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ES 355

What's this? It's a 355-you can tell by the inlays but it's blonde and, gasp, it's mono. And it's rare-maybe even unique. And it's a 69, so it isn't worth $100K (which it would be if it was a 59). $13K

What’s this? It’s a 355-you can tell by the inlays but it’s blonde and, gasp, it’s mono. And it’s rare-maybe even unique. And it’s a 69, so it isn’t worth $100K (which it would be if it was a 59). Still, a pretty cool guitar.

And now there’s a real mono blonde 355 from the Golden Era. This is a 59 build, 60 serial. Only one known.

This one off is pretty interesting. Factory Byrdland tailpiece, Super 400 inlays and bound f-holes. Probably an employee guitar, it never strayed far from home. It was bought within 150 miles of Kalamazoo.

This one off is pretty interesting. Factory Byrdland tailpiece, Super 400 inlays and bound f-holes. Probably an employee guitar, it never strayed far from home. It was bought within 150 miles of Kalamazoo.

This is the only 58 ES-355 I've owned. They only made 10 of them in 58. Stop tail was added. This extreme fade is typical of very early red 355's. You can seethe original color peaking out from behind the guard.

This is the only 58 ES-355 I’ve owned. They only made 10 of them in 58. Stop tail was added. This extreme fade is typical of very early red 355’s. You can seethe original color peaking out from behind the guard.

I once had a white '65 ES-355 with BB Kings autograph on it. It probably would have sold for more without it but the buyer was a BB King fan, so I left it.

Any 355 that isn’t red is pretty rare. This white one is a 65 and I had it a while ago. I sold it as a refinish but it was a toss up. Some guy named BB King autographed it which must add at least $5000 to its value. That’s what people seem to think when they try to sell them to me. First thing I do? Take off that autograph.

It doesn't get much rarer than this. This is the only known 63 stop tail ES-355 Mono (or stereo, for that matter). There a 6 known stop tail 355's from 58-64. I've now owned 4 of the 6.

It doesn’t get much rarer than this. This is the only known 63 stop tail ES-355 Mono (or stereo, for that matter). There a 6 known stop tail 355’s from 58-64. I’ve now owned 4 of the 6.

Want a mono 59 355 with a factory stop tail? They made 3 of them. I sold one last year and just acquired another. This one is on hold. You'll have to wait for the last one to turn up. $44000

Want a mono 59 355 with a factory stop tail? They made 3 of them. I sold one last year and recently  acquired another.  It’s gone so you’ll have to wait for the last one to turn up.

If you saw the hit film "The Big Short" then you know who Dr. Michael Burry is. This was his guitar-a beautiful 60 mono with double white PAFs.

Here’s a beautiful 60 mono with double white PAFs. If you saw the movie “The Big Short”, this guitar was owned by the character played by Christian Bale. He played drums in the movie but played this in real life.

This is one of only a handful of stop tail ES-355's. They were all Custom orders and I know of 6 of them. I've owned four of the six. This one is a 60 and formerly owned by Charlie Wirz, one of the first vintage dealers in the country.

This is one of only a handful of stop tail ES-355’s. They were all Custom orders and I know of 6 of them. I’ve owned four of the six. This one is a 60 and formerly owned by Charlie Wirz, one of the first vintage dealers in the country, hence the “CW” at the end of the fingerboard.

Ultra rare and maybe the only one. 1959 mono factory stop tail ES-355. My holy grail (or one of them anyway)

Ultra rare and maybe the only one. 1959 mono factory stop tail ES-355. My holy grail (or one of them anyway)

Another mono 59 ES-355. Smaller transitional neck on this one but the double white PAFs make up for that.

Another mono 59 ES-355. Smaller transitional neck on this one but the double white PAFs make up for that.

Killer big neck 59 355 mono. Had a headstock crack but still a great, great guitar.

Killer big neck 59 355 mono. Had a headstock crack but still a great, great guitar.

