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ES-335

Mint 1959 ES-335 Bigsby in red. They only made 6 or 7 red 59’s. All special orders. Big neck. Unfaded watermelon red finish. Those decorative diamonds on the cutaways are factory. Think of them like a stinger probably covering a flaw in the wood or a sanding through issue. Everybody likes a stinger, right?

Ever wonder what my personal holy grail is? This is it. Big neck 59 red stop tail es-335 thin top. There two like this-maybe three and I’ve owned all three. This is the cleanest (near mint) and the earliest of the group. I know of only three red stop tail 59 335’s (four if you count the one with the factory Varitone)

What’s the rarest production (not special order) 335? A red 60. Rarer than any of the blondes, there are only 21 of them. How many are stop tails? Maybe a dozen or 15. How many are unmolested out of that dozen? Ten? Nine? This 60 ES-335 checks all the boxes. All 59 features (bonnet knobs, single ring tuners) and monster pickups. How’s 8K in the neck and 9.1 (double white) in the bridge sound to you?

Rare and then some. This is probably the only cherryburst dot neck in existence. It’s a 61 and I’ve never seen another.

There’s an old saying around old guitars-“The great ones are the ones that get played.” I’m not sure I agree all the time but this one sure proves the axiom true. This is a mid year big neck 59 in factory blonde. It has been played. And played. And then played some more. It is strikingly beautiful and a tone monster.

This is unusual for a 61. It has the long pick guard. There are 60 335's with the short guard-plenty of them but long guard 61's are not common at all.

This is unusual for a 61. It has the long pick guard. There are 60 335’s with the short guard-plenty of them but long guard 61’s are not common at all.

Spectacular late 58 blonde. Probably the prettiest blonde I've ever seen (other than my wife)

Spectacular late 58 blonde. Probably the prettiest blonde I’ve ever seen (other than my wife)

The best artist series guitar Gibson has ever made. They really got these right (except for the pickup covers which they never get right). Feels like the real thing, sounds like the real thing. Hard to believe these are ten years old already.

The best artist series guitar Gibson has ever made. They really got these right (except for the pickup covers which they never get right). Feels like the real thing, sounds like the real thing. Hard to believe these are ten years old already.

Later 60 but still a long guard, watermelon red and still stupid rare. Serial number is actually the FON on this one. Gibson did this for a short period in 1960.

Later 60 but still a long guard, watermelon red and still stupid rare. Serial number is actually the FON on this one. Gibson did this for a short period in 1960.

Red dot neck. 59 serial. 58 FON and a factory Varitone. Probably the second red dot neck made (and the second one I've had)

Red dot neck. 59 serial. 58 FON and a factory Varitone.
Probably the second red dot neck made (and the second one I’ve had)

They made 50 blondes in 58. Rarest of the production TDN's. Not sure how many were bound neck and how many were unbound. This one lasted about an hour before it was gone.

They made 50 blondes in 58. Rarest of the production TDN’s. Not sure how many were bound neck and how many were unbound. This one lasted about an hour before it was gone.

You won't see another one of these anytime soon. I know of just two early block necks in factory blonde. The other is a lefty 64 that lives about 15 miles away from me. This is a 63.

You won’t see another one of these anytime soon. I know of just two early block necks in factory blonde. The other is a lefty 64 that lives about 15 miles away from me. This is a 63.

Real early (pre Mickey Mouse ear) unbound 58. This one still had its original uncollapsed thin ABR-1. Most of them collapsed within a year.

Real early (pre Mickey Mouse ear) unbound 58. This one still had its original uncollapsed thin ABR-1. Most of them collapsed within a year.

Star of the show once again is the 59 dot neck. These ran up a good 20% this year and show no sign of weakening in 2015 even with therapy exchange rates for European buyers. Flame tops are nice too but not a requirement for big bucks.

Killer 59 flame top. Not too many of these around and they are always dramatic and popular. This one came out of Kentucky.

ms60z

This flamey 60 was a great one as well. An early 60 with a big ol’ 59 size neck.

Near mint (really near mint) 59. No, the photo isn't loaded backwards. It's a lefty. Thanks to Alex.

