Halloween 2019

Zoubi rocks out for Halloween. She doesn't always remember the lyrics and not having opposable thumbs makes it hard for a dog to be a lead player but she manages to hold up her end. The set list includes "Walkin' the Dog", "Hound Dog", "The Boxer" and "Nashville Cats".

Zoubi rocks out for Halloween. She doesn’t always remember the lyrics and not having opposable thumbs makes it hard for a dog to be a lead player but she manages to hold up her end. The set list includes “Walkin’ the Dog”, “Hound Dog”, “The Boxer”, “Nashville Cats” and “Stay”.

Guitar players are tinkerers. I’m always surprised when I get a 60 year old guitar that hasn’t been messed with in any way. I’m pretty sure I modded every guitar I owned from the time I was 12 until I started appreciating vintage in the early 90’s. Some mods are pretty benign-especially when they are reversible but some are simply scary (you getting a theme here?)

Changing the tone knob on a 345 is simply sacrilege. OK, just kidding, it’s the Varitone switch that is so scary. No, it isn’t, it’s the Kahler (is that a Kahler?). Now that’s scary.

There are a lot of mods that I can deal with but I think the absolute worst one is the rear access panel. I don’t know why it bothers me so much. Maybe because it is born of laziness. “Oh, it’s just too hard to install a harness in a 335. I’ll just cut a big fat hole on the back and put it in that way. Nobody will ever notice.” That mod is the dealbreaker of all dealbreakers for me. In fact, any hole cut into a 335 put there to make harness installation easier simply drives me over the edge.

There are plenty of mods you can do that aren’t scary. If you have to make your guitar “better”, do something that doesn’t require drilling any holes or cutting any wood. That way, when it gets sold to me, I can put it back to the way it was when it left the factory. Go, ahead, put on knobs that look like dice or a truss rod cover with your name on it or even swap out the pickups. Just don’t cut a big access hole in the back of the guitar because you can’t get the harness back in. Call your luthier and have him do it. Call me and have me do it. Consider this-and this will scare you plenty-every extra little hole will knock up to $1000 off the value of your vintage guitar. And, while I’ve never bought a 335 with an access panel cut into it, I did buy a ’60 335 with a big notch cut out of the f-hole (under the guard) because they couldn’t get the harness back in. It was competently repaired and it wasn’t visible with the guard on but it also knocked around $7000 off the value. What was a $29000 guitar became a $22,000 guitar. You could have had your local luthier reinstall that harness for $100. Let’s see…that’s a savings of $6,900.

This is actually an ES-333 which has a factory access panel but you get the idea. Don’t do this to your 335. Or 345. Or 355.

19 Responses to “Halloween 2019”

  1. RAB says:

    Eeeeeeeeeekkkkk….back away from that immaculate ‘59 blonde dot neck matey or I’ll blast you with my ray gun! Ha, ha! Recall the pictures of the ‘59 Burst some dude made into a lefty, double cutaway of course! Or a git I personally saw where some moron installled a Bosstone fuzz unit into the face of another wise clean ‘55 Goldtop! Scary indeed!

  2. RAB says:

    Part 2- a young kid walked into Berkeley’s Guitar Resurrection shop in the late 70’s with a clean ‘51 Telecaster he’d just purchased at the Berkeley dump for $5.00. It was sold that cheap because it was “broken.” You see it had no strings! The kid really wanted a red SG with humbuckers so he asked Larry Jameson, the proprietor to make the mods. Larry told him it was a rare vintage guitar and politely declined. The kid came back a few days later and asked Larry for his help in making the by then modified Tele playable. Larry said “get out of my shop before I kill you!” What elicited Larry’s harsh treatment? The kid had installed two humbuckers using a chisel (the wiring wasn’t working) and had used a belt sander to remove the vintage butterscotch finish (taking off about 1/2” of the wood) and refinishing the unfortunate git in metallic purple model car paint! Scary indeed!

