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2018 ES-330 and 2019 VOS 59' ES-330 : why so different ?!


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Hey guys,

I have to say that's my first post here but i'm so puzzled by my last Gibson experience that I need your lights !

I plan to get an ES 330  (just the perfect mix of a jazz/blues/slide guitar to me but that's not the point here !), and  this afternoon I played two of them : a 2018 sunset burst and a 2019 VOS 59' vintage sb.

Same amp, same settings (eq, tone, volume etc..), same cable...In brief, exactly the same conditions..Besides the neck profile (rounded late 50' for the VOS 59'  -really fantastic- and rounded C for the 2018 -very good too but a little less for my long fingers...) and some cosmetics things, correct me if I'm wrong but electronics (MHS P90 etc..)  and woods are supposed to be the same, right ?

If yes, why so huge difference with the sound ?! The 2019 VOS 59' was sounding like a great fully hollow body (better than the casino elitist tested at the same time, but as ever , there are as many opinions as ears ), but the 2018 was VERY different, interesting too but  a  very dark tone and lower output level ...Usually I like dark tone but I like it when I'm the artisan of the darkness !That was not the case here...

I asked the staff of the shop, they told me that's normal , VOS 59' is a better level instrument and the pickups are differents...They were very cool to let me play four guitars during 1h30, I didn't want to contradict them but all my research let me think that's it's globally the same guitars except the neck profile...

So ?

Am I wrong  ?

Different electronic ?

Different MHS P-90 ?

A  isolated wiring trouble on the model played ? Dying Pickups ?

I need your knowledge guys...

Thanks for reading  !

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yeah , a great guitar but weird experience...

At the moment, no answer of the Gibson Support, and I have to decide quicly which one I get (limited-time deal). Of course I could get another 2018  (2018 is far less expensive that the 2019 VOS 59' ) in another shop that's not very fair, and maybe it's just the 2018 specs that produces this dark tone...


But how ? same woods, same MHS P-90 and same MTC plus according to all the websites I've read !


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Gibson has been less forthcoming with detailed specs the last couple years, so it is harder to compare exact specs.   Yes, pups are supposed to both be MHS, but w/o exact specs, hard to compare.  Both should have Memphis Tone Circuits, but the Reissue specifically specs matched 550 pots and bumblebee caps, unknown in the 2018.

But I personally expect most of the difference you observe is the variation from guitar to guitar, even within the same model.  335s are known for having a relatively wide variation and I'd think the 330s would be similar.  Thus the importance of actually playing them before you buy if at all possible (or have a good return policy).  Not so much a case of getting a bad one as it is that some are just better than others. 

I also believe the reissues get better wood and more attention to detail, things that generally don't show up in specs.  Non-reissues rarely beat reissues.  But still a lot comes down to preference anyway.  And the neck profiles are usually very subjective.  


Edited by Wmachine
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Even when comparing multiple examples of the same model, I've typically found significant differences in sound.  That was the case when I purchased an '06 ES-335, '09 ES-339, and '12 ES-330 VOS.

In this case, you are comparing two different models, so it would seem even more normal to expect noticeable differences in tone.  Especially in the world of hollowbodies, it's a scenario that's rather similar to acoustic guitars, in that no two pieces of wood are exactly the same, and to a certain extent, the final tone will depend on each individual body.

Just go for the one that works best with the type of music you enjoy playing. 

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