335.

And the Epiphone Sheraton came out in the same year, and it originally had old Epiphone "New York" pickups on it, which were single coils. I don't know of those pickups were any more highly regarded in the day, but they sure didn't survive history's judgement as great pickups now, but anyway that would have been considered a downgrade from the PAF pickups.

PAF pickups were game changing technology. No one else had that shit for a while.
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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by mbene085 » Thu Oct 29, 2020 7:39 am

Larry Mal wrote:
Thu Oct 29, 2020 6:43 am
PAF pickups were game changing technology. No one else had that shit for a while.
Gibson introduced the PAFs on their 1957 guitar models, right? Gretsch released most of its lineup equipped with filtertrons in 1958, so there was only a year where Gibson was the only humbucking game in town.

Gretsches were also expensive, premium instruments though, and like Gibson, positioned the filtertron as their flagship pickup on their mid- to higher-end instruments.

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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by seenoevil II » Thu Oct 29, 2020 7:58 am

Well my point was more along the lines of this. Today, you can walk into the house of a prosperous person who makes enough money to be upper-middle or professional class. Broad strokes 70-200k. And they say that they play guitar. You'll pretty likely see a Martin, Taylor, Gibson etc. If they were to say that they play piano, you might see an actual piano, but you're not likely to see a Nord or other expensive stage piano or workstation.

I'm wondering if, in the 50's, electric guitars were still seen as tools for musicians and not a hobbyist's diversion.

I ask because I notice that the price of non boutique USA guitars (not just gibson) seem to dovetail nicely into the disposable income budget of 100k earners. I'm wondering if that's a happy accident or how this market has always been.

The new CEO has said public that they're basing pricing decisions on the inflation adjusted prices from the 50s/60s. That sounds like good news because of how dog ass expensive they were before. But processes have changed, the scale of production has increased. I guarantee that margins are much larger now than in the 50s. Keep in mind that in the 90s, gibson retooled to be efficient to the point of having comparable prices to Ibanez, Jackson etc. So, it can be done. It's not impossible because they did it before.

All of them set their pricing to fit what different economic classes have to spend. Hence why they have another production line above what 100k earners can easily part with. A "custom shop" that churns out runs of guitar to compete with the boutique, small batch, ultra luxury set.

So, that's Maestro for the working poor, made by the world's working poor.

Epiphone for the working class made by china's working class.

Gibson made by our working class for the world's upper-middle class.

Custom shop made by our middle class for the upper class.

And vintage gibsons that are literally invested in as capital. But no workers profit from that. The wealth they once created is now literally locked in vaults and traded by the capitalist class.

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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by seenoevil II » Thu Oct 29, 2020 8:56 am

But anyway. For the record, I don't think Gibsons are all marketing, or overrated bullshit. They have a really bizarre place in the world. 70 years ago, some smort dudes created some landmark innovations to the instrument. Really, they invented new instruments altogether. Ideas so crucial that no patent could contain them. It was an unprecedented time in human economics and culture.

Now a firm that has the same name, but not too much more continuity, has the complicated position of ostensibly being the same entity that created these innovations while being a relevant producer in a world filled competing producers of the same style of instrument.

They're not really different to just about every other mass produced good. Margins get wider, quality stays the same or slips. What was once standard quality is now luxurious. Thinking about shoes and jeans here. Shrinking Cadbury eggs. IIWII.

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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by mbene085 » Thu Oct 29, 2020 8:58 am

seenoevil II wrote:
Thu Oct 29, 2020 7:58 am
Well my point was more along the lines of this. Today, you can walk into the house of a prosperous person who makes enough money to be upper-middle or professional class. Broad strokes 70-200k. And they say that they play guitar. You'll pretty likely see a Martin, Taylor, Gibson etc. If they were to say that they play piano, you might see an actual piano, but you're not likely to see a Nord or other expensive stage piano or workstation.

I'm wondering if, in the 50's, electric guitars were still seen as tools for musicians and not a hobbyist's diversion.

I ask because I notice that the price of non boutique USA guitars (not just gibson) seem to dovetail nicely into the disposable income budget of 100k earners. I'm wondering if that's a happy accident or how this market has always been.
Nice instruments have always been owned by a wide variety of people.

It's important to remember how much less income inequality existed in the 1950's compared to today. People in the "upper-middle or professional class" as you just defined them probably have less disposable income after paying for a house, car and student loans than the middle class of the 1950s. That middle class consisted of a lot of people who got jobs out of high school or who graduated college with little to no debt, compared to the students graduating in 2020 with a debt of $37,000 and an average monthly payment of $393.

When you take the current prices of American guitars into perspective (say, that nice AO strat I mentioned above, at $1900), the average college graduate today could be buying more than two of those a year with the money that's being eaten up by loan payments that they're having to make on an average of a $50k salary.

Someone in the 1950's wasn't making debt payments of two to three Gibsons a year for the privilege of being employable above the minimum wage (or, as is often the case today, still making minimum wage despite an education). Similarly, a professional musician's financial standing wasn't directly comparable to today.

So much else has changed too. In 1950, the median detached house in the US cost less than three times the median worker's annual income. Today's median income is $66k - but higher income inequality means that many more people fall either way below that, or way above it. Regardless, an average detached house has a national median price of about $300k today, nearly five times the median annual salary.

So, while the price of American guitars is roughly the same today as it was in the 50's or 60's, the average American is earning less, paying more for housing (if they can afford a home in the first place), and much more likely to be servicing massive student debt.

