Jump to content
Gibson Brands Forums
Sign in to follow this  
EasyTiger

Can't Decide on 335 or 355

Recommended Posts

Hi there

 

I'm now at a fortunate financial juncture whereby I can afford a 335/355. I already own a Les Paul and an SG '61 Reissue. I actually also have a Strat and Tele (both USA standards) and like to buy, not only for enjoyment of playing nice guitars, but also as investments which I can sell during hard times if need be - which I've done over the years. My trouble at present is that I can't decide between a 335 and 355.

 

I reckon I'm going to go with either a Cherry Block 335 or a Cherry 355 (both 2015). The thing that bothers me ever-so-slightly about the 355 is the Richlite fretboard. I'm not wishing to inspire debate about the look or suitability of richlite as a fretboard material or Gibson's rationale behind it. I know this has been done to death with people actually digging the richlite. I'm just wondering if richlite will become an enduring norm on custom models which formerly had ebony fretboards? I guess my fear is that Gibson may go back to ebony fretboards in a few years and when/if I decide to sell a 355 (if I get one), then I may have difficulty selling it due to having a potentially undesirable one from a short time period of richlite runs/editions. Am I over reacting? Should I go with a mainstay 335 rosewood?

 

Any thoughts or opinions would be appreciated.

 

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, the fretboard is a dilemma when deciding on one or the other. Richlite would certainly put me off for many of the reasons you already stated. For me personally, I would rather buy a good condition second hand ES 355 with an Ebony board than a 2015 one with the Richlite.

 

You know though, you could compromise with getting a cherry ES 345 instead? You have the added bonus of a varitone too! Sadly, Gibson stopped making the fantastic stereo ones a few years back, but these mono re-issue ones look very nice and have more character than the 335 IMO. Might be worth considering and you don't have to worry about the lack of Ebony as they always had rosewood boards to my knowledge.

 

Here's a beauty;

 

http://www.guitarguitar.co.uk/electric_guitars_detail.asp?stock=15050711405818&gclid=CIrlnp7zn8YCFSXHtAodV5AGoQ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like a lot of us. I did decide on a 335 but now I wish I had saved another $500 to upgrade it do a X, where X=any other derivative. 335s are iconic and I am in love with mine, it could be my only guitar, the last guitar standing, and I would be happy.

 

But getting your hands on the Anniversary guitars, the Signature series, is not as easy. They just don't hang around long enough for me to try. A pilgrimage to Wildwood guitars?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd look for a used 355 or used Lucille if it was my call to get the ebony fret board.

 

As for it becoming an enduring norm, I suppose it's all what the agreement between Gibson and the government stipulates which none of us are privy to. They must be using up a small stash of pre-raid ebony on very limited edition runs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd stay away from anything with Richlite in that price range. You run the risk of the guitar losing serious value if the used guitar market doesn't like it.

 

My dad told me one time when I got caught stealing cigarettes when I was 14, he said "No matter how smart you are, you're not smart enough to be a crook." I try to keep that in mind.

 

So just because somebody one of your friends or family gets put in jail doesn't mean you have to pay his fines. Let him pay his own debt to society, if you know what I mean. Reward him for the good things he's done and let him work out him own problems with "the man." He'll get the idea and you won't be duped.

 

[thumbup]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you 'everyone' for the kind replies.

 

I live in the UK so a pilgrimage to Wildwood is out of the question. I do like Greg Koch's Wildwood videos on Youtube though :)

 

Regarding the 345. The one linked to up above is only about 70 miles from where I live. It's a beauty alright. However, my budget is on stretching to £2500 max. Another £750 would have me in the poor house. I would never have considered spending £2000 on a guitar a year ago, let alone £3000+. Ouch!!! That 345 is right up my street though - if I could afford it.

