A hollowbody thinline guitar with a sound that appealed to jazz players.
The groundbreaking double-cutaway thinline electric guitar series initiated by Gibson with the ES-335 in 1958 extended to both upper- and lower-end models by 1959. These included the higher-priced, gold-hardware-outfitted ES-345 and ES-355, as well as the student-level ES-330T, ES-330TD, ES-125TC, and ES-125TCD. (The “D” was used to denote a double-pickup model.) The ES-330 shared the same body dimensions as the ES-335, ES-345, and ES-355, but had a very different interior construction. Rather than having a semi-hollow body, the ES-330 was fully hollow, similar to the original 1955 thinlines like the ES-350T and ES-225. In spite of the ES-330’s low price, the high quality and deep sound made it a favorite of jazz guitarists. Grant Green was perhaps the most notable proponent of the ES-330 sound.
The 1966 Gibson catalog text describes the guitar, stressing the correlation to the ES-335: “A wonderful instrument with truly magical tone, available with twin adjustable pickups. The double-cutaway body and thin silhouette make it wonderfully easy to hold and play.” The catalog also outlines the basic appointments: “Constructed from the finest curly maple and rosewood. Chrome-plated metal parts. Slim, fast, low-action neck joins the body at 16th fret. One-piece mahogany neck, adjustable truss rod.”
Note the block inlays, chrome P-90 covers and trapeze tailpiece, and the sparkling burgundy finish—all era-perfect appointments of the 1967 ES-330TD. The “TD” stands for thinline, double-pickup.
The ES-330 pictured has the standard features for 1967, including a rosewood fretboard with block inlays (changed from dot inlays after mid 1962), two single-coil P-90 pickups with chrome covers (the original black plastic covers were changed to nickel-plated metal in 1962, and to chrome-plated by 1965), a Tune-o-matic bridge with nylon saddles, and a chrome-plated trapeze tailpiece. Sparkling burgundy was a standard color for that year, along with sunburst, and sherry. The 1967 list price was $365. The current value for one in excellent all-original condition is $3,500.
This thin-faced, beveled headstock and Kluson tuners are also signatures common to many low- and
mid-priced 1960s Gibsons.
The amp behind the guitar is a 1968 Fender Super Reverb. The front panel has a “normal” channel, with volume, treble, and bass knobs, and a “vibrato” channel with volume, treble, middle, bass, reverb, speed, and intensity controls. Two 6L6 power tubes push 40 watts through four 10" Oxford speakers. The 1968 list price was $429.50. The current value for the amp is $1,500.
Sources for this article include Gibson Electrics: The Classic Years by A.R. Duchossoir, Gibson Shipment Totals: 1937-1979 by Larry Meiners, The Gibson 335: Its History and Its Players by Adrian Ingram, and Fender Amps: The First Fifty Years by John Teagle and John Sprung.