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Gibson ES-339 finish or wood cracks ?


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Hi, I've got my eyses on a ES-339 2011 Custom Shop.

When asked, the seller told me that there are two small cracks in the finish near the studs (see pictures below).

I'm wondering, how to check if it's just the nitro finish cracking or if it's the wood and if it might indicate some potential major problem ?

I've read a lot of posts on this forum on finish cracking, but none of them around studs. And as studs are fitted tight, there's strain on the wood and I was wondering if it could lead the wood tto crack 

PS : in case it would be relevant, the vendor is asking 2400$, which according to my reasearch seems in the market and not suspiciously low.

Thank you for your expertise and for your time !




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  • Yoan changed the title to Gibson ES-339 finish or wood cracks ?

Hard to tell from photos, but I don't blame you for being concerned.  Even if a wood crack, it might remain very stable, but why spend that much money on a relatively new guitar with a cosmetic issue like that?  It could make it difficult to get your money back out of it should you decide to sell it.

Here's another I just came across via a web search.  $100 more, but maybe it's worth it?  https://reverb.com/item/32850923-gibson-es-339-2011-red

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Looks like finish cracks, and I wouldn't be too concerned about them.  What does concern me is the price of both the one you're looking at, and the one Jim provided a link to.  They both seem quite high to me.

When the ES-339 was released in 2007, the going price was $1799.  In 2009, the price jumped to $1999, but I found a brand new one at the old price & also got 15% off (easy to do), so it ended up being $1529 out the door with case & all the CS goodies.

By the time 2011 rolled around (the year of the two noted above), the price was still $1999.  In 2012, the price took another jump to $2299.

I haven't followed the 339's new pricing since 2012, but asking $2400-2600 for a used 339 sure seems like a lot to me.  At that price, you're pretty much into used 335 territory, and 335s have always sold for more than 339s, both new & used.  Don't get me wrong, the 339 is a great guitar & I still love mine, but at that price used, I'd either buy a 335 or keep looking for a better deal.  I'm virtually certain I've seen 339s go for considerably less on Guitar Center's used online inventory, but a high percentage of their stores are currently closed due to the coronavirus, so those listings do not appear at this time - it might be worth waiting.  

Hope it all works out well & you find a good one!


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Thank you guys, my bad about the price I forgot to mention it’s Canadian dollars, so the price is more 1680$US, which seems much more In the price range.

Also is it normal that the strings are installed backwards on the tail piece ?

thanks !

Edited by Yoan
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That price makes more sense, that's a pretty good price for CAN (I'm in Montreal). I don't know a ton about 339's but stringing the tailpiece wrap-style is personal choice and is fine either way. Wrapped that way with the tailpiece right down on the deck tends to reduce the string break angle over the saddle, making the strings more slinky/bendable due to decreased tension. Personally I prefer this method. A little bit odd that your tailpiece doesn't have recessed holes for the string anchors to fit inside, but again I know sh1t about 339's, I have a 137 Classic. Cheers and good luck in your search. FWIW here's a 339 Studio in Manitoba...https://guitarscanada.com/index.php?threads/gibson-memphis-es339-studio.252776/

Edited by alphasports
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On the "recessed holes for the string anchors to fit inside": It's not uncommon when top-wrapping like this to slide an old ball-end string anchor onto the new string as a spacer so that when you wrap the new string over the top the extra winding at the bottom of the string remains inside the tailpiece rather than wrapping over. A few reasons for this: it's easier for the new string to wrap over, the sharp bits of the string end aren't under your palm, and you end up not chewing up your tailpiece quite so much.

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Thank you,

I case it might be of help to someone else, I've also ask my luthier, and here is his feedback :

" Given the location of the crack near both studs it's probable that the wood cracked but it's hard to tell.
According to me, the insturment is structuraly fine, since there's a center block on this model I'd be very surprised that you need to glue.
I could do some touch up and repair for 100$, but honnestly I'd recommend leaving it as is and negociating the price a bit. 
I case you were to sell it back then you could bring it to me to get it cleaned."

Take care !

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