Jump to content
Gibson Brands Forums
Sign in to follow this  
spender81

Gibson 355 new or vintage

Recommended Posts

First off i´m new to the world of 355´s!! All i know is that i´m in love with the tone of a 1961 es355

 

The neck pickups is so smooth is hurts....

 

The bridge pickups really shouts... it´s sooo F....ing perfect

 

Pleae listen to from the start until 4min 25secs.

 

 

 

My question is, is there any differnce between the early 60´s, 70´s and the newer 355´s???

 

Either i´ll buy a newer one or save for a vintage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what little I know, vintage -355s have a varitone and an ebony fingerboard. Modern -355s do not have the varitone and have a Richlite fingerboard. Those choices are up to your personal preferences. I have a modern -355 and she's a keeper.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, when you say you're "in love with the tone of a 1961"...is that a general statement or a particular guitar?

 

My experience, and opinion, is that falling in love with a particular guitar can be modern or vintage, and it's something to aim for. And sometimes being in love with a guitar is more important than price/value.

 

But if it's out of reach, either cause you can't afford it or the guitar belongs to someone else, it's not wrong to date other guitars to find the "one".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, if you "in love" with one already...buy THAT one! [biggrin]

 

But, if it's price, and availability is in question, there are a lot of new (or newer)

ones that I'm sure would fit the bill.

 

As far as pickup tones go, you may love those old ones, due to their age. Pickups do change

tone, over the years, as magnets lose some strength, often making them more "mellow," or

in some cases, more edgy (even brittle) sounding. That's not a bad thing, necessarily.

It will just depend on your own preferences. Also, the wood of the guitar dries out,

ages, and becomes more "mellow" in tone, as well. So, there are several possibilities,

for the tone you've already decided that you "love!" [biggrin]

 

As to fit and finish. Old, if you want the "relic'd" (mild or otherwise), new if you

want that look (and, a richlite fingerboard). In my experience, with both vintage and

newer models, the new ones are (on whole) more consistent, fit and finish wise. Doesn't

mean they're "better," just more consistent, in that area.

 

Best thing to do, is take some time, play as many as possible, old and new, and then decide.

 

Cheers, and good hunting! [thumbup]

 

CB

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, when you say you're "in love with the tone of a 1961"...is that a general statement or a particular guitar?

 

My experience, and opinion, is that falling in love with a particular guitar can be modern or vintage, and it's something to aim for. And sometimes being in love with a guitar is more important than price/value.

 

But if it's out of reach, either cause you can't afford it or the guitar belongs to someone else, it's not wrong to date other guitars to find the "one".

 

 

 

 

Yes i agree price or value doesn´t matter. For me it´s the sound, i´m not to bothered about the looks. I´m going to date a 2015 355 on monday, hope she sounds nice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, if you "in love" with one already...buy THAT one! [biggrin]

 

But, if it's price, and availability is in question, there are a lot of new (or newer)

ones that I'm sure would fit the bill.

 

As far as pickup tones go, you may love those old ones, due to their age. Pickups do change

tone, over the years, as magnets lose some strength, often making them more "mellow," or

in some cases, more edgy (even brittle) sounding. That's not a bad thing, necessarily.

It will just depend on your own preferences. Also, the wood of the guitar dries out,

ages, and becomes more "mellow" in tone, as well. So, there are several possibilities,

for the tone you've already decided that you "love!" [biggrin]

 

As to fit and finish. Old, if you want the "relic'd" (mild or otherwise), new if you

want that look (and, a richlite fingerboard). In my experience, with both vintage and

newer models, the new ones are (on whole) more consistent, fit and finish wise. Doesn't

mean they're "better," just more consistent, in that area.

 

Best thing to do, is take some time, play as many as possible, old and new, and then decide.

 

Cheers, and good hunting! [thumbup]

 

CB

 

 

Hmmmmmm well said. I´ve looked around here in Sweden and i can´t find a single vintage 355 for sale to try. I am going to try a new green 355 on monday. I´ve had a few newer Gbisons, one of them a 2001 beale street blue 335, it was really bad sounds wise, it looked and felt amazing, but the sound seemed dry and not much sustain.. so i sold it..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It took several years for me to pick my 335... They are all individuals. There are some very exceptional vintage 335's out there but IME not all of them are peaches. They may be worth more money and appreciate more quickly but they seem to vary in playability more widely than modern examples. Some play so-so just because they had the snot played out of them.

