Archive for December, 2022


Tuesday, December 20th, 2022
OK Guitars’ former home (not at Christmas) This is the place where it all happened. It is, of course, the “caboose” mentioned in the post. It has now been turned into a condo/AirBnB and has been painted blue. Who has a blue caboose?

This is the only post I ever re-run. I could try to write another Christmas poem but I know my limitations. My wife and I wrote this one while on vacation (remember vacations?) in Mexico in 2015 and have run it every year since at Christmas. Read on.

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the pad

I was playing my Gibson- not great, but not bad.

I remembered a blues lick and played it with flair

Just like in the days when I had all my hair.

The block necks were hung not too tight or too loose,

As I waited for Santa inside my caboose.

I had them all tuned and I played every one.

The truss rods were perfect, the strings tightly strung.


All of a sudden on the roof of my shop,

I spied an old fat dude just reeking of pot.

He fell off the roof and into the snow.

I asked him right in. Why he came, I don’t know.

There was ice in his beard and mud on his boot,

And I thought only rock stars could wear such a suit.

He took down a red one, just like Eric C.

His fingers flew faster than old Alvin Lee.


It was wailing and screaming all over the town.

I could hear my Dad yell, “Turn that damn thing down!”

Who knew this weird guy, such a flash with a pick

And a love of guitars, would be old Saint Nick?

I couldn’t believe all the sounds in my ear.

He said, “You get good working one day a year.”

Now Jimi, Now BB, Now John, George and Paul

Would bow to this master, the best of them all.


“You remember that Christmas back in ’63?

When you found a new six string left under your tree?

You started to doubt that I was the truth,

But my gift to you then is a link to your youth.

So for all of the years that would come in between,

Way deep down inside, you’ll still feel like sixteen.”

He picked up some cases by Lifton and Stone,

Some old Kluson tuners and a worn out Fuzztone.


“Now, Charlie Gelber you must hear my pitch,

‘Cause this is my time and payback’s a bitch.

The 335 please, the red 59.

I gave you your first one, now this ax is mine”.

And quick as a flash it was stuffed in his sack,

And he waved a goodbye as he snuck out the back.

He jumped in his sled and sparked up a j,

Flew into the sky and was off on his way.

So if feeling sixteen now is what sets you right,

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

By Charlie and Victoria Gelber

With apologies to Clement Clark Moore

This is the actual guitar I was referring to when the post was written. I didn’t own it then but I finally acquired it in 2021. It sold in half an hour. It’s a near mint red 59 stop tail.

Buying a 61 Dot Neck

Tuesday, December 6th, 2022

If you’ve got your heart set on a red dot neck, a 61 (or early 62) is your only choice unless you’re prepared to spend some very serious money. There is one 58. There are six 59’s. There are 21 60’s. There are over 400 61’s. Still pretty rare but not any more expensive than a same year sunburst. Beware of neck issues on any 61. 61 is also the year when the sideways trem became common. But that’s a whole ‘nother post.

With the prices of dot neck 335’s soaring out of reach of a lot of players and collectors, it’s a good time to take a look at the ones that are still relatively affordable. That will take 58 and 59 completely out of the equation unless there are major issues like a neck break or a refinish. I should make the point that for a player, these issues shouldn’t be deal breakers. A refinished 59 is still a 59. Just 40% off. A 59 with a neck break and repair is a much bigger risk and could be every bit as good as the expensive one with no issues. But maybe not. With inflation and the general rise in collectibles since Covid, a 60 335 has become a $40,000+ guitar and breaking past $50K for one approaching mint condition. You can kiss a red one good bye though. They only made 21 in 1960 and I’ve seen upwards of $60K change hands for one. That leaves the buyer on a budget with two choices. A 61 or a 62.

62 dot necks are rare. They don’t carry any price premium over other years but you simply don’t see that many. They only made them for a month or so…that’s a guess. There is no record of how many dots were shipped before they changed to block inlays. That leaves the 61. I have mentioned many times that I generally avoid 61 335’s due to neck issues. The trend among players at that time was slim equals fast. Mosrite took this to an extreme and many guitars from that era forward had impossibly slim necks. Slim meaning very little depth and very narrow nuts. The depth of a 61 at the first fret can be as little as .76″. A 58 or early 59 is .90″. That’s a huge difference. The average Stratocaster from the era is around .79″ which is pretty slim as well. The nut width on a 61 ES-335 was wide at 1 11/16″ or slightly more making it (in my opinion) easy to get around on. Fenders at the time were narrower at 1 5/8″.

The problem with a 61 dot neck is really just the neck. Everything else is pretty much the same as a 59 with a few notable exceptions…the PAFs are different but still really excellent as Gibson went to A5 “short” magnets by 61. The tuners are cosmetically different (double line, double ring) but other than these relatively minor changes, it’s a 59 with a very slim neck. The neck issues can be non existent or catastrophic. The trouble is, it’s often impossible to tell from a photo. So, if you are buying a 61, ask about neck issues. Ask for a return policy.

What are we looking for? 61’s are prone to back bow. That’s when the neck curves upward toward the strings rather than the correct curve slightly away from the strings. Why not just adjust the truss rod? Good idea. If there is evidence of a back bow, loosen the truss rod as far as it will go. Don’t loosen past where you can move the nut with your fingers-at that point it won’t do anything but fall off. Chances are somebody already did that. If that doesn’t work your options are limited and expensive. The best solution is to shave the fingerboard to remove the back bow. The neck is already really slim and that will make it slimmer (and less stable) so it’s not a great solution. Something called a “compression” re-fret is supposed to help. That’s refretting using a larger tang to open the slots slightly causing the neck to move away from the strings. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. And a refret isn’t cheap. I would simply return a 335 with a back bow and an already loose truss rod.

The other big issue is the “truss rod crack”. The neck of a 61 is so thin that there is very little wood between the truss rod channel and the back of the neck. Over tighten the truss rod and the pressure against the neck will cause the wood to crack. It’s a hairline crack usually from the third or fourth fret extending to the sixth or seventh fret. Sometimes it goes much farther-as far as the twelfth. It’s not structurally significant as the stress from the strings is unlikely to make it worse under normal playing conditions. It’s easy to fix if the neck has no other problems. But it’s a crack and simply the word “crack” can send buyers running for the exit. Fixing it doesn’t make it go away. It will still be visible and should be disclosed by the seller. The trouble is that the seller will often call it a scratch. Or a check. Or a “grain separation”, whatever that means. I’ve seen it on a few 60’s and at least two 62’s. It seems to be in necks .80″ at the first fret or smaller. Look for it and decide if it’s worth the headache on the sell side when the time comes.

Bottom line…look for a 61 that doesn’t have neck issues. I’d avoid any guitar that is back bowed. If the truss rod crack is there, look for a 20% discount, at least and make sure the truss rod still works. Then be really careful when adjusting it. A 61 can be a wonderful guitar. It just requires a bit more due diligence on your part before you spend your hard earned dollars (or yen or pounds or shekels). The short magnet PAFs are remarkably consistent (and remarkably good) and the build quality is the equal of any 335 made during the 58-64 “Golden Era”. It’s also the only way to get a red dot neck without mortgaging your house.

This is a 62 dot. They made them for a short time in 1962 before switching to the small blocks. A dot 62 commands a small premium over a block but reds and sunbursts are pretty much the same as a 61 and are valued about the same.