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Lars-Christian

ES-330

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Hello everybody!

 

I'm new to the forum, as a participating member anyways, and I signed up hoping to get some more information on the guitar specified in the title, the ES-330. I just finished reading The Gibson Electric Guitar Book (Walter Carter), but it didn't have much information on it. I've Googled around as well, but other than the mandatory Wikipedia-page it's somewhat difficult to get a good overview of the guitar. Plus I'm looking for personal opinions as well, so I thought this would be as good a place as any to ask!

 

I'm very much a hobby-player, and I don't aspire to ever advance from that stage. I play music to express and relax myself, and for me the guitar is the obvious choice. My fascination with the ES-330 started a few years back when I realized that was (one of) the guitar(s) Elliott Smith (if you don't know him, look him up!) used to play. And as I said, I've been loooking more closely at it lately, and I've more or less come to the decision that this is the guitar for me.

 

I usually play unplugged, but I like the option of plugging it in. I rarely play very loudly, so the drawbacks of the hollowbody shouldn't be a bother for me either. From what I've read and heard, it sounds brilliant acousticly. If anyone who actually have it would like to give me input on that I'd appreciate it!

 

More information about the model would also be appreciated.

 

- How many were made?

- Have there been any reissues?

- What are the different model designations and what do they indicate? (I'm only aware of T and D, thinline and two pickups)

- What does this guitar normally go for these days?

- Are there any other guitars that compare to the 330 for the usage I specified above? For instance the Epi Casino, old and / or new?

- How's the more known 335 compared to the 330 acoustic?

 

I think I'll stop there, and I'll just add on any further other questions I might have at a later point! [smile]

 

EDIT: One more thing! (whoa, Steve Jobs where did you come from?) The neck length -- I know that at one point they made the neck longer. How do the ones with the longer neck compare to the originals? I'm a relatively short guy, and subsequently I have "short" arms, and I rarely play on the highest frets, so I'm assuming the "shorter" neck would be just fine for me.

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The 330, although fully hollow, is by no means an acoustic guitar, and will sound pretty darn thin unless plugged in. "Brilliant acoustically"? I don't think so. They are pretty light, though, which is a good thing - substantially lighter than a 335, which has a solid center block (it also has humbuckers). I had a 330 many years ago, and it was a wonderful instrument. There aren't many P90-loaded thin hollowbodies out "there", but they certainly have their fans, especially the less-expensive Casino (not to mention the Beatles connection).

 

The Epiphone Casino (I'm talking about late model Asian ones, not the sought-after 60s Kalamazoo ones), which comes in a few flavors and price points, is a fine, less-expensive alternative, and I believe the Elitist model even has Gibson USA pickups.

 

Another forum member may be selling a 1970 long-neck 330 - let me know if you might be interested.

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I have a ES-330 and an Epiphone Casino.

 

For unplugged practicing, the 330 is the hands down winner.

 

Keep in mind they are shallow body archtops, so the tone is going to be on the thin side and not very loud, but the 330 sounds much richer and fuller than the Casino.

 

I suspect it's because the 330 is made with better wood and finished with nitro lacquer while the Casino is finished with poly.

 

While it doesn't sound as rich as a flat top, compared to other arch tops it sounds surprisingly nice.

 

As you can see from the pictures, the long neck (Gibson) isn't really longer, it just joins the body at a different fret.

 

GuitarCousins2.JPG

 

BTW, the Epiphone is a 2001 Korean/Peerless model, and the Gibson is a 1970 Kalamazoo model (which I could be convinced to part with for $5,000)

 

If you want to play acoustic, don't even think about the 335, unplugged it sounds closer to a solid body electric due to the block of wood down the center of the body.

 

Notes ♫

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I have a 67' ES-330, hich still plays great. An ES-330 is not as big as a 335, as mentioned in a previous post, they are lighter too.

 

Gibson did make a re-issue, don't know if they are still being made. Being hollow(no center block)and with the P-90 pick-ups you can't get volume out of it compared to a 335. The 335 will be quiter also due to the humbucking pick-ups.

 

I get my 330 out once in awhile and play it, it feels really good holding it. I also have an ES-335 and a ES-345.

 

All great guitars.

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Good posts so far have answered most questions....