 

I personally have played some vintage guitars that couldn't shine a dime my '14 335 - but I have played two vintage models in particular that had the approval of the angels upon them! ;~)

 

One was an '82 that the neck pickup could make satan weep with joy. Another was a '68 that gave so much back I didn't tell my wife about it because I felt guilty! hahahaha

 

I am totally biased but 335's are the the BEST guitar! :rolleyes: I bought mine new because I do plan to keep this guitar for the rest of my playing days and prefer to wear it out myself.

 

Good luck! Play every one you can get your hands on! That is half the fun!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what little I know, vintage -355s have a varitone and an ebony fingerboard. Modern -355s do not have the varitone and have a Richlite fingerboard. Those choices are up to your personal preferences. I have a modern -355 and she's a keeper.

 

And for the self-same reasons I would not touch a modern 355.

 

No varitone and no ebony board means that it just looks a bit like a 355 but isn't one (really).

 

Just an opinion of course...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And for the self-same reasons I would not touch a modern 355.

 

No varitone and no ebony board means that it just looks a bit like a 355 but isn't one (really).

 

Just an opinion of course...

 

 

Well i´ll try a new 355 on monday just to give it a go even though all the Gibsons i´ve tried an old 335 vs a new, an old SG standard vs a new, a 76 les paul standard vs r9 and CC 30 Gabby, the vintage sounded better each and every time, but i have to give the new 355 a chance since i can afford one now otherwise i´ll have to save up for the real deal.. I beileve most new gibson´s are copies of old Gibsons, why build a copy of an old if they can´t build/make a new a better guitar??? or??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 355 was always available in stereo and mono versions with the early monos the most valuable vintage 355s.

 

355s vary a lot depending on era.

 

The neck profile is a big one. The very first guitars had a big '59 profile but went to a significantly shallower profile earlier than the 335 so there are very few big neck 355s. The profile did get a little thicker around '64 but then the nut size dropped from 1 11/16s to 1 9/16ths in 1965, remaining at that width until the late 70s although the profile changed a few times through the 70s.

 

The neck material also changes. Classic 355s have one piece Mahogany necks. At the end of the 60s there was a brief period of three piece Mahogany, then most 70s 355s have three piece Maple. To my ears the Maple necked guitars sound brasher and a little more Les Paul like than the classic 355.

 

The pickups follow the same lineage as other Gibsons but models with gold plating generally lagged behind nickel/chrome so you'll find gold PAFs long after the nickel version changed to patent numbers. A 50s or early 60s 355 will have PAFs, a early to late 60s will have Patent Nos, late 60s to late 70s will be T Tops.I've heard people claim to have Tim Shaws in their 345s and 355s from the very end of the run around 1980/81 but never seen one myself with Shaws.

 

Early 355s generally had Bigsby vibratos, switching to a side pull vibrato around '62 then to the lyre style by '64. Bigsbys were available as a special order throughout the 60s so later guitars with Bigsbys crop up quite a bit and there are a few early 355s with stop bars.

 

There are lots of small changes as well: shape (mainly the ears and waist), finish, size and placement of f holes, some monkeying with the centre block in the early 70s.

 

Generally the early 355s ('59 to '65) are some of the best guitars ever made - in fact I played a '60 this year that could well have been the best electric of any model I've played. Versions from the late 60s can be great if you don't mind the narrow nut. The 70s ones are quirky but generally they seem more consistent in quality than the high volume models and they have their own sound. I don't have much experience of the recent ones but they seem to be close to classic spec send I'll wager they're a lot closer in sound to an early 60s guitar than any 70s 355 was - richlite or not.

 

Here's mine, a '79 with some oddball features.

 

ES355.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well i´ll try a new 355 on monday just to give it a go even though all the Gibsons i´ve tried an old 335 vs a new, an old SG standard vs a new, a 76 les paul standard vs r9 and CC 30 Gabby, the vintage sounded better each and every time, but i have to give the new 355 a chance since i can afford one now otherwise i´ll have to save up for the real deal.. I beileve most new gibson´s are copies of old Gibsons, why build a copy of an old if they can´t build/make a new a better guitar??? or??

