Archive for May, 2013

The Pickup Line, Part 2

Sunday, May 26th, 2013


This should illustrate the difference between enamel coated wire (top) and poly coated. There is some color variation bwteen different manufacturers but they're pretty distinctively different.

OK, I’m assuming you read Part 1, so I’ll pick up (get it?) where I left off. So, it’s 1965 and the covers have gone from nickel to chrome but what’s going on underneath? It turns out that poly coated wire is cheaper than enamel coated and, Gibson, being interested in making more money, makes the switch. Poly coated wire is kind of orange while enamel is purplish brown (and varies a good bit). There are those who perceive a difference in tone between the two but I rarely get the chance to do a side by side so I can’t comment since most of the guitars I get are 65 or earlier. Trying to describe pickup tone is a quagmire anyway, so we’ll skip it. Anyway, the poly wire patent numbers seemed to have shown up about the same time as the chrome covers-some time in 65. Research will tell you that T-tops showed up in 65 as well but I don’t think they did. I’ve never seen a T-top in a 65 ES model or SG. I don’t get to see a lot of later guitars but every 66 and most 67’s I’ve had have had poly wound patent numbers. I’m speculating that T-tops really showed up in late 66 or early 67. It must have been a pretty long transition because I’ve seen the pre T-top patent numbers as late as 1970. Another fairly consistent feature of the later patent number (pre T-top) is the color of the wiring. PAFs and early patents had two black wires connecting the bobbins to the lead wire. later poly wound patent numbers (and T-tops) have one white and one black wire. What exactly is a T-top? A T-top is, essentially a redesign of the patent number pickup that addressed a few problems and probably saved Gibson some money. The biggest change is the bobbin itself. The embossed “T” in the top is supposed to be so that the winders can orient the pickup in the right direction. It’s basically a “this end up” symbol. The little “square in the circle” hole through which you could see the windings also disappeared. T-tops lasted well into the 80’s although the sticker was replaced by an embossed patent number in the base in 1976 or so.  Another dilemma…how can you tell what’s under the cover? You can’t unless you remove the cover which hurts the value of the pickup. There is a way to improve your odds of getting a pre T-top over a t-top in a chrome covered pickup. Look at the bobbin screws on the bottom. If they are slotted, chances are good that it’s a T-top. If they are phillips, then it’s a crapshoot. Slotted screws are rare on a pre T-top but phillips are not uncommon on T-tops. meaning if it’s slotted it’s probably a T-top. If it’s phillips, it could be either.  Not much help, huh. Most players prefer PAFs to patents and patents to T-tops and the market reflects that. Is there a difference in tone? Yes, but there’s a difference in tone between two PAFs as well. You’re best served to listen to any pickup rather than looking at the sticker. Any general discussion of pickup tone is bound to elicit comment and controversy. When you start getting into long magnet vs. short, late PAF vs. early patent number, enamel vs. poly or late patent vs. t-tops, you’ll get very little agreement. I could also argue that I’ve heard plenty of boutique “PAF” pickups that sound wonderful. That little  PAF sticker may add a thousand bucks or more to the price but it doesn’t make the pickup sound any different. The change in wire from enamel coated to poly does change the sound so perhaps that is the more important thing to look for. My opinion? So glad you asked. The best value and most consistently good sounding pickups are early patent number with enamel windings. They’ll cost half of what a PAF costs and you have an excellent chance of getting a great pickup if you can’t hear them before buying. If consistency were the only criterion, then the T-top would be at the top of the list. Nearly all of them read out at 7.5K ohms or so because of the automated winding machines in use during the era. Most everyone thinks the “magic” in the earlier pickups is a happy accident borne of the early winding machines which had no counters or automatic shutoff. Guys like Seymour Duncan, Jeff Shepard (Sheptone), John Gundry (Throbak) and Jim Rolph have been chasing (and catching) the “happy accident” for years. The results are out there for you to try. One last point. The timeline postulated here is for nickel and chrome covered pickups. The gold covered ones have a somewhat different (and tougher to pinpoint) trajectory. Later.

It's called T-top because of the "T" embossed into the bobbin (duh). Supposedly, it was there to tell the winders which end was up. You can also see that the little window (square in the circle) isn't there on a T-top.

Snaring the Sucker

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

There is a 60 dot neck in red on Ebay for $79,900. It's a very rare guitar for sure. I didn't want to post a photo from the actual auction, so I posted one of my red 59. I sold this guitar for $35000 a year or so ago. The Ebay guitar is a 60 and not worth the same (or twice) what a much rarer 59 is worth. Don't be a sucker.