Bill C. from an undisclosed location sent me this photo of his '60 mono ES-355. Look at the gold on that beauty. He must have worn gloves while playing. I always like the personalized touches folks put on their guitars-it gives them context and some small amount of history. This is a fairly early 60 so it still has the long guard and amber switch tip. It also has black non reflector knobs-a great look. I think it's the "newer" red but given the condition of the gold it may just have never seen the sun. Thanks Bill. Great addition to the site

Bill C. from an undisclosed location sent me this photo of his ’60 mono ES-355. Look at the gold on that beauty. He must have worn gloves while playing. I always like the personalized touches folks put on their guitars-it gives them context and some small amount of history. This is a fairly early 60 so it still has the long guard and amber switch tip. It also has black non reflector knobs-a great look. I think it’s the “newer” red but given the condition of the gold it may just have never seen the sun. Thanks Bill. Great addition to the site

 

A factory stop tail '59 ES-355 has been on my personal bucket list for years. The fact that it's a 59 is just icing on the cake. If it was mono, I'd be beside myself but this'll do. Love that watermelon red too.

A factory stop tail ’59 ES-355 has been on my personal bucket list for years. The fact that it’s a 59 is just icing on the cake. If it was mono, I’d be beside myself but this’ll do. Love that watermelon red too.

 

’61 mono on the left and early 60 mono on the right. Note the difference in the red (and the Bigsbys).

 

 

One of my favorite guitars – a 59 mono ES-355. Double white in the neck. Not the huge neck but not the flat one either.

 

You all know how I don’t like a Maestro on a 3×5 but I’ll make an exception for a blonde 355.

You won’t see another like this. If you see a sunburst 62 ES-355 with bound f-holes and a sideways, it’s this one. One of a kind for sure. Thanks, Rob.

Here’s a cool mid 59 TDSV from JR, a reader from somewhere in Cyberspace. 59’s are great because they get that fade, although this one is still pretty vibrant

 

 

 

This is the first 355 I posted on the site. I didn’t own it at the time, I just grabbed a photo of the internet so I would have one. Now I own it. It found me.  Mono, of course. Too bad I didn’t get the cool BF Vibrolux too

Here’s a nice example of a 59 ES-355. Long guard and all original. Played great too.

A Maestro equipped 65 ES-355. I don’t like the way Maestros look but they are pretty stable if you must have a whammy. This 65 had a full 1 11/16″ nut.

Big fat neck 59 SVT ES-355. Sayonara, red. See you in Tokyo next time I’m in town.

 

You gotta love the 355s with the sideways. Unless it’s really well set up and balanced, it makes a crappy trem but it has a lot of mass and makes a pretty good tailpiece. this one is a mono, of course, and is headed for the personal collection of a well known collector and dealer.

I love the “watermelon” fade, This 59 mono 355 lives in New Jersey now. I really liked this one while I had it.

65 Responses to “ES 355”

  1. Dave S. says:

    I’ve had a late 60’s 355 for several years now…a ‘teaburst’. Never seen or
    heard of another one….any info on this? thanks….ds

  2. Send me a photo-I’ve seen a sunburst 355 from the early 60s-in fact you can see it at ES-335.net. They started really turning out a lot of teaburst finishes by 1969 so it wouldn’t surprise me to see a 355 with that finish. I’ll post the photo with a credit if that’s OK. I love seeing unusual 335s/345s/355s and yours certainly qualifies

  3. Ron says:

    I have a sunburst 355 with Bigsby for sale…..1964 Ron Petersen of the Frantics 50’s rock group in Seattle

  4. OK Guitars says:

    Sorry for the delayed response. My new spam filter is still being tweaked. Send me photos. I’d love to see it.

  5. Johnny Cola says:

    A guy walked into GC “King of the Blues” last week with a ’61 355 in Cherry with a SIDEWAYS VIBRATO that his Father bought him NEW. It was clean as a a whistle, he took exceptional care of it through the years.

