Have I mentioned that vintage guitar folks are a little nutty? I think I have. I’m referring to the almost universal dislike of the “walnut” finish that Gibson started offering in 1968. It’s pretty clear why the folks at Gibson added the brown stained walnut finish to the line. In 1968, perhaps the most coveted guitar on earth was the Gretsch Country Gentleman. George played one, so any Beatles obsessed kid had to play one. And the color? Well, you know the answer to that one. Walnut. Of course the guitars weren’t made from walnut, they were maple laminate stained brown and walnut is what they called it. So, Gibson saw the opportunity to perhaps grab a piece of that market and added the finish to the line and it proved relatively popular. They didn’t keep track of what was eventually called the ES-335TDW until 1970 and by 1971, it was the most popular color for 335’s outselling red and sunburst. In 1973, they sold 2012 TDWs as compared to 1793 reds and only 540 in sunburst. It was also cheap to produce. Probably even cheaper (and easier) than the red ones. Dark brown can hide a lot of flaws and allows a lot of room for error. In fact, Gibson used the same stain for the backs of the ES-330 sunbursts because they were too cheap to paint both the front and back in the more time consuming sunburst finish. Still, both the Gent and a walnut 335 were expensive guitars back then so it wasn’t the kids who were buying them (it was probably the parents). I wanted a Gent back in the 60’s and actually had a Gretsch Tennessean for a short time. I didn’t particularly like it and went back to my SG pretty quickly. I couldn’t afford a 335 or a Country Gentleman and my parents weren’t buying guitars for me as long as I was making money playing in a band (yeah, $100 a night for six of us). They also had eight other kids to buy stuff for but that’s a different story. Fast forward to the present and there are plenty of brown 335s out there from the 60’s and 70’s. They are cheap and some of them are probably quite good. There is nothing wrong with a 68 or early 69 335 if you can handle the narrow nut. Many 68’s still have pre T-top pickups and are quite well made. By mid 69, they had started cutting some corners and the neck tenon pretty much disappeared making the mid 69’s and later guitars less stable at the heel. 68’s sell pretty well and for decent prices especially for red and sunburst finishes. The brown ones? Not so much. Vintage folks don’t seem to like them very much, myself included. I see 335’s being sunburst, red or natural. I like them in black and my Pelham blue Trini was pretty awesome. But brown? Well, it’s so, I dunno, brown. I don’t buy a lot of later 60’s 335’s but I’ve played enough of them to know that they can really sound great. The same goes for the early 70’s-just try to play before you buy-there are some real dogs among the gems. So, if you can handle the brown, you can probably save yourself $1000 or more. You can always have it refinished.