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j45nick

Today's ES guitars

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OK, here's a topic we're all familiar with from past discussions, but given the listings of new ES-series guitars on the Gibson website, I'm going to bring it to life again. On the current Gibson website, most of the ES guitars are listed as "Gibson Memphis" guitars. A few models, notably ES-335 '59 re-issues and '63 block re-issues, as listed as "Gibson Custom" without any reference to the location of the "Gibson Custom" production facility.

 

"Gibson Memphis" is a relatively new designation. In the recent past, Gibson simply referred to "Gibson Custom", and you had to look at the label to know whether it was a Memphis guitar or a Nashville guitar. In fact, almost all of the "Gibson Custom" guitars were Memphis-built and Memphis-labeled.

 

Has anyone looked at the labels of the current "Gibson Custom" ES 335 re-issues to see if they are Nashville or Memphis guitars? I note that the '59 and '63 "Gibson Custom" re-issues currently listed on the website are significantly cheaper in nominal retail price than the "Historic" '59 and '63 model from a few years ago that were finished in the Nashville shop and have Nashville labels.

 

If this has been dealt with here recently, I apologize for resurrecting it.

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Nick - Rob Mackillop kind of got into this topic last month on this thread: http://forum.gibson.com/index.php?/topic/114590-memphis-nashville-whats-the-difference/ but, we didn't get into the price differences - an interesting point you've brought up.

 

Over the last number of years, it seemed to me that on a growing basis, just about everything coming out of Memphis had a "Custom" sticker on the back of the headstock. Looks like sometime this year Gibson decided to push "Gibson Memphis" and get away from "Memphis Custom".

 

You used to, more or less, be able to go by this:

-Nashville / Gibson USA - solid bodies, including chambered

-Nashville Custom - custom solid/chambered bodies, historic reissues, carved top archtops, and finishing historic semihollows

-Memphis / Memphis "Custom" / and now Gibson Memphis - all laminate semihollows built

 

But now that you mention the prices, I'm also wondering where those historic semihollows are being finished.

 

 

 

@Powerwagon - AFAIK, all laminate semihollows are built in Memphis, but the historics were sent to Nashville Custom for finishing.

 

 

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Nick - Rob Mackillop kind of got into this topic last month on this thread: http://forum.gibson.com/index.php?/topic/114590-memphis-nashville-whats-the-difference/ but, we didn't get into the price differences - an interesting point you've brought up.

 

Over the last number of years, it seemed to me that on a growing basis, just about everything coming out of Memphis had a "Custom" sticker on the back of the headstock. Looks like sometime this year Gibson decided to push "Gibson Memphis" and get away from "Memphis Custom".

 

You used to, more or less, be able to go by this:

-Nashville / Gibson USA - solid bodies, including chambered

-Nashville Custom - custom solid/chambered bodies, historic reissues, carved top archtops, and finishing historic semihollows

-Memphis / Memphis "Custom" / and now Gibson Memphis - all laminate semihollows built

 

But now that you mention the prices, I'm also wondering where those historic semihollows are being finished.

 

 

 

@Powerwagon - AFAIK, all laminate semihollows are built in Memphis, but the historics were sent to Nashville Custom for finishing.

 

 

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I seem to recall--but could be wrong--that a few years ago all the ES 3x5 bodies were supposedly built in Memphis, but the bodies for the "Historic Collection" were then shipped to Nashville for assembly and finishing. The lines were extremely blurred, since both Memphis and Nashville-built guitars were called by the "Gibson Custom" moniker.

 

The last time I remember both versions being listed on the Gibson Website, the Nashville-built Historics ('59 dot and '63 block) carried a list price of about $6800, or something like that.

 

There were Memphis-built versions ('59 Fat Neck) that were priced around $5200 or so, which is about the list price of the current "1959 ES 335 Dot Re-issue" from the "Custom Shop". To confuse matters, there is also a "Gibson Memphis" 1959 ES 335 priced at $6200 that claims to be the best repro ever of the 1959 ES 335. The specs sound quite good--all hide glue, for example--but the burstbucker pups might run a little hot compared to PAF's. Without one in hand, it is impossible to compare the quality and specs to those of my Nashville '59 Historic.

 

This is a rambling treatise that comes around to a fundamental question: if all ES 335's are now Memphis-built, how might the long-term value of the now-discontinued "Nashville Historics" be impacted? When they were built, they claimed to be the best ES 335's that Gibson had to offer. They were certainly the most expensive, even though the street price, as always, was well below MSRP. No doubt some of that was marketing hype, but it worked to some extent. I suspect that having two different plants build slightly different versions of the same guitar was not particularly cost-effective, and maybe the Nashville "Art, Custom, and Historic shop" has just faded into oblivion when it comes to ES guitars, just like the Kalamazoo plant.

 

On the plus side, my cherry red '59 Historic is now a rare bird, since the new high-end Memphis 1959 ES-335 is only available in 'burst and blonde, even though the cheaper "Gibson Custom 1959 Dot Re-issue" can be had in faded cherry.

 

Man oh man, they don't make things simple.

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This is a rambling treatise that comes around to a fundamental question: if all ES 335's are now Memphis-built, how might the long-term value of the now-discontinued "Nashville Historics" be impacted?

My guess is that value based on the Nashville vs Memphis distinction will generally become a non-issue and fade into the sunset. I used to be one who considered Memphis construction slightly inferior, but imho, their game has been significantly upped in the last few years.

 

In this regard, my personal experience with the ES-330 VOS has been very convincing.

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