Imagine how much more affordable a Gibson ES-335 would look if rent or mortgage was 60% lower and there was no such thing as student debt. That would put that purchase in a realistic realm for a whole lot of people that couldn't consider it now. That was the world Americans were living in at the time.

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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by Larry Mal » Thu Oct 29, 2020 9:18 am

mbene085 wrote:
Thu Oct 29, 2020 7:39 am
Larry Mal wrote:
Thu Oct 29, 2020 6:43 am
PAF pickups were game changing technology. No one else had that shit for a while.
Gibson introduced the PAFs on their 1957 guitar models, right? Gretsch released most of its lineup equipped with filtertrons in 1958, so there was only a year where Gibson was the only humbucking game in town.

Gretsches were also expensive, premium instruments though, and like Gibson, positioned the filtertron as their flagship pickup on their mid- to higher-end instruments.
I think that is correct, I looked it up and it seems that the ES-335 had PAFs in the first year of its production, anyway.

Forgot about the Filtertron.
Last edited by Larry Mal on Thu Oct 29, 2020 9:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by Larry Mal » Thu Oct 29, 2020 9:30 am

I bought Gibson guitars when I was working poor. Priorities, you know? Also, I guess I'm just not an Epiphone guy. I had an Epi Les Paul in the 90s, it was terrible. They make a good product now, in some ways better than Gibson, but that wasn't the case in the late 80's/early 90's, when I found Epiphone guitars to be pretty bad. Clearly, I'm not super experienced with them, but my early experiences threw me off the brand.

But, no, Gibson hasn't always been the purview of professional musicians. They made the LG series of acoustic guitars and those were entry level/student models and they were insanely popular, they still show up all the time.

For a lot of Gibson's history, though, they specialized in the archtop guitar, which is an inherently more expensive instrument. Still, you'll see Gibson attempting to make affordable versions of those.

And for a lot of their time they made banjos, which ruled the musical world for a big period of time, they made very expensive professional grade banjos and some cheaper ones also.

I mean, I don't know how formal the market research they undertake has been throughout history, but clearly they'll make some determination as to what the market will bear for their products. If the ES-335 wasn't selling at the price that they put it out there at, they would know that, and they would do something about it.
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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by Larry Mal » Thu Oct 29, 2020 9:41 am

Incidentally, though, I ran some other things through the old inflation calculator.


The Gibson J-35
was the precursor to the J-45, not exactly the same but then they were all over the place with these guitars back then due to the war and the Depression.

Regardless, the "35" stood for $35, and the guitar was introduced in 1936. My inflation calculator shows that as being $655 in today's dollars, which is a tremendous deal if correct. I guess it was supposed to undercut Martin's D-18, which was $65 then or $1217 now.

And that sells for about $3k now, also. Not sure what was going on there, maybe flattop acoustics just weren't all that strong in the market yet, or maybe the Depression was deflating what a company could ask for such a thing.
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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by seenoevil II » Thu Oct 29, 2020 10:08 am

Hmm. I just checked my year 2000 to 2020 figured 335 comparison in that inflation deally. And it apparently checks out.

In 2000, $2400 was worth about $3650 2020 bucks.

Maybe I'm just not wrapping my head around inflation. Probably doesn't help that wages haven't kept up o'er those two decades.

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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by Larry Mal » Thu Oct 29, 2020 10:40 am

seenoevil II wrote:
Thu Oct 29, 2020 10:08 am
Hmm. I just checked my year 2000 to 2020 figured 335 comparison in that inflation deally. And it apparently checks out.

In 2000, $2400 was worth about $3650 2020 bucks.

Maybe I'm just not wrapping my head around inflation. Probably doesn't help that wages haven't kept up o'er those two decades.
Interesting. And sad.

I used to like Apple computers, and especially Mac Pros. I still own one, it's a 2010 that still does everything I want it to (12 core, a great machine).

But it made me pretty sad to realize that there is no way I can afford to replace it with a new Mac Pro, which is like five thousand dollars right now. I am not going to have five thousand dollars to drop on a machine.

I very much dislike Apple as a company right now anyway, and I have time to figure out what I'll do next. But you are right, shit is expensive.
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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by Larry Mal » Tue Nov 03, 2020 3:12 pm

Well, as proof of concept I guess, I just bought an ES-335 Dot for $2k. Of course, it'll cost more since it was on credit and I'll need to pay it off quickly, so a few things will need to be sold.

Fact is, I think it's time to downsize to less guitars that are of higher quality, since my recording room isn't large and there's not a ton of space for all my instruments.

It's a 2019, basically mint, and I like that they've gone to the ABR-1 bridge with brass saddles finally, this one has locking tuners already, and if the tailpiece locks then I don't know anything I need to do.

It's this one.

I'll update as to the quality when I get it.
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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by seenoevil II » Tue Nov 03, 2020 3:27 pm

Cool! I don't know where you're finding these 1 year old guitars at such prices. FWIW, while you maintain the quality has been consistent, even the nay sayers are reporting that the new era gibsons are high quality. That boads well.

That's exciting. I'm assuming there will be a dedicated NGD post with lots of pictures?

I'm thinking I need to prioritize a lot of other shit before I get any fancy guitar. I probably need to ditch at least 3 of my cheapish dudes first and pick up a larger amp for gigging (or not).


And of course my time horizon doesn't really extend much beyond the next 72 hours rn.

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