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Gibson ES-330 or Epiphone Riviera Which to consider buying?

#1 User is offline   Craig M 

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 07:22 AM

Hey All,
So I'm looking to pull the trigger on my first vintage guitar. This will be primarily for investment (or becoming a family heirloom!) and not playing. I do play and have plenty of other guitars for that. I'm looking at a '66 Epiphone Riviera in cherry finish and is in very good condition. Also looking at a '70 ES-330 in sunburst (the tea finish, a little lighter) that is in excellent condition, I mean it looks almost new.

I have to admit I've always loved the Gibson ES style guitars especially in sunburst and am leaning that way. The Epiphone asking price is a little more than the ES. Any thoughts on collectability value, especially down the road 10 years or so.

Thanks,

Craig
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#2 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 03:08 PM

Interesting (and tough) question.

It's an interesting question (to me, at least) because I think it's pretty rare for someone to say that they want a vintage Gibson/Epi, but don't intend to play it. I can understand not wanting to "gig" a vintage guitar, but to say you're not even going to play it is hard for me to relate to. I would feel better if I could convince you to to play and enjoy the guitar at home (while of course taking very good care of it). I've never been a professional player, have always loved vintage guitars, have been very fortunate to own quite a few of them, and I don't think I've ever done any damage to any or even caused any significant wear. In other words, you can still play them and not hurt their potential investment value if you take care of them.

It's also a tough question, because nobody really knows which model is going to be more desirable in the future. I would have to think that there wouldn't be a big disparity. The 330 might have a slight edge just because it says "Gibson" on the headstock (even though they were made in the same plant).

I'll offer some random thoughts about these two models in terms of their past histories. First of all, neither one of these was ever a highly popular model, even though they're both very good instruments. I think the 330 is as popular now as it's ever been, and I'm not even sure why. I think at some point, the popularity of the corresponding Epiphone model (the Casino) started to increase dramatically due to its association with the Beatles, and maybe this caused people to have more appreciation for the 330 model. Also, the 330 gained more appreciation over the past few decades with the rise in popularity of jazz guitarist Grant Green, whose music began to gain more acclaim after his death, due to the reissuing of his Blue Note recordings.

The Riviera is similarly obscure in terms of an association with famous players. A couple of greats (though not necessarily well known to the average person) who used Rivieras were Otis Rush and Phil Upchurch. The tone is very distinctive (as is the Sheraton model) due to the mini-humbuckers, and I would actually try to steer people in that direction for that reason. A 330 has a more generic Gibson with P-90's tone (still a great sound, but more "common", imo). I also love cherry red, so I'd vote for the Riviera. But I already own a vintage cherry red Sheraton... and you prefer sunbursts... so I'll just shut up now. [smile]
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#3 User is offline   Craig M 

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 08:44 PM

View PostJimR56, on 28 September 2017 - 03:08 PM, said:

Interesting (and tough) question.

It's an interesting question (to me, at least) because I think it's pretty rare for someone to say that they want a vintage Gibson/Epi, but don't intend to play it. I can understand not wanting to "gig" a vintage guitar, but to say you're not even going to play it is hard for me to relate to. I would feel better if I could convince you to to play and enjoy the guitar at home (while of course taking very good care of it). I've never been a professional player, have always loved vintage guitars, have been very fortunate to own quite a few of them, and I don't think I've ever done any damage to any or even caused any significant wear. In other words, you can still play them and not hurt their potential investment value if you take care of them.

It's also a tough question, because nobody really knows which model is going to be more desirable in the future. I would have to think that there wouldn't be a big disparity. The 330 might have a slight edge just because it says "Gibson" on the headstock (even though they were made in the same plant).

I'll offer some random thoughts about these two models in terms of their past histories. First of all, neither one of these was ever a highly popular model, even though they're both very good instruments. I think the 330 is as popular now as it's ever been, and I'm not even sure why. I think at some point, the popularity of the corresponding Epiphone model (the Casino) started to increase dramatically due to its association with the Beatles, and maybe this caused people to have more appreciation for the 330 model. Also, the 330 gained more appreciation over the past few decades with the rise in popularity of jazz guitarist Grant Green, whose music began to gain more acclaim after his death, due to the reissuing of his Blue Note recordings.

The Riviera is similarly obscure in terms of an association with famous players. A couple of greats (though not necessarily well known to the average person) who used Rivieras were Otis Rush and Phil Upchurch. The tone is very distinctive (as is the Sheraton model) due to the mini-humbuckers, and I would actually try to steer people in that direction for that reason. A 330 has a more generic Gibson with P-90's tone (still a great sound, but more "common", imo). I also love cherry red, so I'd vote for the Riviera. But I already own a vintage cherry red Sheraton... and you prefer sunbursts... so I'll just shut up now. [smile]


I should clarify that I will play whichever I buy, but it will stay at home and not be daily player. I agree sometimes vintage guitar value has a lot to do with who played it. Your example of the Beatles and the Casino is right on. I mean when Dave Grohl picked up a Trini Lopez ES the values went way up. I believe from what I've read that the Riviera has a good chance of increasing in value over the ES, so your advice is probably correct. I've always wanted an ES in sunburst though so maybe I should go with the heart instead of the head! I appreciate the honest input and information. I will let you know what I decide!
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#4 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 29 September 2017 - 12:01 AM

Clearly, the best solution is to get both! (sorry) [wink]
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#5 User is offline   jdgm 

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Posted 02 October 2017 - 02:48 PM

Very good info from JimR56.

[thumbup] [thumbup]
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