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335 TRAPEZE TAIL PIECES!

Tag

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Jan 3, 2003
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I had the chance to play several vintage 335s side by side at a local vintage shop. Much to my surprise, I found the Trapeze models to sound much better than the stop tails, which were 3 times the price! 😮 So much more resonate and louder acoustically, and it translated into the electric tone and feel as well. Very cool. I can see how for high gain the stop tail would be beneficial as the tone is narrower and more focused. For clean and lower gain playing however, the Trapeze really seemed to have a huge advantage. As usual, make sure you listen with your ears and not go by what is the most popular!
 

indravayu

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Jan 4, 2016
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I had the chance to play several vintage 335s side by side at a local vintage shop. Much to my surprise, I found the Trapeze models to sound much better than the stop tails, which were 3 times the price! 😮 So much more resonate and louder acoustically, and it translated into the electric tone and feel as well. Very cool. I can see how for high gain the stop tail would be beneficial as the tone is narrower and more focused. For clean and lower gain playing however, the Trapeze really seemed to have a huge advantage. As usual, make sure you listen with your ears and not go by what is the most popular!

For many years my #1 was a 1970 335 with trapeze. I usually played with medium to high gain back then and never had any issues (I used to love the infinite sustain that I could get at shows from the stage monitors!).


I ended up selling the guitar only because it had a poorly done headstock repair that caused major tuning stability issues (I spent as much time tuning the guitar as I did playing it, LOL!).
 

gadzooka

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I really enjoyed my '67 ES-335 with the trapeze. I now have a recent issue (non-Historic) ES-345 with the stop tail. It sure has more of a "Les Paul" feel to me than the '67 did...and if that's generally true, then I can see why it's a more popular option around here in the LPF.
 

brandtkronholm

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I had the chance to play several vintage 335s side by side at a local vintage shop. Much to my surprise, I found the Trapeze models to sound much better than the stop tails, which were 3 times the price! 😮

When you approach these instruments from a player's perspective you cannot go wrong.

...As usual, make sure you listen with your ears and not go by what is the most popular!

This remains the only truth ever spoken on this website. :)
 

kerryboy

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Jun 20, 2002
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I thought that the trapeze made my 335 sound dull. For many years I toyed with the idea of changing it to a stop tail but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I sold the guitar in the end.
 

marshall1987

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Bravo for you! It's refreshing to see postings on the LPF like this.....which was based on actual side-by-side playing comparisons.

Unfortunately, too many folks blindly assume that whatever they read on the Internet must be true, especially if it conforms with the touted "expert" consensus. I would take with a grain of salt much of the advice proffered by self-appointed vintage guitar "experts"; and instead, judge a guitar's sound and performance with your ears and hands respectively.

This recent LPF thread may be of further interest: https://www.lespaulforum.com/index....-stop-tailpiece-a-functional-analysis.215175/
 
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Winkyplayer

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May 1, 2021
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Question: Do the trapeze tails have a lighter internal construction where a stop-tail would be anchored? Seems to me that they wouldn't need to be has strong, and could maybe be more resonant.
 

marshall1987

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Question: Do the trapeze tails have a lighter internal construction where a stop-tail would be anchored? Seems to me that they wouldn't need to be has strong, and could maybe be more resonant.
There are basically three (3) variations of the maple center-block found on ES-335s from 1958 to about 1970 (Norlin).

(1) The first version is basically a solid "block" of maple (with routes for both pickups) running from the neck tenon to the bottom rim of the guitar's body where it is glued to a mahogany end-block. This design is featured in guitars built from 1958 to roughly 1963/64.

(2) The second version is essentially identical to the first version, however it has been redesigned to include an additional cutout in the center block in the area of the bridge pickup route. Gibson engineers believed the additional cutout would reduce the amount of labor required to install the guitar's electronics. This design is featured in guitars built from roughly 1963/64 to around 1970 (Norlin).

