What to Do Next

I have recently moved into the Les Paul market and have learned a lot about them. The marketplace itself is very different than what I’m used to but I guess the buyer of a $400,000 guitar is a bit different than the buyer of a 335. I sold the 58 in the photo recently as well as a museum grade 59.

Well, I knew it would happen eventually. After 12 plus years, I’ve just about run out of things to say about ES-335’s, 345’s and 355’s. I could repeat some things and maybe correct some errors (yes, there are a few errors, mostly in the early years) but unless someone wants to tell me otherwise, I’ve covered pretty much all the aspects of these guitars. I suppose I could get into real esoterica like taking apart the pots and pickups going through the components but I don’t think there would be that much interest. I’ve thought about covering later 335’s from the mid 80’s onward and maybe even the 70’s but there is a problem with that as well. I simply never see any of them. You all know what I think about 70’s Gibsons and for me to write intelligently about them, I’d have to buy and sell them. All my knowledge comes from observation. I don’t generally read guitar books (although I’ve helped to write a couple). There are some great later 335’s but, again, I don’t see enough of them to write with the kind of detail that you’ve come to expect from me. I think most of you understand that I’m a vintage dealer who writes and not a writer who sells vintage guitars.

There are a couple of interesting options though. I’ve started dealing in vintage Les Pauls and I’m learning a lot. I’ve sold my fair share of 50’s gold tops and lately a few bursts. I’ve always felt that the burst market was a little too scary but now that I’ve gained a lot more knowledge about them, a $400,000 guitar no longer scares the crap out of me. Well, actually it still does but that’s probably healthy. So, maybe I write about Les Pauls. The problem is that everyone writes about Les Pauls and unless you love the way I write, you might not learn anything new or be entertained. I actually find the Les Paul marketplace to be more interesting than the guitars themselves. I have to admit a great Les Paul sounds like a choir of angels but, like 335’s there are good ones, better ones and great ones. Provenance is a big deal with LPs and I find that very interesting as it hardly ever figures into the value of 335’s. How pretty the guitar is (read how much figure in the wood) is another factor that is largely absent from the 335 market. 335’s are all about tone and condition. LP’s seem to be about flame and provenance (and, yes, tone).

I could write about SG’s. I’ve always liked SG’s and I’ve owned at least 100 of them over the years. There’s a lot of overlap between SG’s and 335’s (and Les Pauls) but there are quite a few issues that are unique to them-like the terrible neck join that they kept changing because it wasn’t stable. The other guitars that I have a good base of knowledge about (and really need somebody to champion them) are Gibson made Epiphones. They are, by far, the most underappreciated guitars in the vintage realm. I’ve owned lots of Sheratons, Crestwoods, Coronets, Casinos and Wilshires. I keep a 60 Wilshire in my very small personal collection. I play it as often as I play my main guitar which is a blonde 59 ES-345 with two patched holes in the top.

It’s a tough call for me. I could probably come up with more ES topics but I don’t know if I want to start writing about pickup slugs and height springs. But I could. Let me know what you think. I’d love to get your input.

Gibson made Epiphones are worth writing about. A blonde Sheraton is maybe a $25000-$30000 guitar while a Gibson in blonde is three times that or more. That’s a pretty good deal. Also, the best P90 guitar I’ve ever played (and I own four of them) is the 60-63 Wilshire.

15 Responses to “What to Do Next”

  1. Craig says:

    I’d be interested to read about how the SG neck point varied over the years and which versions are more stable than others. I know the original design with the join further up the neck was problematic, but I’m less familiar with how it varied after they moved the join a few frets toward the headstock.

    Coverage of the Les Paul and SG similar to your articles about the 335 family would be very interesting too.

    Your idea of covering the Gibson-era Ephiphones is a good one. The only such model that I know much about is the Casino, and I’d guess that it tends to be priced higher than the others these days due to the Beatles connection (which is the main reason I know as much as I do about it).

  2. JG says:

    I vote is for ‘real esoterica’, all the way.
    After all this is es-335 dot com, we’re guitar nerds and we feast on every bit of delicious minutia!

  3. Nelson Checkoway says:

    Charlie – The value of what you write comes from its depth, detail and transparency. You say you’re a dealer who writes – but I think your readers trust what you report more than they trust other writers and written sources, not to mention other dealers. I think your reader community would welcome your insight on other lines in the market that you deal in, especially other “golden era” pre-1970s Gibson electrics. The most popular Fender lines are another area to explore as well as the Epiphones you mention here and perhaps other acclaimed brands.

    You may not have new topics to explore on ES-3*5 models to talk about, but we’d love to hear when you encounter something newfound or unusual … and certainly your annual retrospectives on the marketplace–based on your own buying and selling experience–are required reading! I hope you would keep that up–maybe even report more than once a year if trends so dictate. And as you get more into other lines, perhaps report on those trends as well.

