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  1. #1

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    What would be the difference between a 90s and one from let's say early 2000s (not the one with the floater). Did they change anything over the years? Maybe the neck profile?

    TIA

    DB

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  3. #2

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    I haven't had one from either period, but my overall impression from occasional tryouts is that the build quality, at least finish, is inferior to a 175. Of those I have more experience; lots of QC issues in 2004-2005.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchbopper
    What would be the difference between a 90s and one from let's say early 2000s (not the one with the floater). Did they change anything over the years? Maybe the neck profile?

    TIA

    DB
    I have played both and the neck profile is slimmer in the mid 90's. Everything else seemed the same.

  5. #4

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    I've never read of any alterations before the change to a floater in 2004. Mine's a '93 and is excellent. There have been complaints about the trapeze tailpiece hinge but I've had no issues. Perhaps I'm easier to please than most as it's hard enough to find any lefty archtops let alone a decent Gibson!

    Gibson ES-165 Herb Ellis question-pmb-jpg

  6. #5

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    I have a floater and I had a non floater, probably 6 years apart.
    The neck on my Floater is FULL, (let’s put it that way..). I love the neck. But the problem is the heel. It is like “obstacle” big. I think the headstock is a tiny bit larger on my 165 than on prior years. And the headstock has inlays. The fit, finish and quality on my guitar is second to none. It is 16 years old and it is still very much perfect.
    JD

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by PMB
    I've never read of any alterations before the change to a floater in 2004. Mine's a '93 and is excellent. There have been complaints about the trapeze tailpiece hinge but I've had no issues. Perhaps I'm easier to please than most as it's hard enough to find any lefty archtops let alone a decent Gibson!

    Gibson ES-165 Herb Ellis question-pmb-jpg
    I love the red ES-165. I so wanted a red one to go with my other red Gibsons. Thing is, a few years ago prices were high so, I was able to get a red/gold ES-175 (which apparently no one wants in a ES-175 color combo) for just a few hundred more, so I went that route.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Max405
    I have a floater and I had a non floater, probably 6 years apart.
    The neck on my Floater is FULL, (let’s put it that way..). I love the neck. But the problem is the heel. It is like “obstacle” big. I think the headstock is a tiny bit larger on my 165 than on prior years. And the headstock has inlays. The fit, finish and quality on my guitar is second to none. It is 16 years old and it is still very much perfect.
    JD
    Why did you sell the first one?

    DB

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by PMB
    I've never read of any alterations before the change to a floater in 2004. Mine's a '93 and is excellent. There have been complaints about the trapeze tailpiece hinge but I've had no issues. Perhaps I'm easier to please than most as it's hard enough to find any lefty archtops let alone a decent Gibson!

    Gibson ES-165 Herb Ellis question-pmb-jpg
    Looking sharp PMB!

    DB

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    I have played both and the neck profile is slimmer in the mid 90's. Everything else seemed the same.
    Did you like them?

    DB

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Gitterbug
    I haven't had one from either period, but my overall impression from occasional tryouts is that the build quality, at least finish, is inferior to a 175. Of those I have more experience; lots of QC issues in 2004-2005.
    OK thanks for the reply. So you feel the Ellis is inferior to a normal ES 175? That's the first time I hear that. I did read something about breaking tailpieces ...

    DB

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchbopper
    Why did you sell the first one?
    DB
    I honestly don’t remember. It was most likely to buy something else. I seem to remember I wanted a Floater 165 to begin with. But it was excellent. It had the smaller headstock and the gold silk screened logo.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchbopper
    Did you like them?

    DB
    I liked the mid 90's 165 quite a bit (it belonged to a student of mine). It could have been all the jazz guitar that I would ever need. The early 2000's model had a neck that is fatter than I like and it had a very big heel. I would not want one of those, but guys who like a fuller neck might like it.

  14. #13

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    Give me a FAT NECK every time!

  15. #14

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    I have a ‘91 which I think may be the first year of production. Excellent quality IMHO. No problems with the tailpiece. I would put the neck at a medium depth. The 490R pickup sometimes doesn’t get any love but I like it. Seems right for the guitar. Great instrument and used to be undervalued until fairly recently from what I see.