 

What I can't understand about Gibson is that they reissued the original ES345 (I have one) in 1959 and 1964 formats (in mono but with varitone. The stereo was always a useless gimmick imo) but don't do the same with the ES355. I know they had the "ebony problem" for a while but substitute ebonies are available and could be used.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well i´ll try a new 355 on monday just to give it a go even though all the Gibsons i´ve tried an old 335 vs a new, an old SG standard vs a new, a 76 les paul standard vs r9 and CC 30 Gabby, the vintage sounded better each and every time, but i have to give the new 355 a chance since i can afford one now otherwise i´ll have to save up for the real deal.. I beileve most new gibson´s are copies of old Gibsons, why build a copy of an old if they can´t build/make a new a better guitar??? or??

 

The "Vintage" one's tend to do that, for several reasons. Mostly, the drying out (natural aging) of the wood, and the slight degradation

of the pickup magnets, over time. They just get "mellower," overall, in tone. Try to keep in mind, that No "New" guitar is going to sound

quite as good, as it will 30 years from now, after lots of playing, and aging.

 

And, just a friendly reminder...try, to run any guitar you test, through the same amp, as you're used to. Your's, if at all possible!

New amps tend to sound "new" as well. So, if you can, bring your amp, for the guitar tone tests.

 

CB

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "Vintage" one's tend to do that, for several reasons. Mostly, the drying out (natural aging) of the wood, and the slight degradation

of the pickup magnets, over time. They just get "mellower," overall, in tone. Try to keep in mind, that No "New" guitar is going to sound

quite as good, as it will 30 years from now, after lots of playing, and aging.

 

And, just a friendly reminder...try, to run any guitar you test, through the same amp, as you're used to. Your's, if at all possible!

New amps tend to sound "new" as well. So, if you can, bring your amp, for the guitar tone tests.

 

CB

 

 

Also i think a lot of new guitars sound very dry and lifeless, as you clearly pointed out. I´m a vox man, i only use a AC30 and a 2x12cab with 70´s greenbacks to help with the thick sounding overdrive or distortion. Well tomorrow i will try a new green 2015 355 and if there´s any potential, otherwise i´ll continue saving and grab me 60´s 355.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 355 was always available in stereo and mono versions with the early monos the most valuable vintage 355s.

 

355s vary a lot depending on era.

 

The neck profile is a big one. The very first guitars had a big '59 profile but went to a significantly shallower profile earlier than the 335 so there are very few big neck 355s. The profile did get a little thicker around '64 but then the nut size dropped from 1 11/16s to 1 9/16ths in 1965, remaining at that width until the late 70s although the profile changed a few times through the 70s.

 

The neck material also changes. Classic 355s have one piece Mahogany necks. At the end of the 60s there was a brief period of three piece Mahogany, then most 70s 355s have three piece Maple. To my ears the Maple necked guitars sound brasher and a little more Les Paul like than the classic 355.

 

The pickups follow the same lineage as other Gibsons but models with gold plating generally lagged behind nickel/chrome so you'll find gold PAFs long after the nickel version changed to patent numbers. A 50s or early 60s 355 will have PAFs, a early to late 60s will have Patent Nos, late 60s to late 70s will be T Tops.I've heard people claim to have Tim Shaws in their 345s and 355s from the very end of the run around 1980/81 but never seen one myself with Shaws.

 

Early 355s generally had Bigsby vibratos, switching to a side pull vibrato around '62 then to the lyre style by '64. Bigsbys were available as a special order throughout the 60s so later guitars with Bigsbys crop up quite a bit and there are a few early 355s with stop bars.

 

There are lots of small changes as well: shape (mainly the ears and waist), finish, size and placement of f holes, some monkeying with the centre block in the early 70s.

 

Generally the early 355s ('59 to '65) are some of the best guitars ever made - in fact I played a '60 this year that could well have been the best electric of any model I've played. Versions from the late 60s can be great if you don't mind the narrow nut. The 70s ones are quirky but generally they seem more consistent in quality than the high volume models and they have their own sound. I don't have much experience of the recent ones but they seem to be close to classic spec send I'll wager they're a lot closer in sound to an early 60s guitar than any 70s 355 was - richlite or not.

 

Here's mine, a '79 with some oddball features.

 

ES355.jpg

 

 

ooooh wooow that it one nice guitar :-)

 

I have no choice but to continue saving for a 60´s 355, it´s my dream, so i might as well make it happen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ooooh wooow that it one nice guitar :-)

 

I have no choice but to continue saving for a 60´s 355, it´s my dream, so i might as well make it happen.