  4. Nelson Checkoway says:

    One more thing, Charlie, lest I forget:

    For all that you have written and shared publicly and privately over the past past decade-plus, we owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  5. Lars says:

    I would be interested to hear about specific examples of 3-5s that you found were the best ones – and why! Your top 10 or maybe top 20 list of your all time favorites. Also your view on the current market for 3-5s is of interrest. If you want new subjects maybe go to your favorite amps for 3-5s?

  6. JG says:

    My comment was somehow not approved, but again my vote is for diving into deeper esoterica/minutia.
    I share the strong feeling of gratitude for the existence of this site. Thank you Mr Gelber.

  7. Steve Neukom says:

    I echo the comments and the gratitude expressed by Nelson. I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on Teles and Strats. Just a suggestion…..

  8. Alfista says:

    Keep writing! Your thoughts are worth it. Seems I always learn something here. As Nelson said, we owe you.

    Thanks very much!

  9. Will says:

    I’d love to read about post-1980s 335s. Ive owned quite a few 1990s and 2000s models. My main 335 is a 2004, which I’d put up agains any 335 from the classic years. They all been good, consistent guitars. Some are slightly better than others but never bad. Just my thoughts, thanks.

  10. TJ Smith says:

    Nelson said it perfectly. Completely agree with everything he said. There is no need for you to force out anything you don’t want to write about. Whatever you think is interesting or noteworthy I’m sure will appeal to all of your readers as well. Thank you for sharing all of your knowledge with us. It’s not only informative but entertaining as well.

  11. Len Kovalsky says:

    Hi Charlie: I always look forward to reading your posts and I hope you can settle on something new to explore that is fun for you and interesting to us readers. You said “All my knowledge comes from observation,” and having seen more 335s than anyone has made you the world expert over the years. I could be wrong, but seems that most Les Pauls are now locked away in collector’s vaults with only a few trickling out every now and then for sale. If you think you could get your hands on enough LPs needed to provide new insight for posts, then go for it.

    All the other guitars you mentioned would make great topics, and might I add that world of fine archtops and jazz guitars is out there as well. I remember a post you once wrote when an aging Herb Ellis (going by memory – it could have been some other jazz great) walked into your shop to play a Gibson jazz box. That was a great post!

    Regarding ‘70s guitars – the quality and performance of these guitars drove players to seek the original ‘50s and early ‘60s era electrics. But now people are saying these ‘70s guitars may not be so bad, but most purists are skeptical. So you could provide a lot value using your early 335 knowledge to evaluate ‘70s 335s – of course they are not as good, but just how far off are they? When it comes to ‘70s guitars, my personal opinion is that you are better off buying new, since all the manufacturers today are making great guitars for the money.

  12. Bone Idol says:

    I will certainly keep checking-in and reading your posts, as they are not only entertaining & informative but I also feel a great deal of “trust” in what you have to say. (a rare thing on the internet these days).

    I’m sure that we all appreciate the time & effort you take to present your articles, regardless of whatever guitar you choose as a subject, I think we’ll still be here reading them.

    One thing I would say…. Regarding later 3*5’s…. Don’t write them all off…. I know we are not alowed to use the “N word” (Norlin), but there were some worthy guitars made between 1985 & 1999 (post Norlin – pre Memphis), and after all, they will be on tomorrow’s vintage hit-list…. Maybe it’s time to have look at those… And perhaps a wise man would buy a few, rather like a fine wine, to lay down for later perhaps?

    So… Roll on the Les Pauls… I can’t wait!

  13. Steve Neukom says:

    Hey Charlie: Thanks for all of your great information and advice over the years. One suggestion could be to share your thoughts and advice on Teles and/or Strats. Seems like they are somewhat more affordable and have a huge following.

    Again, appreciate your information and integrity.

  14. Frank says:

    Hi Carlie, thank you for sharing your knowledge!
    I would like to read about forgeries, hidden damages, repairs etc. I like to learn where to look at and how to spot them. I remember, you once wrote about a blonde 355 with a newer neck, that was sold by a dealer as fully original. Very interesting and informative to everyone who is into vintage guitars I think.
    All the best!

  15. Markus Crowe says:

    Charlie.. it’s dynamic.. there is plenty to talk about.. latest reissue blonde 335s vs the ’80s versions (although I have an 80’s one.. maybe later are better but you and I are unbiased!), 347s 78-88 vs 90-93 etc.. (unless you covered in the last 3yrs in which case I profusely apologize!). Talk about the minutae of the minor ‘mistakes’ you made (and repeat and link the original thread!)

    On the plus for me.. I have a few months blogs to catch up on.. happy days!

    Cheers and many thanks to you Charlie!

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