(3) The third version bares little resemblance to the first two versions. The Norlin redesigned center-block has been radically shortened. It now extends from slightly behind the ABR-1 bridge to the neck pickup route. Additionally the mahogany end-block has been reduced in size. This design is featured in guitars built in the decade of the '70s.
 

Minibucker

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I would love to get a vintage trap-tail 335 if it had a big enough neck profile. The ones I always came across were too thin, but they did sound great.

The one with the Maestro in this is the best sounding of the bunch.....just killer.

 

marshall1987

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That '65 ES-335 w/ Maestro vibrato appears to be finished in "sparkling-burgundy.... which, as Pat confirms, has a tendency to bleed into the binding.

Note the VERY shallow break angle of the guitar's strings at the bridge. The Maestro units installed on '60s era ES-335s almost always have this extremely low break-angle....which can be problematic.

Some enterprising Nashville native would be wise to hunker down and market an affordable drop-in replacement part for the Maestro unit that corrects the shallow break-angle problem. Assuming it can be done - and is affordable - I'd wager you a dollar that selling prices for 1963/64 ES-335s w/ the Maestro would go up substantially. Case-in-point.....more than a few folks on this forum have retrofitted their 1961/62 SG/Les Pauls with drop-in replacement parts ) - that correct tuning problems caused by the unwieldily "sideway" vibrato.

**Yet another example....look what happened with prices of vintage '52 LP gold tops when a couple of enterprising vendors began to offer a simple, drop-in replacement trapeze tailpiece that allowed the strings to pass over the bridge instead of under. These guitars went from a low of about $12K in 2014..... to over $15-$18K within a year or two.
 

crashbelt

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Apr 10, 2016
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Check out this new vid which Jacksnax has just put up on YT.

Great side by side comparison of half a dozen 3**s from 58-66. Although all the guitars are great Jack comes up with some interesting conclusions about how the earlier PAF-equipped models outshine the later ones.
 

Minibucker

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It sounds like those original PAF's are picking up more of the entire guitar. Maybe at least part of it because they're more microphonic, but those '58-'61 ones sound incredible.
 

marshall1987

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It sounds like those original PAF's are picking up more of the entire guitar. Maybe at least part of it because they're more microphonic, but those '58-'61 ones sound incredible.
Yeah the ES-3x5 side-by-side comparison video was put together very well. Perhaps one of the best I have ever seen! :cool::cool::cool:

It goes without saying the long-magnet PAFs installed in those '58s are just killer! But I would add that the remarkable performance observed with the '58 ES-335 and 355, and many from early '59, can also be attributed to the 3-ply body construction, which happens to be about 25% thinner than later models. Due to owner complaints of cracking in the bodies, especially near the output jack, Gibson decided to change the specification to 4-ply construction sometime after mid-'59 if I'm not mistaken.

Additionally, the '58s and early/mid '59s have big fat mahogany necks - which you don't often see in the later model years. And some believe the lower neck angle can be a factor in their great sound - allows the ABR-1 bridge (thumb wheels) to be in contact with the body.
 

marshall1987

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Perhaps another factor responsible for the exceptional quality of Gibson guitars in the 1950s is the "old-growth" timber that was widely available from sources in Cuba, Central & South America. Many would agree that these virgin, old-growth forests produced Honduran mahogany and Brazilian rosewood of exceptional quality.

For example, 1958 & '59 Gibson Les Pauls and ES-335s are considered to be among the finest electric guitars ever built. For that reason, they are among the most desirable electric guitars for seasoned professionals, collectors, and international investors.
 

marshall1987

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Lest there be any doubt regarding the great sound & performance a guitar player can get out of a mid-late '60s trapeze tailpiece ES-335.....look no further than Rush's incredible guitarist Alex Lifeson. Alex seen in the 1976 live concert video below playing his favored sunburst 1968 ES-335 w/ trapeze tailpiece.

Rush - Full Concert - 12/10/76 - Capitol Theatre (OFFICIAL)

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