GIBSON ES-335 ES-345 ES-355
RSS

ES 355

This one off is pretty interesting. Factory Byrdland tailpiece, Super 400 inlays and bound f-holes. Probably an employee guitar, it never strayed far from home. It was bought within 150 miles of Kalamazoo.

This one off is pretty interesting. Factory Byrdland tailpiece, Super 400 inlays and bound f-holes. Probably an employee guitar, it never strayed far from home. It was bought within 150 miles of Kalamazoo.

This is the only 58 ES-355 I've owned. They only made 10 of them in 58. Stop tail was added. This extreme fade is typical of very early red 355's. You can seethe original color peaking out from behind the guard.

This is the only 58 ES-355 I’ve owned. They only made 10 of them in 58. Stop tail was added. This extreme fade is typical of very early red 355’s. You can seethe original color peaking out from behind the guard.

It doesn't get much rarer than this. This is the only known 63 stop tail ES-355 Mono (or stereo, for that matter). There a 6 known stop tail 355's from 58-64. I've now owned 4 of the 6.

It doesn’t get much rarer than this. This is the only known 63 stop tail ES-355 Mono (or stereo, for that matter). There a 6 known stop tail 355’s from 58-64. I’ve now owned 4 of the 6.

If you saw the hit film "The Big Short" then you know who Dr. Michael Burry is. This was his guitar-a beautiful 60 mono with double white PAFs.

Here’s a beautiful 60 mono with double white PAFs. If you saw the movie “The Big Short”, this guitar was owned by the character played by Christian Bale. He played drums in the movie but played this in real life.

This is one of only a handful of stop tail ES-355's. They were all Custom orders and I know of 6 of them. I've owned four of the six. This one is a 60 and formerly owned by Charlie Wirz, one of the first vintage dealers in the country.

This is one of only a handful of stop tail ES-355’s. They were all Custom orders and I know of 6 of them. I’ve owned four of the six. This one is a 60 and formerly owned by Charlie Wirz, one of the first vintage dealers in the country, hence the “CW” at the end of the fingerboard.

Ultra rare and maybe the only one. 1959 mono factory stop tail ES-355. My holy grail (or one of them anyway)

Ultra rare and maybe the only one. 1959 mono factory stop tail ES-355. My holy grail (or one of them anyway)

Another mono 59 ES-355. Smaller transitional neck on this one but the double white PAFs make up for that.

Another mono 59 ES-355. Smaller transitional neck on this one but the double white PAFs make up for that.

Killer big neck 59 355 mono. Had a headstock crack but still a great, great guitar.

Killer big neck 59 355 mono. Had a headstock crack but still a great, great guitar.

Bill C. from an undisclosed location sent me this photo of his '60 mono ES-355. Look at the gold on that beauty. He must have worn gloves while playing. I always like the personalized touches folks put on their guitars-it gives them context and some small amount of history. This is a fairly early 60 so it still has the long guard and amber switch tip. It also has black non reflector knobs-a great look. I think it's the "newer" red but given the condition of the gold it may just have never seen the sun. Thanks Bill. Great addition to the site

Bill C. from an undisclosed location sent me this photo of his ’60 mono ES-355. Look at the gold on that beauty. He must have worn gloves while playing. I always like the personalized touches folks put on their guitars-it gives them context and some small amount of history. This is a fairly early 60 so it still has the long guard and amber switch tip. It also has black non reflector knobs-a great look. I think it’s the “newer” red but given the condition of the gold it may just have never seen the sun. Thanks Bill. Great addition to the site

 

A factory stop tail '59 ES-355 has been on my personal bucket list for years. The fact that it's a 59 is just icing on the cake. If it was mono, I'd be beside myself but this'll do. Love that watermelon red too.

A factory stop tail ’59 ES-355 has been on my personal bucket list for years. The fact that it’s a 59 is just icing on the cake. If it was mono, I’d be beside myself but this’ll do. Love that watermelon red too.

