Misinformation: 1968 ES-335

This is a 68 and it certainly isn’t wide.

Most vintage guitar enthusiasts have more than a passing acquaintance with Clay Harrell’s Vintage Guitar Info site. It’s a very accurate and comprehensive compendium that covers the major brands and, while somewhat opinionated in its evaluation of what’s collectible and what isn’t, it’s become something of a bible to many who have an interest in these things.  I give him a lot of credit because he covers a lot of ground with a level of thoroughness that is truly mindboggling. I learned at least half of what I know from his site so I am indebted to him. Which is why I include a link to his site even though I’ve never met or spoken to the man. I recently sent him an email asking him to please correct an error that has become larger than the truth. I can’t tell you how

Here’s another 68 from Ebay. It’s got the “Pantograph” logo we start seeing in 68. This is a lefty SG and is still a narrow nut.

many ES-335 “experts” still quote his assertion that Gibson changed the nut width back to 1 11/16″ in 1968. I don’t know if Gibson says they did or whether he had a 68 that had it but I’ve been through at least 15 of them and I haven’t found one yet that has a 1 11/16″ nut. I’ll give you the backstory: It seems that Fender and Gibson got it into their heads that a smaller, narrower neck was “faster” and they both used that factoid (fictionoid?) in their advertising and marketing. Gibson was worse than Fender because I believe they narrowed their nut to try to better compete with Fender who appeared to be eating Gibson’s lunch when it came to sales. So, in 1965, at the beginning of the “guitar boom” Gibson changed the standard nut width to 1 9/16″ . There were some at 1 5/8″ as well but there had been those for a while especially on 355s and the occasional 345.

The 1 9/16″ nut was the Gibson standard throughout the rest of the 60’s and well into the 70’s. I don’t see very many 70’s guitars but I have seen the wider nut on more than a few so I’m going out on a limb here and saying that they must have gone back to 1 11/16″ at some point during the 70’s-not 1981 as I originally thought.  I’m pretty certain, however, that Gibson did NOT go back to the 1 11/16″ nut as standard in 1968. I bought a brand new SG in 1968 that had a huge neck but I’m almost dead sure that it wasn’t very wide because I had a lot of trouble playing it and, to this day, I can’t play a fat narrow neck. My 67 Trini Lopez had one and I couldn’t play it either. So, my apologies to Mr. Harrell for pointing out a single error in a site that must have 10,000 separate facts in it but this error has been dogging me lately in the form of folks looking for one of those “wide nut” 68’s that they know are out there. They aren’t. If you want a 1 11/16″ nut width, look for an 80’s dot reissue or a later 335 from the years since then. They all have it. The other alternative is to get a 58-64 model. They haven’t been cheaper in years and this is a great opportunity to snag one while the snagging’s good.

And a 69. Nope. Still narrow.

Personally, I think this might be a 69 345 but the seller says 68, so maybe it is. The dotless “i” is associated with 69. Still narrow at the nut.

4 Responses to “Misinformation: 1968 ES-335”

  1. Russ Land says:

    Hi –

    Small-time collector, visit your site occasionally – thanks. Friend asked if he sould store his ’82 Lucille with me, and he actually wants to sell. My next planned purchase is probably an early 60’s 345, and I’ve had no interest in the Lucille’s. But, this is a first year, probably 8.5+, maybe 9, all original near as I can tell. Most Lucille’s seem to be priced around 2200-2600, can’t find anything on one this early. Any heightened collectibility on one this early? Would those be Shaws?


  2. OK Guitars says:

    Might be a little bump in price for a first year but Lucilles don’t get much love in the collectible department. 82 is certainly the Shaw period so they could be Shaws.

  3. Hilda says:

    Hi,… I’ve been doing some research while preparing to sell my husband’s 1972 ES-335. I happened on your site and read the discussion about the years of the 1 9/16″ nut. My husband purchased his ES-335 new from a Denver area guitar store on August 18, 1972, for which I still have the original sales invoice. I’m certainly no guitar expert but I’ve learned a lot while searching information for the impending sale, and one thing for sure, my husband’s 1972 is definately a 1 9/16″ nut. So,… Gibson did not return to the 1 11/16″ nut in the 1968 ES-335’s, at least on an absolute basis. I’m in the 76 age group but I still enjoyed reading your various discussions. I only wish I had become more interested in guitars earlier in my life. Regards,… Hilda

  4. OK Guitars says:

    You are absolutely right. Gibson did not return to the 1 11/16″ nut in 68. there’s a certain very comprehensive and well executed website that is kind of the vintage “bible” online and it is wrong about this. I wrote him about it but he hasn’t made a change. I don’t generally deal in 70’s 335s but there are plenty of dealers who do. I can make some recommendations if you email me. And it isn’t too late to get interested. 75 is the new 50.

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