Gibson ES-335 1960 Dating & Values
Posted on September 17 2021
This Gibson ES-335 1960 guitar is one of my favorite examples of the ES-335 that I've ever had. I purchased this guitar from its original owner in Pekin, Illinois a few years ago and now it belongs to a friend. I'd like to eventually find another guitar like this on with the cool 1960 specific features like the slim neck profile, long pickguard, stop bar tailpiece, PAF pickups, etc. If you're looking for where to sell a Gibson ES-335 near me then you can contact me here: Sell a Gibson guitar.
This Gibson ES-335 1960 is a fantastic example of a nicely preserved guitar, but it had an interesting feature that I didn't expect: the pickups were out of phase from each other. The neck pickup was clearly original to the guitar but it had odd features not commonly found on 1960 era Gibson ES-335 guitars. It had brass slot bobbin mounting screws, no Patent Applied For sticker, and was out of phase from the bridge pickup. I initially thought that the pickup had been replaced despite the original owner's claims of having never modified or changed anything. As I inspected the guitar further, I found that all solder appear to be original. I believe this pickup is likely original to the guitar but I've no explanation for the odd features.
How to date a Gibson ES-335 1960
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Knowing how to date a Gibson ES-335 is important to establishing its value. Gibson has continually produced the ES-335 model since 1958 and each year is more or less desirable to each player and collector. My process for dating a Gibson ES-335 includes the serial number, factory order number (if applicable), potentiometer codes, and features. Gibson serial numbers are not the only way to date Gibson guitars since they're not necessarily consecutive and Gibson reused serial numbers throughout the 1960s. The same number may mean different years depending whether its ink stamped, impressed, or has a made in USA stamp next to it. Gibson ES-335 guitars from 1958, 1959, and 1960 have both a serial number and a factory order number (or FON). This guitar's serial number indicates that it left the factory in the first two weeks of January 1961, but the FON begins with an "R" which indicates that it was made in 1960. The factory order number stamp can be found in the treble side F hole if it has one.
Gibson ES-335 1960 Value
Now that we've accurately dating this Gibson ES-335 to 1960, we can begin to compare it to other guitars of similar vintage to determine its value. The color and condition will heavily affect the value of a Gibson ES-335. 1960 was the first year that Cherry Red was available for the model along side the typical Sunburst finish that was standard. Very few Cherry Red ES-335s from 1960 exist so one with that finish would be more desirable to players and collectors than the typical Sunburst like this one.
Another variable that affects the value of a Gibson ES-335 1960 would be the type of tailpiece. Gibson ES-335s were available with a factory installed Bigsby tremolo tailpiece as well as the standard stop bar tailpiece pictured here. Guitar players and collectors have determined that the stop bar tailpiece is more desirable than the Bigsby since it has a bit more tuning stability and a more efficient transfer of string vibrational energy to the body. A stop bar tailpiece guitar with no extra holes from a previous Bigsby will likely garner more attention from buyers and will therefore be inherently more valuable than the alternative.
The condition of a Gibson ES-335 1960 is a bit subjective, but it greatly affects the value. This guitar is in very fine condition with a clean finish, light checking, very few dings and dents, all original parts, and very clearly has low mileage. Many players prefer guitar with more road wear but they're rarely willing to pay more for one with player wear.
Sell a Gibson ES-335 1960
I am actively looking to buy Gibson ES-335 guitars from the late 1950s and 1960s. If you're looking for help with Gibson ES-335 value then I may be able to help. I may be interested in buying your guitar or I may be able to connect you with someone who does. You can contact me here to sell a Gibson guitar.