Do These Heels Make Me Look Fat?

This '61 335 has a very typical heel shape. Short, square shouldered and straightish across the top.

After I wrote the last post about broken lacquer at the heel of a 335, I got an email asking me to talk about the various heel shapes that have occurred over the years. Truthfully, there isn’t that much variation from 1958 to 1964 which are

This 63 falls within the range as well. A little rounder on top but still short.

the years I concentrate on and have the most experience with. Because they are so consistent-kind of flat on top, fairly short and squarish at the shoulder, it is a good way to identify a guitar as being from a different era. If, for example,

someone wants to sell you a ’59 ES-335 and the heel is very rounded, I would look very closely at the neck join and the neck pocket because something ain’t right. I don’t have photos of every ES-335, ES-345 and ES-355 that has passed through the OK corral but I’ve got more than 100. I just went through them looking for a guitar with a tall rounded heel. I didn’t find one. The length of the heel varies as does the squareness of the shoulder but the top edge is always relatively straight or very gently rounded-not tall and rounded. I did find tall rounded heels–a 2007 Historic had one, an 84 had one as did an 82. I had an 83 with a tall squarish heel-too tall to be a 58-64. In fact, the 65 to 68’s I’ve had also have the short squarish heel as do the Trinis. I recently had a renecked 64 that had a Memphis “fat neck”-also tall and rounded. There is some consistency among vintage 335s from the 50’s and 60’s and heel shape-within a range-seems to be one aspect that doesn’t vary much. And that’s a good thing because if everything else looks right and the heel looks wrong, you can be fairly certain that something isn’t kosher. Considering how inconsistent some ES-335 features seem to be-like centerblocks, neck size and shape, hardware and body thickness, it’s nice to see that heel shape can be pretty well counted on to be the same throughout the Golden Era. I’m sure there are exceptions-out of the 100 or so photos I went through in researching this post, I found only one that looked wrong for the era. So, if I may extrapolate, if you have a 50’s or 60’s ES-335, 345 or 355 and the heel is not pretty close to what you see here, you have a 1 % chance of it being authentic.


This 59 ES-355 is the only rounded heel I found in my archive of around 100 guitars. And it isn't all that round. It isn't tall like the 84 but it is rounder than the other 99%


Still flat and square in 67.

This is what your 50's or 60's 335 shouldn't look like. This is an 84 and they tend to have the tall rounded heel.

Even the Historics aren't quite right. This is a 2007 '59 Nashville Historic.


7 Responses to “Do These Heels Make Me Look Fat?”

  1. Butch says:

    Great info as always, thanks for the post.

  2. RAB says:

    Given the fair amount of hand-shaping of the neck blanks it is surprising the heel shows such consistency! The luthier’s probably did as little hand-work to that part of the neck as possible to save some time…

  3. rob says:

    Your posts are unbelievably addictive. As much as I tried to ignore this one, curiosity got the best of me and I had to go to the closet and take my 355 out of its case and turn it over to look at its heel. And it looks almost identical to the heel on the ’59 355 pictured above. Its funny that I photographed that guitar inside and out and yet failed to get a shot of the heel as if it didn’t matter. Silly me.

  4. RAB says:

    Rob, what year is your 355? Mine is a late 1963 and also as a squared-off heel but with some rounding at the corners if that makes any sense!

  5. RAB says:

    P.S. Not surprisingly, the heel on my ’63 355 looks near identical to the ’63 335 Charlie has pictured above! Keep on Bluesin’!

  6. rob says:

    Mine’s a 1962. Charlie has a few pictures of it on this site.

  7. rob says:

    RAB: Mine is a 1962 and its heel resembles the red ’59 pictured above.

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