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Es-335 vs. Es-345 A battle royale!

#1 User is offline   TinyBabyBrandon 

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 07:03 PM

Hello everyone! I'm new to posting, but have been reading this messageboard for quite sometime now, so I'm pretty keen on all the goings on here. Anyway I am struggling to decide which guitar to dive in and get. Initially I was completely wooed by the the 345. I love the parallelogram neck inlays and the varitone switch, but recently I've become enamored with the 335's and it's not hard to see why. I think if I went the 335 route I would have to go with the VOS 1960. BUUUUUT, both of these particular guit-fiddles are pretty tough to come by in person; I very rarely see an es-345 in the store and only once have I seen a VOS 335 and it was 59. That said I know I like the slim taper 60's neck which both guitar have. So I'm turning to my fellow depraved, itching, mouth frothing 6 string junkies to throw their two cents into the ring and help me make a decision. What are your thoughts on these two guitars head to head, what are the major differences? Hook a brother up, y'all!!

#2 User is offline   71Darkhorse 

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Posted 30 October 2011 - 05:19 PM

Hey man,

Decisions, decisions! Look, there's no right or wrong here just preference. The 335 is considered the classic of the ES series due to it's versatility and functionality without the clutter (visually and physically) of the 345 and 355. This really appeals to some people.
The 345 has the parallelograms and the varitone switch which is supposed to add a choice of tonal flavor. Many would argue that the alternate tones derived from the varitone switch are undesirable which is the reason why it wasn't a big seller when origionally released. Not withstanding that, the 345 does have it's fans.
The 355 is essentially a 335 with 'luxury appointments'. Tonally, pretty much the same.
So my friend . . . . . there's no right or wrong in a choice between the 335 or 345. Both are beautiful guitars but it really is about personal taste.
Personally speaking, i have a 355 and have just replaced it with a 335 59 VOS historic reissue and i love it! As i've gotten older i've come to appreciate the classic and basically perfect design of the ES 335.
Good luck and have fun with your decision mate [thumbup]
Richard

#3 User is offline   charlie brown 

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Posted 30 October 2011 - 06:53 PM

You can't go wrong, either way...IMHO. I (personally) love the ES-345 (and, 355's).
Just because I like the option, of the Varitone, and the extra "bling," too. But,
335's are awsome guitars, all their own. Marvelous, beautiful simplicity! So, there's
no "bad" choice, there. Good Luck, with your decision! ;>)

CB

#4 User is offline   j45nick 

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Posted 30 October 2011 - 06:57 PM

It's hard to beat the simplicity of the 335. If you like block inlays rather than dots, go with the '63 re-issue, which has bigger inlays plus a thinner neck profile on the same 1 11/16" nut width as the '59 and '60 re-issues. I have a Nashville '59 Historic ES 335, and I find the fairly big neck to be quite comfortable. With the '60 re-issue, which will be a Memphis guitar rather than a Nasville guitar these days, you get basically the same body, but probably with a slightly thinner neck.

The Historic '63 re-issues are Nashville guitars. All the other 335's currently listed are Memphis guitars. There are leftover Nashville '59 Historics at many large dealers. There can be a significant difference between Memphis and Nashville guitars, for which some of us are willing to pay the additional premium of $2K+ in nominal retail price.

Your experience may vary.

#5 User is offline   Aerial Man 

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 10:48 AM

I personally prefer the way of using the volume and tone controls to get tones. Anything else can be done with pedals and effects units to infinity and beyond. I also feel that I would rather just play or write something first using a basic uncluttered guitar. By having the Varitone on the guitar it's distracting before you even start, and you can end up going round in circles trying to find a tone rather than just getting on and playing. And I just feel that less is more when it comes to looks also.

By all means I think that mods to guitars tone are a cool thing to do. But to me any mods like that are generally done for a specific sound you are trying to get for songs you actually like playing or might be writing. Varitone for me is something that would just go unused, but even in the off position it's still affecting the tone due to being wired in so I would rather just not have it.

Really the question is whether or not you like what the Varitone switch has to offer. If you prefer the tones you can get with a 345 then fair play, and nobody elses opinion should matter. It's funny how people follow fashion when it comes to music and guitars. Most of those people will never be recognised for being creative and doing something new.

#6 User is offline   L5Larry 

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 12:53 PM

I played a 335 for 20 years, and then decided I needed an "upgrade", so I bought a "Historic Series" ES-345. The day I picked up the 345 (and after a quick setup and string change) I took both to a gig. Fired up the 345 and never looked back. I sold the 335 shortly after that.