  16. #15

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    I had a 2001 Herb Ellis. The label on mine said it was an ES-175, but it was clearly a standard ES-165 with a single built-in pickup and Herb’s signature on the headstock. It was a great guitar. I played it exclusively on all my gigs for a few years and it never disappointed me. It had a fairly substantial neck, quite similar to my 1959 ES-175. I loved the flamey top and the gold-plated hardware. The original 490R pickup sounded great to me. I removed the tune-o-matic saddle and put on a rosewood one, but that was the only change I made. I can’t speak to differences over the years, but I was definitely pleased with the one I owned and I think they are really great guitars for the money.
    Keith
    Gibson ES-165 Herb Ellis question-8e0666b6-487b-4e13-aa78-19a419f97cfc-jpg

  17. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by floatingpickup
    I had a 2001 Herb Ellis. The label on mine said it was an ES-175, but it was clearly a standard ES-165 with a single built-in pickup and Herb’s signature on the headstock. It was a great guitar. I played it exclusively on all my gigs for a few years and it never disappointed me. It had a fairly substantial neck, quite similar to my 1959 ES-175. I loved the flamey top and the gold-plated hardware. The original 490R pickup sounded great to me. I removed the tune-o-matic saddle and put on a rosewood one, but that was the only change I made. I can’t speak to differences over the years, but I was definitely pleased with the one I owned and I think they are really great guitars for the money.
    Keith
    Gibson ES-165 Herb Ellis question-8e0666b6-487b-4e13-aa78-19a419f97cfc-jpg
    Yeah, it seems to me a perfect gigging guitar. No frills, few knobs. I already have a 175 by the way. Does it sound the same like one?

    DB

  18. #17

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    DB, I know you are not looking for a Floater 165. But I have to say this..
    For some reason, With Ti Jazz Swing 12's, my Floater 165 is an OUTSTANDING acoustic instrument. Its not really loud. Its just smooth. Perfectly well balanced. Deep but not overwhelmingly so.
    If I only had one guitar, that is the one it would be. For me anyway.
    From memory, my 165 had a GREAT sound. Very tight and solidly built. Better acoustically then the Modern 175s are. More like the 1953 175d that I grew up on. Electrically, very warm. More "airy" than the 175s. Same responsiveness. An absolute keeper of a guitar for sure.
    JD
    Another thing..
    Dont give up the floater 165. Play one. The BJB is a very powerful and well balanced pickup. And the pickup placement is up against the base of the neck. Swap out the pickguard with a nice L5 Guard. Put a schatten under it, with tone and volume controls. Back the tone down to about 8 and You have transformed the Guitar into one of the best guitars out there. Trust me man. You'd LOVE it.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchbopper
    Why did you sell the first one?

    DB
    I bought Joe's 90's era ES165 and my recollection is he knew I had some cash for a special purchase of an archtop and offered this to me. The fit, finish, set-up, frets, everthing about this guitar is perfect. I love playing it. I don't use it on clips posted here much because I keep it at home and I usually do my clips at my office/lab area where I have a media corner for doing other things like lecture presentations. But it's a sweet guitar, solid as a tank, no drama, no nonsense. If I had to keep only one archtop, this is the one I'd keep.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchbopper
    Yeah, it seems to me a perfect gigging guitar. No frills, few knobs. I already have a 175 by the way. Does it sound the same like one?

    DB
    Mine does not sound like any ES175 I've owned. The potted 490R pickup has a tighter low end and just a little bit of growl in the middle, and a more chunky/thunky high end. The 90's 165 are built heavy like the late era 175's. When I pick up this guitar, it just feels solid. I find it inspires a lot of confidence in my when I play it.

    I wish it had inlays, not silk-screening. That's my only very mild, trivial complaint, but once I start playing it all goes away.

    BTW if you listen to Joe Pass' late career custom single-pickup ES175, I often think the 165 sounds like that.

  21. #20

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    2003 was the last year of the built in pu. They also did away with the HE silk screen headstock that year and went with a 175 headstock with a HE trussrod cover. 2004 they went with the BJB.
    I am a 1pu guy so in 2010 I had Gibson make me this. Gibson ES-165 Herb Ellis question-84a88a05-71c6-4104-a205-389a7aa45868-jpgGibson ES-165 Herb Ellis question-eb54608a-a278-4026-b9b2-cda8f8975f5f-jpgGibson ES-165 Herb Ellis question-d5156609-d14d-4c4e-96ef-5cd6020ed06c-jpg

  22. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    2003 was the last year of the built in pu. They also did away with the HE silk screen headstock that year and went with a 175 headstock with a HE trussrod cover. 2004 they went with the BJB.
    I am a 1pu guy so in 2010 I had Gibson make me this. Gibson ES-165 Herb Ellis question-84a88a05-71c6-4104-a205-389a7aa45868-jpgGibson ES-165 Herb Ellis question-eb54608a-a278-4026-b9b2-cda8f8975f5f-jpgGibson ES-165 Herb Ellis question-d5156609-d14d-4c4e-96ef-5cd6020ed06c-jpg
    Very nice guitar Vinny.

