1968 Gibson ES-330 Hollowbody Electric Guitar

My friend Wayne owns this guitar and is probably just about ready to move it on. I'm definitely hot to trot on P90-equipped guitars of most persuasions but, ironically, I mostly see humbucker-equipped ES-345s up here or ES-335 variants when it comes to Gibson-style semi-hollow or hollowbody guitars. It was thus a bit of a shock when he pulled out this '68 330 with its snarly, witchy chrome-covered P90s. Being a later 330, it has the long (19th-fret) neck joint which gives crazy fret access up the board.

Of course it's awesome plugged-in, even with the skinny 1 9/16" nut width. The P90s on this one are bright and snappy with a ton of output and they quite simply bite. This is certainly not the relaxed, early '50s P90 vibe -- it's definitely a straight-up rock (or twangy country-picking?) P90 sound. Aside from the neck, the specs are otherwise similar to the earlier version of the ES-330 with a 1 5/8" deep body and 16" lower bout. The board radius is 12" and the neck has a mild-medium C-shaped profile.

My work included a fret level/dress, restring with 10s, and slight adjustment of the bridge location. It's playing on-the-dot with 1/16" action overall at the 12th fret and a straight neck. The guitar is mostly original but I'm not 100% sure about the pickguard (there's an extra hole on the side for mounting a pickguard bracket), the trussrod cover is a replacement, and a few of the saddles on the bridge are unoriginal -- though the bridge itself appears to be.

It's finished in "walnut" and the finish shows the usual Gibson weather-check and fine finish cracking here and there all over.

The original Kluson tuners are still going strong and the truss functions perfectly.

The original jumbo frets are low and wide but still do have some life left in them. I love the pearloid markers on this one.

The metal-covered P90s have much better noise rejection compared to their plastic-covered friends (to my ears). They tend to give the sound a bit more DeArmond/Fender snarl and bite, however.

The wiring harness and jack appear to all be original, too.

There are a few replacement screws on the tuners.

The bridge doesn't have the extra round "feet" that some of these guitars have. It also doesn't look like it ever had them as there's no wear to the finish next to the original mounting holes. I moved the bridge back just slightly as the compensation wasn't adjustable enough as-is.

The original hard case is also with it. It's well-worn but functional.


Nick R said…
In the early 80s, I saw Commander Cody and Bill Kirchen and Bill was playing an ES 330.I know he's a Tele man and has written a paean to this "Hammer of the Honky Tonk Gods" but in his hands the 330 was a Tele.
Jake Wildwood said…
Yep -- these particular P90s have that sound. It's more of a rockabilly tone than a jazz/blues tone on this guitar.