The 345 has come in many different versions over the years (mono/stop-tail/varitone, same in stereo, Bigby, Maestro, trapeze, most in stereo, some in mono), so you need to decide what configuration will work best for you. I'm not a fan of the current production model Memphis built 345's, and I don't think Gibson has built any Nashville Historics like mine since around 2000.

In my case, I definitely preferred my 2000 built Histroric mono, varirone, stop-tail 345 over my 1975 trapeze 335. You can get some interesting tone variations out of the varitone, but as most people agree, only two or three of the six positions are actually useful on stage (the others are useful in the studio, but there is too much volume differential for stage use). I use position #1 (bypass) most of the time, but also use position #3 fairly often. It's handy to be able to get completely different sonic qualities out of the guitar by the twist of a switch knob, without have to mess with pedal or amp settings, OR changing guitars.

Your results may vary.

#7 User is offline   charlie brown 

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 12:59 PM

Larry, you've mentioned (several times, before) not liking the "current production (Memphis)
ES-345's." Why, specifically? Just curious...

Is it "Custom Shop," as opposed to "normal" (whatever that means) Gibson quality issues?
Are they (really) different "spec's," woods, finishing, etc.?

CB

#8 User is offline   TinyBabyBrandon 

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 01:28 PM

I get what everyone is saying. I do like the varitone actually, and I don't mind it's aesthetic impact on the guitar, in fact I kind of like it. I guess what I'm driving at is there any real difference in the over all play ie feel, action, etc... between the two guitars. Also are they essentially the same construction or are different woods involved in the body, making a tonal difference between the guitars? Also the place on manufacture, there is a lot of discussion regarding memphis vs. nashville, I'm wonder about the impact this might make on the two guitars. Also from I what I recall about a mid 2000's 345 I played was that it was a harder guitar to play on than was the 59 335 vos I played. The normal 335's also have this kind hard to play vibe about them for me which, could be alleviated by a good setup, but I'm wondering if this a standard thing across the board for all the standard 335's and 345's. Thanks again everyone!

#9 User is online   Versatile 

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 01:42 PM

Just for interest and visual enjoyment

Cast your eyes over an ES 137 Custom....

V

:-({|=
Fiddling at the Pearly Gates
or somewhere
Lower and Warmer....

I like kayaking....it really floats my boat

I dig most stuff.......Anon(gardener)

#10 User is offline   Aerial Man 

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 02:39 PM

View PostTinyBabyBrandon, on 31 October 2011 - 01:28 PM, said:

I get what everyone is saying. I do like the varitone actually, and I don't mind it's aesthetic impact on the guitar, in fact I kind of like it. I guess what I'm driving at is there any real difference in the over all play ie feel, action, etc... between the two guitars. Also are they essentially the same construction or are different woods involved in the body, making a tonal difference between the guitars? Also the place on manufacture, there is a lot of discussion regarding memphis vs. nashville, I'm wonder about the impact this might make on the two guitars. Also from I what I recall about a mid 2000's 345 I played was that it was a harder guitar to play on than was the 59 335 vos I played. The normal 335's also have this kind hard to play vibe about them for me which, could be alleviated by a good setup, but I'm wondering if this a standard thing across the board for all the standard 335's and 345's. Thanks again everyone!


Essentially the 335's, 355's and 345's are the same chassis. There may be some variances between certain special models but overall it's the same guitar with different features.

I would reccomend trying a 345 vs a 335 to see for yourself what the difference is. If that was not an option then maybe id steer towards a 335 VOS reissue or something. There are so many effects units on the market you dont need something built into the guitar, it just kind of takes away from the natural beauty of just having 4 knobs.

#11 User is offline   Aerial Man 

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 03:03 PM

By all means though! Storm your way into the music business with a 345! Become a huge success and put more value on the 345 market lol

#12 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 03:29 PM

"Action" is something that's adjustable. Also, even within a single model category, playability/feel can vary from one guitar to another (from 335 to 335, from 345 to 345, etc.), so don't make assumptions based on small sample sizes. Compare apples to apples, if possible. L5Larry's comparison of a 345 with a stop tailpiece vs his 335 with a trapeze tailpiece is not something you can base anything on really (in terms of choosing one model over the other). Most semi-hollow players do prefer stop tailpieces over trapezes though, so that's something to think about.

