Since its release in 1959, the Gibson ES-330 has never received nearly as much attention as the higher-numbered 335. At a glance, the 330 looks a lot like a 335, so many might mistakenly assume its lower number means it's a step down, a "budget model." Well, nothing could be further from the truth, and when you look at a 330 closely, you quickly realize this guitar is worlds away from a 335—it's a different beast altogether.
While its body shape is reminiscent of other Gibsons that are semi-hollow, the ES-330 is a totally hollow, which gives it a ton of natural acoustic resonance and sustain. But it's still a thinline, so it's much more comfortable on your lap than a big jazz box. Unlike its higher-numbered counterparts (which have humbuckers), the ES-330 has two P90s that are full of bite, growl, and snappy single-coil response. The early (pre '67/68) 330s also have a shorter neck because the neck meets the body at the 16th fret instead of the 19th. In keeping with the hollowbody tradition, the 330 utilizes a trapeze tailpiece, which makes it a popular choice for Bigsby vibratos (both factory and after-market).
This 1961 ES-330TDC is definitely a player's guitar, but it's got its own unique mojo, and there's certainly some collector appeal, too. It has had its share of modifications, but all of them were done properly and most have only improved its sound and playability. The current setup is perfect—guitar plays beautifully all the way up the neck and intonation is spot on. All around, this '61 ES-330 is a monster.
- Full refinish. Original cherry red finish was mostly removed (still visible in spots), and with clear coat lacquer on top, the result is the gorgeous brown finish you see. It still fluoresces under our black light, and it shows the old patina on the binding.
- Modern Bigsby. Definitely a pro installation. Works 100% as it should, and the guitar stays in tune well.
- Refretted with stainless steel frets. Gorgeous Brazilian Rosewood fingerboard.
- Non-original Kluson Deluxe tuning machines.
- Non-original bone nut.
- Professionally repaired strap button hole on bass side horn.
- Original ABR-1 Bridge.
- Original pickguard.
- Original electronic parts. Pickup winding appears to be all-original, but the p90s are crazy hot! Neck reads 9.00 k ohms, bridge reads 10.66 k ohms.
This 1961 Gibson ES-330 is a fantastic hollowbody that wants to push an amp when it's wide open, but cleans up nicely at lower volumes. Its pickups are well-balanced, and the controls provide a ton of flexibility, especially in the middle position. Original case with Gibson badge included.