Ebay ES of the Week #7

Here's a pretty ES-340. These are supposed to have birch tops instead of maple but its hard to tell. I would tend to think that this one is birch. Looks just like a 335, right? Well, it isn't. And it shouldn't cost as much as one either and yet...

Is it seven weeks already that I’ve been doing this? This week we’ll turn over a few rocks to find one of Gibson’s more baffling models: The ES-340. (note that I’m now linking to earlier posts). I wrote about these earlier anf they’ve been coming up a lot lately with some pretty big prices on them. There are no less than 3 blondies on Ebay right now. I chose the least expensive which happens to be a blonde ’69 that you can find here. Look at the others too while you’re there. I can’t recommend any of them because they seem very high priced to me but this auction allows you to make an offer and it looks like a nice one. I’m sure Gibson was trying to save money and the 340 may reveal some of their intent. This is the first ES to have a maple neck (and a multipiece one at that). Maple is cheaper than the high grade mahogany Gibson had used up to this point and little pieces of wood are always cheaper than big pieces. The extra step of gluing together the neck pieces must have been offset by the price of the wood. The 69 model year is the only one with no volute .

Look ma, no volute. A five piece maple neck which, I have to admit, look pretty cool. I've never played one so I can't comment further about it.

For that reason, I would go with a 69 over any of the later years. The next thing you need to do is to rewire it like a 335 unless you like the wild and wacky wiring that Gibson thought was a good idea at the time. The three way did this: Both pickups on, both pickups off and both pickups out phase. That meant that if you wanted to go from the neck pickup to the bridge pickup quickly, you had to pot one down and pot  the other up. And this was supposed to be an improvement how? I guess the out of phase thing has some use but they could have just put a switch in for that. Let’s assume that a 69 335 is worth $2500-$3500. I’ve seen some go as high as $4000 but for that you might as well buy a 68 or a 67 since you’ll have a better chance of getting a better guitar-some 69’s have no neck tenon and three piece necks-not to mention the pickups will usually be T tops in a 69 and pre T tops in a 67 or even a 68.  The other interesting feature is that the tops are supposedly birch instead of maple. Birch and maple can be hard to tell apart but these have some very big grain which is typical of birch. Maple tends to be tighter and often with some figuring-however slight. The catalog calls it birch as well, if I recall correctly. So a 340 should be worth less than a 335 and yet, here they are at well over $4000. Note that  they aren’t selling very well. In fact, as I think I’ve mentioned,  about 6% of ES’s on Ebay actually sell. That’s pitiful and its all because folks just can’t wrap their heads around the idea that the value of something can go down as well as up. Wake up. The fact that these are blonde might make them a bit more desirable to some but $4500? Nah. Properly wired, these could be really nice guitars but if you can get a 335 for the same price and you’re not dying for a blonde with a maple neck, get the 335. At least when they finally go back up, you won’t be left in the dust.

2 Responses to “Ebay ES of the Week #7”

  1. Woody says:

    Hi Charlie! Just wondered what you felt a 1969 ES-340 in good condition was worth now in Sept of 2014.


  2. cgelber says:

    If it’s blonde and has no neck volute, it’s probably worth up to $4000 depending on originality and condition. If it has the volute, knock off $1000. If it’s walnut, knock off $1000. This is my opinion YMMV.

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