#13 User is offline   Aerial Man 

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 03:54 PM

View PostJimR56, on 31 October 2011 - 03:29 PM, said:

Most semi-hollow players do prefer stop tailpieces over trapezes though, so that's something to think about.



And most semi hollow players prefer a 335. hence the price difference. Thats all it boils down to..The fanbase for that guitar. Look at the 330 with trapeze tail piece what a beautiful and great guitar. TBH in one sense if you want to get a better value for your money your better off looking at modern contemporary like a 339 or 137. But still if you you buy a 335 it's always gonna be worth it.

#14 User is offline   TinyBabyBrandon 

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 04:34 PM

View PostAerial Man, on 31 October 2011 - 03:54 PM, said:

And most semi hollow players prefer a 335. hence the price difference. Thats all it boils down to..The fanbase for that guitar. Look at the 330 with trapeze tail piece what a beautiful and great guitar. TBH in one sense if you want to get a better value for your money your better off looking at modern contemporary like a 339 or 137. But still if you you buy a 335 it's always gonna be worth it.

Actually the price difference is something that has me wondering. I'd like to get a VOS 335 used, preferably, but those are right in the same wheelhouse as a 345 used, and the VOS, I imagine, is going to be far better craftsmanship than a regular 345. Is this assumption true? Why are the 345's new so much more than a standard dot reissue new? If its just an inlay/varitone thing, can that really amount to almost a thousand bucks more? I assume there's got to be something more going on with the 345 quality-wise. Also I have been looking into 330's but as a full hollow body I don't think it will be all that great for really cranking it on stage. I have a 66 pro reverb that I push pretty hard and use my volume to control the gain, but I run it full bore a lot of times. Also I like to get pretty fuzzy with an old big muff. I just don't know that a full on hollow body could be manageable in that situation, but then again look at Steve Howe with the 175. God knows how he pulled that off live all these years!

#15 User is offline   Aerial Man 

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 04:41 PM

View PostTinyBabyBrandon, on 31 October 2011 - 04:34 PM, said:

but then again look at Steve Howe with the 175. God knows how he pulled that off live all these years!


Well exactly. Thats the point. As the player and the musician you make the music and play what you have available.

And when it comes to craftmanship, I think youll find that Gibsons are Gibsons. Well built guitars at the price point despite the many stories of annoying finishing issues and as frustrating as that is. Any 335, 345, 355 or any other gibson for that matter is gonna feel like a really nice well built and solid guitar in your hands. It's just a matter of finding the one that really speaks to you.

#16 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 04:48 PM

View PostAerial Man, on 31 October 2011 - 03:54 PM, said:

And most semi hollow players prefer a 335. hence the price difference. Thats all it boils down to..The fanbase for that guitar.

I honestly don't even know what the price difference is for new models, but there's no doubt that vintage 335's have been pricier for many years. The popularity and the fanbase and the preference (the "premium" put on 335's) is largely about "lore" (dotnecks with paf's, Clapton having played a 335, etc etc). I'll bet the vast majority of 335 owners have never tried a 345 or a 355. And I'm not saying that 335's aren't great guitars, or that varitones and stereo wiring are necessarily great features. I just think it's mostly driven by "I want what he has" (like you mentioned in your first post... people don't think creatively or individually). Even since I got my '62 Epi Sheraton (even before, actually), I've been tempted to tell people to be a little different and get a Riviera or a Sheraton with mini-hb's. Very under-appreciated guitars, imo.

#17 User is offline   sheraton 

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 03:51 PM

View PostJimR56, on 31 October 2011 - 04:48 PM, said:

I honestly don't even know what the price difference is for new models, but there's no doubt that vintage 335's have been pricier for many years. The popularity and the fanbase and the preference (the "premium" put on 335's) is largely about "lore" (dotnecks with paf's, Clapton having played a 335, etc etc). I'll bet the vast majority of 335 owners have never tried a 345 or a 355. And I'm not saying that 335's aren't great guitars, or that varitones and stereo wiring are necessarily great features. I just think it's mostly driven by "I want what he has" (like you mentioned in your first post... people don't think creatively or individually). Even since I got my '62 Epi Sheraton (even before, actually), I've been tempted to tell people to be a little different and get a Riviera or a Sheraton with mini-hb's. Very under-appreciated guitars, imo.



Ditto on the SHERATION if you can find a "good one." My experience says it's a slim chance of finding one where the string vibration makes more noise than the frets.

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