    DB

  23. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    Mine does not sound like any ES175 I've owned. The potted 490R pickup has a tighter low end and just a little bit of growl in the middle, and a more chunky/thunky high end. The 90's 165 are built heavy like the late era 175's. When I pick up this guitar, it just feels solid. I find it inspires a lot of confidence in my when I play it.

    I wish it had inlays, not silk-screening. That's my only very mild, trivial complaint, but once I start playing it all goes away.

    BTW if you listen to Joe Pass' late career custom single-pickup ES175, I often think the 165 sounds like that.
    Very helpful Lawson. By now it won't be a secret that I am thinking of getting a used one myself.

    DB

  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Max405
    DB, I know you are not looking for a Floater 165. But I have to say this..
    For some reason, With Ti Jazz Swing 12's, my Floater 165 is an OUTSTANDING acoustic instrument. Its not really loud. Its just smooth. Perfectly well balanced. Deep but not overwhelmingly so.
    If I only had one guitar, that is the one it would be. For me anyway.
    From memory, my 165 had a GREAT sound. Very tight and solidly built. Better acoustically then the Modern 175s are. More like the 1953 175d that I grew up on. Electrically, very warm. More "airy" than the 175s. Same responsiveness. An absolute keeper of a guitar for sure.
    JD
    Another thing..
    Dont give up the floater 165. Play one. The BJB is a very powerful and well balanced pickup. And the pickup placement is up against the base of the neck. Swap out the pickguard with a nice L5 Guard. Put a schatten under it, with tone and volume controls. Back the tone down to about 8 and You have transformed the Guitar into one of the best guitars out there. Trust me man. You'd LOVE it.
    Thanks Joe. I find all these user experiences very helpful.

    DB

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max405
    ...
    Another thing..
    Dont give up the floater 165. Play one. The BJB is a very powerful and well balanced pickup...Trust me man. You'd LOVE it.
    Totally agree with Joe here. I saw the writing on the wall and picked up both models of the HE before the pricing valuation caught up to the rest of the used Gibsons. I am really glad that I did and am very happy with both. As Lawson says these are inspiring guitars. They just play well and they give it all back to you with the way they sound. Good luck to the OP in finding one. I am sure there will be something out there.

  26. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by lammie200
    Totally agree with Joe here. I saw the writing on the wall and picked up both models of the HE before the pricing valuation caught up to the rest of the used Gibsons. I am really glad that I did and am very happy with both. As Lawson says these are inspiring guitars. They just play well and they give it all back to you with the way they sound. Good luck to the OP in finding one. I am sure there will be something out there.
    There are a few for sale yes but it remains a bit unclear what the best years are. I would like one with a not too chubby neck. SS suggested mid 90s, so not the earliest ones.

    DB

  27. #26

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    They used to be dirt cheap. Sadly no more. I bought a used 96 for $900 and a new 2008 like Joe’s for $1700.
    The best Gibson deals new used to be the HE, L4CES, and the TF.
    Gone are those great prices.
    The 1st TF I bought was a new 2008 and was $3K. Same price as a standard 175. My 2018 TF was $4600 after a lot of bargaining with CME. They wanted $7K for it because it was the last made. I waited them out till Dec. and they must have wanted it off the books.
    They agreed to $4600 used no warranty. Still not a smoking deal at all.
    The prices for a 175 on Reverb is quite shocking. 165’s cost more than new now.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchbopper
    There are a few for sale yes but it remains a bit unclear what the best years are. I would like one with a not too chubby neck. SS suggested mid 90s, so not the earliest ones.

    DB
    I could be wrong but I doubt that the difference between any of the neck profiles is all that great. Mine is a '91 and supposed be chunky. I would say that it is more of a standard size profile that is slightly flat on the backside. If Gibson made them any thinner they would have had to have been very thin. Maybe they were - I don't know. My floater is a 2004 and the neck profile is very much the same as the '91. Comfortable with some meat but not a baseball bat.

  29. #28

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    Dick I found the early 2000’s 165’s to have a nice medium profile. Some 90’s were also great and some were baseball bats. They are all over the map just like 175’s. I really believe the neck profile depended on the hand size of the specific builder of that guitar neck.
    I believe the 2003 was the best HE. Last year of the built in pu. 175 headstock and the only year with real pearl fingerboard inlays instead of pearloid plastic.

