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Thread: ES335 Bones

  1. #1
    Les Paul Forum Member Dr. Vintage's Avatar
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    ES335 Bones

    The recent thread about the number of laminations used in the top and backs of early ES3x5 style guitars was interesting. I love this place for stuff like that.

    Recently I found a fairly nice '64 335 on a Craigslist listing - it had seen better days. Some old widow was selling it to help pay off her credit card debt. I nit-picked the poor guitar to death and knocked her down to $125 and home it came.

    One of the issues was a loose strip of binding on the top, so I got out my Milwaukee heat gun and tried to soften it enough to form it back into shape. Bad idea. The top started to separate. So, I figured... WTF, and kept going. Eventually the entire top came off, but it was stuck around the neck. I took it to a local cabinet maker's shop and had them put it on this really cool little band saw and just chopped through it. The neck and the top were junk, so they went in the trash. I got out the cam and took some snaps I thought you all might find interesting. The lighting wasn't optimal, but I think you'll get the idea.

    Here's the bottom of what was left:



    Here's the remainder of the central block:



    What was interesting was to see how many places there was evidence of how much hand-work and hand forming was part of the construction. Here are a couple of shots showing how the maple block isn't perfectly aligned with the kerfed spruce:


    Rick N.

    "Get to work!" Tommy Emmanuel

  2. #2
    Les Paul Forum Member Dr. Vintage's Avatar
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Here's a shot of the mahogany block that's at the back end of the maple center block:



    It was also cool to see how (relatively) haphazard the gluing was. And also how much the kerfs on the sides were basically hand-formed. It looks like two different types of glue were used - one to glue the kerfs to the rim, and another to glue the top and back to the kerfing:




    Another close-up of the laminations:



    Again, sorry for the less-than-optimal lighting, and for my poor Photoshop skills to correct the colors.
    Rick N.

    "Get to work!" Tommy Emmanuel

  3. #3
    Les Paul Forum Member Dr. Vintage's Avatar
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Oh...

























    That whole story about where the guitar came from and what I did with it? Complete B.S. I didn't even take the pictures... lens-man extraordinaire RevWillieVK took the pix...
    Rick N.

    "Get to work!" Tommy Emmanuel

  4. #4
    Les Paul Forum Member Wallace's Avatar
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Very Cool!
    Thanks for sharing this.

    Any shots of the rest of the guitar or is that all that was left
    Wallace.

    "you used Mr Sheen on my what?"

  5. #5
    Troels
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    I think it's earlier than 1964... in 1964 the centerblock included neck- and end block.
    My 1960 330 kerfed linings are also glued with both animal glue and Titebond as per the pictures.

    In todays 335 the kerfs in the horn ends are substituted with preshaped wood blocks covering the sharpest curves in the horns.

    It's an interesting piece from many points of views - but maybe you should have have had $ 5 to bring it to the fire place instead of paying $ 125 - unless of course there's a neck too???

    The construction is identical (except for the (rest of) center block to my 1960 330. I can't see any FON on the treble side of the back... but it's probably earlier than 1964...
    What's the plan with it... probably can't be restored with all these parts missing... or???

  6. #6
    Les Paul Forum Member Rev.WillieVK's Avatar
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Troels - Re-read the bottom of post #3.

    'Twas what it was, no more to the husk than shown. An educational photo-op we were lucky to come across.

  7. #7
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    I think these piccygraphs would look good on Toms 335 site under the construction tab. If n' y'all would be kind enough to donate, please and pretty please.


  8. #8
    Troels
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Quote Originally Posted by Rev.WillieVK View Post
    Troels - Re-read the bottom of post #3.

    'Twas what it was, no more to the husk than shown. An educational photo-op we were lucky to come across.
    Harhhhh... what a fool I am... harhhh. But it's great pictures.
    Wonder what actually happened to that guitar - why did anybody cut half the cdenter block ???

  9. #9
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    So what's that core wood? Looks like Basswood from these pics.

  10. #10
    loufed52
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Real precision work there.

  11. #11
    Les Paul Forum Member Dr. Vintage's Avatar
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Quote Originally Posted by plaintop60 View Post
    So what's that core wood? Looks like Basswood from these pics.
    "Core wood"? What do you mean? The two center layers of the top and back laminates? The center block?
    Rick N.