 

No doubt it's a great electric guitar with many forum members and me 'in love'

 

I have an ES 335 and an ES330 and they are interesting for their similarities and differences....early on the ES330 and Casino were identical 'badge' guitars

 

My first aural experience, apart from the ubiquitous Beatles, was jazz player Grant Green who made his vibrant tone with an ES330

 

And later I read that BB King used one as well as Andy Summers....

 

V

:-({|=

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Thank you all! Some wonderful replies already, and most of my questions have indeed been answered.

 

I guess I should start by clarifying what I meant when I said I wanted it for its acoustic abilities. I'm not intending to replace my acoustic flattop with it, and I hope to one day add a Gibson fully acoustic to my list of guitars. I do however like to practice unplugged, even currently with my LP Studio, and that's why I think the 330, as a true hollowbody, would fit me well.

 

Unfortunately this purchase is still a way down the road for me, as I'm still a poor student, albeit on my last year. So I'm hoping to save up some money while working this summer, and maybe by the turn of the year or some time into '12 I'll be able to seriously start looking around for it! I may even part ways with Studio to speed up that process, but I've heard that you never sell your first Gibson, so we'll have to see about that.

 

Some additional questions. I've seen the letter L tagged on the to specifications of it (i.e. 330TDL or something like that) in listings -- What does that indicate? A bigger version?

 

I've also been looking at the "new" 339 -- How does that compare, especially unplugged? I'm guessing it doesn't, as from what I can tell it's built off the mould of the 335? What about weight and size? Part of the reason I'm drawn to the 330 is because it's both thinline and hollowbody, and lighter than for instance the 335, as Rayba mentioned

 

How much does a Casino Studio (and the Elitist) go for these days? I'm thinking it might be a good "starting point" towards the 330, as I'm unlikely to get my hands on a 330 before I actually buy one. I'm in Norway, and I don't suspect there are many of them floating around here.

 

The Wiki-article on the 330 mentioned that the post-69 with its longer neck is more prone to collapse under stress. Does anyone have any thoughts about that?

 

And yes Versatile, you are correct. Pretty much the only mention of the 330 in the book I mentioned in the OP was a picture of BB King playing one!

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Hello Lars-Christian and welcome to the forum. Sorry for my english because I´m from Spain.

 

The Gibson es-330 was originaly made between 1959 and 1973. In the begining it was thought like a budget 335 (no central block and P´90s instead the PAFs) but soon a lot of great players began using them like Grant Green,Emily Remler, Terry Smith, Ernest Ranglin, Eddie Duran, B.B. King(he used to play one in the early sixties), Howling Wolf, George Harrison and John Lennon(both used the 330´s "brother" the Epiphone Casino)... Etc.

Until 1968, the 330 had another difference with the 335, Its fingerboard joined the body at the 16th fret.. From 1968 to 1973 at 19th (just like 335).

 

According to Adrian Ingran (in his great book "the Gibson 335, its history and its players)the shipping total were:

 

totals from 1959 to 1973

 

ES 330 TC-----------37 214 179 152

ES 330 TD---270 1198 542 496 521 1231 1318 2000 2335 1223 518 169 147 90 27

ES 330 TDN-79 215

ES 330 T-----349 772 267 224 151

ES 330 TN----82 83

ES 330 TDC------98 645 734 652 693 1067 1151 2563 643 515 124

ES 33 TDW-------------------------------------------------------110

 

TD means 2 pickups and sunburst, T means just one pickup, N means "natural finish", C means "cherry finish", D means 2 pickups. I don´t know the meaning of "W" ¿can anybody help?

 

As you can see, the es 330 was a Gibon´s great sales succes! In fact, some years (1966 for example, the beatles??)the 330 had best sales than the 335...

I disagree with some opinions... The Gibson es 330 has a great unplugged sound (obviously not comparable with a Martin D28, you know..) The sound unplugged is very rich, warm and jazzy (especially if you use flat wound strings like I do) and I love to play jazz chord unplugged by night at home.. Is very relaxing for me.

 

When you plug the guitar you can enjoy with one of the best and more versatily pickups in the world.. The p,90s. The bridge sound is twangy and very rocker with some overdrive, the neck pickup is mellow, warm and very useful for blues and jazz. The middle position is great for rhythm and for reverb, delay or tremolo sounds.. Obviously the only trouble you can get with an ES330 is the feeback if you play close to your amp or with high gain (no central block of maple). It´s not a guitar for hardrock or heavy of course but, for me is one of the best blues-jazz guitars.

