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Is this a real ES335?


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Hello everyone,


I'm a newcomer on this forum and I came across it while trying to authenticate my new 1992 Gibson ES335.

I live in Indonesia and as you might imagine, ES335s aren't a common sight around here and when a mate of mine went back home to the States, I browsed all the online shops and music stores near his hometown to see if I could find something for him to take back on his return and, lucky me, I found this beautiful ES335 in Cherry Red which, based on the pics posted online, looked in mint condition. I got on the phone and after a few words with the owner of the shop (which seemed reputable enough from their website and from the owner's friendly manner) and my friend, the deal was made and all I had to do was sit back and wait for my friend to find his way back here 3 long and torturous weeks later.

Well, my friend got here and I finally opened the case to see that it was everything I had been dreaming of since early childhood. To look at, she is a beauty in every way and I actually found it hard to believe she was 18 years old. And that's when the doubts started creeping in. Since then, a few more things have come up to make me question the authenticity of this guitar and that's why I'd like to get the opinion of more experienced ES335 owners. Here are the points against it:


1. There doesn't seem to be any buckle marks and any of the natural wear expected on a guitar that old. Heck, even the pick guard looks brand new. There are no scratches or fading of the finish which is usually found on guitars which have been played for some years.


2. The inside sticker stating the serial number and model which should be located in the top f hole is missing.


3. One of my biggest disappointments was that the neck is not what I'd expected from an ES335. I have played on a few in the past and was always impressed with how easy they were to play. It was like putting your fingers on melting butter but this one feels more like and old EL Degas I had when I was a kid.


4. The other disappointment was the sound. Other ES335s I'd played on had such warmth to them on the neck PU and the rock and roll sound "par excellence" in the bridge PU. This one sounds shrilly all over. After messing about a bit I got something I could live with but it's still very harsh and more difficulty getting there than I'd had on previous ES335s.


5. The final thing is that for a guitar in such great physical condition, the price, although respectable, was a few hundred less than other similar guitars seen online.


Now what it's got going for it is that after the last few days browsing the net looking for answers many things point towards it being authentic. Here they are:


1. The binding on the neck has been chiseled to meet the frets.


2. The PU have a sticker that says "Patent Applied For" on the back.


3. The PU cavities aren't painted in black and you can see the word CHERRY stamped (or written) in the cavity for the neck PU. The bridge PU cavity has "XY 19 1992" stamped or written in it (the 1st digit has been cut out).


4. The one pot I could manage to see was XXXX9214 (the beginning of the number was soldered over)


5. The bridge has "Gibson Pat. No 2.740.313" stamped in the back.


6. The volute and open book look real when compared to online pictures of real ones and fake ones


7. After sending the serial number and a few pictures to Gibson, the replied that it was consistent with a Cherry Red ES335 made in 1992 (Note that they didn't say that it was)


8. Considering how strict the laws are about selling fakes in the US, I can't imagine an established vintage guitar shop knowingly selling a fake.


Thanks for reading this and I'd really appreciate any help you could give me to try and authenticate this guitar. Please let me know if there are any pictures I could post to help solve this riddle (and tell me how to post pictures - I can't figure this out).



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Looks real to me.


Someone could have kept it stored in its case for many years and/or carefully used it and therefore it wouldn't have any scratches.


My '68 Byrdland doesn't have a mark on the back of it.

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Someone could have kept it stored in its case for many years and/or carefully used it and therefore it wouldn't have any scratches.



That's what I thought but then wouldn't a guitar in such good condition fetch a lot more than below average on the market?



Email the serial number to service@gibson.com and we'll let you know.


I already have but all I was told after sending the pictures and serial number is that "This is consistent with a 1992 ES-335 model in Cherry". Are there any other things about the construction which could prove without a doubt that it is indeed not a fake? I've added a few detailed pictures showing its construction if that can help.




I'm sorry if I seem persistent but I've been in Indonesia for ten years and I have seen my share of Indonesian and Chinese made guitars which might look great on the surface but once you played them you just knew they weren't real. Furthermore, this being my first guitar purchased online might add to my paranoia.


Thanks for your help.

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Marauder - what a beautiful 335 !! That looks 100% real.


I don't know what accounts for your disappointment with the tone, or the neck, but maybe a setup and some new strings would be a good start, for the tone anyway. I hope it works out for you.

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Thanks for your comments. It's encouraging.


You are right guitarfish, she is absolutely gorgeous. New strings and setting up are on the way and I'll let you know if it changes anything to the wa she feels and sounds.


LPDelux, I don't think that buckle rash would add in any way to its attractiveness but a bit of wear would've gone a long way to quench my doubts.

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Well, with so many of you saying how real and beautiful she looks I might just have to get used to it and learn to appreciate it.


I nonetheless wrote to the shop who sold it to ask for a few clarifications and here's what I was given as an explanation to ease my doubts.


The guitar was bought for a good price in an estate sale as part of a big collection of unused guitars and this accounts for its perfect condition and low price.


Early 90s necks were the slim 60s profile and I might have previously played the fat 59 profile which would account for the huge difference I noticed.


I might also have played on more recent Burstbucker pickups, which are apparently more buttery than the PAF reissues on this one and this might account for the difference in sound.


With regards to the missing inside sticker, it's apparently not unusual for it to peel off and might be due to the climate in the southern states.


The folks at the shop were really kind and from what I can tell from their website and the quality of their service, they seem like a reputable, well-run shop so I guess I'll just have to either get used to this neck and sound or, as the owner of the shop said, put it up for sale.


If I do try to sell it though, I'd feel better (and I'm sure the buyer would too) if it had its sticker on the inside. Does Gibson issue replacement stickers?

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'92 is a great year for 335s. I recommend a good set-up to include proper P/U height.


After playing her for over a week, she's still giving me a hard time with the neck and the tone. Do you know exactly what pick ups were used on '92s? This is so unlike any sound I'd gotten out of 335s before.

I agree she needs a good set-up even though it was apparently done at the shop in the States before shipping. Problem is there aren't many capable guitar techs around Surabaya and wouldn't trust the few who actually do work on guitars.

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