Don’t Try This at Home

I actually kind of like this one posted on the Les Paul Forum. Nobody would dream of doing it now but back in the day, who knows? I'm really digging the blue jean case.

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it all. There are a lot of things you can do to a 335-most of them not so good. Most musicians can’t leave well enough alone and when you extend the period of time for folks to do stupid things to, say, 50 years or more, the likelihood is that stupid things will get done. Before these guitars had “vintage” value, many of the changes were pretty benign-like swapping tuners or adding a Bigsby. There have always been trends among players and there always will be. But some really odd (and dumb) stuff gets done. Master volumes, custom inlays, coil taps, extra pickups, brass nuts, different bridges…there’s almost no end to what you can do the screw up a perfectly good ES-335. At some point during the 80’s, active electronics were all the rage. I had a 65 with EMG pickups and a battery box under the bridge pickup. Fortunately they didn’t drill an access panel for the battery. And speaking of access panels, while I acknowledge that pulling and

If I had a 63 Sonic Blue Strat, I'd paint it to be like George. Honest.

reinstalling a harness is a pain on any ES, is it really so hard that you have to cut a giant hole in that back and put on a plastic cover? Got a big ol’ router at home? I know, let’s put on a Kahler trem. Seen it more than once. How about this? Supposing your ’62 had black bobbin PAFs and you really, really wanted white ones? I know, let’s paint them. No one will know. They did a very good job and then put the covers back on. Don’t ask. I can’t tell you how many guitars have come to me with stickers (or sticker residue) on them. I think that was a 60’s and 70’s thing. I think I put a sticker of some sort on my old Fender Duo-Sonic when I was in the eighth grade. It probably said something really stupid like “kick out the jams” or some antiwar slogan like “make love, not war”…made sense in the eighth grade in 1966-now? not so much. What did “kick out the jams” even mean? Alvin Lee seems to have had a thing for the stickers and we all liked Alvin Lee. And for the not so faint of heart, how about a psychedelic paint job? I don’t see that on 335’s much. Seems like more of a solid body thing. Eric Clapton’s SG and George’s Strat were good examples and we all liked George and Eric. And yet, I never painted any of my guitars-probably because I had no money for paint-I had spent all of it on guitars. How about double pick guards? A third pickup? Or how about cutting away the f-hole under the guard so you can get the harness out easily.  Hey, nobody will ever see it…it’s under the guard. I’ve seen that more than a few times.  And it hurts just as much each time I see it.

Oh, third pickup isn't enough for you? How about some stickers. Make it distinctive enough and Gibson might make a "artist" model just like it.

15 Responses to “Don’t Try This at Home”

  1. rob says:

    Back some years ago, I was practicing a lot trying to emulate one of my guitar heroes, John McLaughlin. I noticed that he played a 345 from time to time with scalloped fingerboard and one snowy winter weekend morning I was about 3/4 tempted to take my scallop files to my 355. Guess its a good thing I didn’t.

  2. OK Guitars says:

    …put down the file and back away from the guitar. Good thing you didn’t. Ebony is a lot harder to work than rosewood. And how do you deal with the big (real MOP) inlays? It would be like filing down rocks. You would have gotten frustrated by the third fret and given up.

  3. RAB says:

    Good discussion of guitar travesties! Hideous episodes we have seen or heard about like encountering an otherwise mint 1957 LPTV Special fitted with rhinestones around the perimeter of the body or seeing photos of the infamous ’59 Burst with the lefty and double cutaway conversion! I also purchased a ’63 335 at a pawn shop in Arizona decades ago that had had about 4 different kinds of tailpieces installed and thus many holes!

  4. rob says:

    The ebony is what stopped me. Instead I did my Strat with a maple board. I hate maple boards anyway. That Strat is long gone.

  5. Gordon Walker says:

    Ouch ! Cutting away the f-hole underneath the pick guard makes me wince.
    Makes the other alterations seem like bright ideas.

  6. rob says:

    How about cutting a hole in the back of the guitar for easier access to the electronics and then screwing a piece of plastic over it? Gibson did this with one of their semi’s..maybe a 135.. for at least one model year.

  7. Bobbradley says:

    Wow, thought I come check out my favorite site dedicated to all things 335 and my guitar’s on the here!!!! (three pickup model,lol) I Love old guitars and I prefer them the way they are supposed to be……but something really hit me when I seen this one and I had to have it. Its just got some funkiness that just oozes mojo!!! plays great sounds even better 3 pat#’s oh yeah! you’ll be happy to know there are no more additional holes or access panels on the back 🙂 it does have grovers, which doesn’t bother me too much but aside from the obvious mods is a solid instrument that has one hell of a story to tell.
    thanks for putting it up,cheers

  8. OK Guitars says:

    It’s a very cool guitar. Even though it loses its vintage value, it’s still functional and attractive (and pretty close to unique)
    The case is perfect.

  9. Bobbradley says:

    I think you mean collectors value as it will always be vintage and valuable to people who like vintage guitars that are players like myself it’s just not worth what a original guitar is worth. 🙂 but I get what your saying….

  10. OK Guitars says:

    Yes. I could have said that gooder.

  11. Bobbradley says:

    No sweat man!!!

  12. Steve Newman says:

    Seeing the triple humbucker 335 reminded me of Alvin Lee….I guess everyone here is aware of his untimely passing. Charlie, maybe you could devote one of your excellent posts to an in depth examination of one of his famously modded 335’s and the reasons he had for adding the middle pickup and what type sound he was after. Great work as usual!

  13. ty millsaps says:

    thanx for sharing!…how ’bout Prince’s axe bustin’ on Fallon?….there are several ways to wire 3 pups!…best way is with mid pup independent(3 vol. controls)and can be dialed in at any time with other pups!…Gibby wiring is horrible as mid always hooked to another pup!

  14. OK Guitars says:

    Well, a 61 Crestwood is a nice guitar but not a very valuable one once its been Grovered and stoptailed. Still a few thousand and still a dumb thing to do especially with a borrowed guitar.

  15. Phil Hurd says:

    I like the three pickups on a 335. Very Les Paul Custom-like.

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