Near mint (really near mint) late 58. No, the photo isn’t loaded backwards. It’s a lefty. Thanks to Alex.

Killer flame top 59. This had the big fat 59 neck even though it was pretty late in the year. It's pretty random once you get past A3100 in the serial numbers.

Killer flame top 59. This had the big fat 59 neck even though it was pretty late in the year. It’s pretty random once you get past A3100 in the serial numbers.

One of the very first ES-335s from the Spring of 1958. Pre Mickey Mouse ears, thin top, no binding and lots of hand craftsmanship. Earliest I've ever had and one of the top three 335's ever for tone. Really. $34000

One of the very first ES-335s from the Spring of 1958. Pre Mickey Mouse ears, thin top, no binding and lots of hand craftsmanship. Earliest I’ve ever had and one of the top three 335’s ever for tone. Really.

This is a factory black 1966 ES-335. It is a true one off factory custom with ES-355 7 ply binding on the top, bound f-holes and gold hardware. One of a kind unless you count the companion ES-330 that was ordered at the same time by the same buyer. I had that one too but now its gone. $16000

This is a factory black 1966 ES-335. It is a true one off factory custom with ES-355 7 ply binding on the top, bound f-holes and gold hardware. One of a kind unless you count the companion ES-330 that was ordered at the same time by the same buyer. I had that one too.

This gorgeous unbound 58 belongs to a loyal reader who wishes to remain anonymous (so don’t go to his house and steal it). And who can blame him. Nice birdseye. 58’s have a thinner top which makes them unique among 335’s.

This really pretty 61 dot neck comes from reader Steve N. Note how different the red is compared to the 59 above it with the “watermelon fade”. Gibson changed the red dye so it wouldn’t fade so much (same one they used on Les Paul bursts which faded as well).

Here’s a 62 I owned for awhile and really enjoyed. It had early PAT# Pickups and the “custom made” plaque

ES-335 63 Block Neck Historic Reissue 2009 Excellent and Very Close to the Real Thing

Here’s a Pretty Cool 1964 ES-35. Serial number is only 23 away from Claptons which sold for over $800,000. Shipped the very same day: May 20, 1964.

I love 64s and I love guitars with a backstory. This 64 belongs to my late friend Andreja who lives in Serbia-these guitars don’t always stand still for 45 years. This guitar is supposed to have belonged to Denny Laine (Wings) at one point back when every Brit had to have a 335 in his arsenal.

169 Responses to “ES-335”

  1. Ginger H. says:

    My Dad has a 1959 ES 335 Gibson. It only has a single pick up and I have been searching for some info on the worth of it. I have not had any luck on finding one with a single pickup. Anybody out there that can help?

  2. OK Guitars says:

    Email sent. Thanks for visiting.

  3. Russell Richardson says:

    I have three guitars that I would like to know the year and value of, if possible. The first is a Gibson ES 335 DC – serial # 87137. The second is Gibson J45 – serial # 2616 2. The third is and electric Gibson with a pic guard that I cannot find a serial number on, but there is a number inside that reads 2608. Thank you for your help.

  4. OK Guitars says:

    Thanks for reading email sent

  5. OK Guitars says:

    email sent

  6. Jazz Guitar enthusiast says:

    Charlie, I have been studying and playing jazz and blues guitar for a few years now. I have been saving up for a Gibson ES 335 because, after having tried out a few in music stores, I am completely smitten, and decided owning one is my destiny. My question is partly new vs. used. I have heard that the new Gibsons are not quite up to par with the earlier classic models (particularly ES 335, 175, etc). For a nice, versatile semi-hollow electric Gibson what is the best combination of affordability and sound quality? I don’t want to drop more than $2K on a new, name brand 335 that is going to be inferior to one that is older or less expensive. Any suggestions?? Thanks much!