  6. OK Guitars says:

    These high end guitars were often very well cared for-especially 355’s and 345’s which tended to be purchased by older, more mature, players who treated their guitars like tools of their trade and not props.

  7. Nill says:

    send me photos too.

  8. arnaque SEO says:

    Hello, I just wanted to tell you, I disagree. Your point doesn’t make any sense.

  9. OK Guitars says:

    Which point? It’s mostly hard, cold facts.

  10. OK Guitars says:

    Looks kinds spammy to me. But it appears you arent a bot.This is pretty much it. I have a facebook page Opporknockity Tunes Guitars

  11. Roger Bergen says:

    The early mono 355 models sound great with a little more bite given the ebony board compared to a rosewood board thinline!

  12. OK Guitars says:

    That’s what I hear but I contend that most folks can’t hear the difference. I don’t hear any more bite from a 355 than I do from a rosewood model. I think the pickups are more of a factor. But maybe your ears are better than mine.

  13. Roger Bergen says:

    It would be fun and educational to do a side by side comparison of classic year 335, 345 and 355 models using the same amp/settings as the “control” just for scientific purposes of course (oh yeah and fun!)

  14. OK Guitars says:

    Yes, I agree. I’d do it but I suck as a player-even after 48 years of playing.

  15. Jeff Reynolds says:

    Hi Folks,
    After 43 years I’ve decided to turn loose of my ever present side-kick. My dad bought my Custom Shop(Bigsby) with Custom Plate 1965 ES 335 TD as incentive to stay in school and join the high school stage band. Now, after many years of playing, this much cherished instrument lives safely in a closet. Now and then, late at night, I hear it lightly thumping at the closet door trying to escape into the arms of another passionate player. It is for sale for the going prices found on the web. Those interested may reply to yarrow1@comcast.net.

  16. Phil Dobbin says:

    Hi, everybody.

    I’ve just got a 1967 355 with the Maestro. It’s stereo with the Varitone. I love it to bits. Been after a ES-3 series for years…

    My question is today I’ve seen two 355s with Gibson stamped on the pickup covers. One was Louie Meyer of the Aces filmed back in 1979 & the other was Joe Bonamassa filmed at a Freddie King tribute.

    One of the pictures above seems to have the same marking (it’s kind of hard to tell). Can anybody tell me what the deal is with these particular pickups? They don’t seem that common to me.

    Thanks for any help & hello from London. Cheers, Phil…

  17. OK Guitars says:

    The embossed pickup covers are unusual and were used in 1972 only (maybe a few in late 71 and early 73). The pickups themselves are t-tops.

  18. mark says:

    Hi ive owned a es355 for many years now. Its a 6 digit stamped on back of head with the purple/white label, so I always assumed its a early 70’s. It has the lyre vibrola and such but the strange thing is it never had pick up covers. Im not the original owner but think id have to be the 2nd. Did this model ever come without the pick up covers or did someone remove them ? Pickups are black T tops. Also the case has the yellowish fuzzy inside. Thanx ! Any info would be great, Awesome site !!

  19. mark says:

    Hmmmmmm just noticed something interesting concerning my pickup covers question. Your pic of the sunburst with the bound F holes has no pick up covers. I just realized my es355 which is cherry/red has bound F holes and no pick up covers. H’mmmmmmm were all bound Fhole models pick ups coverless??????????

  20. OK Guitars says:

    I’m not quite as knowledgable when it comes to 70’s models. There were some that came without covers-the 335CRR comes to mind-but I don’t think they ever sold a 355 with no covers. If it has a yellow case (and its original) its probably a very early 70’s or a leftover case. They were purple lined by then. How can you be certain it never had covers?

  21. OK Guitars says:

    That one had covers when it was new.

  22. mark says:

    Oh im not certain for sure at all. Not being the original owner, cant say for sure. Ill zip ya out some pics.

