Ebay ES of the Week #3

This nice looking red 335 is advertised as a 68. But is it?

The first two Ebay listings that we examined were high end collector grade 335’s from the 50’s. Let’s go the other way and take a closer look at what appears to be a very affordable, no reserve auction of a 1968 ES 335. Or is it? Let’s take a look at what we can see in the photos. We can immediately rule out anything earlier than 67 due to the witch hat knobs. It’s got the larger f-holes, so we know it’s at least a 68. Well, that’s what the seller says it is so why go any further. We go further because the seller is mistaken.  There are a couple of aspects of this guitar which make it-without a doubt-a 69.  1968-69 is loaded with transitions so it can be hard to tell them apart but there are a couple of things that allow us to do just that. Look at the logo-no dot on the “i” in Gibson. That’s generally indicates a 69 but I can’t guarantee that there weren’t some of those in late 68. OK, while we’re at it, lets take a look at the serial number which isn’t going to tell us much since Gibson serial numbers during this period were all over the place and are thus not a good indicator of year of manufacture. The serial number looks like 820657 to me. According to my list, that would be a 66 serial number-which it clearly isn’t. There are, however, 69 serial numbers in that range but that, in itself, is not enough information.  The dead giveaway is the neck. It’s a 3 piece and I’m betting that if you took off the neck pickup and looked for a tenon you wouldn’t find one.  Even though Norlin (beer/concrete) didn’t arrive until the end of 1969, the cost cutting began before the takeover occurred and this guitar is an example of the early days of those changes. The fact that the guitar has no “made in USA” stamp and no neck volute shows the guitar to be an example from earlier in the year rather than later but there are plenty of 69 335’s that have all of the 68 features including the one piece neck. Being a no reserve auction, this guitar could go pretty cheap. With asking prices of $8000 or more, the large number of late 60’s ES 335s that won’t sell is staggering. And, while the lack of the long neck tenon (or any neck tenon for that matter) is a concern, it isn’t a dealbreaker to me. If the price of this guitar stays under $3000, you might just get a deal. But, given the fact that I’ve seen 66’s and 67’s sell in the mid threes, you might want to hold out for one of those. You also might want to look at 345’s-they are typically a good 20% less than an equivalent 335. You just have to be prepared to deal with a stereo guitar (which, frankly, is no big deal-just get a Y cable). The market is a little schizo right now. A 1979 which may have been a 1980 went for $2800 recently. I personally wouldn’t have paid half that but someone did. It could have been an excellent guitar but, given the odds on a 70’s 335, it probably wasn’t.

And here's the "tell"-a three piece neck. You can see the seams clearly in this photo. It's not that three piece necks can't be good-they can be just fine. They were, however, a cost cutting measure and there weren't any in 1968. This guitar is, therefore, a 1969.

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