    "Get to work!" Tommy Emmanuel

  12. #12
    Troels
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Vintage View Post
    "Core wood"? What do you mean? The two center layers of the top and back laminates? The center block?
    I think he means the blind layers in the plywood... and that's probably poplar....

  13. #13
    Les Paul Forum Member MapleFlame's Avatar
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Rick ya got me again, once witht he 52 and now this. I am going to personally drive down to Texas and give you a beat down on the Soloflex.




    Top carves are sexy

  14. #14
    Les Paul Forum Member Dr. Vintage's Avatar
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Quote Originally Posted by MapleFlame View Post
    Rick ya got me again, once witht he 52 and now this. I am going to personally drive down to Texas and give you a beat down on the Soloflex.
    Hell - if you drive to Tejas, you'll be two-day's drive out of your way...
    Rick N.

    "Get to work!" Tommy Emmanuel

  15. #15
    Les Paul Forum Member Strat God's Avatar
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    So if those show 4 laminated sheets, how many layers do the new ones have?
    God Bless Single-Malt Scotch.

    - www.dougwahlberg.com

  16. #16
    Troels
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Quote Originally Posted by Strat God View Post
    So if those show 4 laminated sheets, how many layers do the new ones have?
    Three!

  17. #17
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Given the condition, how do you know it's a Gibson?

  18. #18
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    No doubt it's a Gibson. Ever see workmanship that shoddy in any other guitar?

  19. #19
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Vintage View Post
    "Core wood"? What do you mean? The two center layers of the top and back laminates? The center block?
    The core wood is the wood used for the core of the laminate. In this case two pieces of light colored wood going cross grain. There's some speculation about species. Some guitars had maple, some other woods. I've seen wood that I thought was spruce on a few instruments and Birch was certainly used. I've also seen light colored woods. Some people believe the core to be Poplar, but Poplar sucks for this purpose and it's also very dark colored after it ages a few years. This very white wood that shows is appears to be a soft wood such as spruce because as you can see in the pic the grain has shredded slightly along the cut line. The wood in the pic looks alot like the Epiphone guitar you showed a pic of recently. It almost looks white enough to be Holly but that seems unlikely. It's definitely NOT Poplar as Poplar would be brown, or green and very dark compared to the maple. It also looks to white to be basswood which is yellower like Maple. It's important because the core of the laminate is going to affect the tone quite alot. A luthier I once worked for insisted that the best es335's had only maple laminate. I've also heard of Mahogany used, but never seen any Mahogany. Sometime in the 1980's Gibson changed this specification from "Maple Laminate" to Maple/Poplar/Maple lam. I know they used anything they had on hand so anything is possible. It's just a curiosity I guess because I'm not going shopping for a vintage 335 anytime soon.

  20. #20
    Troels
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Quote Originally Posted by plaintop60 View Post
    The core wood is the wood used for the core of the laminate. In this case two pieces of light colored wood going cross grain. There's some speculation about species. Some guitars had maple, some other woods. I've seen wood that I thought was spruce on a few instruments and Birch was certainly used. I've also seen light colored woods. Some people believe the core to be Poplar, but Poplar sucks for this purpose and it's also very dark colored after it ages a few years. This very white wood that shows is appears to be a soft wood such as spruce because as you can see in the pic the grain has shredded slightly along the cut line. The wood in the pic looks alot like the Epiphone guitar you showed a pic of recently. It almost looks white enough to be Holly but that seems unlikely. It's definitely NOT Poplar as Poplar would be brown, or green and very dark compared to the maple. It also looks to white to be basswood which is yellower like Maple. It's important because the core of the laminate is going to affect the tone quite alot. A luthier I once worked for insisted that the best es335's had only maple laminate. I've also heard of Mahogany used, but never seen any Mahogany. Sometime in the 1980's Gibson changed this specification from "Maple Laminate" to Maple/Poplar/Maple lam. I know they used anything they had on hand so anything is possible. It's just a curiosity I guess because I'm not going shopping for a vintage 335 anytime soon.
    I've asked Gibson a few times - and somebody else around here have too - and they say poplar was used as core wood from the very early days - and do so still. I do mean that poplar can vary from white over greenish to brownish. But as a general rule - the core layers in Gibsons were whatever available including mahogany, birch, spruce and so on.
    There are btw other factors than the wood species themselves when it comes to support sound - glue for instance.
    In the old days Gibson used urea formaldehyde which is now prophibited because it's known to cause cancer. Nevertheless, urea formaldehyde cures very hard and glasslike - not "soft" and sound dampening like the PVA glues these days. UF glue was used in aroplane grade plywood as well (with spruce core) - take a look here: http://stinet.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=...fier=ADA149053
    Poplar - btw - was used in Stradivarius contra basses for linings and fittings - so it's far from new in the music business. Poplar petrifies over years and becomes hard as stone - people who have tried to pull out nails of old poplar panels or furnitures know what I'm talking about.
    Last edited by Troels; 07-12-08 at 12:31 PM.