  23. Sam Wood says:

    Great site! I have either a late ’59 or ’60 mono 355 that’s been somewhat ‘altered’.. No original parts on it other than the pickguard (long tort guard), refin in black, plus the mother of all travesties – the backplate! Just wondering about neck shapes to help me date it a bit better as the serial number is long gone! This has a fairly slim taper neck, which I assume would probably make it a ’60, but just wondering what others of the same era were like?

  24. OK Guitars says:

    The neck started getting very slim in 59, so you can’t go by that on a 355. Look for a factory order number inside the body somewhere near the controls. If it starts with the letter “S” it a 59. If it starts with the letter “R”, its a 60. Too bad about the back plate. Everything else can be fixed.

  25. Sam Wood says:

    Fantastic – Thanks so much. Sadly it seems that any F/O number was lost in the backplate saga, so I suppose we’ll never know! At what point in ’59 did the 21st fret inlay change to being slightly smaller, as this could be a clue maybe..

    Also, are there any recommendable ES refinishers that you know of in the UK/Europe? I’d love to either take it back to cherry, or (if the laminates have been sanded through already on the first attempt) a nice black nitro refin as the current one is a cloying, plastic finish that just feels all wrong!

    Again, thank you so much for the info, both in your reply, and the huge amount of it on the site – what a great read!

  26. OK Guitars says:

    I really don’t know when they made that change. All the 59’s Ive had have had the larger 21st fret inlay and all the 60’s had the smaller one. Must have been close to the year changeover.

  27. MG says:

    I had a 1960 es-355 that had PAFs but one PAF had slot head screws and the other had Phillips head screws. Some people said the one with slot head screws was not original but I am positive it was as I bought it from the original owner, there were no solder changes or any mods to the guitar and the wear on the covers were identical. What do you think about a slot head PAF?

  28. cgelber says:

    Anything is possible at Gibson during the era. It’s easy to replace the screws, so you’ll never know for certain. I’ve heard of that before but I’ve never seen it. I assume you’re referring to the bobbin screws on the bottom and not the pickup surround screws. Those I’ve seen slot heads on the neck pickup and phillips on the bridge pickup more than a few times on 58-59’s.

  29. BRC says:

    I have a 1960 ES 355 that I purchased new. It is in excellent condition, as is the case. One thing I found out was, mine came with a black case instead of the brown case. The thought was, the guitar was in the guitar store for a while before I purchased it, and the salesman just grabbed the wrong case by mistake. I verified the serial number and it was manufactured between Feb. and July 1960. Will this “incorrect” case lower the value of the guitar? Of course I will never sell it, but just wondering if this would affect the value.
    I had the guitar appraised, and was told it was a 9 to a 9.5 out of a 10.
    thank you
    BTW, great site !

  30. cgelber says:

    Actually, a black case is correct for a 60 ES-355. In fact, they started using the black cases for 355s in late 1959. The 335s and 345s continued the brown case well into 61 and even occasionally in 62.

  31. BRC says:

    Thank you for the response. I just happen to hear this about the brown case as I was looking into the history of the 355, so I was not sure which case was the correct one. When I can I will post some pictures of the guitar. I am very proud to be the original owner, and this is one guitar that will always be in my family.
    thank you again

  32. cgelber says:

    email me a couple of photos and I’ll post them.

  33. toasty says:

    Hi!
    I got the “big fat”59 355@Tokyo.
    You can see anytime when you’ll be here.
    At first,I changed the terrible nut to oldivory.
    Anyway,Thanks to send me a great piece!
    I’m to see you .

  34. cgelber says:

    It was a nice one for sure.

