A Look Back at 2011

ES-345s were the hot seller this year. I think I sold close to 30 of them. They are still my favorite with the Varitone connected or without.

I don’t actually have a topic that is New Years related but I thought this might be a good time to take a look at the vintage market with regard to ES 335, 345 and 355s. I really can’t look ahead since I don’t have a crystal ball so, assuming the Mayans are wrong and the world doesn’t end in 2012, we’ll all have to be content to look at the market over the past year. You sure can’t tell anything from the majority of the dealers. When I go through the 335s on Gbase, I have to laugh. If you looked at the guitars that were listed at this time last year and the ones that are listed today, I would guess that at least half of them are still for sale. In the fourth quarter, the market for stop tail 335s got very strong. The market for Bigsbys? Not so much. But the term strong is relative. When I see 62-64 block necks both on Gbase and Ebay north of $30,000, I understand why none of them sell. Unless the guitar is dead mint, that’s not a reasonable price.  Dot necks have held their value better with 59’s leading the way, of course. But, the average dot neck has crept below $20,000. The one’s that are fetching the lower prices are usually 60, 61 and 62’s. The 58 and 59’s are doing somewhat better.  My sales range this year for 1958-1964 ES-335s (excluding refins, repairs and exotic colors) is $9000 to $25,000.  Average no issue stoptail block was around $16K. Average Bigsby/studs version was around $12,000. I only sold perhaps 6 or 7 dot necks this year and no 58s and only one 59, so my average will be skewed downward. But I can tell you this, the stoptail dot necks, while not flying out of the dealers are still a very desirable guitar. I believe the only reason they are sitting unsold is that the owners are asking 2007 prices. The old cliche that says an item is worth what someone will pay still holds true and I’m sure some very high dollar 335’s changed hands this year. But I think we have a face a basic truth about the economics of 2011: The 1% with all the money is going to spend whatever it takes to get whatever they want. The players and the small collectors are going to look for the deals. That’s pretty much how it went for me.  On the ES-345 front, the market was softer and the bargains have been fast and furious.  A PAF equipped ’60 for under $9K? A stoptail near mint 64 for under $9500? These are reasonable post bubble prices that I got for 345s.  I prefer not to name names but c’mon $29,999 for a red ’63 ES-345?  Go check Gbase.  This years crop of 1959-1964 ES-345s ranged from $6500 for a Bigsby/stud ’64 to $18,000 for a near mint ’60 stop.  We’ll leave the red 59 and the blondie out of the equation. I didn’t sell a whole lot of 355s this year-maybe 8? The mono 355s are very strong-they are out the door sometimes before I even get them. The foreign market is nuts for 355’s. I had one go to Japan, another to Australia, one to the UK and another to Germany. This is probably a good thing since I don’t have to worry that the US Government is going to confiscate them due to the use of Brazilian rosewood. The range for 355’s this year was $6500 to $15,000. The top seller was a mono 59 in excellent condition. My intent here is to keep you from spending more than you have to in order to get the guitar you want. be patient and when the right one comes along at the right price, don’t give it too much thought because someone else is going to snag it from under you. Whether you buy from me or from someone else, you will be a lot happier knowing the price you paid is what the guitar is worth not someones idea of what it was worth 5 years ago. Oh, and Happy New Year and thanks to all 35,624 of you for reading what I write and helping me to enjoy another year of guitar buying, selling, playing and just yakking about them.

Here's a whole load of 61's. They seem to come in bunches. All sold.

7 Responses to “A Look Back at 2011”

  1. Michael McCullen says:

    Really enjoy your site and reading about these great guitars. I hope to be able to afford one someday, but when I do have the money, i’ll be armed with knowledge. Thanks and have a happy New Year!

  2. john p says:

    bought my first Gibson ES335 from of all places, Best Buy!!!!!! a few weeks ago for $1700…They only had one in the store and I was skeptical that it was a real deal as it was called a Gibson custom Memphis dot reissue plain top with gloss. But for that price I thought it would be a good entry into Gibson guitars? What strings/gauge are recommended for this guitar…BTW..this site is a great read and made me realise how much I dont know about Gibson guitars..thanks for sharing

  3. OK Guitars says:

    I usually use 10’s (46-10) if it’s for blues or rock. I use 11’s (52-11) for rhythm guitar work. I don’t play jazz but I know of folks who use 12’s. I’ve never had any luck with lighter gauges.

  4. john p says:

    the neck pickup is set at an angle about 15 degrees tilting forward, is this factory set? Also, was this a good deal from Best Buy or was this some “made for Best buy” budget gibson?

  5. OK Guitars says:

    Yes. I usually turn around the pickup ring on my players. That doesn’t mean just turn around the pickup-you still want the pole screws facing the right way, so you have to take the pickup out of the ring and turn the ring. The springs will fly out and end up behind your refrigerator and you’ll curse me, so watch the springs.

  6. s223n335 says:

    I once owned a factory stock 335 with trapeze tailpiece and a red finish that was quite a bit more maroon looking than the standard cherry hue, that was equipped with fretboard markers from an Epiphone Riviera (snigle slanted trapezoids like one half of 345 inlays). This was in the early ’70’s and I purchased the guitar used from a good friend of mine, who was the original owner. He bought it in either 1969 or 1970.

  7. OK Guitars says:

    Yep, seen one like that myself. After Gibson shipped Epiphone off to the Far East, I guess they had a box of inlays left over. I’ve seen them more on 330s.The red could be anything-I’ve seen see thru cherry turn almost brown or very dark burgundy. Depends largely on environment.

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