  21. #21

    Re: ES335 Bones

    The glue went on the rim kerfing with a hand paint roller when they where not using hide glue. If they were using hide glue it would be slopped on thick and fast with a large bristle brush. This is the only way to do that large of an area with hide glue. You have to work quick before it gels. Both methods are sloppy but fast.

    What I think is even more amazing is how little hand work went into some of the assemblies. The kerfed spruce mating surface was done by machine and fits perfectly.

  22. #22

    Re: ES335 Bones

    If you still have it I am willing to take it off your hands.

  23. #23
    Les Paul Forum Member TomGuitar's Avatar
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Great, great stuff, Rev and Doc. This is my first chance to visit in a couple of days and I run across this. What a place.

  24. #24

    Re: ES335 Bones

    Quote Originally Posted by plaintop60 View Post
    No doubt it's a Gibson. Ever see workmanship that shoddy in any other guitar?
    Post of the century. Take a bow, you have just won the internets.

  25. #25
    bharat.k
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Fantastic! Any pics of the rim laminations?

  26. #26
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Hi Troels. I have to say that after 30 plus years in this buisiness, I've learned one thing if nothing else and that is, Gibson tends to be an unreliable source of information. I've also learned some other things including a few things about poplar. For one thing the wood that we usually are referring to when we speak of Poplar is is Yellow Poplar, also called Tulipwood or Tulip Poplar. It's actually not a true Poplar at all but Liriodendron Tulipifera. This wood is very yellow in color and turns green or purple upon exposure to oxygen. Compared to maple this wood is quite yellow even when fresh and much yellower in color than either Birch or Basswood. I'm very familiar with this stuff as I have used it for decades as a speaker cabinet wood. It's relatively soft, although quite a bit harder than Basswood and it does rot very easily when exposed to conditions of high humidity. The only true Poplars that I'm aware of that are used as commercial timbers in the USA are Aspen and Balsam. On the newer guitars I've examined they are certainly using Poplar. It's been something like 30 years since I spent much time working in a Luthierie so memory is just a little hazy, but iircc most if not all of the early laminated guitars had either Birch or Maple for the laminate core. It would be very easy to take that sample and have it analyzed by an expert in woods to determine what species of wood it is. I agree about the phenolic resin being an equally important part of the equation here. The rubbery gummy vinyl based glues are going to act as sound deadening material and of course the phenolic resins used in the early laminate is going to enhance rigidity and of course tone as well. IMO, This is a fascinating subject and an important one if you are interested in producing guitars that approach the original ones in terms of tone.

  27. #27
    Les Paul Forum Member Dr. Vintage's Avatar
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Quote Originally Posted by bharat.k View Post
    Fantastic! Any pics of the rim laminations?
    Here you go - your wish is our command -

    It looks like three layers... plus a veneer on the outside? I can't necessarily believe that the lacquer is that thick:

    Rick N.

