RSS

$2000 a Pound.

This is a stoptail 61 weighing in at 7.5 but the scale is only accurate to a half pound so it could weigh as much as 8 or as little as 7 lbs. This is not the best way to weigh a guitar. Fortunately, I don't sell them by the pound.

That’s about how much a good stoptail block neck 335 will cost you.  Your car, even a pricey one like a new Porsche, is relatively cheap and might cost you $20 a pound-about the same as a good filet mignon. My old ’97 Volvo wagon cost me around $1.50 a pound-half the cost of the cheapest hamburger. Gold will cost you about $24000 a pound which is pretty close to what a burst will cost you. Imagine, a solid 24k gold burst. Eight pounds of gold at 1500 an ounce or so. That’s $192,000 which won’t get you the cream of the crop but should get you a nice one. Now $2000 a pound  doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Most people ask the weight of a guitar they are interested in buying and rightly so. After all, a gigging musician is going to spend a few hours with the thing slung over his or her shoulder and a few ounces could make a considerable difference. The weight range of ES-335s from 58 to 68 runs from around 7.25 lbs to just over 9 lbs. That’s a pretty big range. A 345 or a stereo 355 will weigh as little as 8 lbs and as much as 9.75 lbs-perhaps even 10 lbs. My problem is that I don’t have a really accurate scale, so I generally get on the bathroom scale with and without the guitar in question (which is only accurate to a half pound) and at least get in the ballpark. An average stoptail 335 (or trapeze) weighs just over 8 lbs. There is a chart on Tom H’s 335 page that you can check out here. I believe the variation comes largely from the varying densities of the wood involved-specifically, the maple block and the mahogany neck. I’m sure there’s variation in the plywood as well but probably not that much. There have been discussions-arguments, fights, shouting matches, even pissing matches-over what role the weight and density plays in the tone of the guitar. Frankly,  I don’t know. I’ve played absolutely killer 335s that weigh 9 lbs and killer 335s that weigh 7.5 lbs. Weight doesn’t seem to correlate to resonance in any direct way either. The only reason I can see for looking for a lighter guitar is to make it easier on your shoulder. I’m not saying that the physical characteristics of the wood don’t affect tone, I’m simply saying that there is no apparent direct correlation between weight and tone. It isn’t just the wood either. For a Bigsby, you can add about 6 ounces (it weighs more than that but presumably, you’re subtracting the weight of the stop and studs). A Varitone switch is only a couple of ounces but that choke weighs at least 8 ounces. That’s a lot of weight to add to an 8 lb guitar. If you’ve got a stereo 355 or a Bigsby equipped 345, you could be looking at a close to 10 lb guitar. Yikes. I generally don’t advocate removing the Varitone but if my favorite guitar weighed 10 lbs, I’d have to consider it. If you have Grovers or Schallers replacing your lightweight Klusons, you’ve probably added another 3 ounces. If you’ve converted your trap tail to a stop, check to see that the stop is one of the lightweight aluminum ones. You’ll save 2 ounces if you switch from the heavy zinc one to the aluminum.  It adds up. I could probably make the argument that light gauge strings weigh less than medium gauge but that would be nitpicking. Again, I’ll emphasize that the weight of the guitar seems to have no direct correlation to tone. It does, however have a direct correlation to pain. Especially at my advanced age.

4 Responses to “$2000 a Pound.”

  1. Tom says:

    How about the argument of a painted finish weighing more than a stained one?
    I am sure that the paint adds a few extra ounces. Just pick up a gallon can of paint and see what I mean!

  2. OK Guitars says:

    Maybe. But the lacquer on top is the same for all of them. The red is neither a paint nor a stain. It’s a dye. Not sure about the sunburst but much of it is just lacquer. I suppose for a guitar like a Stratocaster, the solid colors probably weigh more than the blondes and maybe the sunbursts.

  3. Richard Lecoeur says:

    I read your articles with great interest as i just bought an ES-345 (1964 red . bigsby removed / added stop tail) but i am not sure i understood you here , cause you seem to say weight is not directlty correlated to resonance but after , at the end, you seem to say the weight of the guitar seems to have a direct correlation to tone !

    ” I’ve played absolutely killer 335s that weigh 9 lbs and killer 335s that weigh 7.5 lbs. Weight doesn’t seem to correlate to resonance in any direct way either. The only reason I can see for looking for a lighter guitar is to make it easier on your shoulder. I’m not saying that the physical characteristics of the wood don’t affect tone, I’m simply saying that there is no apparent direct correlation between weight and tone. It isn’t just the wood either

    Again, I’ll emphasize that the weight of the guitar seems to have to direct correlation to tone. It does, however have a direct correlation to pain. ”

    In my experience ( certainly not as big as yours but i have had several guitars and played a few ones as well) and i really think the weighjt and mass of a guitar really influences its tone and i can find similar tone characteristics in two heavy les paul’s or two light ones .
    I noticed heavy ones tend to have more solid / firm tone with quite much low and quite often high mids as well , with most oftyen good low end but can lack clarity, while light ones often have enough high end but can lack low end and low mids ( some lack high end as well , beeing quite middy sounding ).

  4. OK Guitars says:

    That’s a typo. The “to” should be “no” I’ll fix it. That may well be true with a Les Paul but I just don’t see the correlation on a 335. There is a much more consistent tonal character, it seems, in a 335. I have almost no experience with vintage Les Pauls-I’ve owned 4 goldtops over the years and none were particularly heavy except for a 69 reissue. The 69 sounded great but so did the 50’s GTs. It’s hard to differentiate unless you own a few guitars at the same time and you play them through the same amp. I do this all the time with ES’s and I stand by my post. The density of the maple block probably makes a difference but the block is not big and heavy enough to make a 7.5 lb guitar into an 8.5 lb guitar. There are too many elements contributing to the overall weight to know what elements affect the tone. A Les Paul is a different story with that big slab of mahogany.

Leave a Reply

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)