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1959 ES 335

Michael Minnis

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Feb 12, 2004
Messages
1,597
Hey, guys. Thought I'd share a few pics of the 1959 ES 335 I picked up at Arlington a few months ago. I'd been searching for a great dot neck for some time and this is the one that really spoke to me. As you can see, it's in fine condition. The guitar was Grovered at one point, but no extra wood was added. The serial number dates the guitar to April, 1959, although it has a “T” 1958 FON. Interestingly, Tom Wittrock's 1959 335 on Tom Hollyer's site is one FON away from mine. A few good friends Charlie Daughtry, Bill Fajen and Nacho Banos helped motivate me to bring the guitar home.

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57gold

Active member
Joined
Jan 14, 2005
Messages
658
Very nice!

Looks a bit like mine, with less vertical checking.

Nice thick rounded neck? Neck pick up that is fat and clear?
 

Tom Wittrock

Les Paul Forum Co-Owner
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Aug 2, 2001
Messages
42,567
Looks like you got a good one, Michael!! :dude:

Would be fun to get ours side by side. :salude
 

TM1

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Jun 27, 2003
Messages
8,190
Wow Michael!! That is stunning! You know if you get tired of it, I'd be happy to use it for a while...:rolleyes:
 

Michael Minnis

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Feb 12, 2004
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Very nice!

Looks a bit like mine, with less vertical checking.

Nice thick rounded neck? Neck pick up that is fat and clear?

The neck is very interesting. Not quite as full in the back of my hand as my 1959 345s, but certainly generous with the perception of a slightly, and I mean slightly, wider nut width. It's a really cool feeling and playing neck. And, yes, the neck pickup is fat, but clean with excellent string clarity. I spend a lot of time on the neck, so a great neck pickup is a must for me. The bridge pickup sounds excellent as well.
 

57gold

Active member
Joined
Jan 14, 2005
Messages
658
The neck is very interesting. Not quite as full in the back of my hand as my 1959 345s, but certainly generous with the perception of a slightly, and I mean slightly, wider nut width. It's a really cool feeling and playing neck. And, yes, the neck pickup is fat, but clean with excellent string clarity. I spend a lot of time on the neck, so a great neck pickup is a must for me. The bridge pickup sounds excellent as well.

Interesting, my 1959 345 is flatter and slightly wider at the nut than my 335...the inverse of yours. Without comparing FONs, I always assumed that the 335 was earlier in 59 production and the 345 later.

My 335's pick ups are black and my 345 and 355 (even flatter neck profile) have double whites, and higher output than 335.

Think it was Gregg Levy from HiTest, when he was doing guitars, told me that he believed that Gibson put higher output pick ups in Varitone loaded guitars to deal with the extra circuitry. Not sure that is the case, but my two Varitone guitars have very strong signal pickups.
 

CDaughtry

Les Paul Forum Co-Owner and Moderator
Joined
Jul 16, 2001
Messages
12,645
KILLER guitar! I was proud to be your Enabler!:hee
 

Michael Minnis

Active member
Joined
Feb 12, 2004
Messages
1,597
Interesting, my 1959 345 is flatter and slightly wider at the nut than my 335...the inverse of yours. Without comparing FONs, I always assumed that the 335 was earlier in 59 production and the 345 later.

My 335's pick ups are black and my 345 and 355 (even flatter neck profile) have double whites, and higher output than 335.

Think it was Gregg Levy from HiTest, when he was doing guitars, told me that he believed that Gibson put higher output pick ups in Varitone loaded guitars to deal with the extra circuitry. Not sure that is the case, but my two Varitone guitars have very strong signal pickups.

Of course, each guitar is its own unique animal. Neck profiles will vary. My two 1959 345s are one serial number apart and two FON numbers apart, yet there is some slight variance in neck profiles. They're both great, just slightly different, as is my 59 335 neck profile. It's those subtle nuances, along with pickups, weight, etc. that help to give each guitar it's own fingerprint and character. Gregg's theory is interesting, but I personally have a hard time believing Gibson spent the time to measure pickups before slapping them into guitars.
 

57gold

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Joined
Jan 14, 2005
Messages
658
Gregg's theory is interesting, but I personally have a hard time believing Gibson spent the time to measure pickups before slapping them into guitars.

Agree with your skepticism of Gregg's theory.

Unless there was a conscious policy, like "wind the gold PAFs with more turns, they are going on Varitone guitars and they need more output given the additional circuitry".

But gold pick ups went on BB's, L-5s, Super 400s, ES-5s...no Varitones.
 

RAB

Active member
Joined
Mar 17, 2005
Messages
2,113
Interesting, my 1959 345 is flatter and slightly wider at the nut than my 335...the inverse of yours. Without comparing FONs, I always assumed that the 335 was earlier in 59 production and the 345 later.

My 335's pick ups are black and my 345 and 355 (even flatter neck profile) have double whites, and higher output than 335.

Think it was Gregg Levy from HiTest, when he was doing guitars, told me that he believed that Gibson put higher output pick ups in Varitone loaded guitars to deal with the extra circuitry. Not sure that is the case, but my two Varitone guitars have very strong signal pickups.