  30. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    They used to be dirt cheap. Sadly no more. I bought a used 96 for $900 and a new 2008 like Joe’s for $1700.
    The best Gibson deals new used to be the HE, L4CES, and the TF.
    Gone are those great prices.
    The 1st TF I bought was a new 2008 and was $3K. Same price as a standard 175. My 2018 TF was $4600 after a lot of bargaining with CME. They wanted $7K for it because it was the last made. I waited them out till Dec. and they must have wanted it off the books.
    They agreed to $4600 used no warranty. Still not a smoking deal at all.
    The prices for a 175 on Reverb is quite shocking. 165’s cost more than new now.
    Prices are rising here too Vinny. A Herb Ellis cannot be obtained under 2000 euro. More like 2200-2500. An older ES175 3k and more. And I have see a winered Tal Farlow for sale at 4k euro.

    Still, I hope to find one for 2k or under that even.

    DB

  31. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    Dick I found the early 2000’s 165’s to have a nice medium profile. Some 90’s were also great and some were baseball bats. They are all over the map just like 175’s. I really believe the neck profile depended on the hand size of the specific builder of that guitar neck.
    I believe the 2003 was the best HE. Last year of the built in pu. 175 headstock and the only year with real pearl fingerboard inlays instead of pearloid plastic.
    Vinny, I have seen a 2004 HE for sale with a normal humbucker. Must be one of the last ones before the new ones with the floaters?

    DB

  32. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by lammie200
    I could be wrong but I doubt that the difference between any of the neck profiles is all that great. Mine is a '91 and supposed be chunky. I would say that it is more of a standard size profile that is slightly flat on the backside. If Gibson made them any thinner they would have had to have been very thin. Maybe they were - I don't know. My floater is a 2004 and the neck profile is very much the same as the '91. Comfortable with some meat but not a baseball bat.
    Thanks for that!

    DB

  33. #32

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    i’ve seen a couple of es-165’s here for sale, all of them were 1900 euro. Some are still there.
    But they all have fat necks and i want one with a slim neck.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by lammie200
    I could be wrong but I doubt that the difference between any of the neck profiles is all that great. Mine is a '91 and supposed be chunky. I would say that it is more of a standard size profile that is slightly flat on the backside. If Gibson made them any thinner they would have had to have been very thin. Maybe they were - I don't know. My floater is a 2004 and the neck profile is very much the same as the '91. Comfortable with some meat but not a baseball bat.
    Lammie,
    I TOTALLY Agree. The necks are actually kind of perfect to me. Not even close to the thickness of the neck on my Solid Formed - which is still very comfortable to me.
    The only neck I had on a Gibson that was borderline chunky was a ES135. That was a head shaker..
    JD

  35. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Max405
    Lammie,
    I TOTALLY Agree. The necks are actually kind of perfect to me. Not even close to the thickness of the neck on my Solid Formed - which is still very comfortable to me.
    The only neck I had on a Gibson that was borderline chunky was a ES135. That was a head shaker..
    JD
    Guys I have no experience with the HE. I only write what I read. Maybe they are all perfect for me too.

    DB

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchbopper
    Prices are rising here too Vinny. A Herb Ellis cannot be obtained under 2000 euro. More like 2200-2500. An older ES175 3k and more. And I have see a winered Tal Farlow for sale at 4k euro.

    Still, I hope to find one for 2k or under that even.

    DB
    did that tal farlow sell? Damn i got a good deal. But marktplaats prices are getting crazy. Now i see es-125’s with an asking price of 3500 euro.
    3 months ago i just missed one at 1000 euro..
    But it’s not even old archtops, 70’s teles and strats that you couldnt sell 10 years ago because nobody wanted them are now worth 3000.
    All squier sellers think they can ask squier jv prices..

  37. #36

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    Can we talk about the actual size then. From top of the first fret till the back of the neck? My es-175 vos is 25mm, my tal farlow 22mm.
    The 22mm to me is perfect. Might even be persuaded by something a bit smaller.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchbopper
    Vinny, I have seen a 2004 HE for sale with a normal humbucker. Must be one of the last ones before the new ones with the floaters?

    DB
    I would bag it. A single pu 175 with gold hardware. I do believe they went to the floater mid year 2004.
    I personally don’t like the floater 165. Very bright and the volume knob is in the way for at least me.

    Gibson also did a limited run of single pu 175’s in 2006 and 2008 called the 175SP. They had yellowed binding but no VOS treatment and a nickel zigzag tail.
    The vintage sunburst was a little on the green side though.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchbopper
    Guys I have no experience with the HE. I only write what I read. Maybe they are all perfect for me too.