  35. toasty says:

    Yes.I agree.
    Firsttime I started play it,My brain was completely system down.
    Ican’t remember how came back home.
    Then From the moment.
    I’m just falling in love with “BigFAT.So,I feel lucky,happy,and something special ? started moving in my life.I had never experienced before kind of this emotion. Ofcause,I was exited when I got ’58D-28,’59Gretch W-anniversary.’59LP,Jr.and other nice instrumets,but …different

    I wanna say “Thank You”
    again,and again.
    See Ya!

  36. cgelber says:

    Cool. See you in Tokyo.

  37. manny says:

    hello
    would want to consult you about a 355 TDSV 64 with serial number 69.xxx, selling in my country, the guitar is in very good condition almost exc in the finish , although the covers of the pickups, bridge and the vibrola are the gold worn , but has a refretted, and someone had the “happy idea “of change part or whole, i don´t know, of the wiring or/and condensers of the varitone because he said they were dry, which you think might be the market value of this guitar, , many thanks and greetings

  38. manny says:

    this 355 for the rest is all original, except for the straps button , and not have the original case, because it was bought at the store in my country in 1964 without case, best regards

  39. Nick says:

    Hi. I have a 59 355 with a sideways vibrola Serial A31929 with an S FON. You don’t mention ’59s having sideways – is mine one of the very first?
    Great site…Thanks!!
    I am very interested in your 59 sunburst 335 too…nice!
    Nick

  40. cgelber says:

    It must be-I’ve never seen 59 with a sideways. Since 355’s were low volume guitars, it may have been shipped in 60. A31929 is pretty late (December) 59. Still, it’s a 59.

  41. Eros says:

    Why do these es335 have a different head logo why do hey not have the standard 335 ones these have diamond headstock like the les paul customs ?

  42. cgelber says:

    A 335 with a split diamond headstock is a ES-355. An ES-355 is an upmarket version of a 335. Fancy bindings, gold hardware, ebony board, real mother of pearl inlays, Grover tuners (later Kluson waffle backs)and, yes, the split diamond headstock inlay were the upgrades. They were available in stereo and mono. Apparently Gibson thought folks would pay more money for fancy appointments. They were only half right. 335’s were way more popular but plenty of 355s sold-enough to keep them in the line for around 20 years in a row.

  43. david says:

    Hi, I also have a very strange 1962-1963 Gibson 355td and the shape is pointy like Barney Kessel but its not, I think that was a Gibson experiment in that time
    Very strange and unigue guitar I can tell, BTW nice page! thx David

  44. cgelber says:

    I saw the thread on the Gibson site. Strange one for sure. Send me some photos and I’ll do a feature on it. Send to okguitars@gmail.com

  45. Joe Woods says:

    I bought my stereo Gibson in1969 -it was red. I sold it in 1976, $250 (I had paid $700) now today I can’t recall if it was a 335 or 345, I’m sure it was not a 355 – it seemed to be an ES335 but I don’t know. I remember thinking it was exactly the same as B. B. King’s but…..? I do have a few old pictures I can try to look at …..so is there any characteristics to identify each model?

  46. cgelber says:

    Very easy to tell them apart. A 335 wouldn’t be stereo, so it wasn’t a 335. A 345 has different fret markers than a 355. A 355 has large pearl blocks while a 345 has smaller parallelograms-two per marker. Also the headstock on a 355 is different than a 345. The 355 has fancy split diamond inlay while the 345 has the very simple “crown” inlay.

  47. Tom Parker says:

    Hi, I have what we have always thought to be a ’60 ES355 mono, with sideways tremolo. It has a 25xxx serial number, one black and one white bobbin PAF’s. My dad bought it new, so the date seems pretty firm. My question is, are any parts available for the sideways? I got a little rough with it around 1969, and it’s been locked down ever since.

  48. cgelber says:

    Parts for a sideways are hard to find. Especially the lower arm piece that breaks off pretty easily. You might debtor to find an intact unit. They aren’t cheap, however. It is a 61-not a 60. The sideways wasn’t introduced until 61 on the 355 and that’s a 61 serial number.

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