RSS

Misinformation

And nobody knows if you know anything about guitars but it doesn't stop some folks from acting like they do.

And nobody knows if you know anything about guitars but it doesn’t stop some folks from acting like they do.

The internet is a funny place. Sometime ha-ha funny, sometimes peculiar funny. I don’t, as a rule, spend too much time in places like forums or social media but I will occasionally nose around to see what folks are talking about. Mostly, it’s current events or politics but sometimes, it’s guitar related stuff. I shouldn’t be surprised and I shouldn’t be annoyed or upset but sometimes it’s surprising, annoying and upsetting. There was once a cartoon of two dogs at a computer and one says to the other “on the internet nobody knows you’re a dog”.  True enough. But it is also true that on the internet, nobody knows you’re a complete idiot. Except when they do.

There is an incredible amount of simply wrong information about guitars in general and ES-335’s are well represented here. Here’s what I found in 15 minutes of surfing:

They switched to block markers in 1961. Wire ABR-1’s came in in 1963. The nut width went back to 1 11/16″ in 1968. All 60’s 335’s have “Union Made” on the orange label. T-tops were standard starting in 1965. All 335’s before 1964 have a solid center block.

All of the above “facts” are wrong and were stated by someone as true. The problem is that you don’t generally know who posts this stuff  and you it’s hard to ascertain what’s true and what isn’t. The lesson here is that you shouldn’t use internet forums as a learning center. Fortunately, folks who know the facts often call out the poster of “alternative facts” as not knowing what they’re talking about. But, too often, nobody says anything, so Joe Neophyte, who’s trying to learn about 335’s takes it as fact. I have had dozens of emails disputing my claim that the nut width didn’t go back to 1 11/16″ in 1968. This is kind of a special case since this “information” was posted on a very accurate and very useful website about vintage guitars. It is where I got a lot of my non 335 knowledge from. But it’s wrong. My 335 (and 345 and 355) knowledge comes from looking at real guitars over a period of many years. And I’m not always right because, on occasion, I’ll see something in a real 335 in my possession that breaks a rule and I have to amend my “facts”.

To make matters worse, the misinformation gets repeated by folks who read it somewhere and didn’t question it. So, eventually, it pops up in enough places that you figure it must be true because you’ve seen it ten different times in ten different places. Unfortunately, the wrong “facts” get repeated just as often as the true ones. So, why don’t I call out the purveyors of alternative facts? The truth is that I used to but eventually I got a little tired of being the internet 335 police. I remember, early on, seeing Ebay listings that had the year wrong and a completely inaccurate description and I would diligently write to the seller and set them straight. The response was, occasionally, “oh, thank you so much. I had no idea that the 12 holes in the back weren’t factory.” More often, it was, …”who the hell are you and what makes you think you know more than I do?” That gets pretty old. So, I stopped correcting those who are in need of correction. Much as I’d like to be, it’s simply too much work to be the 335 police, so be careful where you get your information and, more importantly, be careful who you buy from. There are literally 100 things that can be wrong with an electric guitar. I don’t expect anyone to know everything but if you want to know the important stuff, I’ve probably covered it in a post. Use the search function and if that doesn’t find you what you’re looking for, send me an email and I’ll tell you the truth, assuming I know it.

Oh, and the switch to block markers was early 62, wire ABR-1’s were also 62, the nut width didn’t go back to 1 11/16″ in 68, 335’s from 64 until some time in 68 had “Union Made” on them and cut center blocks first appeared in 61 but weren’t the rule until 65.  T-tops seem to have shown up in 66. I’ve never had a 65 with them but I haven’t owned every 65 either (and I don’t open sealed covers).  I’m sure one of the experts out there has seen them in a 65. The trouble is that half the 65’s out there are actually 68’s. There’s a lot of serial number overlap between those two years and, for some reason, nearly everybody simply picks the earlier year, presumably so they can ask more money.  But that’s a different post.

You do get to the point where you can tell the nut width by eye. No calipers required. This is a 68. Does that look like 1 11/16" to you. I didn't think so.

You do get to the point where you can tell the nut width by eye. No calipers required. This is a 68. Does that look like 1 11/16″ to you. I didn’t think so.

 

7 Responses to “Misinformation”

  1. Doug Clavell says:

    Charlie,

    I LOVE the replies to questions on the Interwebs that begin with “well I’ve never played a but…”
    – Doug

  2. Doug Miers says:

    I, for one, have learned a TON from you and appreciate the time and hard work you’ve put in to learn what you have about our favorite guitar. Thank you.

  3. Dave K says:

    Great advice Charlie – everyone posts as if they’re experts on some forums!!

    I’ve seen so much misinformation and worse that even I can recognise with a fraction of your knowledge and experience. Your blog is by far the best source of information which has helped my twice in buying a vintage 335 and a 345.

    Hope you’ve had a good Easter.

  4. Joe Campagna says:

    Here,Here, Charlie!Couldn’t have said it better myself.Having seen and owned 100’s of vintage guitars for most of my life and,being a Luthier/tech I’ve seen things that some folks would say, “Gibson never did that”.But they did.Very frustrating lurking around the various forums.I choose to stay out of it.Too many self appointed experts.Experience is the best teacher.Fortunately,you sir, know your stuff!Cheers.Joe

  5. Steve Newman says:

    Excellent post, as usual, Charlie, and I echo everyone else who has thanked you for the time, effort, and dedication you have put into amassing the huge amount of knowledge you have gathered about the 3×5 family of guitars. Add the fact that you freely share it with anyone who is genuinely interested, and we are all very much in your debt. You are very upfront about discovering anomalies and adjusting your thinking, when you have evidence to support it, too, unlike some other vintage “experts” I could mention. Through hands on observation you have educated us on just how far Gibson could stray from the “standard” of any particular year or era of the 3×5 timeline. I’ll be one of the first buyers when you decide to publish the definitive 335 book! Thanks so very much.

  6. RAB says:

    Thanks Charlie for all you do to share your 335/345/355 knowledge! Gibson lore is always fun!

  7. Nelson Checkoway says:

    Thanks Charlie, for, as always, setting the record straight. The sheer amount and nature of misinformation is staggering. But not surprising. You and a handful of experienced dealers and collectors have the facts. But–and this is important–there is a huge market for vintage guitars, well beyond serious collectors and afficianados–who revel in the bragging rights of playing a “vintage” instrument. Most are too young to have lived through the transition from true vintage (mid-60s and prior) through the “horrible” years that gave birth to the vintage movement. They are so far removed from the origins of vintage that they will believe anything they hear. It’s exacerbated by well known players who also fall short of a “certain age” who circulate bad information. In fact, I’m surprised at how many inaccuracies are spouted in “star” player interviews — and how few are challenged (either the interviewers are star-struck or similarly ill-informed). And when good money is paid for old instruments that come with a dubious story, there’s a strong incentive to repeat the tale. Someone who gets fooled into paying a premuim for a “rare 1965 Les Paul Deluxe” (unicorns, anyone?) will perpetuate the back story.

Leave a Reply

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)