  7. OK Guitars says:

    The best bang for the buck is going to be one of two things. An 81-85 or a 60’s Trini Lopez. Trini’s are still a great deal. It is virtually the same guitar as a 335 for $2000 less. 64-66’s are running $3500-$4000 or so and 67-69s are running under $3000. I like the earlier ones with the nickel hardware so I look for 64-66 models. I’ve had 4 so far and all were great players. The 81-85 dot reissues are also a good choice. They can be had in the $2000 range for sunburst and red and $2500-$3200 for blondes. Sometimes you can get lucky and find a blonde for less than that. It’s a buyers market out there and it’s going to stay that way for only so long.

  8. needvids says:

    Hi, I am looking at a 1976 es-335 (walnut). The owner replaced the coil tap pickups with standard humbuckers, but the guitar has the switch for the coil tap so it can be re-setup. Otherwise, it’s in good shape (no nicks, cracks, etc).

    I would love your hep on it! Thanks!

  9. OK Guitars says:

    Send me a photo and I’ll comment

  10. sadd3616 says:

    Hi wonderful site. I just picked up a sunburst GIbson ES-335-TD serial number 807816 not sure on the year or any other information, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank You

  11. Barry says:

    HI Charlie,
    I have a 1972 ES-335 TD sunburst in near mint shape that I have owned since it was “born”. I recently had a fire in my home and although luckly the guitar did not get burned it was knocked off its stand by the firemen and I have lost 4 of the bridge saddles and screws. These were white nylon and I am having a tough time finding replacements. Can you provide any guidance.

  12. Barry says:

    Thanks Charlie. I have tried Stewmac but had some concern about the screws based on the review. I found what looks to be a high quality replica set at
    http://www.montreuxguitars.com/products/original/us_time_machine.html (also found what looks to be the same at http://vintagecloneparts.com/us_products.html)
    Have you ever heard of these sites?

  13. OK Guitars says:

    I’ve dealt with both of them for repro parts. There are a few others-Crazy Parts in Germany has a lot of good repro stuff as well. Almost too good. The parts are pricey but there are few alternatives. A lot of the Stew MAc stuff doesn’t fit vintage instruments. Read the fine print.

  14. Barry says:

    Thanks again. Actually, compared to the two I mentioned Crazy Parts does not seem that pricey.

  15. OK Guitars says:

    The Japanese stuff they sell seems very pricey. Nice folks though and they put up with my terrible German (they also speak English). As a rule, I don’t buy repro stuff but I have to say that they have gotten awfully good at it. I wrote a post about it-you could search for it if you’re interested.

  16. Johnny Cola says:

    Regarding the Green Burst 335 at Rumbleseat: I saw that guitar many years ago at the Philly Show, it was being offered by David Davidson. He said it was custom ordered by a guy to match his ’65 Ford Fairlane, and it’s a Ford color. Looks amazing in person.

  17. OK Guitars says:

    I’m guessing it looks better on a car. But still, find another, as they say.

  18. Al says:

    Hey there! I just bought a 2007 ES-335 dot custom shop reissue and I have been having some troubles with it staying in tune and intonated. Are there any kind of upgrades that are worth tacking on to help with this. I am thinking about putting some lock tuners on…good idea? bad idea? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  19. OK Guitars says:

    It probably isn’t the tuners. The nuts are always cut too tight and they bind, grabbing the string and leaving it sharp. If they slip, they go flat. If hard chord playing puts it out of tune, its probably the tuners. If heavy bending puts it out it may well be the nut. take it to a pro to have it filed but try this first: take a pencil and write in the slots. the graphite is a lubricant and will keep the strings from binding. there are all sorts of preparations sold for this purpose as well. I use a pencil.

  20. Wray says:

    I recently obtained a supposidly 1964-66 ES-335TD. Serial number is 105229. What would be the best way to tell if it is a real one or a copy? There was a bill of sale from 1974 with it but I am still skeptical. It has the diamond label inside the hollow body. Please let me know.

    Thanks!

  21. SITKI says:

    Hi there,
    Are all the new (2011) customshop es-335 dot models come with the 57′ humbuckers by default ? or are there any other pickups on these models ?

    Aso, i have an natural finis 1969 ES-340 with stop taill replaced, pickups not orginal ? would you happen to comment on how much do you think would it be worth ?
    thanks for the help !

