Summer of Love

OK, I'm being a little provocative but it is a 67. They made some blue ones and some Sparkling Burgundies. Looks like somebody else doesn't like witch hats.

It was 1967. The soundtrack was, without a doubt, Sgt. Pepper. Everybody seemed to own a guitar and everybody played. There was, perhaps, more music per square foot in this country than ever before. Gibson was selling more guitars than they could build. Fender was scratching its head wondering why Stratocasters weren’t selling but everything else was (go ahead, look it up). It was the peak of the guitar boom and the peak of the 335 market in terms of sales. There were 3122 reds shipped and 2596 sunbursts.  More than any other year in Gibson history. Compare that to 64 when 892 reds went and just 349 sunbursts. That’s a 450% jump in just 3 years.  1967 ES-335/345 and 355 don’t command big prices, but they can be excellent guitars. There were a lot of changes to the 335 that occurred incrementally from the end of the “Golden Era” (end of 64/early65) until 67. Two big changes make the 67 worth about a third the price of a 64. The smaller necks are somewhat out of favor. In the mid 60’s, fast guitar playing was all the rage and it was suggested (by the guitar makers, I suppose) that a thin neck was a fast neck. The folks at Mosrite made the skinniest neck out there with little teeny frets that they even called “speed frets”. Gibson slimmed down the nut in 65 to 1 9/16″ and slimmed down the profile as well. By 67, they added a bit more girth again, so many 67 necks, while narrow at the nut, have a pretty substantial feel to them. I’ve played some really good 67’s and I’ve played a few dogs as well. The other big change was the switch from a stop tailpiece to the trapeze-also in 65. While there is no question that the stop looks a whole lot cooler, the trapeze works just fine and, IMO, doesn’t appreciably affect tone or sustain. You would intuitively think it would-being anchored only to the side of the body by three little screws rather than those big ol’ studs going an inch into the center block. I’ve listened to more than a few. Not much difference-more sound is transmitted through the bridge posts than the stoptail studs.  The pickups on many 67’s are still pre T-tops with the red poly wire-good pickups overall and very consistent. T-tops show up on others and they can be a little reedy to my ears but can also sound very good. I find that moving them a little closer to the strings seems to help fatten them up. There were cosmetic changes that mostly make no difference but everyone has an opinion about them. While nobody cares that they lowered the headstock “flowerpot” inlay, just about everyone hates the new knobs-including me. We call them witch hats because they look like, uh, a witch’s hat. They actually look more like Fender amp knobs and they look ugly, I think. Easy to change. Fingerboards were all Indian by 67-I’ve never seen a Brazilian board past 66 but its generally pretty good looking Indian rosewood and if you can hear the difference, then you have some serious set of ears (or you’re lying). I like the wide bevel pickguard of the 66 and earlier ones better but that’s a pretty small feature and I prefer nickel to chrome even though chrome is way more practical. All hardware was chrome by 67-the last thing to go was the pickguard bracket-you might even find a nickel one on a 67. Should you buy a 67? Well, even with the streamlined manufacturing and multiple shifts, the quality is still generally very good and if you can handle the narrow nut, they can be very reasonably priced. I see them under $5000 pretty frequently and under $4000 on occasion. That’s getting down into Historic territory and, given the choice between a 67 and a Historic, frankly, I’d go for the 67 as long as the neck was OK.  Then I’d change the knobs.

OK. This more like it? This sunburst 67 shows the usual 67 features-all chrome hardware, narrow bevel guard and, of course, witch hat knobs.


3 Responses to “Summer of Love”

  1. RAB says:

    Cool! Not a personal favorite color but certainly rare! Maybe do a posting on other rare color ES guitars including black?

  2. chuckNC says:

    I dig Pelham blue/green and burgundy/bronze Gibbies from the mid ’60’s.

    A Maestro on my 355? I’m cool with that, too. But witch hats? Blecchh!

  3. OK Guitars says:

    Any color 335 is OK with me, although I think white makes them look fat. I’m with ya on the witch hats but while I think Maestros look OK on a 355, they don’t work very well due to the shallow string break angle. You want a hood ornament? Get a sideways. It even looks like a hood ornament (and usually works about as well as a trem).

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