 

I do like the 345s. In terms of looks, I see the 335 as a mainstay all rounder, the 355 as a 'Sunday best' blues guitar. For some reason, I associate the aesthetics of the 345 as an older refined gentleman's guitar getting played in a smokey jazz club by someone sipping port in between songs. Ha ha. Mind you, Elvin Bishop and Freddie King aren't really withstanding with this imagery. There a couple in Europe for about £2700 but they are sunbursts and are 1959 reissues. I have a 50s neck on a Les Paul I've fallen out of love with to a degree.

 

Yep, although the Richlite might be okay and play fine, it's the resale implications regarding the lower esteem in which a richlite fretboard has relative to the more upscale other appointments a 355 has retained. There's something uncomfortable about say...spending X on a flashy top of the range Mercedes whilst having to accept that it has the wheels of a car considerably cheaper. Possibly a flawed analogy?

 

I did have my eye on some of the limited edition Bourbon Burst 335 dots out there. I thought they looked stunning and would likely have held more value than a 355 richlites. They went really quick though. The GuitarGuitar store linked to earlier has one left but they want far more than the others I've seen being sold for. Kinda off putting. By the way, what's that deal with some stores having an over-abundance of ES models with white pickguards and very few with black pickguards? I realise a pickguard can easily be swapped out...but what's that all about?

 

It's looking like a cherry 335 block or a second hand 355. I have to say, I'd rather go with a brand new one (and keep it in good condition) though, so the former might be my better bet. I'll have to wait until late July so I have a bit more time to think yet.

 

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMHO your 'fretting' (sorry, couldn't help myself) way too much over which you have no control of. Who can say what the resell value of the new -355s will be? That's something my heirs can worry about. When I buy a guitar, it's to enjoy the aesthetics as much as the play and sound.. and to keep. Should I run into hard times and need to sell, I'll take what I can get.

Bottom line, quite 'what-iffing' and buy what you truly desire. Otherwise you'll be forever longing for that 'other' guitar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi guys,

I agree on the fact that the resale price should not be affected by the

richlite fretboard, I'm pretty sure that guitars are a not good investment

they are usually sold half the price you paid for it, and by then you'll have many scratches on it!!

 

The only point here is : richlite or not ? I personally have Richlite on my 359 ( I did not know what Richlite was when I bought it)

and I now I miss the real ebony for aging reasons: the Richlite will stay like new for ever but have you ever seen the beauty of an old

ebony frteboard on a violin or gypsy guitar ??? just amazing

 

so if you still find ebony, choose it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I dont know if Richlite will devalue the guitar. Maybe it will.

 

Gibson have stated that they cant source any more ebony (political? probably).

 

 

I see the dilemma this way.

For investment. Stay safe & choose rosewood.

For durability. Choose richlite.

 

If you intend to play this guitar a lot, choose for feel. Personally, I would choose richlite over rosewood everytime.

 

What is a 355 anyway?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you 'everyone' for the kind replies.

 

I live in the UK so a pilgrimage to Wildwood is out of the question. I do like Greg Koch's Wildwood videos on Youtube though :)

 

Regarding the 345. The one linked to up above is only about 70 miles from where I live. It's a beauty alright. However, my budget is on stretching to £2500 max. Another £750 would have me in the poor house. I would never have considered spending £2000 on a guitar a year ago, let alone £3000+. Ouch!!! That 345 is right up my street though - if I could afford it.

 

Have a look at these 2:

 

http://guitarvillage.uk.com/product/viewall/16396/Gibson-1964-ES345-TDC-Figured-ES4564F15SCGH1-New-Sixties-Cherry-Incl-Case-and-COA.aspx

 

http://guitarvillage.uk.com/product/viewall/15250/Gibson-1959-ES345-TD-ES45H14HBGH1-New-Historic-Burst-Incl-Case-and-COA.aspx

 

Plus, try a bit of haggling, the worst that can happen is they say no. I have the same 345 that is shown in Cody78 link, got a pretty good discount by asking.