 

’61 mono on the left and early 60 mono on the right. Note the difference in the red (and the Bigsbys).

 

 

One of my favorite guitars – a 59 mono ES-355. Double white in the neck. Not the huge neck but not the flat one either.

 

This ultra rare stoptail ’63 355 had my name all over it and then I got outbid. Thanks Roger.

You all know how I don’t like a Maestro on a 3×5 but I’ll make an exception for a blonde 355.

You won’t see another like this. If you see a sunburst 62 ES-355 with bound f-holes and a sideways, it’s this one. One of a kind for sure. Thanks, Rob.

Here’s a cool mid 59 TDSV from JR, a reader from somewhere in Cyberspace. 59’s are great because they get that fade, although this one is still pretty vibrant

 

 

 

This is the first 355 I posted on the site. I didn’t own it at the time, I just grabbed a photo of the internet so I would have one. Now I own it. It found me.  Mono, of course. Too bad I didn’t get the cool BF Vibrolux too

Here’s a nice example of a 59 ES-355. Long guard and all original. Played great too.

A Maestro equipped 65 ES-355. I don’t like the way Maestros look but they are pretty stable if you must have a whammy. This 65 had a full 1 11/16″ nut.

Big fat neck 59 SVT ES-355. Sayonara, red. See you in Tokyo next time I’m in town.

 

You gotta love the 355s with the sideways. Unless it’s really well set up and balanced, it makes a crappy trem but it has a lot of mass and makes a pretty good tailpiece. this one is a mono, of course, and is headed for the personal collection of a well known collector and dealer.

I love the “watermelon” fade, This 59 mono 355 lives in New Jersey now. I really liked this one while I had it.

61 Responses to “ES 355”

  1. Jeff Beaumont says:

    Hello from Australia, Charlie I loved reading your website and drooling over your pictures. You have the finest guitars I have ever seen! I proudly have a 355 from 1959 and noticed your note on FON s. hence I looked at mine and it begins with T. So it may be a little later. Anyway it’s a great guitar and out of the 20 or so I own my favourite and best. It’s a mono version and has a stop tail which I was told was original but I tend to think it isn’t. It’s a great guitar missing a couple of original bits but plays like a dream. The neck size and feel is perfect and it helps my accuracy when playing. I love your train shop and who knows maybe I can visit it one day. Have a great day. Jeff

  2. cgelber says:

    The “T” FON actually makes it earlier, not later. The FON prefix goes backwards -T for 58, S for 59, R for 60 and Q for 61 and then they were discontinued (the FONs not the guitars). So your guitar was built (or at least started) in 1958 and shipped in 1959. You can easily tell if the stop tail is original by looking to see if there are holes at the endpin (strap button) from the Bigsby. There should also be 2 holes in the top.
    If it’s a real 59 stop tail mono, it’s one of only a few. Is the serial number A29538 or A29540?

  3. Jeff Beaumont says:

    No it’s A29599

  4. Truett Bridges says:

    Hi Charley,
    First time on your site, it’s awesome!
    Man, the ES-355 in red with the sideways trem a couple of photos up is a ringer for one I’ve got. Mine’s a ’63, with a 1 11/16″ nut (mono, of course ;-)
    I’m interested in how you determine bobbin color without taking off the PU cover; that possible?
    I was also under the impression that the sideways was more of a ’61/’62 variation, but there it is on my ’63. I know the funky trem is not a valued addition, nor is all the gold HW and binding (although I think it all looks tres cool). Just wondering if the year, the mono, the sideways = anything other than oddity vs collectability.
    Your thoughts?
    PS: has anyone ever taken off the sideways and added a stop tailpiece? No holes in the top to give it away (although you can’t really hide those four at the bottom flanking the strap button ;-)

  5. cgelber says:

    You can check the bobbins by removing the pickups, turning them over and unscrewing the bobbin screws. One for each bobbin is sufficient (otherwise the guts fall out (magnet and spacer). Shine a light in there and see if you see white. It should be pretty obvious. Don’t expect whites or zebras in a 355 after 1961. It’s really unlikely. I’ve stop tailed a number of sideways them 355’s. It’s a smart mod because nobody thinks you’re wrecking a great guitar. The sideways, unless it is absolutely perfectly calibrated is useless. If you can get the spring tensions exactly right it’s usable but still not great.