Back a few decades ago (the 80’s) there was a period when the Japanese were buying everything in sight. The houses, the Ferraris, the commercial real estate and the state of Hawaii. They paid huge premiums over the going rates probably because they could. At that point they were the bull goose loonies of the world economy (don’t get the reference? Read “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). To quote Wikipedia–In the late 1980s, abnormalities within the Japanese economic system had fueled a speculative “Japanese asset price bubble” of massive scale by Japanese companies, banks and securities companies. The combination of exceptionally high land values and low interest rates briefly resulted in heightened liquidity in the market. That led to people jacking up prices on everything hoping to snare the Japanese investor with more money than he knew what to do with. That period ended in the early 90’s but the policy of asking stupid money for something in the hope of someone actually paying it is still alive. In the vintage guitar world there are still folks asking three, four or even five times the value of their vintage 335, 345 or 355. Most people strive for perhaps an extra 20 or 30% and expect to negotiate from there but when you start at the hugely inflated numbers that often show up on Ebay, you’ve gotta be thinking something else. Like snaring a sucker. The Japanese don’t overpay for guitars any more-I’ve sold plenty of them to Japanese buyers. The Russian billionaires haven’t discovered the great joy of American electric guitars yet and the Chinese could care even less. So who are the suckers? Well, if you ask me (and I knew you would), the sucker is the guy who thinks he’s going to find someone who will pay $80,000 for a 1960 ES-335 (even if it is red). Or the guy who thinks his guitar is worth tens of thousands more because it’s within 100 numbers from Clapton’s. I had a 64 that was shipped the same day as Claptons (23 numbers away) and the premium was zero. It sold for the same as any 64 in the same condition. It’s not there aren’t suckers out there. There will always be folks with more money than sense. My point is that you shouldn’t be one of them (nor should you expect one to show up and buy your guitar). Do your research, ask a ton of questions and be patient. And ask me. If you’re looking for a particular guitar from a particular year with particular features, I probably know where there is one. If you have a 335 to sell (and you really want to sell it) put it out there for a fair price. That’s what I do and it seems to work just fine. We all know the worst offenders are Ebay sellers but a lot of dealers do it too. Most people don’t really enjoy the negotiation process and forcing a buyer to negotiate a 20 or 30% discount just to get the guitar to retail really isn’t fair to the buyer. If you’re a seller, unless you’ve got years to sell your guitar at an inflated price, you’ll be disappointed. There are still suckers out there. They just don’t come along very often.

Block Neck 60 ES-335?

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Looks like a 62 but there is hidden weirdness going on.

Someone once said an ES-335 is harder to date than a cheerleader. Oh, yeah, that was me. Actually, there are a lot of factors that allow you to get a pretty good idea of when a particular 335 was made. At least until ’65. Then it gets progressively harder as you move into the early 70’s when it’s almost impossible. This one is a little baffling, so we’ll look a little more deeply into it. The guitar was sold to me as a 62 and I had no reason to doubt that it was, in fact, a 62. Serial number? 56xxx. That’s a 62. Serial is also on the back of the headstock. Block neck, of course, PAFs, no wire bridge, Mickey Mouse ears and so on. The only thing that struck me was the neck angle-it looked like a 58-60. It was so shallow that the bridge was sitting on the top of the guitar. There are shallow neck angles after 1960, so I really didn’t give it that much thought. The other odd thing was that there was darker red overspray at the neck join and at the butt end but no apparent repairs of any kind. A friend of mine and vintage dealer told me he thought the darker red was factory, probably hiding some flaw in the wood. I’ve seen that at the neck join plenty of times but only once on the rim where it was hiding a splice in the cutaway. There is no sign of any repair-there is some roughness in the glue on the binding but nothing to justify an overspray. The previous owner had owned the guitar since 1974, so if something was done it was done a long time ago. But that’s not the strange part. The 62 has become my regular player lately and today I was playing it and then switched to a 64 I had just picked up at Fedex. the body felt completely different so I put them side by side and sure enough the body on my “62” was more than 1/8″ thinner. The 64 measured 1.75″ thick and the 62 was 1.58. The “thin body” 335s were pretty much gone by late 60 so I thought I should investigate a bit more. I pulled the volume pot through the f-hole to read the code. It was, of course, a Centralab with those teeny little numbers on the side. I couldn’t read it but while I was peering in there something caught my eye. “Holy crap, is that a FON (factory order number)?” Sure enough it was and it started with “R” making it a 60 body. So what is a 60 body doing with a block neck and a 62 serial number? There are a couple of possible theories. In 62, when Gibson switched from dots to blocks, some folks got upset. Blocks were more upscale and some people who bought dot necks wanted Gibson to give them blocks. Gibson has acknowledged that some dot necks came back to the factory and were retrofitted with blocks. I doubt they changed the necks but they may have changed the fingerboards. They couldn’t simply change the markers because the dots at the 12th fret are wider than the block that would go there. Gibson also often renumbered guitars that were sent back to the factory. So, is it a 60 dot neck with a changed fingerboard? That doesn’t explain the dark lacquer but it could explain the 60 FON. Next theory (and I like this one) is that the body was made in 1960 but had some wood issues or finish issues and was set aside. Maybe someone screwed up the red finish and since red wasn’t very popular for 335’s in 60 (only 21 shipped), they didn’t really need it. But by 62, they were selling red ones more than 2 to 1 over sunburst (610 cherry to 266 sunburst) and maybe it was time to use those discarded red bodies. That would explain the dark overspray (to cover the flaws), the shallow neck angle, the block markers and, of course, the 60 FON. So, you can call it a 62 but the FONs don’t lie. It’s “really” a block neck ’60.