 

Paul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally, I wouldn't touch any Richlite fingerboard guitar. I appreciate that people who own them say they play very well but for me it is a matter of principle that an instrument fingerboard should be a traditional wood.

 

As to the 335 / 355 choice I would go 355 so long as it had a varitone but of course it'd have to be s/h given what I say above. The other thing is the fret height issue. The 355 has the fretless wonder style frets (very wide and flat) and they are not everyone's cup of tea by a long chalk. I find them ok (My Les Paul 25 / 50 has them).

 

I have always been a 345 fan because I love the varitone and the general look of the guitar. I went for a 59 reissue because I do like the big necks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for that guys.

 

Some good opposing views given there and I, to a large extent, agree with both sides (Aaarrggggghh). I have until the latter half of July to commit. I'll post back once I have it. I may have to check out the GuitarVillage folks though like advised.

 

Cheers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is a 355 anyway?

 

The origin of the B B King 'Lucille' model and until the introduction of that model, the 355 was top of the ES300 range.

 

Ebony fretboard

Bound neck and body

Block fingerboard inlays

Split diamond headstock inlay

Varitone and stereo outputs (originally)

Many had a Bigsby or Gibson Vibrola factory fitted.

 

Forum members please correct me if I am mistaken!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is gorgeous. Yesterday I was watching BB King Live in Africa 1974 and he was using that exact model but had taken the vibrato arm off. It's a shame BB decided on his Lucille to be all black or cherry because I like the walnut finish much more. It's also a shame his signature model pretty much replaced these too. This and the walnut 345 are my favourite ES 3** guitars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Find a used BB King with a ebony board. You wont regret it. Mine is the best guitar I have ever owned, next to my D-28.

 

There's one in the Mikki Gakki showroom in Osaka. Popped up the day after BB passed away. It's still there ;-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ebony is not rare. The black ebony may be rare but the brown and black ebony is in plentiful supply. Id buy a 335 with a stained black ebony fretboard but I wouldn't buy any guitar with Richlite unless it was a Mexi or Chinese $350 copy.

No way Im paying top dollar for a cheap fretboard. IMO if it has a Rchlite fretboard then it isn't a 335.Gibson needs to discontinue the 335 if they cant get the proper wood. Its getting to where guitar companies are producing their own fakes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ebony is not rare. The black ebony may be rare but the brown and black ebony is in plentiful supply. Id buy a 335 with a stained black ebony fretboard but I wouldn't buy any guitar with Richlite unless it was a Mexi or Chinese $350 copy.

No way Im paying top dollar for a cheap fretboard. IMO if it has a Rchlite fretboard then it isn't a 335.Gibson needs to discontinue the 335 if they cant get the proper wood. Its getting to where guitar companies are producing their own fakes.

 

Gibson have had legal difficulties with timber procurement in recent years - settled out of court so we don't know the details but it seems likely given the complete lack of Ebony in any models that there may be reasons other than wood shortage behind it.

 

That said, it's a stretch to suggest that an ES355 isn't 'real' because it has a Richlite fingerboard. It's still basically the same guitar made by the same people - in fact, even with the Richlite board the 355 of today is a lot closer to the spec of the original design than my Norlin era 355 with its three piece Maple neck, odd wide-waisted outline, F holes in the wrong place and split stereo outputs. It's Gibson's design and they're well within their rights to change things when it suits them - whether people continue to buy them is another matter.

 

Personally a Richlite board wouldn't stop me buying a 355 - I'd much prefer Ebony but if I tried a bunch of them and the best guitar happened to have a Richlite board, I'd learn to live with it.

 

Here's my funky, historically inaccurate but much loved '70s 355:

 

ES355.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The highly sought after pure black ebony is harder to get now. This all black ebony is the highest grade ebony.

However, there is plenty of the multi colored ebony which isn't as desirable though it is every bit as functional. Apparently Gibson thinks the plentiful multicolor ebony is so undesirable that Richlite is actually a more desirable fretboard materiel.

