Is My Old ES-335/345/355 Valuable?

Well, it depends on what valuable means to you. If you love to play it and it gives you pleasure, then it doesn’t matter what year it is…it’s valuable.  On the other hand, if you’re thinking of selling it, then other aspects come into play. Here’s a couple of quick tips to get you in the ballpark. In order to assess the year, there are a lot-and I mean a lot-of details that will give the year away. Gibson made so many changes-so often-that every year is distinctive in some way. Why not just look up the serial number on the Gibson website. OK, here’s the LINK. Now do you see the problem? Gibson reused some numbers as many as four times. In fact, if you want to include the 70’s, they used the 800XXX numbers as many as seven times! 66,67,68,69,73,74 and 75. So, that barely gets you started.

First off-if you know the guitar is old, then look at the label. If it’s orange, the guitar is 1970 or earlier. If its purple and white, its 1970-1981 or so. Then the labels were white. Recently, Gibson has gone back to using orange in their higher end models and white in others. If your 335 is new, then, simply, it isn’t worth more than it cost in the first place.  OK, so you have an orange label on an old 335-what now? Does it say “Union Made” on it? If not, it’s probably from 1958-1964 or so. All changes happened slowly so there is a range of dates but in general, 64 is the cutoff for non union made labels. Except that they started using them again somewhere around 68, so you need more information. We’ll cover that later. If your label is purple and white, the value of your 335/345 is less than one with an orange label. See my post about what sucks about the 70’s models below. We’ll discuss the 80’s another day. So, for example, you have a 335 with an orange label and the serial number list says its either a 65, a 66 or a 68. They all had orange “union made” labels and there is some difference in the value of these years. These are the three years that are most often confused (along with 67). they all had trapeze tailpieces, they all had chrome hardware (mostly) and they shared serial numbers. Yikes.

Here’s a quick lesson. Every 335 and 345 has an inlay in the headstock that looks like a crown or a flowerpot. The position of that crown changed in late 1966 through early 67 (again, a transition). If it is placed above the A and B tuners, its from pre 65 to early 66. If it’s below them, its a late 66 or later. I’ll post some photos so you know what I’m talking about. In later posts, I’ll go through how you narrow it down even further.  Something I’ve noticed-and it’s the biggest reason I’m doing this blog-is that everyone who has a 60’s 335/345/355 seems to look up the serial number on the list and pick the earliest year it could be. So, the list says 65, 66 or 68-everybody chooses 65. Why? because they’re worth more. So, that’s why I’m here-so you don’t get stuck with a 65 that’s really a 68.  You can thank me later.

High Position “flowerpot” or “crown” on a 59


Low Position “flowerpot” or “crown” on a 69

One Response to “Is My Old ES-335/345/355 Valuable?”

  1. giandean says:

    YOU ARE JUST WONDERFUL!! in only few rows you said all the things that a 335 lover should know!! Thanks! Gian Rome Italy

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