There you go. "R" means '60. I've never tried to decode the rest of the FON system. Maybe I should start writing them down and see if I can make sense of them.

The Pickup Line

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

The $1000 sticker. Make sure it looks like this or you're getting ripped off. There is something unusual about the bottom PAF. Anybody see it?

No, not “do you come here often” or “what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this”, I’m talking about the Gibson line of pickups. You think picking up women with dumb lines is difficult? Wait. Gibson pickups are even harder. It shouldn’t be too difficult to do a timeline but Gibson, with its strange penchant for inconsistency, has made it nearly impossible. There are so many exceptions to the presumed “rules” that it’s hard to know where to begin. I’ve covered pickups before but there seems to be a lot of confusion.Let me say, right up front, that I am not always right. There will be exceptions to what I say but I think I’m mostly right. My knowledge is based on observation of actual guitars and not on what I read on the internet. PAFs showed up in late ’56 on steels (some with clipped pole screws so they would fit) and by 57 they were on some guitars. They had no sticker and the covers were stainless steel. I really don’t know exactly when in ’57 the very first stickers began to show up but by 58 they were the rule. Also by 58, the covers were nickel plated. We don’t really care that much about 56 and 57 because there were no 335s then. A 58 PAF has a long (2.5″) alnico 2 (usually) magnet and enamel coated wire for the windings. Every early PAF I’ve seen has had both leads black. PAFs stayed pretty much the same until a transition occurred somewhere between late 60 and mid 61. That transition was a change in the magnet from Alnico 2 to Alnico 5. Alnico 5 is a stronger magnet, so the magnet got smaller. It was 2.25″ or so. Again, there are exceptions. The wire (both windings and leads) remained the same. The covers were the same. The transition occurred earlier in nickel PAFs than it did with gold covered PAFs. It is common to find a short magnet PAF in a 61 335 but not so common in a ’61 345 or 355. I’ve had long magnet PAFs as late as ’62 on gold covered units. This is pretty straightforward stuff-everyone pretty much agrees on this. It’s the next pickup iteration (and the one after that) that causes most of the the confusion and the big reason for this is that you can’t really know for sure what you have unless you take off the cover and that’s not a good idea. PAFs and early patent numbers are, as everyone knows, the same except for the sticker (the $1000 sticker). Patent numbers can be found as early as 62 and coexisted with PAFs until late 63. It isn’t unusual to find one PAF and one patent number on 62 and 63 ES-335s. You might find one in 64 but it isn’t likely. On ES-345 and 355’s, you can find PAFs into ’65 but not often. I’ve heard of them as late as 67 but I’ve never seen one after 65, myself but then I don’t see a lot of guitars made after ’65. Even 64 ES-345s are more likely to have both patent numbers. But nearly all 62 ES-345s and 355s will have PAFs and many 63’s. At some point and it isn’t totally clear when that point occurred, the windings changed to poly coated wire. This is where experience trumps research. I’ve had more 64 ES-335s than any other guitar. Dozens.  A lot of them had the covers removed at some point so I could look at the configuration. Research will tell you poly coated windings happened in 64. I think it happened in 65. I’ve still never seen a 64 with poly windings. I’m not saying it can’t exist, this is Gibson, after all.  Research will tell you that a chrome cover 65 patent number will have poly windings and that’s a pretty good bet but it isn’t a slam dunk. I’ve had chrome covered patent numbers with enamel windings as late as 67 (in a Trini). The other question is whether there are poly wound pickups under the nickel covers. I haven’t seen one yet. So, I think that if you have a covered pickup with an unopened nickel cover, you can be pretty certain that it’s the same as a PAF. Now it really gets confusing. But not today. It’s a lot to digest.