 

As I know, there has been two reissues of this guitar. One in 1997-98 (I don´t know how many were made...) and another one just now, begining in 2008... I bought one of these (they are made in the memphis custom shop and you can get one in antique red, sunburst or beale blue). I´m very happy with mine..

This is my guitar. I hope this information can help you.

P3210006.jpg

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Thank you all! Some wonderful replies already, and most of my questions have indeed been answered.

 

I guess I should start by clarifying what I meant when I said I wanted it for its acoustic abilities. I'm not intending to replace my acoustic flattop with it, and I hope to one day add a Gibson fully acoustic to my list of guitars. I do however like to practice unplugged, even currently with my LP Studio, and that's why I think the 330, as a true hollowbody, would fit me well.

 

Unfortunately this purchase is still a way down the road for me, as I'm still a poor student, albeit on my last year. So I'm hoping to save up some money while working this summer, and maybe by the turn of the year or some time into '12 I'll be able to seriously start looking around for it! I may even part ways with Studio to speed up that process, but I've heard that you never sell your first Gibson, so we'll have to see about that.

 

Some additional questions. I've seen the letter L tagged on the to specifications of it (i.e. 330TDL or something like that) in listings -- What does that indicate? A bigger version?

 

I've also been looking at the "new" 339 -- How does that compare, especially unplugged? I'm guessing it doesn't, as from what I can tell it's built off the mould of the 335? What about weight and size? Part of the reason I'm drawn to the 330 is because it's both thinline and hollowbody, and lighter than for instance the 335, as Rayba mentioned

 

How much does a Casino Studio (and the Elitist) go for these days? I'm thinking it might be a good "starting point" towards the 330, as I'm unlikely to get my hands on a 330 before I actually buy one. I'm in Norway, and I don't suspect there are many of them floating around here.

 

The Wiki-article on the 330 mentioned that the post-69 with its longer neck is more prone to collapse under stress. Does anyone have any thoughts about that?

 

And yes Versatile, you are correct. Pretty much the only mention of the 330 in the book I mentioned in the OP was a picture of BB King playing one!

 

I think that the L stands for 'Long' neck (a misnomer, as Notes stated, but one which seems to have stuck). Certainly a portion of the recent reissues, if not all of them, follow the 1969 neck specs. As you can see, Dylanita's is one of these reissues. I've also heard about the dangers of that neck, but having played a Korean Casino for many years, I have to say that the extra accessibility is probably rather nice.

 

I imagine that the Gibson compares very favourably with the Epiphone. The Gibson P90s are likely to be rather better than their Epiphone equivalents, given their respective reputations. Certainly my Casino's pickups don't offer the legendary bite and power that P90s are supposed to have. Also the Gibson will have a proper 1 11/16 inch nut, while Casinos, at least from the mid-1990s have a very narrow neck.

 

I also do a lot of electric practice unplugged, and it is true that the fully hollow body of the Casino/330 design gives you more resonance in such situations than other guitars. That said, my semi-hollow Howard Roberts Fusion still has plenty of volume for unplugged practice, and it has much better feedback control when plugged in. And a fuller-bodied semi like an ES 175 would surely give you even more acoustic volume. But none of these guitars could be said to produce a really pleasing acoustic sound per se. I wouldn't want to spend the sort of money that an ES 330 will set you back just for playing unplugged - it will only really come into its own through a nice amp. Is the choice of an ES 330 determined by the fact that your playing style is essentially adapted to electric? Or by an aversion to fuller body depths? Because if you were looking for a high end instrument with a truly great acoustic sound and the ability to plug in on occasion, I would suggest buying a J45 or similar. J45s are short-scale like a Gibson electric, as bona fide acoustics they sound great acoustically, and they come with a transducer pick-up fitted. String bends and the like are easier on short-scale acoustics than on your average dreadnought, so more electric stylings are possible. Some forumites claim to be able to make theirs sound very close to electrics when plugged in with the right effects and amp. They'll probably cost you less than an ES 330 as well. Given your original post, this is the guitar that came to my mind.

