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Another ES-335 Head Scratcher-Thanks Norlin!

1969 ES-335. What's Missing from this Picture? Hint: A Tenon.

When the Norlin Corporation bought Gibson from CMI (Chicago Musical Instruments) in 1969, they were a multinational conglomerate. I believe they were in the cement business and the beer business among other things. It’s clear they weren’t in the guitar business. I’ve always thought that the transition from good high quality instruments to nearly unplayable crap took a few years but the 69 pictured above gives me pause.  Is the neck just glued at the heel? There’s no visible neck tenon at all. This can’t be a very stable joint. I’ve looked at a lot of 335s and while I don’t spend a whole lot of time with 70’s stuff, I’ve seen a fair number of 69 models but this is the first I’ve seen with this configuration. It’s got to be a late 69 since it has the 3 piece neck, but it has no made in USA stamp and I’m not sure about the volute because every seller cuts off the photo so you can’t see it. That’s a whole rant in itself. In any case, if you’re buying a 335 from this transitional era, take off the neck pickup and look in there.  This could be the deal of the century but be aware of what you’re buying. The owner of this guitar (on Ebay) has shown his honesty and integrity by pointing this out and showing a photo. he also points out some weirdness in the headstock inlay so take a look at it and if the price appeals to you, then take a second look.  Those look like virgin T-tops in there. They could even be pre T-tops. I’ve seen them on a 68 so why not on a 69. The screws are philips which indicates that the pickups could be pre T-tops. So, buyer beware and buyer be educated too. I owned a 1980 Hamer Special back in the 80’s and it also had no tenon and I could bend a note nearly half a step just by pulling on the headstock. Yikes.

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