Released in 1959 as the successor to the ES-225, the ES-330 was an instantly popular model sharing styling cues from the recently released Thinline ES range. Unlike the ES-335, ES-345 and ES-355 the ES-330 was a fully hollow instrument with a body/neck joint at the 16th fret. This gave the ES-330 a different feel and sound to the rest of the Thinline range. Like the ES-225 it was available in single (330T) and double (330TD) pickup options. The model was popular throughout the sixties, selling well for Gibson and regularly outperforming the rest of the Thinline range. During it’s initial production run the ES-330TD would appear in the catalog from 1959 until 1972 by which point it’s place in range was replaced with new models such as the ES-320 and ES-325 leaving the ES-330 to finish its original run with only 269 guitars shipped in the Seventies.
This guitar is a great example and just what we like to see, feel and hear from a well looked after vintage guitar. Dating early seventies guitars is not always as easy as some of the other eras of Gibson production, this guitar has a serial number that puts it into the 1970-72 range with the ‘Made in USA’ stamp, volute and label all firmly Seventies traits. Constructed of a fully hollow Thinline body with no centre block it has the same dimensions as the rest of the Gibson Thinline range but with the neck joining the body at the 19th fret. The Mahogany bound neck has a Rosewood fingerboard with small block inlays, a feature that would come in during 1962. The finishes offered by Gibson in 1970 were Sunburst on the ES-330TD, Walnut on the ES-330TDW and Cherry on the ES-330TDC. The sunburst finish looks great on this guitar with little fading giving it a mellowed, characterful appearance. The neck profile is a slim taper C measuring 20.08mm at the first fret 24.06 at the 12th Fret with a nut width of 39.76mm. The finish to the back of has been played through and has a perfect silky feel.
The individual tuners are still double-line Kluson Deluxe at this point and the rest of the hardware is as you would expect for an early-seventies Gibson with chrome pickup covers, ABR-1 bridge and tailpiece, witch hat knobs and finished with the ‘Custom’ engraved truss rod cover and pickguard. Internally the guitar has a full set of replacement pots wired into the usual 3-way switch. The pickups are original P-90s with a balanced output of 7.86 and 7.91 in the bridge and the neck respectively.
The guitar plays well having been re-fretted with period wire. The neck has the aforementioned slim neck profile preferred by Gibson in the early 1970’s and the guitar weighs in at a featherweight 5.8lbs. The lightweight, hollow construction is a big part of the ES-330 sound with a loud acoustic voice and a lively amplified tone. With volume and drive you are never far away from musical feedback. The bridge pickup sounds snappy with bite and twang, the neck pickup giving big, warm and rounded tones and the middle position a perfect blend of the two that just favours the bridge.
Whilst this one may not appeal to the collectors out there don’t let that put you off, it’s a hard guitar to put down. It plays well, is full of character and the two P-90s sound just wonderful. The guitar comes in a contemporary Gibson brown and pink case.