  3. Rob says:

    RAB, at least the kid left the neck intact and that should be worth some bucks. I had a 1951 Tele and a cousin who was a bass player took the neck off to show me how easy it was in the summer of 1974. Written in #2 lead pencil was “4-1951” and an initial and a last name. Like a dummy I sold it in ’88 since I owed the Big Uncle some bucks.

  4. RAB says:

    Rob, good point about the neck. And who knows what the rotten kid did with the very valuable stock pickups! Best, RAB

  5. LPA says:

    Yes, a scary 345 indeed. I once had an old (Original series) Hamer Standart Custom (Explorer with crazy flame, crown inlays and neck binding) with a Kahler similar to the one on the 345. It absolutely sucked, and I was convinced that the Kahler was the culprit. I removed the Kahler, and set up the guitar with stop tailpiece and tune-o-Matic. Guess what, it still sucked.
    One of the best guitar sound I´ve ever heard, was when I saw Alvin Lee with what I recall as an Tokai ES335 with a Kahler. It might have been him (Most likely), or his heavily modified old Marshall, but even at relatively moderate volume, the sound was absolutely phenomenal.
    So while I personally would prefer a guitar without Kahler, I say modify as you wish, if the guitar in question is a beat up anyway. I think I saw elsewhere, that the pictured guitar have a not too well repaired headstock break. Clearly the guitar would be far from collectable whether the Kahler is there or not. So if you for some reason must have a vibrato, why not?

  6. okguitars says:

    The Kahler itself was not the issue. Perfectly functional vibrato but it requires massive modification whereas a Bigsby does not.
    A removed Bigsby leaves a few holes. A Kahler ( and some others) requires a big rout. I don’t recommend adding any holes to a vintage guitar. If you must have a vibrato, buy one that has a vibrato. You’ll pay less and the value of the guitar won’t be negatively impacted by non factory holes or routs.

  7. RAB says:

    Charlie, RIGHT ON!! RAB

  8. Joe Campagna says:

    You and your fancy covers.

  9. RAB says:

    Ack! The horror, THE HORROR!!

  10. okguitars says:

    Yikes. That’s really scary. Looks like the jack crapped out and the only way to fix it without actually expending some energy
    was to cut a hole with someone’s high tech Swiss Army knife saw. You spend countless hours learning how to play and probably countless hours earning the money to buy yourself a decent guitar and you can’t spend an hour pulling the harness to fix the jack? Or paying someone to do it?
    BTW, you can fix the jack without completely removing the harness. Remove the neck pickup pots, three way and jack nuts and pull the jack up through the f-hole. It’s still a pain to get it back in but you won’t devalue your guitar by thousands of dollars. I assume this wasn’t your work. I know you better than that.

  11. RAB says:

    (Shudder!) What was the poor affected git if I might ask?

  12. Joe Campagna says:

    It is a 345.Random photo off the internet.Not my work. Although, I’ve been known to make a hole like that disappear!

  13. RAB says:

    Joe, I’m impressed! RAB

  14. Joe Campagna says:


  15. Joe Campagna says:


  16. RAB says:

    Wow! Magic!!

  17. RAB says:

    Or amazing artistry and skill!

  18. Collin says:

    Rumor has it that many of the 335s with an access panel cut into the back were modified by Clayton “Doc” Kauffman (inventor of the first commercial vibrato unit, and Leo Fenders first business partner). In his post-Fender life, Doc ran a repair shop fixing guitars and would cut an access panel into customers ES-3×5 guitars when wiring work was needed – often without consulting the customer first!

    I’ve seen a handful of such examples here in the Southern California area (where Doc’s shop was located), always with the access panel in the same spot and done in the same style. It’s a logical conclusion these were all done by Doc, if the rumor is true.

  19. RAB says:

    Wow, that’s terrible! No reasonable judge in the land would convict the owner of that ‘59 blonde dot neck for losing it after Doc cut a hole in his formerly immaculate fiddle!

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