 

I have seen Taylor guitar mention they may start utilizing the multicolored ebony in the future but as of yet I have not seen any multicolored ebony on Taylor ebony fretboards. Is Taylor staining the multicolored ebony to a pure black color? I don't know. As of yet I haven't seen any guitar company use multicolored ebony. Taylor has said they have enough multicolored ebony in their Camaroon forests to supply the entire guitar industry.

 

I personally despise any composite or baked materiel on high end guitars. I regard this the same as paste diamond copies in jewelry.

 

It does not bother me to see composites on cheap guitars but on a $3000 guitar I don't want to see paste diamonds. I want real diamonds for $3000.

 

Apparently guitar companies are afraid that their employees may get shot by Homeland Security M16s so they are using Richlite for safety reasons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Apparently guitar companies are afraid that their employees may get shot by Homeland Security M16s so they are using Richlite for safety reasons.

 

Although Henry's account had a heavily armed swat team abseiling down from the roof like a guitar themed episode of 24, the photographic evidence looked rather more like a bunch of guys in polo shirts and beer bellies. Doesn't make for such a good story though!

 

It's purely speculation, but my guess is that Gibson have signed something in that out of court settlement strictly controlling what timber they can buy for a set period. I can't see it being the case that they're using Richlite in preference to staining striped Ebony, and just isn't believable that they can't source any Ebony at all. We're only talking a few models that aren't big sellers, and there must be someone in the trade Henry hasn't fallen out with who can supply a couple of hundred boards a year for ES355s, Les Paul Customs and a few jazz boxes. I might be way off base here, but it seems believable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

given the complete lack of Ebony in any models that there may be reasons other than wood shortage behind it.

 

 

Gibson are using ebony on some limited edition models and high end ones. They just brought out the '68, '74 and true historic '57 Les Paul Custom reissues which all have 1 piece ebony boards as seen here http://www.guitarguitar.co.uk/electric_guitars_detail.asp?stock=15051813175716

 

Also, I noticed that the L4CES seems to have gone back to an ebony fingerboard on their website and I think Super 400's and some L5CES's still have ebony boards.

 

Maybe they are just using up the ebony that they got returned and hopefully they are searching for a new source.

 

Sweet 345 btw [thumbup]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The use of Richlite is a convenience, not necessarily based on a world low supply of ebony issue. I have the richlite on my D-16-GT Martin and it's the same size as a D-18. Martin also charges less for the D-16. I wish Gibson would do this too. I'll say this: there is no difference in tone between these guitars, IMHO.

 

The ebony used on Taylor guitars' fingerboards are composed of a lot of colors, because they are not demanding the darker colors of ebony. This will preserve a few more trees. But Gibson would put the darker select versions of ebony on their guitars. I have three guitars with ebony on the fingerboards. They are not that special to play and since they don't affect tone, what does it matter? I have an old ES-347 which is the spittin' image of a vintage ES-355. The ES-347 has similar hardware as a BBking model, but has f-holes. The pearl inlays, size of the headstock and the binding on the body, neck, and headstock on the ES-355, are like deja vu to me, since the demise of the ES-347 in 1991. The ES-347 has an ebony fingerboard on it though, and was finished in violin sunburst. The biggest difference between the 355 and the 347 is the neck; a single piece of mahogany is used on the 355, and a 3 piece maple neck is used on the 347, same as on the BBKing model. Believe it or not I have a Fender Strat Ultra (1990) and a Yamaha SBG2200 (1986) that have ebony fingerboards.

