Fun and Games on Ebay

This '60 looks pretty nice. Too bad about the extra holes and changed tuners.

This is a little self serving but everything in this post is the absolute truth. As Yogi would say, “You could look it up.”  Let’s say your in the market for a vintage ES-345 that you’re going to give to your wonderful brother for Christmas. He’s been really good to you and you want to get him a “Golden Era” ES-345. There are a lot of them out there on Ebay from the years 1959-1964 and there’s a tremendous price range-from around $6,000 all the way up to $16,995. Yikes. You’d like to get him one with PAFs, so let’s eliminate 1964. You’d like it to be as original as possible but you’ll accept a minor issue or two preferably something reversible like a changed part or 2. No refins or headstock breaks. We won’t even take into account the price differential between the various years even though the 59’s command a premium due to the great neck profile. So, what do we have that fills the bill. At the top of the price leader board is a red ’60. Not as desirable as a 59 but still a great guitar with a slimmer neck. And it’s red.  At $16,995, it’s in the ballpark for what a really top notch one should go for but it is top notch? Unfortunately, no. This one has issues that should drop the price by thousands.  The tuners have been changed and the holes enlarged. The harness isn’t original (but parts of it are included).

We all did some stupid things in the 70's and 80's. Like putting a coil tap in a 62 ES 345. Wrong case and Grovers make this a poor choice at nearly $17,000

So far, it seems pretty good. Uh, oh what’s this between the tone pots. Is that an extra hole? You bet it is and that knocks this guitar down below $10K no matter what condition its in. See my post about “The $10,000 hole”. One of the pickups is also missing its PAF label but I think we’ve already eliminated this one.  For the same $16,995, there’s a red 62 that looks promising. It’s a stoptail too which keeps the price up there but that’s because it’s more coveted than a Bigsby version. But on careful inspection (and careful reading), there are issues and, unfortunately, they aren’t minor. One of the pickups is a Duncan. That’s totally fixable but should knock the price down by a couple of thousand. Again, replaced tuners with enlarged holes. Not cheap to refill those holes. But, what’s this? A coil tap. Omigosh, it’s the 80’s again. Sorry, flashback. I thought I still had hair for a minute there. Once again, drill an extra hole in the top of one of these and you can kiss the vintage value goodbye forever. Next is probably the coolest looking of the bunch at $15,995. It’s a 1960 in sunburst. We all know that a Bigsby or other trem lowers the value by around 25%, especially if there are no stud holes under a “custom made plaque or pearl or other dots. Fortunately this one has stoptail studs under a couple of black inserts. And it’s got the sideways trem. Useless as a trem, but a great art deco look on this guitar, IMO. It appears to be 100% original-even the gold painted Varitone switch is probably factory-I’ve seen this on a few 345s. I think at $15,995, it’s within striking range of being a good value if this is what you want. But there are a couple more.

Here’s a stoptail 59 with a pair of PAFs for $13,900 and a start price of $11.5K. What’s wrong with this one considering it’s the most desirable year and a stop? Well, the Varitone has been pulled and a new harness has been put in. A fixable issue if you want the Varitone but many people pull them out anyway. The tuner tips have shrunken heads which is typical of 59’s. The condition is not as good as the ’60 but the lack of a trem more than makes up for that. A stop tail 1959 ES-345 is the most desired of all the 335s. A blonde one would be even more desirable but you won’t see one under $35,000. I have to say that this guitar is being sold by me but I told you I was being self serving. Why is it lower than the others and more complete than most and from the most desirable year? Simple. Because most sellers think it’s still 2007 and it isn’t.

There are few guitars that look cooler than an ES-345 with the "Buzz Lightyear" sideways trem. It's cool art deco vibe just works better on a 345 than any other model. It doesn't work worth a damn but it sure looks cool. Pricey for what it is, it's still a nice guitar with no issues.

I’ll keep saying it until the prices go back up. $16K+ for a 345 with issues like extra holes in the top is not going to fly in this market. $16K for a real nice one with a trem probably isn’t going to fly in this market. Why did I price mine where it is? Simple. The last 59 ES 345 to sell went for $14,900 (with changed tuners and a refret but double white PAFs). The one before went for $13.1K with changed tuners. So, what’s the market value for a stop tail 59 with minor issues? The real market tells us it’s between $13 and $15K. You can go downhill from there with later years and more issues. Finally, there’s a 60 with a Bigsby only for $8500. Well, if a 59 stop is worth an average of $13,500, lets

It's a 59 and it's a stoptail. All original except the harness has been pulled and a mono 335 harness has been installed. Full disclosure: This is my guitar.

start there. Knock off 25% for the Bigsby and you’re at around $10K. Still a good deal? Well, it isn’t a ’59, so knock off another $800-$1,000. Even though the listing says the new tuners used the original holes, I can see that new holes were drilled, so knock off a few hundred more. Also, the pickguard isn’t original. It should be a long guard and one of those will set you back $1000 if you can find one. So, at $8500, is this one the deal? Not to me but if $8500 is all you have, maybe you make him an offer. BTW, I owned this guitar a few years ago, so I’m not sure I believe his “working blues musician” thing. The pickups are PAFs but they aren’t original to this guitar. The case isn’t original because I still have the case it came in-which wasn’t original either. It may be correct, however. I sold this guitar in 2006 for $12,700.

At $8500., this PAF equipped Bigsby version 1960 ES 345 looks like, at first glance, a real winner. But is it really?

2 Responses to “Fun and Games on Ebay”

  1. mark henderson says:

    Hello, could you answer a question for me? I own a 1966 Gibson es 345 as far as I can tell with the serial plus other factors. The guitar has an unusual inlay on the first fret( looks like 2 crowns back to back) and I have yet to see another one like it. Any ideas or could this be a custom thing? Thanks.

  2. cgelber says:

    Probably aftermarket. If you send me a photo, I’ll be able to make a better assessment of it. Gibson did lots of custom work but it wasn’t usually something as small as a single inlay.

Leave a Reply

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)