Sleeper but not a Snooze

Here’s a pair of gorgeous near mint 62’s. The red they used in 62 isn’t the one that fades to watermelon. If the guitar has been  kept out of the sun, the red is stunning. Leave it in the sun and it will go brown. PAFs all around. The nickel looks like chrome it’s so shiny.

Every year 335 seems to have its followers. Some (like me) love the 58 with its thin top and shallow neck angle. The 59 has the big neck aficionados (even though at least half the 59’s don’t have big necks). The 60 has that great medium neck for at least half the year and still has long magnet PAFs. The 61 is the bargain dot neck for those who can spend big but can’t spend huge. Late 63 and 64 have tons of followers due, in part to the Clapton connection and, in larger part, to that great neck profile. That leaves the 62 which sometimes gets treated like the red headed stepchild. Look it up.

I think the 62 simply gets lost in the shuffle. The neck is generally not chunky nor is it as thin as a 61. Sometimes it has PAFs and sometimes not. Or one of each. Mostly,  it’s a block neck but sometimes it’s a dot. No wonder it has something of an identity crisis. There’s a lot to like about a 62. First, the later PAFs seem to be remarkably consistent. There’s hardly a bad one to be had. While early PAFs can be magical or marginal, a late PAF is almost always excellent. Early patents are the same pickup with a different sticker. The build quality is a good as any other year and better than any year that followed. The neck profile is fairly consistent-usually around 82″-.83″ at the first fret and around .90″ at the 12th. That’s bigger than a 61 but smaller than a 64. But it’s a sweet spot for a lot of player-particularly the who have always played Fenders or those with relatively small hands. The baseball bat is not for everyone despite how it gets talked up on all the guitar forums.

What really strikes me about a 62 is that it costs about the same as a 63 or 64. Yes, PAFs and patents are the same through 64 but you really would rather have the PAFs wouldn’t you? I would. They are a big part of the vintage mystique. Don’t get me wrong, I love the 64 neck-I played one for years before I could afford a 58. But I keep getting 62’s and they keep impressing me. I think that maybe they got better mahogany during 62 than they got previously. 61’s are very prone to neck problems due certainly to the very thin neck profile but maybe, just maybe, the mahogany wasn’t so good either and Gibson decided that too many guitars were coming back with problems. I’ve had at least a half dozen 61’s with neck issues (I don’t buy a lot of 61’s for that reason). I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad neck on a 62.

The 335 was still a relatively low volume seller for Gibson in 1962. It wasn’t until 64 that the numbers started get to the point where the workers were playing catchup to the demand and quality sometimes suffered. In 61 they made 886 335’s. In 62 they made 876. By 65, that number doubled and by 67, it was up more than fourfold. Given that all the other models ramped up production during this “guitar boom”, it’s no surprise that quality began to diminish. That’s not to denigrate a 67 335-it’s still an excellent guitar but there are qc issues that occur with more frequency during these “boom” years than they did from 58-64. It’s not for nothing that these are called “the golden years” at Gibson.

One final point-I keep an informal “ten best” list of the 3×5’s I’ve owned. It changes a lot but for the past five years, there has been a 62 on that list.  It was a refinished dot neck 62 but still, a 62. The “average” 62 is a great guitar. I don’t know why it keeps surprising me that 62’s are so consistently good. Everything was going right for these guitars and Gibson had finally ironed out the few bugs that existed (shaved bridges (58), output jacks ripping out of thin top (58), deteriorating tuner tips (59/60), warping, twisting necks and truss rod issues (61). I think, as long as they remain well priced, the 62 will be a guitar that I seek out. I love 58’s and 59’s but sellers have gotten totally out of control with asking prices. Right now, 62’s are a sweet spot.

Here’s a 62 dot neck that’s been played hard and has taken on a bit of a brown cast. Not as pretty as the bright red but still a great player. And it’s a dot neck.

7 Responses to “Sleeper but not a Snooze”

  1. RAB says:

    Charlie, agreed, ‘62 is a good year for ES guitars! I had a late ‘62 335, sunburst, pair of PAFs and gorgeous grain in the top. Sold it to a friend because I was in search of a larger neck profile. My early ‘63 has that and one PAF and one PAT#. Remember folks, and as Charlie has reminded us, characterizing neck profiles by year is a convenient tool but Gibsons vary guitar to guitar within that generalized annual parameter. Neck blanks were roughed out and then individually hand shaped leading to this variation…class dismissed! RAB

  2. Steve Newman says:

    +1 RAB. We have talked about how good the ’62’s are before…..still my favorite of all the 3xx Gibsons that I have owned. The most musical, well balanced pickup set I have ever found on any twin humbucker equipped Gibson guitar, including dot necks, very early’61 345 and ’64 ES 355, and various later block markers. And the “in between” neck profile with relatively shallow neck angle (not as shallow as ’58’s) and nut widths that tend to favor the wide side of the standard 1 11/16 inches makes them seriously good players. BTW, Charlie, do you have serial # logs for ’62 335s? I still have the serial # of my old one and would like to learn exactly when it was completed. Extremely early block marker, serial # 51112.

  3. Steve Newman says:

    RAB, also wanted to tell you of a local ’62 Riviera in sunburst that conforms to all the features (nickel parts, general neck shape, PAF stickered mini hums) as it’s Gibson brothers…great guitar!

  4. RAB says:

    Steve, yes, I love my ‘62 Riviera. Super rare, Kalamazoo only made about 40/year in 1962 and 1963 which are the short head stock models. So, while it is possible to find a nice ‘62 335 if you have the coin, it is extremely hard to find a ‘62-63 Riviera or Sheraton finances aside! RAB

  5. RAB says:

    I have since put on an original, period correct nickel Frequensator trapeze tailpiece. And, happily, the correct mounting holes were already in the rim from the factory when I removed the awkward, and heavy Tremotone vibrato tailpiece. The guitar is lighter and much more playable as a result!

  6. Steve Newman says:

    RAB, try reversing the “legs “on the Frequensator. I experimented with my sunburst Sheraton and it DID make a difference, though small, in the tension and ability for bending the strings. Depending on your gauge strings, you may find you have a preference for the long and short “leg” position.

  7. RAB says:

    Steve, Good idea! I’ll try this next string change. I use pure nickel Pyramid 10-46s. Thanks for the suggestion, RAB

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