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1973 Gibson ES-335 Value


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Hello all,

I need to give a friend some advice and want to get some others' educated opinions. He has a red 1973  ES-335TD. I've had it my house cleaning it up and doing a set-up. The first thing I discovered is that it has a headstock repair. Talking to my buddy, this was probably done in the 80s, since his brother bought the guitar late-80s and it was already repaired. (I didn't think you could break off a headstock with a volute!!!). Secondly, the frets are shot. I was able to get it set-up and the action respectable with only a few dead spots. But the frets are ground down to nothing. Thirdly, someone let some artists sign the back (Eric Johnson, Steve Morse, and one I can't read). Fourthly, someone engraved their initials in the trapeze tailpiece (crudely). Overall, the body and neck are in pretty good shape. The pups appear to be the original t-tops, but I didn't (and don't want to) pop the covers. The harness appears to be all original. The tuners were changed out with the same Gibson Deluxe tulips, and the original tuners are in the case. The bridge and saddles might be replacements as well. The guitar sounds fantastic, and is super light (barely 7 lbs). but it is what it is.

My buddy wants to know what's it's worth. I feel like no more than about $1,500, and even that seems high, but I don't want to discourage him. It seems like in great condition you can pick up these early-70s for about $4k. If a headstock break knocks it down about 50%, then with the frets and other blemishes, it decreases the value even more. What do you all think? 

Thanks much!

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I think your assessment is about right.  With all the replaced parts, headstock repair and no frets it would cost a lot to get it back to A-1 shape.  Not that it can't be a really good guitar to play as it is, but not very high resale value in it's current state.  Need provenance to verify the autographs, and the carving into the tailpiece is a real bummer.

Edited by Twang Gang
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I think I’d get a Fret job, have the Neck repair checked & corrected if need be by a quality Luthier. Finally, have the signature professionally removed & touch up the initials by an expert Finisher… Then have it completely Set up by someone who knows what they’re doing…

Then sell it or keep it…

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Absolutely what he just said.   Except a new tailpiece might be easier and cheaper than removing those initials.

Re headstock; these days people are asking lots of $$$ for guitars of that age, even with a headstock repair. 

The signatures....hmmm....nah.

Edited by jdgm
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