 

Thank you! I've had it for twenty years, back when 70s Gibsons were what you bought if you couldn't afford a second hand contemporary one. I can see all its faults compared to a 60s example and one of these days I'll add an earlier one to the collection but I love this guitar warts and all.

 

The good news if your heart is set on old wood is you can often find pretty good deals on '66 - '69 ES355s, sometimes not far beyond what you would pay for a new one particularly if you don't mind the odd changed part. You'll need to look into neck profiles and whether you can cope with the narrow nut - I don't mind it myself but I have pretty slim fingers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has the mono/stereo thing been discussed in this thread?

 

The problem in buying a late-60's/70's version is going to be the "stereo" thing. The stereo versions were built in much greater numbers than the mono versions. In fact I've never ever even seen a "mono varitone" 355. I always thought that the "stereo" feature of the 345 & 355 were their downfall. I wouldn't want to have to have, and rely on, the special cord, and hauling around two amps. I played a 335 for 20 years, and when it was worn out, I was lucky that the Nashville Custom Shop had built a few "Historic Series" mono/varitone 345 at the time (2000). I would not have "upgraded" to the 345 if only the stereo version had been available (new or used), I would have just replaced it with another 335.

 

Do not think that converting a stereo to mono is just jumping the output jack wires, it's not. Although the re-wire IS pretty straight forward (I'll post the schematics below), it requires completely removing the wiring harness and a pretty thorough re-routing and re-soldering of the wiring and wiring path. Not a big to those that do this kind of thing on a regular basis, but it is a major re-wire.

 

Stereo Varitone:

2859732516_1aee2750a9_o.jpg

 

Mono Varitone:

2862193610_b82184f436_o.jpg

 

Page copy from a '74/75 sales brochure:

18907714278_e1a7e9a781_o.jpg

 

My 2000 Historic Series ES-345, mono/varitone:

11369863976_408b914b58_o.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has the mono/stereo thing been discussed in this thread?

 

The problem in buying a late-60's/70's version is going to be the "stereo" thing. The stereo versions were built in much greater numbers than the mono versions. In fact I've never ever even seen a "mono varitone" 355. I always thought that the "stereo" feature of the 345 & 355 were their downfall. I wouldn't want to have to have, and rely on, the special cord, and hauling around two amps. I played a 335 for 20 years, and when it was worn out, I was lucky that the Nashville Custom Shop had built a few "Historic Series" mono/varitone 345 at the time (2000). I would not have "upgraded" to the 345 if only the stereo version had been available (new or used), I would have just replaced it with another 335.

 

Do not think that converting a stereo to mono is just jumping the output jack wires, it's not. Although the re-wire IS pretty straight forward (I'll post the schematics below), it requires completely removing the wiring harness and a pretty thorough re-routing and re-soldering of the wiring and wiring path. Not a big to those that do this kind of thing on a regular basis, but it is a major re-wire.

 

Stereo Varitone:

2859732516_1aee2750a9_o.jpg

 

Mono Varitone:

2862193610_b82184f436_o.jpg

 

Page copy from a '74/75 sales brochure:

18907714278_e1a7e9a781_o.jpg

 

My 2000 Historic Series ES-345, mono/varitone:

11369863976_408b914b58_o.jpg

 

I've always been curious about actual numbers of mono 355s from the '66 - '69 period: although I know conventional wisdom is that mono 355s were a rarity a suspiciously large number of them seem to come up for sale for a supposedly rare version. I follow 355s on Gbase, Reverb etc and I'd say maybe a quarter to third from that era are mono. The 70s are a different matter: the only mono ones I've ever seen were from 1979 and I own one - it's also the only non-varitone 355 I've seen in stereo.

 

That's one cool thing about the very late 355s, they have a different stereo circuit similar to the type you find in keyboards where the first socket is mono unless anything is plugged into the second. Admittedly I've used it in stereo about twice in 20 years, but it's a cool feature.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

That's one cool thing about the very late 355s, they have a different stereo circuit similar to the type you find in keyboards where the first socket is mono unless anything is plugged into the second. Admittedly I've used it in stereo about twice in 20 years, but it's a cool feature.

