My Old 335 Says "Custom Made"

These are actually pretty cool. When Gibson started making 335s, they were all drilled with holes for a stop tailpiece. Gibson would provide a guitar to an individual or a dealer with a Bigsby tailpiece when requested.  Since the Bigsby eliminates the need for a stop, they needed to cover up the holes with something.  Their odd choice was to use a plastic engraved plaque that said “Custom Made” which was nailed into the top of the guitar with 2 or 4 small brass brads.  I’ve seen at least one that was glued to the top.  You might also see pearl, black or metal inserts (little circles) set into the stud holes. I originally thought that these were added later but I know now that they are, indeed, factory. Even I learn stuff now and then.  Gibson eventually made guitars that only had the Bigsby and no stud holes at all-my 1960 345 in the top picture is a good early example. But they continued the “Custom Made” plaque up through 1964 or early 65 when they stopped using stop tailpieces altogether in favor of the trapeze which was cheaper and easier to attach.

Interestingly, There were customers who complained that their guitars didn’t say “Custom Made” and they wanted that plaque, so Gibson put them on some Bigsby equipped guitars late in the run that had no stud holes. Seems dumb to me but that’s Gibson. Give ’em what they want whether it’s good or not (see their incredibly dopey “guitars of the week” like the reverse V).

2 Responses to “My Old 335 Says "Custom Made"”

  1. Tom Hollyer says:

    Hi Charlie,

    Great blog you've got going here. Love to see more discussion of 3x5s all over the web.

    Just one thing on your last entry… while I can't be certain, I do believe that the pearl inserts were done at the factory. Can't prove it, but I've seen enough to believe that they came from Kalamazoo. And I've seen them on a few Les Pauls of the era as well.


  2. Opporknockity Tunes Vintage Guitars says:

    Good point-I really have never seen anything to indicate that these were done at the factory. There is no reason why they couldn't have been. The reason I'm sticking to my story is that there seems to be little consistency in the ways the studs were covered. If anything can be said about Gibson, they did were very cost conscious which means they would likely have done it one way and one way only. I've seen real pearl, plastic pearl, black plastic, metal buttons and even MOTS! I think people are very resourceful and I'm sure many felt the plaque was ostentatious and/or ugly. It's a pretty obvious and elegant solution to put pearl dots over them.

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