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More great posts full of useful information! I'm really starting to appreciate this place [smile]

 

To Dylanita, thanks both for digging up and transcribing the numbers, and for sharing your thoughts on the guitar. You really confirmed and elaborated much of what I've already heard about it.

 

And I must say your guitar looks like an absolute peach! I did look at the Memphis Custom Shop's website and I couldn't find it listed anymore. Would you mind sharing how much it set you back, and also, is it correct to assume that this one that I found on Musician's Friend is the same one?

 

As for Mojorule, I really appreciate your guidance in finding the "right" guitar, and I'll try to answer your questions, and we'll see if I'm not one step nearer in narrowing it all down to that one guitar!

 

You asked if "my choice of an ES 330 determined by the fact that your playing style is essentially adapted to electric? Or by an aversion to fuller body depths?" It's actually a tough question to answer. On the surface I would say that my style, and the direction I want to go in as I further develop it, is the opposite of electric. I like to play indie and folk-inspired music, which is often based around chords and fingerpicking, and not so much typical electric aspects such as solos and all that.

 

I guess the main reason why I'm drawn towards the 330 is because it's a thinline and hollow, thus somewhat combines two aspects that I'm looking for. I have a "cheap" Ibanez (by this forum's standards, I'd assume anyways!) acoustic in addition to my LP Studio, but often times I find myself practicing unplugged on the Studio instead because I feel more comfortable playing it, and I'd attribute much of that to the depth of it. It simply sits better with me, especially over longer periods. I usually play sitting down, and as I mentioned earlier, I'm a fairly short guy (5'8") so I'm fairly certain that the depth is what makes the difference.

 

That said, my father's got a Gibson DSM-CE (you know, one of those Canadian made), and it's hands down the most beautiful-sounding guitar I've ever played. I've never plugged it in, but I might try that tomorrow as I'm visiting my parents this weekend. It's the closest thing to a J-45 I've ever played I suppose, and if it actually sounds good plugged as well, I guess that would make an acoustic like that a very viable option for me as well when I buy my first high-end. But still, I think the depth might make it uncomfortable in longer sessions.

 

I think I lost the thread somewhere there, but if anyone can be bothered to read through that I hope I answered sufficiently!

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I haven't had any structural problems with my 1970 "long neck" but then I don't abuse the guitar either.

 

Plugged in, I rarely play super loud so the feedback problem others report hasn't affected me.

 

While as an acoustic, my 330 sounds MUCH better than my Casino, plugged in it's different. The previous owner of my Casino put Seymour Duncan P90s in it, and it is not only hotter in output, but somewhat better sounding.

 

Personally, I love P90 pickups. They have more clarity and bite than either play SCs or buckers. And they respond to pick dynamics better too.

 

I think the 330 is one of the most under-appreciated guitars in the Gibson lineup.

 

Notes

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http://www.musik-produktiv.com/gibson-halbresonanz-es-330-p90-dog-ears-avs.aspx

 

Here you can still buy an 330 reissue... It´s a great on line store from Germany and I,ve purchased there my 330 and my Martin D28 (both with excellent results).

 

They send the guitar to all european countries including Norway (and, of course, Spain je, je...)

I believe that US guitar player can find the guitar at musician´s friend.

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Ive had my Gibson ES 330 Custom Shop for about two weeks its a great instrument perfect right out of the box no set up needed .

I have the Limited Edition sunburst Lennon 65 Casino love it but I prefer the ES 330 between the two .

 

Gibson no longer is making the ES 330 but there are still a few left to be had .Gibson_ES_330L_Vint_Burst_Front.jpg

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find a vintage one, made in kalamazoo, if your a hobyist try to find a "player" they can both still be found at a resenable price, and are underated as vintage collecters. Take some time and find one from the gison plant, 330 or casino, the orig. p-90,s are to die for, and the hollowbody when leardned are rock heaven. Heres my 1966 casino

epi010.jpg

 

cheers

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I don't really have much to add other than my personal experience.

 

I have a 1963 ES-330 with original P-90s, made in Kalamazoo. My parents got it for me when I was first learning to play, back around 1980.

