There are two reasons to get into vintage guitars, to collect or to play. On the one hand there is the rarity of a model from a particular year or in a particular color, and on the other hand there is the sound that only a good guitar whose wood has been dry for years can produce. Some guitar geeks are interested in both aspects, some are only into the collecting aspects (and would rather have a mint guitar that doesn’t sound great), while others are only in it to play.
Those musicians are therefore looking for what they call “player” instruments, guitars that don’t cost as much as the same model in a better state would, but that still have THAT sound, the one for which that model became legendary. Collectors see a refin or a non-original pickup as a reason not to buy a guitar, players see a great chance to buy a model that sounds amazing and that they couldn’t afford otherwise.
This ES-335 is the very definition of a player guitar. Only the wood from the body is original, and the rest of it is a true Frankenstein monster. But the sound is unmistakably the one that made the ES-335 so iconic. The pickups have been changed for PAF-style Hepcats, the tuners, the knobs and the bridge have been swapped for modern replicas and the body has been refinished in ebony by Gord Miller Vintage Restorations, with a light relicing job.
Even the neck has been changed! This 335 is one of the very rare guitars that got re-necked at the Gibson factory, hence the specs from different eras that wouldn’t make sense otherwise. The body is from 1963, which means the fretboard inlays should have been blocks rather than the dots we see here, and the headstock logo gives a precise idea of when that guitar got its new neck. The B and the O are closed off so this was post 1967, the I has a dot so this was post 1973, but the N and the O are connected, therefore this is before 1981. This superb player guitar has unusual and personal specs, and a sound that is worthy of its body’s year.