While this 1961 Gibson ES-330TD would easily pass the "Museum Grade" exam, it aces the Tone test a few times over.
Boy, aren't we lucky? This 1961 Gibson ES-330TD in original Sunburst finish recently came through our front doors, and we're just knocked out by how incredibly clean it is. It undoubtedly ranks as THE cleanest ES-330 - vintage or modern - that we've had in the shop. When the screws haven't met a screwdriver since Kalamazoo, you know you've got something special.
The classic 'Sunburst & Dots' look found on many a Gibson guitar during this period doesn't really present any better than this. Original nickel-plated hardware throughout, including the no-wire ABR-1 bridge, trapeze tailpiece, and "single line" Kluson tuners, all remains as clean as you'll find it on any vintage Gibson. Factory plastics are equally as gleaming, and those beautiful sharp-edged reflector knobs pop against that rich Sunburst finish. Note that the guitar has also never had a strap button installed on the neck heel; just as it was from the factory.
There are really just two areas of wear that are notable - one small finish chip on the headstock and a light but identifiable surface scratch on the treble side of the lower bout just below the controls.
It's easy to get caught up in the looks when a guitar of this age is so remarkably clean, but don't think for a second that we would overlook the tone.
The first time plugging in... striking a chord, playing a melody... was pure bliss. This is just one of those ES-330s that has "it". The original P90 pickups are superbly matched, and exhibit a lot of the qualities we often find in 50s P90s, combined with some of the powerful tone of 60s P90s. It's the perfect mix of sweet and chimey, woody and percussive, open yet ripe with musical compression and bloom...
...and could it be any easier to play? This slim C neck profile has a smooth, slim taper many early 60s Gibsons have, but the neck isn't totally flattened out as some can be from the year prior. The original medium jumbo frets show very little wear with plenty of wire left for years of continued enjoyment, and even the original saddles on the ABR-1 retain their singular string slots. Details!
To top it off, it includes its original pebble-grained black Lifton hardshell case with gold interior, nearly as clean as the guitar itself. A devastatingly handsome pairing if you ask us.
Examples like this don't come along often. We're hard-pressed to rate any guitar a Perfect 10, but we're not quite sure how much closer you can get than this ES-330.