  22. OK Guitars says:

    I believe the Custom Shop 335s still come with 57 classics. I’m really more of a vintage guy but the 2009 dot neck I had was fitted with 57 classics (which I liked). If your ES-340 is the early one with no neck volute and the stop tail is correctly placed (most are too far back), then it could be worth over $4000. Most are worth in the $3,000 range or even less but those would be the more common walnut finished volute necked 70’s. Send me a few photos at okguitars@gmail.com and I’ll give you a more specific number.

  23. Russ says:

    do you still have the bigsby and plaque that was on the 62 that I bought from you back then. It’s a great 335 facebook me and you will see some shots of it in action.
    Russ

  24. OK Guitars says:

    I don’t have it but they are pretty easy to come by. A vintage Bigsby B7 should run you about $250-$325 and it should be the aluminum with black paint version with the tension bar. It should say “short” on the underside and have the letters LP under there as well. I have a NOS plaque. Shoot me an email at okguitars@gmail.com. The plaque is the real deal but was never drilled so you would have to drill it and get a couple of brads to hold it down. There’s one on Ebay right now (from a 62) but the guy wants way too much for it. There’s another as well. Make him an offer-it looks pretty good.

  25. alan says:

    Hi Charlie,
    What’s the chance of finding a Blonde 63 ES335 ?
    Cheers Alan

  26. OK Guitars says:

    Zip. They only made them from 58-60 and then again in 69 and later. There may be a custom order out there somewhere from 63 but good luck finding it.

  27. gordon says:

    In addition to being a great source of information, you’re also good company.Really enjoy your blog.
    Do Varitones suck the tone out of unplugged 345’s ?

  28. OK Guitars says:

    Funny. Of course they do. Haven’t you read all the online Forums? The mere presence of that chicken head knob sucks all tone from a 345-plugged in or not:)

  29. alan says:

    Hi Charlie,
    Can you tell me if the inside edge of the maple top in the F hole was painted white on a blonde 335 ? What colour would it be on a sunburst ?
    Many thanks for your previous reply.
    Cheers Alan

  30. OK Guitars says:

    I’m going to assume we’re talking about vintage blondies in which case every one (58-60) I’ve owned has white paint around the f-holes. The early to mid 80’s reissues which I’m so fond of have black paint around the f-holes. A vintage sunburst 3×5 will be painted brown around the inside edge of the f-hole.

  31. Nicholas says:

    In response to SITKI’s querry about pickups on Gibson Custom 335’s,all come stock with the Classic ’57’s. I can’t understand why they don’t offer Burstbuckers. To my ears the BB’s sound closer to real PAF’s. Tip: the Gibson 60’s block 335 currently made at Memphis Custom comes stock with Burstbucker Pro pickups and they sound great! Gibson model # on this guitar is ESDY335. I believe the “Y” stands for Yamano which was their Japanese distributor. This model was only available in Japan from 2002 but became available around 2008 in the US market. Comes in antique red or ice tea burst (Clapton and Carlton?–both huge in Japan). Also has Kluson tuners,not Grovers like the dot reissue. Nickel hardware,big neck with lots of shoulder. Best new ES type guitar Gibson has,in my opinion. Check it out.

  32. Pete Aguanno says:

    Although I would love to own a vintage 335, my budget has limited me to a second hand 2003 model. It has a figured maple top and is in very good condition, near mint. I paid $2100 for it. I have played acoustic guitar for many years and this is my first electric. I am purchasing a Fender Blues Junion as my only amp is a Fishman LoudBox and not really suited to an electric guitar. My question is: How do the newer guitars compare to the vintage instruments in terms of sound, playability, reliability, and build quality. Are there any upgrades you would suggest until I can find a few extra dollars to get me into a vintage 335? Thanks for any advice you can give me.

  33. OK Guitars says:

    Just enjoy the 2003. There really aren’t any mods that will make it sound any better unless you want to put in some better pickups-Throbaks, sheptones, Rolphs, SD, Fralins-lots of good ones out there. Nothing else will make much difference.

  34. Chuck says:

    Just picked up an ES 335. Can you help with date?