I imagine the Kalamazooers (who were always looking for production efficiencies) didn't do it intentionally but my "First Rack" '59 345 also had very high output pickups. I recall the neck (full white) was about 8.5 ohms and the bridge (double black) was about 8.7 ohms:peace2 In any case the fiddle (biggest neck profile of any Gibson electric I've owned) sure sounded and played great...but, ya know, I had to sell it to rid my self of the "tone-robbing" Varitone...GULP...wish I still had that git!
 

OKGuitar

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Joined
Jan 20, 2011
Messages
938
Does this 59 have the thin (3 ply vs 4 ply) 58 type top? I have FON T5490-15 which also has a 59 serial A289xx and it has the thin top but a bigger neck than my 58. In fact, it has the biggest neck of any 59 ES I've owned including a load of first rack 345s which have some pretty big lumber. These very early 59's are (to me, anyway) a sweet spot in the production timeline.

On the other subject, I have a theory about white pickups. There were no stops on the winders back then and, according to some folks who were there, they just wound them until they looked to be full. I'm sure nobody wanted the windings to overflow the bobbin because that would likely mean more work-unwinding or trimming or whatever. So when they got fairly close to the edge, they stopped. With a white bobbin, it would be much easier to see just where the windings are in relation to the bobbin, allowing for many more windings before they were at the limit. That's just my theory based solely on the fact that white PAFs almost always seem to have higher DC resistance than double blacks.
 

Michael Minnis

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Feb 12, 2004
Messages
1,597
Does this 59 have the thin (3 ply vs 4 ply) 58 type top? I have FON T5490-15 which also has a 59 serial A289xx and it has the thin top but a bigger neck than my 58. In fact, it has the biggest neck of any 59 ES I've owned including a load of first rack 345s which have some pretty big lumber. These very early 59's are (to me, anyway) a sweet spot in the production timeline.

On the other subject, I have a theory about white pickups. There were no stops on the winders back then and, according to some folks who were there, they just wound them until they looked to be full. I'm sure nobody wanted the windings to overflow the bobbin because that would likely mean more work-unwinding or trimming or whatever. So when they got fairly close to the edge, they stopped. With a white bobbin, it would be much easier to see just where the windings are in relation to the bobbin, allowing for many more windings before they were at the limit. That's just my theory based solely on the fact that white PAFs almost always seem to have higher DC resistance than double blacks.

Hey, Charlie. I'm a big fan of your 335 blog, and as such, I've read about the 3 ply-tops vs. 4 ply. I must confess, I'm not entirely certain how to discern this, but upon careful examination, my 335 does appear to have the thinner 3-ply top. The neck is pretty big with a profile that's different than my 59 345s. The nut width on the 335 almost seems a tad wider. It's a very comfortable, roomy, full feeling neck.
 

OKGuitar

Member
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Jan 20, 2011
Messages
938
Just compare it to your 345. You can see the difference of about 25% in the thickness of the top. Side by side it's pretty obvious.Also if you slip your finger into the f-hole and pull gently upward on the top, it will flex easily on a thin top but barely at all on the thicker ones.
 

TM1

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Jun 27, 2003
Messages
8,190
On the other subject, I have a theory about white pickups. There were no stops on the winders back then and, according to some folks who were there, they just wound them until they looked to be full. I'm sure nobody wanted the windings to overflow the bobbin because that would likely mean more work-unwinding or trimming or whatever. So when they got fairly close to the edge, they stopped. With a white bobbin, it would be much easier to see just where the windings are in relation to the bobbin, allowing for many more windings before they were at the limit. That's just my theory based solely on the fact that white PAFs almost always seem to have higher DC resistance than double blacks.

I know Mr. Gundry has two vintage Leesona's (a `48 & a `57) and there are stops on those winders. I've been told one of the biggest variables with those winders is the wire size. Sure, the spool can say #42 gauge, but each spool was coated slightly different as it was not a really automated coating system for the copper wire. You can have two spools of #42 and one will mic' out slightly different than the other. Those variances in wire size can make a big difference in the D.C. resistance of the coil when it stops @ 5,000 turns. The differences between the readings is not huge, but certainly enough. As well the tension of the traverse, the way the coils are wound makes a difference. Those machines need constant up-keep to have them wind consistently. That's probably one of the reasons that Gibson bought a couple of Swiss made Meteor winding machines in the early Sixties, but even those have some very odd quirks.
So, the Leesona's did have counters and auto-Stops, but it came down to the way the winders were setup, maintained and actual wire size. The spool could say #42, but actually could be #41 or #43 gauge. I seriously doubt if those women who ran the winders took any time to measure the actual wire size and I doubt if they did any adjusting unless something went wrong with the winders.:eek:la
 

TM1

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Jun 27, 2003
Messages
8,190
Maybe we can get Mr. Gundry to explain the differences between the d.c. resistance of the coils in those early years. He has forgotten more than I'll ever know about winding a humbucking.:laugh2:
 
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