 

I would get the ES-335, as it is a more valuable guitar in collectors' eyes. It is a more pure expression of the ES-series guitars, all of which use the laminate of Maple/Poplar/Maple. A Bigsby messes up all the collectability a 355 will ever have. And now it has no ebony fingerboard on it, like the original models. The addition of the Bigsby and richlite signal to me that they won't make this guitar for long. This attitude, the ES-355 as a limited edition, keeps the price high. Also, they painted this guitar, which says that there is a lower grade of maple used. The paint hides the grain and no care is taken to show any fine wood grain. Pluses are that is has no autotuners on it, but no ES model has it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The biggest difference between the 355 and the 347 is the neck; a single piece of mahogany is used on the 355, and a 3 piece maple neck is used on the 347, same as on the BBKing model. Believe it or not I have a Fender Strat Ultra (1990) and a Yamaha SBG2200 (1986) that have ebony fingerboards.

 

I would get the ES-335, as it is a more valuable guitar in collectors' eyes. It is a more pure expression of the ES-series guitars, all of which use the laminate of Maple/Poplar/Maple. A Bigsby messes up all the collectability a 355 will ever have. And now it has no ebony fingerboard on it, like the original models. The addition of the Bigsby and richlite signal to me that they won't make this guitar for long. This attitude, the ES-355 as a limited edition, keeps the price high. Also, they painted this guitar, which says that there is a lower grade of maple used. The paint hides the grain and no care is taken to show any fine wood grain. Pluses are that is has no autotuners on it, but no ES model has it.

 

Maple necks were standard for ES3*5s throughout the '70s, so at the time the ES347 was introduced the 355 also had a Maple neck. The 347 and Lucille essentially replaced the 355 from '81 until the limited run 355s started with the Centennial in 1994, and subsequent 355s have reverted to the classic era spec of Mahogany necks, but there are a lot of Maple necked 355s out there.

 

The 355 was always intended by Gibson to have a vibrato as standard, so having a Bigsby on this model is part of the classic spec for the model. The 355 is a niche product anyway, a lot less popular than the 335 but with a fan base of its own, and for many of us a Bigsby is part of the recipe that makes the 355 appeal over and above the 335. There are plenty of second hand reissue 355s with stop bars for those who hate Bigsbys but I don't see them commanding a premium over Bigsby models.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maple necks were standard for ES3*5s throughout the '70s, so at the time the ES347 was introduced the 355 also had a Maple neck. The 347 and Lucille essentially replaced the 355 from '81 until the limited run 355s started with the Centennial in 1994, and subsequent 355s have reverted to the classic era spec of Mahogany necks, but there are a lot of Maple necked 355s out there.

 

The 355 was always intended by Gibson to have a vibrato as standard, so having a Bigsby on this model is part of the classic spec for the model. The 355 is a niche product anyway, a lot less popular than the 335 but with a fan base of its own, and for many of us a Bigsby is part of the recipe that makes the 355 appeal over and above the 335. There are plenty of second hand reissue 355s with stop bars for those who hate Bigsbys but I don't see them commanding a premium over Bigsby models.

 

This version of the 355 is less guitar and Gibson will charge, because they can. This version doesn't have the Varitone, stereo wiring, and ebony fretboard. It looks like my ES-347 with a Bigsby slapped on it. So to further compare the my ES-347, it has a coil-tap to facilitate humbucker to single coil operation, and Ebony FB. So I ask is it worth $4500? I paid $1500 for my 347 in 1993; this version, with the mahogany 1 piece neck, is nearly triple what I paid. I don't hate Bigsby tremolos, but don't slap one on and charge out the wazoo for a guitar that doesn't match up to its past. I think it isn't worth it. I like painted finishes, but in this price range give me a vintage burst museum piece and show something that proves its a high-end Gibson. The 335 is just a state-of-the-art ES-thinline guitar, with no frills. I'd get the ES-335, and add a Bigsby, if I thought it was necessary. I also prefer the larger body of the 335 over the 339 or 359 as the amount of air displaced is noticeable, in a stiff laminated body.

 

MY ES-347:

 

IMG_1056-1.jpg

 

IMG_1052-1.jpg

 

IMG_1203-1.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...