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Gibson es-335 1969? Help!

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Hello everybody, I recently purchased a vintage Gibson es-335 in a shop in Holland. It was part of a big trade with multiple instruments. The guitar looks and plays great! I started noticing some strange things and I was wondering if you could help me.  The shop owner claims it's a 1967.  From the serial it should be a 1966 or a 1969 because Gibson duplicated the serial numbers in those years. Of course the bridge has been replaced sometime ago. The guitar has still the holes of the old original tailpiece bridge.  The pickups seems original (on one of them there is a pat number sticker). The finish is definitely old. What about the logo? It looks strange with the O super open and the S a bit sideways. I have found a pic of a 1969 that looks like that but without dot on the i. And also the serial number is odd. There is a oval circle around it... like it was stamped... strange. Did you ever see anything like that? Do you think the guitar is a legit 1966 or 1969 ES-335? Thanks for your help! Filippo

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There should be an orange oval "union made" label on the inside with the serial number as well. It almost looks like glue residue on the inside back (through the bass-side f-hole) where the label should be.

Witch-hat knobs look right for the period.

Pickup covers should be chrome.

Placement of the crown on the headstock is right for mid/late 60's.

Patent number pickups look right.

Logo looks right.

The only oddball thing is the impressed oval around the serial number, but it looks crudely done, so it was probably someone's bad idea sometime in the last 50 years.

Looks to be in generally really fine condition.

This should have the 1 9/16" (39.7mm) narrow nut width. Some may be wider--43 mm-- which would be a plus

By the serial number, more likely 1969, but as you say, they duplicate in this period.

I really love the translucent  cherry color. I have a '59 Historic ES-335 in cherry.

Edited by j45nick
added additional thought
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Hey Stratocaste.

Charlie over there @ OK Guitars might be of some help.

He's super friendly, super knowledgeable (no shade on J45nick) and always willing to talk 335s - especially the old ones!

http://www.es-335.org/

 

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It likely had nylon saddles when it was new. The serial number is odd. It looks almost as if it was engraved instead of stamped. The oval would have been engraved at the same time. Any chance of a headstock repair? They might have sanded it off & engraved it after.......

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5 hours ago, Grog said:

It likely had nylon saddles when it was new. The serial number is odd. It looks almost as if it was engraved instead of stamped. The oval would have been engraved at the same time. Any chance of a headstock repair? They might have sanded it off & engraved it after.......

Nylon saddles weren't used for that long. I had a 100%-original  '68 with regular metal saddles. 

The oval around the serial number is really crude, if you look at it closely. Not symmetrical at all.

The serial number is pretty evenly stamped, and is a bit deeper than you often see.. But it looks stamped to me--as it should be--and is reasonably consistent with ones I've had from the same period.  How well the serial number came out depended on how careful the machine operator was.

The lacquer checking runs right through the serial number and the oval, so both of those are old.

The oval around the serial number is a complete mystery. I've seen people engrave their social security number on the back of a headstock, and all other sorts of things as well, but never an oval to highlight a serial number. I guess the label is long-gone, which is a shame.

I'm not sure when they started using the double-line Kluson Deluxe tuners on these.

Charlie Gelber at es-335.org is a great resource, and helped me a lot when I first got into 335s about 10 years ago.

I would really, really like to know the nut width on this one, if the OP would check it for us. Is it 39.7mm , or 43mm? Or something else?

The case is modern, of course.

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This is an internet photo of a typical mid sixties to early seventies stamped serial #. Note the spacing & the differences in the “1” & “7”.  I checked my ‘67 ES-335 & the serial # looked the same as this example. There have been a lot of odd things surfacing during this period so who knows......

 

u8vv1dFh.jpg

Edited by Grog
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12 hours ago, Grog said:

This is an internet photo of a typical mid sixties to early seventies stamped serial #. Note the spacing & the differences in the “1” & “7”.  I checked my ‘67 ES-335 & the serial # looked the same as this example. There have been a lot of odd things surfacing during this period so who knows......

 

u8vv1dFh.jpg

That is a three-piece mahogany neck with the larger headstock, so it is a later guitar. It also has double-ring Gibson Deluxe tuners, not Kluson Deluxe single rings, so it is later. That serial number, coupled with the "made in USA" stamp, is from between 1970 and 1975.

The OP's guitar is almost certainly from between 1966 and 1969.

The serial number stampings on the back of the headstock vary significantly over time. Sometimes, they appear to have been stamped after the guitar was finished, sometimes before finish is applied. There also appears to have been more than one number-stamping machine in use because of differences in number style and depth of embossing, just as there were  differences in number style with the rotary ink stamps used earlier when numbers were stamped on neck blocks of acoustics, rather than embossed into the headstock.

Remember that production at Gibson ramped up dramatically in the mid/late 1960's, so practices changed rapidly as well.

I just checked photos of the serial number on the back of the headstock of the '68 ES 335-12 I sold a couple of years ago. It appears  to have been stamped before finishing, as the numbers are darker than the surrounding headstock, similar to the inked-in embossed numbers seen in earlier guitars.

Sometimes the numbers look darker because the filler stain used on the neck and body stays in the embossed numbers when it is wiped off, increasing the contrast compared to the surrounding wood. The guitar in the picture above appears to have used unstained (neutral) filler, which may be why the numbers are so light.

If it were not for the odd oval ring around the serial number on the OP's guitar,  I doubt that anyone would question its authenticity or age.  Since that could have been done anytime during the 50+ years of the guitar's life, it does not bother me much. I've seen a lot of oddball stuff over my 55 years of owning Gibsons.

