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TEMAS

Narrow Nut ES-335s - Late 60's Vs Norlin

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Hi There.

Last year, when searching for an acoustic archtop,  I found a '67 ES-125 and it has been a complete game changer. I'm a composer and producer working in TV, but my gear budget has to be shared between lots of different types of equipment, so I've never really been in the position to even consider vintage and expensive guitars. Now that I have one, when I play my other guitars I find them lacking.

The neck profile of the '67 ES-125 is more comfortable than anything I've ever played. I have very small hands, which are quite weak due to historic sports injuries. The intonation is absolutely perfect across the entire fretboard and the tone of the aged wood is very enchanting. Its probably the first guitar that I've ever found a complete joy to play and that hasn't frustrated me.

Consequently, my current ES-335 search is restricted to 1965 - 1969 and Norlin (1970 - 1979). And my dilemma is - should I pay about 1.75 times more for a pre-Norlin? What am I actually gaining buying a pre-Norlin? What is the actual issue with the volute? Will there be tone and intonation issues? Part of me thinks pre-Norlin is a better investment, but I'm worried that the late '60s ES-335s are already over inflated and I've missed the investment opportunity. Even though I'm looking for a guitar to keep, if I were to sell it on again in a few years, how many people are there really in the UK like me who would consider spending £4.5k - £6k for any guitar? I see pricey Gibsons hang around on eBay and Reverb for months, even years. Maybe a £2.5k - £3.5k Norlin is actually the better investment.

Any wisdom much appreciated.

 

Edited by TEMAS
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The problem with those guitars that hang around on eBay and Reverb is that the seller is asking too much. Yes, vintage instruments in exceptional condition deserve a premium, but some sellers are just dreaming when their guitars have issues.  Vintage guitars are like any - some are a joy to play and some are not. You won't know until it's in your hands for 30m. For me, if I enjoy playing it, it's worth paying a premium. But that's not an investment decision. That's a guitar player decision. If investment is your top priority, you have to invest in those guitars that have always been and will continue to be popular. And because they are popular, you will pay a premium. But then you get back that premium when you sell... assuming the market doesn't go south. That can happen and does happen periodically. Just wait it out if you can.   Thorne

Edited by thornev
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I think all you can do is find as many as you can and try to play them.  There were great mid-sixties 335s and great Norlin era 335s, there were also some that were not so great.  You just need to find one that feels right to you and it really doesn't matter which year it was built.  Guitars are not great investments overall so that shouldn't be a primary consideration - you might find one that goes up in value, you might not.  The future of the guitar market is fickle at best.  Just try to find one that you enjoy playing as much as the 125 you found and the value will be in the playing and making music with it.

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Hello Temas,

I have a 1969 ES-335 and I love it. I also had a 2008 Custom Shop Larry Carlton signature model which is based on Larry's 1968 335. I also have small hands and like the thinner neck. The Larry Carlton has the exact neck profile as my '69.  You can probably get a used one of these for half the price of a vintage. Good luck in your search. I put both of mine up on Reverb and decided to keep the one that didn't sell.  I got $3300 for the Carlton in absolute mint condition. I've seen them less than perfect for $2500 or so. I was trying to get $5500 for the '69. Good luck in your quest,

JO'C

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