This is an old Leesona pickup winder. A fair number are still around and being used today to make boutique PAFs. The wire you see on top in the spool is the color your PAF and early patent windings should be. There is a fair amount of variation but it's not even close to the orange color of the poly coated wire of the later patent numbers and T-tops


Thanks, Mom

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

My Mom a little more dressed up than usual. She probably made the outfit herself.

I don’t know if they have Mother’s Day everywhere but it’s Mother’s Day here and I think it’s only right to say a few words about Mom. I wrote most of this shortly after she died in 2011 from injuries sustained a few years earlier in a home invasion and I think it’s important to take a day off from the guitar stuff and re-run some of what I wrote that day. Liz Gelber, my Mom, was born in the wrong century. She would have made an ideal frontierswoman. Had she been born in 1825 instead of 1925 you would have heard of her as a pioneer crossing the country in a covered wagon, enduring without complaint the hardships of the journey. She would have been killing her own food and any hostiles that might have impeded her progress. She would have built her own home with her bare hands and planted crops to sustain her family. But she didn’t. Instead, she raised 9 sons. Three doctors, four in financial services/investment, a geologist and me.  That, in itself, would be extraordinary. She also went back to school after her children were gone and got her Masters in Communications and directed and edited a cable TV program (following in my footsteps, I guess) called “Women Together” which anticipated many women’s issues by a decade or more. But that isn’t the pioneer part. My Mom never learned the meaning of the word “can’t”. If a room needed wallpapering, she was a paper hanger. She was also a seamstress-she made most of her own clothes because she thought she could do it as well as anyone. She was a landscaper, a party planner, a fine artist (like her father), an accomplished cook touting all the things that the food programs talk about now that food is hip. She taught herself to windsurf when she was in her 60’s and cross country skied into her 80’s. She was the “mama grizzly” that Sarah Palin wishes she was. She nearly died protecting her home and her husband. Liz Gelber had no help and needed none in anything she did. She never left a job unfinished and never listened to criticism. She just did. Scraped knees, broken bones and perhaps the occasional broken heart didn’t faze her at all. Two parts caregiver, one part wife, a dash of psychiatrist and a healthy handful of arcane knowledge made her the “go to” expert in every situation. There was no stain she couldn’t remove, no hurt she couldn’t make better, no casserole she couldn’t burn and no better person on this Earth. I would give anything just to hear her say one more time “turn that thing down.” There’s a word for women like this and it’s a real little one. Seems a little puny for such a huge presence: Mom. So, call your Mom if she’s still with us and tell her “thanks.” I’m sure she knows how much you love her but I’m guessing she wouldn’t mind hearing it again.

Guts. Glory.

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Most ES models still have their original harnesses and that’s a good thing. There’s a good reason for this. It’s just too much effort to get them out and put them back in. I can’t imagine how many tinkerers have stopped dead in their tracks when they were about to mod their 335 when they see that the harness has to come out through the f-hole. I’ve had some heavily modded beaters come through here. Busted necks, refins, nearly every part changed but almost all of them seem to have their original harness. Even after Gibson decided to cut the centerblock to eliminate the need to load the harness through the f-hole, it’s still no picnic. Let’s see what’s actually in there. Well, of course there are 4 500K pots-usually Centralab (134 code) in the early ones (up to 63 or so), then CTS (137) in later 63 and throughout the 60’s. They always have the pointers and there is often a lock washer that goes between the pot and the top of the guitar. The 64 harness below is missing its lock washers. There are also two capacitors that are .22 µF in value. You’ll normally find Sprague bumblebees up until around 61 or 62 and Sprague black beauties after that. Early bees are paper in oil, later ones are not. I don’t think it makes much difference but there are those who do. There is also a mono jack made by Switchcraft and a 3 way switch, also made by Switchcraft. The housing of a 335 three way will be steel while a gold hardware ES will have a brass housing. The harness shown has a lot of plastic insulation which is typical by 64. Earlier ones don’t have it except (sometimes) over the wire leading to the jack. I’m sure Gibson added the insulation after getting complaints of the braid wires shorting out the three way-which happens all the time in older 335s. That’s also why you often see electrical tape wrapped around the three way, which is not factory.