 

I agree that it is not an acoustic guitar with pickups. I tried playing it unplugged a few times with friends after I got it, and any cheap acoustic is louder (let alone a D-28). The top is laminated and the body is too thin for volume. However, if you just want to hear yourself in the bedroom, it is certainly louder than any solidbody. Plus it has a cool tone all on its own.

 

I have found this to be a very versatile guitar. Many people dismiss it as just a jazz guitar or just a student guitar (read that in a book). Or just mistake it for a 335. But I can coax just about any sound I want out of it except for hard rock and metal. For instance, I put it on the bridge pickup and ran it through a chorus pedal and a wah, and man, if it did not sound just like the bright chimey tone on The Police's "Walking on the Moon".

 

I do stuggle with feedback when I jam with friends in the basement. My friend's solidbody (Carvin) which he plays loud through a Mesa amp will get my ES 330 to start acting up. But I just mute the strings and get on with it -- nothing I can't cope with. Of course, if you **want** feedback, this is your axe!

 

The most recent Guitar Center catalog has the band Weezer on the cover. Go to http://www.guitarcenter.com. It looks to me like guitarist Brian Bell is playing a cherry red ES 330. Sweet.

 

Also, whatever you might thing of the crass commercialism of it all, Gibson has put some resources behind their John Lennon merchandising of the Casino and related ES 330s, which should raise the profile of this overlooked guitar.

 

I should say that I was very unsure about this axe for a long time, but I've come around. I wrote an article about it in the Spring 2010 issue of the Fretboard Journal ("Hollow Victory"). You can't read it online, but surely all of you Gibson people already have a subscription!

post-30344-018995500 1296941920_thumb.jpg

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As for Mojorule, I really appreciate your guidance in finding the "right" guitar, and I'll try to answer your questions, and we'll see if I'm not one step nearer in narrowing it all down to that one guitar!

 

You asked if "my choice of an ES 330 determined by the fact that your playing style is essentially adapted to electric? Or by an aversion to fuller body depths?" It's actually a tough question to answer. On the surface I would say that my style, and the direction I want to go in as I further develop it, is the opposite of electric. I like to play indie and folk-inspired music, which is often based around chords and fingerpicking, and not so much typical electric aspects such as solos and all that.

 

I guess the main reason why I'm drawn towards the 330 is because it's a thinline and hollow, thus somewhat combines two aspects that I'm looking for. I have a "cheap" Ibanez (by this forum's standards, I'd assume anyways!) acoustic in addition to my LP Studio, but often times I find myself practicing unplugged on the Studio instead because I feel more comfortable playing it, and I'd attribute much of that to the depth of it. It simply sits better with me, especially over longer periods. I usually play sitting down, and as I mentioned earlier, I'm a fairly short guy (5'8") so I'm fairly certain that the depth is what makes the difference.

 

That said, my father's got a Gibson DSM-CE (you know, one of those Canadian made), and it's hands down the most beautiful-sounding guitar I've ever played. I've never plugged it in, but I might try that tomorrow as I'm visiting my parents this weekend. It's the closest thing to a J-45 I've ever played I suppose, and if it actually sounds good plugged as well, I guess that would make an acoustic like that a very viable option for me as well when I buy my first high-end. But still, I think the depth might make it uncomfortable in longer sessions.

 

I think I lost the thread somewhere there, but if anyone can be bothered to read through that I hope I answered sufficiently!

 

Hi Lars Christian. Are you any further along with your search? Thomann in Germany were also due a delivery of ES 330s in March according to their website when last I looked, though they had none in stock. Good prices by European standards...

 

Many of your circumstances appear to mirror my own. I'm also 5'8", I tend to play sitting down, I'm often unplugged, and I play fingerstyle a lot. In my experience thinline semis are more manageable than full-bodied acoustics, though they still give you something to rest your arm on for poised fingerstyle, and they make a nicely audible sound unplugged. In my experience, though, they do generally sound better plugged in, including for fingerstyle.

 

One exception might be my Epiphone Casino, which needed a lot of pole-piece tinkering before it sounded remotely balanced for fingerstyle, and which even with the treble side pole-pieces raised as high as they can reasonably go, tends to produce too much sustain on the bass strings and not enough definition anywhere else. That guitar sounds better unplugged when it comes to fingerstyle, though with a plectrum it still sounds better amplified. My Howard Roberts, though, really excels when plugged into something nice, even if it sounds just fine unplugged. Which is what made me ask the question about acoustics really.

