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Fun Guitars that aren’t 335’s

One of the (few) upsides to Covid-19 is that I have more time to play the guitars that I have in my possession. As a dealer, I have a pretty broad selection and during the old days (pre Covid), I didn’t play them all that much because I was too busy. I played my ’59 345 and one of the 12 strings (Ricky 660 or Breedlove Classic 12). But here at OK Guitars, there are a fair number of cool guitars that, until now, I haven’t played much. Here’s a sampling:

One of my favorites is the Epiphone Wilshire with P90’s. They only made a few hundred of them from late 60-63, so they are rare. This one is sold but I have another.

What I like so much about the Wilshire is the configuration of two P90’s and a stoptail/ABR-1. Gibson made these guitars in Kalamazoo on the same assembly line as the SG’s of the day. But an SG Special has a wrap tail. In fact, the only P90 Gibson with an ABR-1 other than the Wilshire is a Les Paul (55-57 and 68 and later). So, in the early 60’s this was it. Light weight, loud and nasty (and rare). These are a true sleeper in the vintage market. You can still find them in the $4K-$8K range but look out for changed bridge and tailpiece. Those two items are worth $2000 or more alone. Folks have started scavenging these guitars for parts.

Another rare one. This is a Rickenbacker Susanna Hoffs model. This guitar has monster pickups. The two single coils are as hot as a Mosrite at 12K ohms. The humbucker at the bridge is pretty nice too.

I think the Ricky 325/350 series are pretty cool little guitars. The Lennon connection has always been a factor, being a huge Beatles fan/aficionado. But the 325/350 is a little dull to play. It’s a decent rhythm guitar but it falls short when you want to step out front and wail. Enter the Susanna Hoffs model. Even cooler looking than the Lennon with the checkerboard bindings, the SH comes alive when you plug it in. It’s aggressive in any position and will send your amp into overdrive with a twist of the volume knob. And why is that? How about single coils at 12K? The humbucker at the bridge is pretty hot as well. Yeah, the middle pickup gets in the way for some but there’s enough room to work around it. My only complaint about the Hoffs is the nut width. It’s pretty thin at around 1 9/16″. I have short stubby fingers and I kind of fall all over myself playing narrow fingerboards at the first few frets. It weighs almost nothing and, while it’s a little pricey due to the fact they only made 250 of them, the SH is a fun diversion that couldn’t be more different than what I’m used to playing.

Bet you didn’t expect this. When I was 17, I fell in love with the looks of the Ventures Mosrite and bought one. The nut was so narrow and the frets were so small that I had to change my playing style to accommodate it. But I sure looked cool playing it.

From around 1969 until 1974, I played a Mosrite Ventures Model. It was a 65 and I put a patent number humbucker in the neck and it sounded pretty great. It was not the easiest guitar to play but it sure looked good on stage (I was still gigging until 1973). The pickups in a Mosrite are way overwound (10K-12K) and these bad boys will overdrive your amp to distraction. The frets are tiny (not so great for string bends), the nut is really narrow, they don’t stay in tune very well if you hit the whammy too hard and the single tone knob can be a problem for some players, although the single volume can be a good thing, I think. With the German carve on top, it’s still one of the most distinctive and recognizable guitars of its era even though it’s essentially an upside down Strat. Not expensive unless you are after one of the early “sidejack” ones from 63.

What’s this? Some low volume Gibson solid body with humbuckers. Yes. It’s a burst. This 1960 has been in the house for a while and, even though I’m not a Les Paul guy, this guitar could turn me into one. It’s heavier than my 345 by a pound or so and the neck is a little thinner but it’s a wonderful guitar to play. It looks pretty good too even though the red seems to have disappeared from the finish.

The first time I ever saw a Les Paul was while watching one of the mid 60’s after school programs-it was either “Shindig” or “Hullabaloo” or maybe “Where the Action is”. These programs ran from around 65 until 67 on network TV. The show that day featured the Lovin’ Spoonful and there was Zally with his Guild Thunderbird (also a fun guitar but I just sold mine) but Sebastian was playing a little solid body that I had never seen before. It looked really little and kind of funny (and it was black and white TV so the color and top weren’t much of a factor). Most folks first experience with a burst was Bloomfield, Clapton or Page but this was 1965 and those guys hadn’t really emerged to the mainstream yet with their LPs. I don’t think I have to describe what these sound like or play like. There is hardly a guitar on earth that has had more written about it. I have little to add other than they seem kind of pricey compared to a good vintage 335. Or maybe the vintage 335’s are undervalued. Hmm.

13 Responses to “Fun Guitars that aren’t 335’s”

  1. RAB says:

    Charlie, fun stuff for sure. Yes, it’s good to drag out a different guitar now and then if for no other reason than to get out of a rut of playing your favorite axe! As a Covid-19 project I picked up a late ‘90’s “Crafted in Japan” Tele Custom. Nice big neck profile, sunburst finish and lightweight Alder, bound body. I stripped off all the parts and replaced them with quality, American made components. Man, what a difference that made! The enhanced guitar plays and sounds as good as any genuine vintage Tele I’ve owned over the decades and for a relatively low outlay of coin. Play yer git-tars folks and y’all stay safe! RAB

  2. RAB says:

    Headstock…

  3. RAB says:

    Love the old style logo!

  4. RAB says:

    Any other Covid-projects or purchases going on? Until a vaccine arrives practice retail therapy!

  5. RAB says:

    Must be other git-tar nuts buying and/or tinkering during their newly found spare time?!

  6. Bob says:

    You are so knowledgeable regarding es-335s.

    I’ve been interested lately in exploring the es-330 because with its p-90s and hollow body it gets a different (more funky) sound than my 335.

    I was wondering if you have ever written a review of the es-330. If so, I’d love to read it. Thx bob

  7. RAB says:

    Anyone…?

  8. Joe Campagna says:

    Built this while trapped indoors.Built the pickup too.

  9. RAB says:

    Joe, wow, that git looks outstanding! Kudos on your fine luthier work. I’ll bet it sounds and plays great too! A two pickup Crestwood in cherry red or ‘59 style sunburst would be cool too…

  10. okguitars says:

    Nice. One of my main players is a Frye Model 1 which is that exact guitar with a humbucker.

  11. okguitars says:

    I’ve done a few posts about 330’s. Not many because I don’t really see that many and my posts are based on observation so I don’t write much about them. I like them a lot but I think they have become inflated price wise. But then, what hasn’t.

  12. john giovann says:

    Very cool site indeed…Like you, the first Les Paul I saw was Sebastian’s on Shindig and it did look small…I didnt jump on the LP train until the mid 70s…I was a big fan of P90 SGs and 335’s, who need anything else….lol…One question,I noticed a big spike in production numbers for 335s in 1973.Ive wracked my brain for an apparent reason,any suggestions?

  13. okguitars says:

    No idea. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because Larry Carlton played one, although thats a perfectly good reason to buy one.

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