 

I agree with you about that. The Epiphone ES345 was wired in the same way with two jack sockets. If you are going to have stereo that is a better way to do it than that ridiculous split lead the original stereo 345s and 355s had.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know if I agree that vintage (or old) is always better than new as far as sound goes.

 

I do agree that individual guitars can and do get better with age.

 

Gibson has been making some VERY good stuff lately, that does compare favorable to the vintage stuff, even to the 60's stuff (which might be the best, in my experience/opinion).

 

Having said that, 335 style guitars from Gibson seem to vary a lot from one to another. I can't say I have had the opportunity to try a lot of vintage ones side by side to get a handle on how much certain years vary to EACH OTHER, but when trying new ones, I have often has two of the exact same guitar with COMPLETELY different sounds to them. I think the 335 style varies more than any other type I can think of.

 

I think it would be pretty easy to find a modern 355 that sounded better than a "vintage" 355 if one was looking, especially when considering personal taste.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I picked up a 2015 Memphis 355 last summer and was initially irked by some bad tuning stability and nut issues which over time have settled down as is usually the case with new Gibsons. Anyway, I can honestly say I love everything about this guitar and it sounds just absolutely incredible through either my Fender Deluxe or Vox AC15 amps - there is no way I would ever part with this guitar, it's definitely a keeper.

 

It's not the first Gibson semi I've owned or tried out but there is just something special about it that I can't describe which surprised me with it being a new model when traditionally I've been in the "buy an old Gibson" camp. Not any more, Gibson have is spot on with the 2015 Memphis 355 in my humble opinion, it feels like it's been with me for years already.

 

I hear grumblings about the Richlite fretboard but I feel very comfortable with it both sound wise and play-ability - it's smooth and precise. As with any guitar it's about making a bond with it, whatever it is. If it peels your banana then it's the one for you. Don't get hung up on tradition or vintage aspects, instead find the guitar that ticks your boxes and make you sound unique and different.

 

People rave about 335's being the best guitar ever and I certainly won't disagree that they are incredible guitars but for me the 355 takes it on another level. I can't contemplate playing without a tremolo these days, it just doesn't feel right and I'm always reaching for it subconsciously when it's not there not to mention the added sustain and boy oh boy is it a looker!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 355 was always available in stereo and mono versions with the early monos the most valuable vintage 355s.

 

355s vary a lot depending on era.

 

The neck profile is a big one. The very first guitars had a big '59 profile but went to a significantly shallower profile earlier than the 335 so there are very few big neck 355s. The profile did get a little thicker around '64 but then the nut size dropped from 1 11/16s to 1 9/16ths in 1965, remaining at that width until the late 70s although the profile changed a few times through the 70s.

 

The neck material also changes. Classic 355s have one piece Mahogany necks. At the end of the 60s there was a brief period of three piece Mahogany, then most 70s 355s have three piece Maple. To my ears the Maple necked guitars sound brasher and a little more Les Paul like than the classic 355.

 

Early 355s generally had Bigsby vibratos, switching to a side pull vibrato around '62 then to the lyre style by '64. Bigsbys were available as a special order throughout the 60s so later guitars with Bigsbys crop up quite a bit and there are a few early 355s with stop bars.

 

There are lots of small changes as well: shape (mainly the ears and waist), finish, size and placement of f holes, some monkeying with the centre block in the early 70s.

 

Generally the early 355s ('59 to '65) are some of the best guitars ever made - in fact I played a '60 this year that could well have been the best electric of any model I've played. Versions from the late 60s can be great if you don't mind the narrow nut.

 

Here's mine, a '79 with some oddball features.

 

ES355.jpg

 

Nice 355!

 

I'm looking at what is supposed to be a mid-60s 355 now, owned by a friend, very narrow nut,no varitone selector, and no paint (or binding?) in the F-holes. I see yours has white edging on the f-holes -- when did that feature begin?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The F holes on later 355s are bound in plastic rather than painted - you'll see white paint on early natural finish 335s but the look is different. I can't remember the exact year they started doing it but it's definitely late 60s. The F holes on 3*5s get larger in 1969 anyway and I wouldn't be surprised if the binding appeared then.

 

If the one you're looking at has a 1 9/16th nut and no binding in the F holes you're probably looking at late 1965 to 1968. The serial number will help pin down the date, also earlier guitars will have reflector knobs and later ones witch hat and the pots will have date codes on them that will usually show them to have been made within a year or so of the date of the guitar.

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...