Gibson ES-335 1960

John Shults

Posted on February 05 2022

Gibson ES-335 1960 guitar with Sunburst finish in brown and pink case.


This Gibson ES-335 1960 in original Sunburst finish with stop bar tailpiece came through the shop a few years ago and is a great example of the model. As a Gibson guitar collector, this is exactly the Gibson ES-335 that I'm looking for with early features such as the long pickguard that extends to the bridge, stop bar tailpiece mounted to the top, and nickel finished hardware. 1960 is the last year that Gibson used both a FON (factory order number) and a serial number in the ES-335 model. 

I'm always on the hunt for the nicest examples of late 1950s and early 1960s Gibson ES-335 guitars. If you've inherited a Gibson ES-335 and are looking for what year it was made then check out Gibson ES-335 serial numbers. Or if you're curious about how much I would value your Gibson ES-335 then you can contact me here: Sell a Gibson

Gibson ES-335 made in 1960

Gibson ES-335 1960 Serial Numbers

Gibson ES-335 serial number schemes changed a few times from the late 1950s, 1960s, and into the 1970s. At the model's introduction in 1958, Gibson used both a FON with letter prefix to indicate the year production started, but also a serial number with a A prefix which was applied to the orange label when the guitar was finished. This Gibson ES-335 1960 has a FON prefix "R" to indicate 1960, followed by a batch number and rack position number. The serial number of this ES-335 began with A-35xxx which likely indicates that it wasn't completed until early 1961. It has all 1960 era features including the A prefix serial number and long pickguard so that's why I've called it a 1960. You can check out more about Gibson serial numbers here: Les Paul Serial Number Lookup.

The most interesting feature of this 1960 Gibson ES-335 was its neck pickup. I purchased it from its original owner who didn't even know that the pickups were out of phase from each other. When I took them out to inspect, I noticed that all the solder was original on the pickups, leads, and potentiometers. The anomaly was that the neck pickup never had a PATENT APPLIED FOR sticker and also had slot screws. The bridge pickup had all the typical features I look for including undisturbed solder, PAF sticker, and brass Phillips head screws. The guitar sounded fantastic if you work with the volume knobs to dial in the perfect amount of phase cancellation. 

PAF patent applied for pickups on Gibson ES-335 1960

Gibson ES-335 1960 Value

The value of a vintage Gibson ES-335 from the 1950s or 1960s depends heavily on the exact year it was made, color, tailpiece, condition, and originality. Gibson guitar collectors begin categorizing a certain model by the year it was made because it helps identify the general specifications it will have. Gibson continually updated the manufacturing process, amount of guitars, and features of each model every year. Most Gibson ES-335 guitars from 1958 will have generally similar features that will be vastly different that the average ES-335 made in 1964. Not only that, but Gibson shipped only 317 ES-335 guitars (Sunburst and Blond) in 1958, but 1201 ES-335 (Sunburst and Cherry Red) guitars in 1964. There are far more ES-335 guitars from 1964 than 1958, so Gibson guitar players will have a much more difficult time finding an example from 1958. We are likely to value Gibson ES-335s from 1958 far higher than a guitar from 1964. 

The color of the Gibson ES-335 also highly affects its value. The standard color for an ES-335 in 1958 was Sunburst (fades from a dark outer band to a yellowish color), but 50 of them were made in a natural finish that many Gibson guitar collectors call blonde. Natural finished Gibson ES-335 guitars made in the 1950s and 1960s are exceedingly rare and are often valued at double the price of a Sunburst ES-335. 

The standard tailpiece for a Gibson ES-335 from 1958 until 1965 is a stop bar which holds the strings and is mounted to two studs screwed into the body just below the bridge. The model was also offered with an optional Bigsby vibrato tailpiece like this one: Gibson ES-335 1963. On average, Gibson guitar collectors will value a factory original stop tail example over one with a Bigsby tremolo.

The condition of a Gibson ES-335 has a subjective affect on its value to a Gibson collector, but the originality is more concrete. On average, each changed part will affect a guitar player's desire to buy the guitar. The pickups are very important to a guitar's value, but the tuner buttons are a commonly replaced part. Changed pickups will have a significant affect on the value of an ES-335, but tuner buttons can be replaced with exactly the same part. 

I'm always on the hunt for great Gibson ES-335 guitars from the late 1950s and early 1960s. If you're curious about the value of your Gibson ES-335 then you can contact me here: Sell a Gibson

Gibson ES-335 values by year 1950s 1960s


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