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The Only Consistent is Inconsistency

Awkward grammar aside (see title), one of the things that is the most fun about 335s is trying to figure out what was going on at Gibson during the transitional periods. Was there a bin full of necks, bodies and individual parts that workers just grabbed indiscriminately? Would the bottom of the pickup bin in 1965 be a couple of PAFs to far down in the barrel to reach without extra effort? Or would there be an orderly use of parts where the old ones were always used up before the new ones went into service? I’m going with workers grabbing whatever parts were easiest to reach-thus the inconsistency from year to year.  I came across an excellent example of this on Ebay today. The auction calls it a 67. Heres a link. OK, what do you see? I’ll start. Serial Number-67. But its very close to a 66. Headstock inlay is in the high position which indicates a 66. Pickguard bevel is wide-really unusual for a 67. Truss rod cover-narrow bevel-usual for a 67. Witch hat knobs late 66 and later. Pointy horns are correct for 64-67. Compare to this one-also a 67 link.  This one also has a 67 serial number but a much later one (although this isn’t always clear-this time it is). Headstock inlay is low like a 67. Knobs are bonnet style not usually seen after 66. Pickguard is narrow bevel which is more normal for 67. Yikes! this one has a wide bevel truss rod cover. The horns are rounder but there is usually some variation during this period-they aren’t as round as a 68 normally would be.  My assessment of these 2? I think the first one is likely a very early (January) 67. It’s within around 800 numbers of the cutoff from 66. Was there a wide bevel guard in the bottom of the bin? A 66 style neck buried in there? They were probably still using up the 66 style necks at that time but still mixing the knobs (new style) and guards (old style). The second auction is a bit more clear. Having a serial number that starts with zero is always a 67. No 66 starts with this digit according to Gibson. It’s near the end of this run of serial numbers as well which probably dates it later in 67 although that’s speculative. So, why the bonnet knobs? Well, a lot of people don’t like the witch hats and I’ll bet anything that they were changed. The narrow bevel guard is usual for a 67 but the wide bevel truss rod cover isn’t. Fun, huh?  This gives a lot of credence to the big bin o’ parts concept. They are both in very nice condition and not horribly priced, although I think they are still high for this market. Which one would I buy? I’d need to see the back of the pickups to see if the screws are Philips or slotted. Slotted means T-tops Philips means that they might be late Pat# which I prefer. I’d have each seller measure the nut width for me and choose the wider although they are probably both 1 9/16″. Finally, I’d probably eliminate the second one because the tuners have been changed and I prefer the wide bevel guard. I really enjoy the Sherlock Holmes aspect of 335s. A little detective work will assure you that you’re getting what you think you’re getting.  Ultimately, these rules are out the window if I get the opportunity to play the guitars in question. Then I buy the one that plays and sounds better. Supposing one sounds better and the other plays better? Then I have to look at the setup and see if its well done. If they are both well set up and one plays well but doesn’t sound great, then I don’t buy either of them. At these prices, the  guitar should play well and sound good. I don’t care what year it is-these 2 factors are deal breakers.

Example One Body

Example One Headstock

Example Two Body

Example Two Headstock

One Response to “The Only Consistent is Inconsistency”

  1. Eric says:

    Great post — really liked the real world ebay examples. Very cool.

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