    "Get to work!" Tommy Emmanuel

  28. #28
    Troels
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Quote Originally Posted by plaintop60 View Post
    Hi Troels. I have to say that after 30 plus years in this buisiness, I've learned one thing if nothing else and that is, Gibson tends to be an unreliable source of information. I've also learned some other things including a few things about poplar. For one thing the wood that we usually are referring to when we speak of Poplar is is Yellow Poplar, also called Tulipwood or Tulip Poplar. It's actually not a true Poplar at all but Liriodendron Tulipifera. This wood is very yellow in color and turns green or purple upon exposure to oxygen. Compared to maple this wood is quite yellow even when fresh and much yellower in color than either Birch or Basswood. I'm very familiar with this stuff as I have used it for decades as a speaker cabinet wood. It's relatively soft, although quite a bit harder than Basswood and it does rot very easily when exposed to conditions of high humidity. The only true Poplars that I'm aware of that are used as commercial timbers in the USA are Aspen and Balsam. On the newer guitars I've examined they are certainly using Poplar. It's been something like 30 years since I spent much time working in a Luthierie so memory is just a little hazy, but iircc most if not all of the early laminated guitars had either Birch or Maple for the laminate core. It would be very easy to take that sample and have it analyzed by an expert in woods to determine what species of wood it is. I agree about the phenolic resin being an equally important part of the equation here. The rubbery gummy vinyl based glues are going to act as sound deadening material and of course the phenolic resins used in the early laminate is going to enhance rigidity and of course tone as well. IMO, This is a fascinating subject and an important one if you are interested in producing guitars that approach the original ones in terms of tone.
    I certainly do believe you plaintop60 - and I also think it could be very interesting to get a piece from the skeleton examined by a dendrologist (is that the correct title?). I agree that the hole subject is very fascinating - and I wonder if former employees from Kalamazoo can remember these and other details.

    There's a former Gibson Kalamazoo luthier, Tom Bradfield, who may remember interesting things - maybe we could make a liste of questions here in the forum and mail it to him - check this video here: http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=93nBgH...eature=related

    Some of you guys over there in USA could probably find out where the man lives (Kalamazoo???). Another former employee is Maudie Moore - and as far as I know she's still working for Gibson.

    An interesting thing is the spruce reinforment filling the gab between top/back and center block. The same type of slotted spruce piece is glued to the inside surface of the top of my ES-330 (but no center block of course and nothing on gthe inside surface of the back) - but on this supposedly cheaper than a 335 Gibson guitar this spruce piece is 100% quarter sawn with absolutely vertical grains in the cross cut.
    Last edited by Troels; 07-13-08 at 04:07 PM.

  29. #29
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Troels, I think I can shed some light on your es330...maybe. The spruce pad that goes between the center block and the arched top and back is called a contour brace. I believe that Gibson used the same top and backs for 330's as they did for 335's. When a machine went down in the plant every one on the factory floor had to keep busy so they picked up a broom, went to the re-work stations, or went to their crew cheif or foreman and said, "what should I do now boss, the band saw is down", or you name the scenario. Sometimes they would have an employee gluing contour braces onto tops and backs while they waited for an operation to be restored to production. You really have to work in a factory for a few years to appreciate this process. Anyone caught screwing the puppy during downtime was toast. So some es330's ended up with contour bracing instead of parallel braces. My boss used to jump in the car from NYC and go to Kalamazoo to pick up parts like tops and backs and pre-formed sides and things like that to keep on hand so we could repair Gibsons with authentic parts when it was needed. I've only been to the Kalamazoo plant a couple of times. Quite an Old World operation until about the mid seventies by which time Norlin had spewed enough corporate venom into Gibson to render it a corpse, just like they did to Olds Brass, Lowry Organ, and all the other musical instrument companies it destroyed.

  30. #30
    Troels
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Interestring plaintop, very. You say that some ES 330 ended up with contour bracings instead of parallel braces... I've never seen a 330 with parallel braces (I guess I've seen perhaps 50 with a pickup removed). They've all had the characteristic contour bracing... so I wonder if your story could be other way around - so that a few got parallel braces rather than contour bracing which was the standard? or could perhaps confuse parallel braced 120, 125, 135, 225 and 175 tops with 330 tops... just wonder.

  31. #31
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Certainly I could have it backwards. It's been a long time. another theory that one of my coleagues had was they had parallel bracing on the earliest models and went to contour in an attempt to give these guitars better feedback control.

  32. #32
    Troels
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Quote Originally Posted by plaintop60 View Post
    Certainly I could have it backwards. It's been a long time. another theory that one of my coleagues had was they had parallel bracing on the earliest models and went to contour in an attempt to give these guitars better feedback control.
    That could be case... my 330T has an R FON with a batch number placing it somewhere in the midlle of 1960 (I have a collection of FONs from 1959 and 1960). But still it has a clubby 1959-neck... it's a great guitar a tight in the gluelines quite unlike the guitar shown here.

  33. #33
    bharat.k
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    Re: ES335 Bones

    Had to ressurect this great thread! I noticed the inside lamination of the rims doesn't look like maple. Any ideas of what it is?

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