This one is out of a 64. Sometimes they have a lock washer the goes between the guitar's top and the pot and sometimes they don't.

The harness in a 345 or stereo 355 is different. And if you think it’s tough to remove and reinstall a 335 harness, wait ’til you try to stuff a Varitone in there. You’ll try once and then gladly pay your local luthier anything he wants to do it for you. I’ve probably pulled 50 335 harnesses but only one 345 harness. Never again. The stereo harness has a few extra elements. Of course, it has a stereo jack and it has the 6 way Varitone switch which we’ve discussed at length elsewhere. There are also three shielding cans-one over each pot except the tone pot for the bridge pickup. The reason there is no shielding can on the that pot? Simple-she’s a no-fit. The tone pot is too close to the edge of the guitar. Nice design, boys. The stereo harness also has a bunch of extra wires going to and from (and grounding) the choke which is a transformer for the Varitone circuit. The choke is mounted under the bridge pickup. The capacitors are inside the shielding cans and are those cheap disc type. Again, I don’t think it makes much difference. Another interesting thing to note is that the pickups are soldered directly to the three way in a stereo 355 or 345. In a 335 they are soldered to the volume pot. Here’s a little secret..if you need to swap a pickup in a 345, you don’t have to pull the harness (or cut the lead wires). Just pull the three way out through the f-hole and you can do it with the harness still in the guitar. There are actually two totally separate circuits in there and it’s pretty versatile. I can’t understand why so many people want to convert these to mono. It’s not a complicated circuit and it’s pretty easy to work on a guitar harness-especially in a guitar like an SG or Les Paul that has an access panel. But, for sheer tear out your hair frustration, there’s nothing like trying to get 4 pots, 2 big ol’ capacitors, a three way and a jack out through an f-hole without trashing the finish. The only thing harder is getting all of that plus a Varitone switch back into the guitar.

This is a stereo harness from a 345. You really want to stuff this through that little cutout under the bridge pickup? Didn't think so.

House Guest

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Guess who came to dinner? 57 goldtop, that's who.

I generally don’t like having house guests. You kind of feel like you have be entertaining and, of course, they eat your food and keep you from doing really important stuff like mowing the lawn and sleeping.  They promote bad behavior too, like drinking and staying out too late (don’t forget, I’m not a kid any more). Well, this week I had a different sort of houseguest. Didn’t eat, didn’t drink, didn’t even talk to me (but it did speak to me)…Said houseguest kept me up a good part of the night. The houseguest was no kid either at 56 years old and had been around the block a few times.  My guest was a 57 Les Paul Goldtop. I had it for 24 hours and spent a fair amount of time with it. I had gone up to Boston to pick up that ’58 ES-335 and a friend who is also a dealer asked if I could pick up a 57 dark back goldtop Les Paul for him. So, I said “sure, as long as I can keep it for a day so I can play it.” Being the rare and expensive guitars that they are, I don’t get a chance to play them very often. The first thing that struck me was the size of the neck. I have small hands but I like a pretty big neck but this one was beyond my range. The nut width at 1.70″ was no problem but the depth at the first fret at .94″ and well over 1″ at the 12th made my hand cramp after about 15 minutes. My 58 at .88″ is plenty big for me-even that feels a little large in my hand. Les Pauls feel heavy to me even though the actual weight is often nearly the same as a 335. I don’t know if it’s the weight distribution or just the solid feel of a block of mahogany vs a 335 with its plywood, air and maple block. But I have to say, I liked the guitar. I liked the way it sounded. The harmonics jumped out, especially at the higher frets and the sustain was superb. ES-335s and their brethren sometimes get a little out of whack at the body join and, with the tendency of the fingerboard to rise slightly, the frets get too high and the sustain suffers. Granted, I don’t play much up there, but the LP was quite spectacular up in the stratosphere. I also have to say that the similarities were more striking than the differences. Playing the 57 LP side by side with the 58 ES-335, I found the two guitars to sound nearly identical in the bridge position. The neck pickups were rather different but I could dial them in to sound the same with the tone knob. The middle position, which I rarely use, had the most variation but I find that same thing when I compare two 335’s. I did like the look of the stainless steel covers on the 57 pickups though. Perhaps if I’d had access to great LP’s when I was a kid, I would be writing about them instead of 335s but, strangely, I never played a humbucker equipped Les Paul until the 1980’s-long after I’d been hooked on ES’s. I think I played one P90 gold top during the 60’s and recall not being impressed (it was a 52 or 53 with a trapeze). I do recall the first time I ever saw one, however. John Sebastian was playing it on “Shindig” or “Hullabaloo” or one of those shows and I recall thinking it was odd looking with its little body. I didn’t catch the “burst” fever perhaps because it was in black and white. Anyway, it was fun to have a vintage Les Paul for a day and to get to know what makes it tick. If you have one that needs a vacation, you can send it to me here at the seashore in Connecticut. I’ll be glad to put it up in the guest room as long as it doesn’t pee on the toilet seat.

