Shootout at OK Guitars

OK. I would be willing to put together some kind of definitive shootout between a great 335 and a great 345 or a few of each. I’m in New York and I would be happy to put my ’60 against any 335 anyone in the area has. I have readers in LA who would do the same. I think it’s time we did this in order to stop people from trashing their 345s by turning them into 335s with the idea that they are “improving” them. maybe we get Vintage Guitar involved in some way since they have a lot more readers than I do. We could do it by posting clips but that is terribly subjective due to the use of different amps (and different players). What we need is a really good player (that wouldn’t be me) and maybe a half dozen 345s and 335s. Play a couple of different types of tunes on each and do a blind test. Now tone is very subjective but I think I have a pretty good idea of what everyone seems to be after. We can make up categories like neck pickup, bridge pickup, both pickups, distorted and clean. No pedals allowed. Everything gets done through the same amp or do it twice-once through a high gain amp like a Marshall and again through something more Fenderish like a BF Deluxe or Tweed Deluxe. The idea is to make it fair. The 345’s would be played in stereo through 2 channels. The 335’s, of course in mono. Bone stock guitars only. Same setup (all stop tails), same strings (I vote for 10’s). We could record the whole thing and let the readers decide for themselves. I have the space at my other business (GTV) to do this, although it would have to be in the evening as it would probably get loud. I’ll supply the food and beer. So, who’s on board? We could do one in LA and one in NYC if we get enough guitars on board. I have no ax to grind here, so to speak. I’ve owned plenty of each and have no reason to prefer one over the other. It’s just that, in my experience, the best sounding ES 3×5’s seem to be 345’s. I’m not saying the Varitone is what makes them sound better either-the varitone would be in position 1 (bypass) for the shootout. That way the only difference is the circuit and the pickup phase. So, whaddya say? Any takers?

14 Responses to “Shootout at OK Guitars”

  1. RB says:

    Great idea. Sparks will fly.

    Perfect venue would be upcoming Dallas Guitar Show next month.

  2. OKguitars says:

    Let’s get some guitars and I’ll find a day that works for the players

  3. Pablo says:

    Great idea!….let me know if you do it here in NYC…i will bring the Newcastles!

  4. Chris W says:

    I’m in if it’s in NYC. I’ll bring my ’59 and ’61 345.

  5. blewsbreaker says:

    I think it’s a great idea Charlie, this shootout would be a great start in de-bunking the “varitone tone sucking ” myth once and for all!
    Although NOW suddenly I’m having a problem finding 335 owners who what to be a part of the shootout….Hmmmm
    One thought I was having was I’m not sure we would be comparing apples to apples with the 345 in stereo with the 335 in mono…As you know, a 345 in stereo with both PU’s selected plugged into 2 channels of an amp sounds massive (and about 3db louder) compared to a mono 335 in the center (both PU’s) position. One suggestion might be to use a 345 summing box (like Chris Wargo’s) and A/Bing the 345 and 335 plugged into the same amp channel using the same type of guitar cable…(something neutral like a George L’s).
    I suppose another idea would be to use the GA-79RVT in mono for both guitars…
    I wouldn’t have a problem using my 345 with just the stereo to mono cable because I flipped the bridge PU’s magnet so it’s in phase (like a 335) and it doesn’t really suffer too much from the 500k pot’s essentially being 250k from using the guitar this way.


  6. Chris W says:

    I’d suggest doing a shootout with just single pickups (neck vs. neck, bridge vs bridge) and a single channel mono amp. This will side step any of the stereo-guitar issues with using two pickups. When using just the neck or just the bridge with a Y-cable or with a mono cable doing the full/half plug trick, then the circuits are identical between 335 and 345 (other than the Varitone).

  7. OK Guitars says:

    Here’s the problem-I’ve got plenty of 345’s on board but it seems the 335 proponents are reluctant. C’mon, nothing to lose but your sacred cows. I can supply 335’s but I’d rather someone brought a 335 that they thought was a great one. I need someone with a 335 that they think will take on all comers. If we use one of mine, people are going to think we’re biased.

  8. blewsbreaker says:

    Maybe it’s time to post this shootout on the LPF? There’s plenty of varitone haters over there….

  9. OK Guitars says:

    If you would do that, I would appreciate it. Every time I post something there that sounds even vaguely self serving, I get trashed.
    I’ll send you details of where I am located and we can see if maybe we can get something going sometime in April or May.

  10. blewsbreaker says:

    Sounds good Charlie, lemme know…

    …And Chris I agree with your suggestion about A/B-ing just the neck and bridge PU using the mono cable full/half plug trick. That way one can A/B both types of guitars using the SAME guitar cable which takes away another variable in the test.

  11. OK Guitars says:

    On the other hand, they are different guitars and should be judged on their straight (non varitone) capability with both pickups. One of the amazing qualities of a 345 is having the pickups coming from 2 different sources-my favorite thing that the stereo setup lets you do. I think the shootout shouldn’t necessarily be a “battle of equals” because they aren’t. Each guitar should do what it does and be judged on its merits. The fact that the bridge and neck pickup by themselves are “equals” is important but not everything. Let’s put ’em through all their paces and see what we get. I’m going to try to get Vintage Guitar magazine involved if I can get to them.

  12. blewsbreaker says:

    That would make a great article for VG magazine! I hope they jump on it.

    I bet a lot of the folks who poo-poo the varitone have never heard these guitars in stereo…it’s truly a “holy cow” moment when you do!

  13. Nicholas says:

    Great site Charlie,just stumbled on to it this morning. I have to say,my 1963 ES 345 (serial # 111803) was the best sounding and best playing Gibson electric guitar I have ever owned,and that includes many 50’s Les Pauls,etc. It had 1 PAF and 1 patent sticker pickup. Stop tailpiece. Red. Big/wide neck. Had to sell it back in 1988,unfortunately. Now own some cool 335’s,Les Pauls,Strats,etc but that 345 was the King of Beasts. Thanks for letting me rant,Nick

  14. OK Guitars says:

    Prices for 345s have never been lower. PAF 60’s for under $10K, Bigsby 63’s for $8000. This is a buyer s market. and it won’t last forever.

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