This link contains some interesting photos of the various headstock stampings over the years, as well as a lot of other good information:

vintage Gibson info

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Thanks everyone for your help! 
I have an update: the nut is 3,9 cm so it would put the guitar in between 1966 and 1969 considering the one piece neck and no volute. 
I checked the finish with a black light: it all looks good but 1/2 of the back of the headstock. It looks black (touched up).

could it be that someone removed the “made in USA” diciture and changed the serial number to make look a guitar from the 70’s like one from the 60’s? 
Did you ever see a 335 from the 70’s with one piece neck and no volute? 

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2 hours ago, Stratocaste said:

Thanks everyone for your help! 
I have an update: the nut is 3,9 cm so it would put the guitar in between 1966 and 1969 considering the one piece neck and no volute. 
I checked the finish with a black light: it all looks good but 1/2 of the back of the headstock. It looks black (touched up).

could it be that someone removed the “made in USA” diciture and changed the serial number to make look a guitar from the 70’s like one from the 60’s? 
Did you ever see a 335 from the 70’s with one piece neck and no volute? 

This is a time to apply the theory of Occam's razor.

Aside the crude oval around the serial number, everything else about the guitar says this is a is a 1966-1969  ES 335. The crude etched oval is not typical of any Gibson, so it is almost certainly something someone did sometime in the 50+ years since the guitar left the factory.  Why would you go to the trouble to remove a 1970s serial number, stamp in a 1960s one, and then confuse the issue completely be etching a non-factory oval around it?

The simplest answer is probably the correct one.

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Gibson-ES-335-TDC.jpgI bought my 1966 ES-335 TDC (S/N 805807) in 1966.  Dah. 

Edited by dustymars
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dustymars,

Good for you!  

All I seem to see are changed pick ups, changed tuners, 43 holes drilled in the things, repaired necks - you actually took care of yours.

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22 hours ago, dustymars said:

Gibson-ES-335-TDC.jpgI bought my 1966 ES-335 TDC (S/N 805807) in 1966.  Dah. 

Dustymars, beautiful guitar in what looks like immaculate condition

Would you consider posting a close-up photo of the back of your headstock showing the way the serial number is embossed? It would be nice to compare yours, with perfect provenance, with the OP's guitar, which has been the subject of a lot of speculation.

Failing that, could you just comment on how the number style (size, shape of numbers, spacing of numbers) on yours compares to the OP's, particularly the 8, the 0, and the 7?

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8 minutes ago, j45nick said:

Dustymars, beautiful guitar in what looks like immaculate condition

Would you consider posting a close-up photo of the back of your headstock showing the way the serial number is embossed? It would be nice to compare yours, with perfect provenance, with the OP's guitar, which has been the subject of a lot of speculation.

Failing that, could you just comment on how the number style (size, shape of numbers, spacing of numbers) on yours compares to the OP's, particularly the 8, the 0, and the 7?


I’m pretty sure that my guitar is original but that the serial number is not. After checking the instrument with black light I’ve found out that the whole guitar looks good but 1/2 of the back of the headstock. It has been refinished and the serial re-stamped for sure 

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20 hours ago, j45nick said:

Dustymars, beautiful guitar in what looks like immaculate condition

Would you consider posting a close-up photo of the back of your headstock showing the way the serial number is embossed? It would be nice to compare yours, with perfect provenance, with the OP's guitar, which has been the subject of a lot of speculation.

Failing that, could you just comment on how the number style (size, shape of numbers, spacing of numbers) on yours compares to the OP's, particularly the 8, the 0, and the 7?

I'll have to dig it out of the closet, so be patient -- I'm old.  The serial number is not stamped on the head stock, only inside on that orange sticker.  But I will look since it has been a while.  There are some fine cracks in the front finish, so I will have to polish it a bit.  I will have to look inside so see how the numbers are stamped.  Hold on, I'll be back........

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On 6/18/2020 at 7:11 AM, SteveFord said:

dustymars,

Good for you!  

All I seem to see are changed pick ups, changed tuners, 43 holes drilled in the things, repaired necks - you actually took care of yours.

It is exactly as I bought it back in 1966.  Not one to change a work of art :)

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🧓  Well, shows you how an old guy's memory slowly goes away;  here is the back of the head stock with, you guess it, the serial number.  Also, just one shot of the front at the inside label:

865807.jpg

The stamp inside has a fuzzy '8' and large '7'

Edited by dustymars

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Tried to catch the cracks but they are slight: 

I haven't played it in several years due to arthritis and got tired of listening to myself.  One forgets tunes.  One loses interest. 

 

Sam-0010.jpg

Edited by dustymars

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Dusty,

Thanks for posting that. The headstock serial number on yours is quite different in appearance from that on the OP's guitar. I honestly don't know what is going on with the back of the headstock on his guitar.

Your ES 335  is gorgeous. I have a 1959 Historic ES 335 (made in Nashville in 2010) in heritage cherry.

I bought my first Gibson (used) in 1966. I still have that one.

So yes, I am old, too.

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4 hours ago, j45nick said:

Dusty,

Thanks for posting that. The headstock serial number on yours is quite different in appearance from that on the OP's guitar. I honestly don't know what is going on with the back of the headstock on his guitar.

Your ES 335  is gorgeous. I have a 1959 Historic ES 335 (made in Nashville in 2010) in heritage cherry.

I bought my first Gibson (used) in 1966. I still have that one.

So yes, I am old, too.

I was replacing my old 1957 Les Paul "SG" or "Special" or whatever it was and went to a big guitar shop in Ft. Worth, Texas.  I really wanted the sunburst color, but they were out and I was short on time so got the red one.   Guess if Chuck Berry had one I could too 🙂 

Here is a URL for much info on Gibson guitars:  http://www.guitarhq.com/gibson.html

Edited by dustymars

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