 

I would never want to swap my Gibson semi for an acoustic, but that's because I know I want a quality electric which is highly versatile and touch responsive. However, I'm currently living without my main amp, and find that my Zinky's Smokey just can't do justice to the Howard. I bought the Smokey knowing it to be a compromise item, because I could be sure that it would fit in my guitar case, meaning that I'd never be without an amp. In this respect it does exactly what I wanted it to do. But as I knew when I bought it, it really is only good for distorted rock and blues playing, and it doesn't suit my fingerstyle playing. What I didn't reckon with was the extent to which I would miss being able to practise fingerstyle on my electric plugged in. The desire for really good fingerstyle volume and tone has pushed me back to playing and loving my old Lyon acoustic which I used to hate. I've adjusted to the dreadnought body now, and feel quite comfortable with it. I haven't quite adjusted to the long-scale neck though. Essentially living without my big amp has made me realize two things: 1) fixing up my amp and bringing it from storage is a top priority, and 2) buying a quality acoustic guitar with a more comfortable neck is also a top priority. Both of these priorities stem from the fact that, while I'm happy to play a semi unplugged when needs must, I really don't want to do so for long periods of time. I want to play my semi through a good amp, and have a good acoustic for unplugged playing.

 

So now you can see where my questions are coming from. Of course your own set of priorities may well turn out to be quite different. Part of me is really willing you to go with the 330 because they are lovely, they are versatile, and they are just a little bit different. I may have come to hate my Casino, but I'm also pretty sure that it's not the greatest example of its ilk. I just think, when you're spending the sort of cash that a Gibson semi will set you back, that you want to check out as many options and alternatives as possible. I'm also willing you to pair the 330 up with a Fender amp or similar, I must confess...

 

Did you try out your father's DSM by the way? How did it fare? Bear in mind that it is square-shouldered, so won't sit in your lap exactly like a J45 would, and that it is long-scale, so may be rather harder to manage.

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It's great to see people getting interested in the ES330 again

 

I suppose the Casino has the extra cachet from the Beatles, and probably more record sales as a result

 

A tribute to their quest for interesting tones....and George Martin's meticulous realisation thereof.....

 

V

 

:-({|=

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It's great to see people getting interested in the ES330 again

 

I suppose the Casino has the extra cachet from the Beatles, <...>

But the 330 gives you higher fret access and if my situation is typical, sounds better unplugged.

 

Notes

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Hey Lars,

 

I have had a 1960 Gibson Es-330tn for around 8 years now. It is a great guitar. I had it appraised by killer vintage recently for $6000 and to appreciate with the market. It is missing a pick guard and the original case. It is extremely rare. There were only 160 or so made total in the years 1959 and 1960 (so around 80 of the specific guitar). It was then discontinued. It is in excellent shape. I would be willing to think about selling it for appraised value if you would be interested. I am still debating whether to sell it or keep it longer because I love playing it; although I really could use the money. Let me know if you are interested.

 

Best,

 

Jeff

post-30721-090382600 1297487205_thumb.jpg

post-30721-093473100 1297487286_thumb.jpg

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Hey Lars, I have a '62 ES330 and it is one of the best guitars that I own. I practice with it unplugged fairly often (when I'm too lazy to turn on the amp) and I think it sounds pretty good for a guitar that is meant to be played with power. Sure its a little thin sounding and obviously you don't have the same dynamic range as a purely acoustic guitar but it does stand out when playing along with others playing traditional acoustic guitars. I have used it in many practice sessions with other people playing acoustics and it still sounds great. I would suggest maybe one of those little Vox amPlug's or a mini-amp (pignose or Fender, that's what I have). They can give you a little more volume without blowing your neighbors out of the water (the 330 is a feedback MONSTER!). Anyway, I think its a great guitar and would pick it up if I were you.

 

 

wanted to add this in: http://forum.gibson.com/index.php?/topic/35008-gibson-es-330-from-way-back/ There are a few pics of mine on there :)

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I love my ES330L. I have played 50 years and it is the sound I always go to and go back to and to which I look forward. Grant Green, Martin Barre, B.B. King et al have squeezed the sound out of this one. I love 'em through a Fender.

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