    DB
    Would an actual measurement help at all?

  40. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    Would an actual measurement help at all?
    Yeah, but only in European metric units!!!!! Ah man. I really do not understand inches, feet, miles, yards, ounces, stones and what have you ...

    DB

  41. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    I would bag it. A single pu 175 with gold hardware. I do believe they went to the floater mid year 2004.
    I personally don’t like the floater 165. Very bright and the volume knob is in the way for at least me.

    Gibson also did a limited run of single pu 175’s in 2006 and 2008 called the 175SP. They had yellowed binding but no VOS treatment and a nickel zigzag tail.
    The vintage sunburst was a little on the green side though.
    Would you bag it for over 2k Vinny? I'm serious here.

    DB

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchbopper
    Yeah, but only in European metric units!!!!! Ah man. I really do not understand inches, feet, miles, yards, ounces, stones and what have you ...

    DB
    I don't understand "stones" and... I am one.

  43. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    I don't understand "stones" and... I am one.
    Stones. Yeah. Them Brits are even worse. Pints and Quarters and other medieval nonsense.

    DB

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max405
    Lammie,
    I TOTALLY Agree. The necks are actually kind of perfect to me. Not even close to the thickness of the neck on my Solid Formed - which is still very comfortable to me.
    The only neck I had on a Gibson that was borderline chunky was a ES135. That was a head shaker..
    JD
    I also think that there is an essential balance between neck mass and the body characteristics for guitars like these. If that balance is off one way or the other I think the sound is going to suffer. Whether Gibson strikes that balance on all its guitars is probably questionable. However, whether Gibson knows how to do it a different question. They have obviously been at it long enough to know how. My 2 cents anyway.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchbopper
    Would you bag it for over 2k Vinny? I'm serious here.

    DB
    If minty.....yes. Remember it is really a single pu 175. That is what they go for here also. I can remember the outrage I felt when a new L5 reached $5K.
    Before the demise of the 175 in 2017 the street price new was over $5K.
    I bought my 1st Gibson in 1973. Since then the prices only went up both new and used. If you want a G on the headstock your bank account will suffer.
    You can make more money but a special guitar is priceless. example: your 350.

  46. #45

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    even the epi zephyr regent, which a few years ago was around the 500$ mark, is now being listed for around 1k$ and more!!



    cheers

  47. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    If minty.....yes. Remember it is really a single pu 175. That is what they go for here also. I can remember the outrage I felt when a new L5 reached $5K.
    Before the demise of the 175 in 2017 the street price new was over $5K.
    I bought my 1st Gibson in 1973. Since then the prices only went up both new and used. If you want a G on the headstock your bank account will suffer.
    You can make more money but a special guitar is priceless. example: your 350.
    Thanks again Vinny.

    DB

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by icr
    I love the red ES-165. I so wanted a red one to go with my other red Gibsons. Thing is, a few years ago prices were high so, I was able to get a red/gold ES-175 (which apparently no one wants in a ES-175 color combo) for just a few hundred more, so I went that route.
    First lefty I've seen, had several 165s never even heard of a lefty. Cool.

  49. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    even the epi zephyr regent, which a few years ago was around the 500$ mark, is now being listed for around 1k$ and more!!



    cheers
    It's crazy. You see vintage ES 125s go for 3500 euro. Vintage ES 175s go for way over 10k. I have no idea what's going on but everything seems to be moving up rapidly. Why the heck is that?

    DB

  50. #49

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    I actually have one of those Epi's as well. It was $450 shipped with a case a few years back. After I joined JGF I started to get more serious about playing jazz and got sucked into acquiring an arsenal. I never broke the bank but I feel like have acquired what really works for me. I have both HE's, an ES-390, the Epi, six different Fender-type partscasters, Martin steel and nylon string acoustics, and a couple of others that may be on the chopping block at some point.

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchbopper
    It's crazy. You see vintage ES 125s go for 3500 euro. Vintage ES 175s go for way over 10k. I have no idea what's going on but everything seems to be moving up rapidly. Why the heck is that?
    Apparently it is "what the market will bear." It's not what I will bear, so I'm not going to be buying any Gibson archtop guitars I suspect. There is quite a gap between what I can afford and what I'm willing to pay, I guess! I suspect that the prices have gone up because of Gibson's dire straits as an organization and that they're no longer making archtop guitars other than as custom instruments for way-higher-than-luthier prices. As the cost of new Gibson archtops has gone up over the years, the used market has paced just a little bit behind that.