  6. Truett Bridges says:

    Thanks for the reply. Very true on calibrating that sideways trem. I’ve always just let it sit, didn’t use it, and didn’t want to mod the guitar for obvious reasons.
    So Charlie, just so I know what I’m doing, if I get my calipers on the neck: it was easy to measure the nut at 1 11/16″, but when I measure for thickness at the first fret, does that mean I put the top arm of the calipers across the actual metal of the fret, or across the wood of the fingerboard? Not sure when in ’63 mine was made, but the neck doesn’t seem super slim, although I haven’t played a lot of ES’s. I’d like to apply your measurement criteria.
    PS: read your boy’s short story, and it was quite good, IMHO (I’ve been published as a poet, but minimally, and I believe short fiction is a REAL challenge). It was well-written, sly, and a nice commentary on popular culture and the state of the world as seen through the eyes of his generation. As the reader, I was pulled into that world, which again is a feat for the writer of short fiction.
    I’ve got a smart one too, a really good musician (a trained vocal wiz); in Chicago working on his math PhD after finishing up at Columbia. He also had great mentoring/teaching in high school (Lovett School here in Hot’lanta). You should be proud, as I’m sure you are!

  7. cgelber says:

    Measure behind the fret (on the fingerboard). Thanks for the kind words regarding my son’s story. He’s published a few now in various places. And yes, I’m very proud of him.

  8. Carlos Sousa says:

    Hi fm Portugal, First a big thank you for keeping this nice website and place for learning and discussion around this beauties.
    I have a ES355 fm 69 Stereo, with Maestro Vibrola equiped and thsi hardware is Silver also the Pickups covers. Was this an exception for this year of production or it have been changed in the past fm previous owner?
    Your opinion will be very welcome.
    Best Regards
    Carlos

  9. cgelber says:

    Probably changed. Factory specs have always been gold hardware unless specially ordered with nickel or chrome.

  10. Jon J. Markowitz says:

    Just accidentally found your ES-335 website looking for serial number info…VERY happy to know there are other guitarists that are as obsessed with 335’s as much as I am.

    Just found a used Gibson Memphis 1963 Historic VOS in sunburst that is supposed to be a 50th anniversary model which would make it a 2013 production. However, I’m wondering if you know how to confirm the serial number for that year of production. Stamped on the back of the headstock and in ink on the label inside is the SN: 02256.

    Do you know of a website/database that would reference that number/year?

    ALSO, I’m wondering if anyone knows the names and history of the phenomenal builders at Gibson Kalamazoo who shaped the necks on the 335’s, 345’s, 355’s, 350’s, Barney Kessels, L-5’s, Byrdland’s, Les Paul’s, SG’s, etc., from ’52 rheoufh ’64 ?? I especially love the shape of the 1961 guitars…wide and shallow. Some of the 60’s, 62’s, 63’s and even 64’s have similar shapes. Although I’ve found often the deeper fatter necks from 58-’59 have wider/deeper resonance at wider frequency range.

    I”ve played a ’56 Les Paul that was converted to PAF’s that had a chunky ‘V’ profile… I wonder who shaped that one at the factory. Maybe it was a custom order. I wish more had been made with deep chunky V’s.

    Love seeing the photos of these amazing guitars!

  11. cgelber says:

    I wish I knew the folks who worked at Gibson back in the day. I’ve spoken to a guy from the paint department and learned a lot from him but no one who made necks. I know very little about new 335’s. They make too many models to keep up.

Leave a Reply

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)