Hanging with it's younger friend, the 58 ES-335 and a very young '60 Tremolux.


It’s 1958. Duck and Cover!

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Duck and Cover. It's the fifties and the cold war is raging. This is how they terrorized children back in the 50's.

Most readers aren’t going to remember 1958. Or “air raid drills”. Or “Duck and Cover”. I was 6 in 1958 and there was a cold war going on and people worried about the bomb. In some grade schools, they had you hide under your desk for the air raid drill. I guess they thought an atom bomb couldn’t penetrate an oak desk. In my school-New Lincoln Elementary (there was actually an “old” Lincoln) in Scotia, New York, an air raid drill meant going out into the hallway and standing by your locker with your coat over your head. I remember, at the age of six, asking the teacher why we had our coats over our heads. She said “to protect you from flying glass.” So I asked why we were in the hallway. She said “because there’s no glass out here.” The next question was obvious. “OK, then why do we have our coats over our heads?” The answer? “Shut up and put your coat over your head”. The nice folks at Gibson weren’t worried about the bomb. They were innovating like there was no tomorrow and, what with the bomb and all, there might actually not be a tomorrow. 1958 saw the introduction of the Flying V, The Explorer, The ES-335, the ES-355 and probably a few other cool things I’m forgetting about. If Ted McCarty, the president of Gibson and their über designer was worried about the bomb, it didn’t show, although you could argue that the V and the Explorer bombed at the time but that’s another story. I’ve had a few hundred ES-335s over the years but I’ve only had three 58’s. 58’s are different. There is no other year that is like them. The ears are different, the top is different, the headstock inlay is placed differently and the first ones don’t have a neck binding. The 58 I bought this week is one of the very first ones off the line and it gives me an opportunity to do a real close inspection. What strikes me first is how thin the top is. There’s some cracking around the jack which is really common. With only three plies instead of four, the plywood top is pretty fragile except where it has the center block running under it. That’s why you see all kinds of vertical cracks in so many 58’s that you just don’t see in other years. That’s the downside to a thinner top. The upside is a more resonant guitar. It takes less sonic energy to get the top moving and it gives the guitar that “woody” tone that is sometimes missing in later 335s. Many have a kind of banjo-ish tone when played unplugged. They still sound great plugged in but they have more in common with a solid body than a hollow body. And therein lies the paradox. The 335 was supposed to have the advantages of both but, in my opinion, the semi hollows have much more in common with a solid guitar than with a hollow body. I’ve had SG’s that sound like 335s but I’ve never had a 350 or a Byrdland that sounds like one. The 58 gets closer but still the balance tips toward the solid body when it comes to tone. The neck angle, which I’ve covered in detail, also comes into play. The angle was so shallow on the 58 that a special “low profile” ABR-1 was developed to get the action low enough. Many feel the shallow neck angle is why so many dot necks have the “magic” that block necks don’t. While I agree that the shallower angle guitars seem to be consistently better, there seem to be plenty of shallow angle block necks too. This has never been consistent-the neck angles are all over the place from 62-64. But there was a problem with the “low profile” ABR-1. Every single one I’ve ever seen has collapsed in the middle. It was just too thin to support the normal forces exerted by a set of medium gauge strings. Remember 10’s and 11’s didn’t even exist back then and G strings were wound (and were .26 gauge). So, they were swapped out once they collapsed. If you’re lucky, it’s still in the case but I can pretty much guarantee it isn’t on the guitar. I had a mint lefty 58 in the house a few months ago that looked like it had never been played but the original bridge was in the case looking like a rope bridge from an Indiana Jones movie. More to come.

WooHoo. Unbound 58 ES-335 A28100. You can see the sort of fat ears but there are a lot of things you won't see unless you get up close and personal.

Look how shallow that neck angle is. Nothing but fingerboard showing-sorry for the dust. How cool are those white side markers?