  35. OK Guitars says:

    Send some photos to me at okguitars@gmail.com. Serial number will help. Photo of front of guitar, headstock front and back (at least).

  36. Daiv says:

    How I got the 335 of my dreams……
    I posted a short advert on Gumtree that read:
    ‘I will swap my 1976 Les Paul Deluxe for your Gibson 335.’

    Call it luck, call it coincidence or call it fate, but I do now have
    the most gorgeous Blonde ES335 of my dreams. It’s a 1997 issue
    in pristine condition with it’s original case. It is also staggeringly
    beautiful, quilted top to die for. Charlie has pictures, I will ask him
    to include one on the site. I feel a bit guilty now, because my 1962
    Strat is getting no gigs!!

  37. Dave Sebastian says:

    Hi Charlie, I’m a friend of Larry D in Chicagoland, known affectionately as Uncle Lar. Larry suggested I contact you with this Q;

    I just found a clean 1970 Cherry 335. Is it possible that this guitar could have a factory Orange Label, with all data filled in in handwriting?

  38. OK Guitars says:

    Yes. An early 70 would still have the orange label. Even though the Norlin deal was complete, they used the orange stickers until the new ones were finished. I know they didn’t use up the orange ones because there were about a zillion of them left over.

  39. Andrew says:

    Hello! I’m loving your website!! Thank you for all the time and information you have shared!!

    I’m really interested in getting a block inlay 335. Unfortunately, I can’t spend what it would cost to grab a mid 60’s 335. I have around 3k to spend. Would you recommend I try and find a late 60’s model or look for a used Historic/Re-Issue?

    I’m principally concerned with what is the best quality I can get, more so than resale value.

    Thanks!!!

  40. OK Guitars says:

    You won’t easily find a late 60’s for $3000 and watch out for 69’s-they can be trouble. They shortened the necktenon to the point where the neck can be unstable.
    A modern block reissue (NAshville Historic) is generally a pretty good bet but finding one of those at $3000 while not impossible, isn’t a walk in the park either.

  41. Andrew says:

    Fair enough. Lets say we take price out of the equation all together. Would you rather have a late 60’s (69 not withstanding) 335, or a Historic one?

    I was thinking that a late 60’s one that had some devaluation like a changed bridge or pickups might put it around 3k.

    Thanks again!!!
    Andrew

  42. OK Guitars says:

    I’d rather have a 68 than a Historic. The Historic will probably feel better (wide nut) but the 68 will sound better. I can get used to the smaller nut.

  43. lachy says:

    Awsome site man! I am 18 and have about $5000-$60000AUS to spend on the best es 335 I can get. do you know much about the custom shop “50th Anniversary 1960 ES-335TD” they currently have on the market? This seems like the best available model to me because it has a thinner neck than the ’59 reissue for eg. Is it worth the extra $$ to get one of these instead of a standard es 355? Is there anything better I could afford? Thankyou 🙂

  44. lachy says:

    sorry, i meant 5000-6000, not $60,000!!!

  45. OK Guitars says:

    The Anniversary isn’t as well made as the Nashville made Historics from around 2005-2009. My opinion. You can find either a 63 reissue or a 59 reissue for around $3200-$3600 USD plus around $450 to ship to Australia. Puts you at $4000 or less.
    You might be able to find something from the mid to late 60’s if you can deal with the thinner neck.

  46. pehjott says:

    I have a gibson es 335, serial: 02005564
    It has a bigsby (golden) and it says Custom in the inner part of the guitar on some kind of “sticker” (I guess you know what I mean).
    Is this guitar real or fake?

    Sorry for my horrible English

  47. OK Guitars says:

    Hi send me a photo. I can’t tell a fake from a description very well. You can send it to okguitars@gmail.com and I’ll give it a look.

  48. Walter says:

    Have an ’82 cherry es-335 with out its label. I asked Gibson a while back and they say they onlh have the orange labels. Any suggestions for getting a white replacement?

    Best regards…

  49. OK Guitars says:

    See if you can find a large photo of one on the internet. The print it, whiting out the information thats been filled in giving you a blank label.

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