I have a Gibson 335 that is a great guitar. I’m looking in the future to add to my semi hollow stable and came across the 535. Just curious how these compare to the Gibson’s. I understand they are made by ex Gibson employees. Anyone have experiences?
Post by funkykikuchiyo on Jun 13, 2020 9:49:35 GMT -5
They're alright. Definitely try before you buy, because the super-fans sell them as "like a Gibson but BETTER!" and if you buy one site unseen with that in mind, you'll likely be disappointed. They aren't quite apples and oranges, more like oranges and tangerines. I can totally see someone preferring one over the other for entirely valid, subjective reasons. G&L gets stuck in a similar loop, but I'd say those are even further variations, more like oranges and grapefruits. I've played some that were a joy to play and I didn't want to put down, but at no point was I feeling like they were "beating" Gibson.
The whole "Gibson ex-employee" thing is kinda funny to me, because that would be the same group that made the "Norlin era" stuff that people loathe, often in the same discussion circles as the ones that praise Heritage. Really, assessing a product is never as simple as isolating one building or group of people. A group of line workers can be doing significantly different work when management changes, and just a few people turning over can have a similar effect.
It is almost too obvious to repeat, but if you like it, then it is good and you don't need to justify it. Just ignore the brand drama.
If you buy used, be sure to check the neck. I've seen a few twists on Heritages... maybe multi-piece gone awry? I don't know if my sample size was big enough to say they are any more or less likely to twist than anything else, but it doesn't hurt to check.
Thanks guys. Next time I make a road trip I’ll try to find a dealer and test drive one. I’m kind of looking for something a little different than what I have . Seems to be I have had strats , 335s and Lester’s most of my life. Maybe it’s time to explore some teles as I’ve never owned one.
"Don't know about being made by ex Gibson employees but I do know they are made in the same Kalamazoo Michigan Building where Gibsons were made..."
That is true. When Gibson moved to Nashville from Kalamazoo, no employees from the production line made the move--according to several interviews with Gibson people at the time. A few in management moved, but others in management remained and occupied the Kalamazoo location along with existing workforce to start the Heritage Guitar Co. So at the time, "made by ex-Gibson empoloyees" was true.
Today that is not a consideration because the move was completed in 1984 (36 years ago) and all those ex-Gibson people are retired. There may be a few of the original geezers left, but not many.
Last Edit: Jun 14, 2020 8:21:42 GMT -5 by Peegoo 🏁
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I had a 535 and it was a well-built guitar. I happened to be in Kalamazoo while it was being built so they gave me a tour of the factory. It was really cool. The only thing I didn't like was the Schaller roller bridge that had tuning stability issues. I later regretted selling it, but I sold it many years later for what I paid for it.
Regarding Heritage vs Gibson and the Norlin era, the Norlin era had two periods; 1969-1976 and then 1976-1985. It was the first period that had the bad reputation for crossbanding, 3-piece laminate necks, and voluted necks. These decisions were not the fault of the luthiers but instead management who wanted to cut costs.
Heritage bought the old factory in 1985 and returned to the time-honored practices of building guitars.
Good quality overall for the $ but a harder sell down the road. Even if a certain model is as 'good' as a similar Gibson it'll be harder to recoup your $ should you decide to sell. I find their carved archtops to be brighter than Gibson's, I'll stick w my old vintage Gibbys w a full thick tone thank you. But they're a good company overall imo
Philly! where else? Hammond B-3 Capital of The World
I had what was called a Prospect Standard model. Beautiful playing and sounding guitar. A real piece of art. I sold it because I had too much equipment for being a mediocre musician and I was facing a move across country. Also, it was so beautiful, I didn’t want to ding it, hence it got decreased playing time next to my telecasters. No problems selling it at all at a very fair price.
Some complained the volute changed the feel of the neck in the first position. Also, necks were still known to break with a volute. It was a preference thing. The 50's purists didn't like it. Others did.
Post by funkykikuchiyo on Jun 18, 2020 19:36:05 GMT -5
It depends on where they're put, but they often don't contribute extra strength if they aren't adding any long grain material. A lot of times it is just a bit of extra end grain hanging off the back. It might add a little meat behind the truss rod cavity, but direction matters a lot when you're talking about wood. I've done peghead repairs on necks with volutes, and the crack usually just runs out the end of the grain on the neck side of the volute, sorta parallel to the fingerboard anyway. Simply not over sanding that area to begin with works well, too.
I gigged the top of the line Gibsons (Les Paul Customs) I found them to be utter garbage! The gold plating on the pickups, tuners and tuning pegs flaked off, the frett wire was so cheap... They needed frett dressings after 6 months. And the guitars went downhill from there. (OH.... did I mention the tunning issue or the fragile headstock?)
I see new Gibsons selling $4000+ I cringe! Heck, I see Les Paul Standards going for $2500 and I roll my eyes.
(as far as I know.....) Heritage has never used cheap materials like Gibson has in the past.
I don't know what Gibson is doing now as far as quality. Their quality might be good now IDK. But seeing how they almost went out of business, it looks like their quality didn't improve since when I used them in the late 80s.
Cosmetically, the Gibson Headstock looks visually better than Heritage... but Heritage's headstock is "function over fashion" The string spacing on the D & G strings are closer (resulting in less drag in the nut area) and the headstock angle is less as well as there is more wood at the bend. (Not fragile, less prone to damage if dropped) That makes the Heritage design a much better design than Gibsons.
Heck, IMO... Epiphone's headstock design is better than the stock Gibson.
I think except for a few die-hards Gibson fans, Gibson has stayed in business from "first-time buyers" Obviously, from my past experiences, I couldn't spend the $$ Gibson is asking... But... From what I see with Heritage, I think maybe I could) That said... you would have to pry the Fender Telecaster out of my hand to do it.
I have a Heritage CM140 Custom that I bought from Good News Music in Traverse City Michigan in 1986. The only thing I didn't like about it was the pickups. They were Schallers and were just too bright to my ears. I still have it. It is my favorite guitar. I'm planning on passing it down to my oldest grandson when that time comes. It is the best guitar I've ever had. When it was new the neck would move a lot with temperature and humidity changes but as it aged it settled down and very rarely needs an adjustment.
So for me, I have tried and played Gibsons but nothing has compared to my Heritage.
Ironically, when Henry took over it was a good thing - or so I’ve read. From what I’ve read he started addressing that quality slump.
Occasionally I see Lesters from the ‘90 on Reverb. They look like they’ve held up well.
I have a mid-90s Studio and it doesn't have any quality issues, as far as I can tell. The hardware is all gold (not necessarily my preference, but oh well), and it hasn't flaked off at all. It's definitely worn in spots, like the bridge pickup, but it gets played a lot so not unexpected.
The neck is staight and the frets are all still good. If it had an ebony fretboard like they did a year or two earlier, it's probably be a pretty desirable guitar.