1988 Black Gibson 335 semi-hollow electric guitar

Repair Log: 1988 Black Gibson 335 semi-hollow electric guitar SN

Repair Log: 1988 Black Gibson 335 semi-hollow electric guitar SN: xxxxxxxx


23/06/18 Copyright retained Terry Relph-Knight

Supplied in a tan Gibson hard case.

Made in the Gibson Nashville Tennessee plant, completed on February 24th of 1988, this is a classic Gibson 335 thin line semi-hollow electric guitar in gloss black nitro-cellulose lacquer with nickel plated hardware. From the condition of the nickel plating and scuffing on the finish, the guitar shows signs of a fair amount of use, but considering its age it is in good condition and has been well cared for. 

From 1969 to 1986 Gibson was owned by the Norlin Corporation, so this is a post Norlin guitar from the early period of Juszkiewicz management. From 1986 Gibson has been a privately held company, owned by its chief executive officer Henry Juszkiewicz and its president David H. Berryman. In May 2018 the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Body of pressed maple/poplar/maple plywood with a maple centre block and a one piece mahogany neck with a 22 fret rosewood fretboard. Pearl dot fret markers. Fretboard shows some fingernail gouges in the first position and the medium frets appear to have recently been fret dressed, as there is little fret wear, the tops of the frets are quite flat and the fretboard is very clean for a guitar of this age.  

Repair Log: 1988 Black Gibson 335 semi-hollow electric guitar SN


Black Gibson 335

Hardware – Two humbucking pickups (should be old Classic ‘57s) with nickel plated shells. Now checked – externally these pickups look very similar, even the pole spacing is the same at 49.2mm. The pickups have nickel silver shells and base plates – stamped PAT. 2,737,842, no other markings. The serial is a known Gibson quirk. It isn’t the patent number for humbuckers, but actually the patent number for the old combined bridge and tailpiece found on the very earliest Les Paul goldtops. Since the pole spacing is the same, one has a coil tap and the embossed Pat. No. only marking was not introduced until 1990 (maybe), these may not be the original pickups. Perhaps a pair of 490Rs, with one modified with a coil tap.

Open bottom nickel plated cast zinc alloy Nashville bridge with metal saddles. The bridge has sagged in the middle by 0.8mm due to string pressure. Probably a zinc alloy stop bar. Grover 3-on-a-side nickel plated tuners.

The Volume control for the bridge pickup has been modified with a built-in pull-push switch, to switch a coil tap on the bridge pickup. This pot has an Asian 16 spline shaft. The other three pots are American and have 24 spline shafts. All four knobs are the original American 24 spline.

Gibson 335 semi-hollow electric guitar

As delivered, fitted with flat wound strings, gauges – 0.009, 0.014, 0.017, 0.023, 0.034, 0.046

Problems – Needs cleaning and a general check over. The pick guard threaded support rod is missing the outer nut and the plastic block the rod runs through, is no longer glued to the back of the pick guard. The retaining nut on the output jack is loose. Pickup selector switch nut is loose. Pot nuts are loose. Truss rod cover is broken at the nut end (52mm fixing centres). Two of the black UFO knobs are cracked and one does not fit the pull/push bridge Volume pot. Bridge is corroded and has some sag.

Work done – Guitar cleaned and polished. Polished all the metalwork. Repaired and reattached the pick guard and its mounting bracket. Tightened the loose output jack and pickup selector switch and painted clear nail varnish onto the fixing nuts and threads to lock them. Tightened various loose nuts and screws on the tuners. Fitted a Faber locking kit with spacers to the stop bar and fitted a Tone Pros locking bridge. Dug lumps of nitro- cellulose lacquer out of the truss rod route so there is clear access to the truss rod nut. Removed the truss rod nut, cleaned off blobs of nitro-cellulose lacquer and filed off burrs from previous attempts to adjust it. Put some lubricating grease on the threads and replaced the nut on the truss rod. Replaced the broken truss rod cover, the cracked control knobs and the broken pickup rings. Cleaned, waxed and buffed the fretboard and frets. Fitted a new set of 10 to 47 round wound strings, adjusted the set up and intonation.


The floating pick guard support is missing the acorn nut and the threaded plastic block the support rod threads into has come unglued from the pick guard.  The outer diameter of the threaded portion of the pick guard support rod is 0.12 inches. This is equivalent to a number 5 thread. If it is a UNC thread then there will be 40 threads per inch as against 44 tpi for UNF. Most likely it is a 5-40 thread. So I need a 5-40 Acorn or blind nut. Replacement UNC 5-40 acorn nuts or even 5-40 nuts are almost impossible to source. Eventually I took a 4 B.A. nut, which was a loose screw fit on the rod, and soldered it onto the end of the rod.

As it turns out this pick guard would never have fitted properly with this old style threaded rod support. When the vertical post is screwed to the outer rim of the guitar the pick guard rides up on the inner nut of the threaded rod. As a result the pick guard has to bend for the threaded plastic block that is glued to the back of the pick guard to thread on to the rod. This puts unnecessary pressure on the glue joint between the plastic block and the pick guard and eventually the joint fails.

There are two solutions – re-shape the outer edge of the pick guard so it clears the nut, or cut a notch in the edge of the guard to clear the nut. Re-shaping by hand would be a lot of work so I opted to notch the guard. Refitted the guard and re-glued the guard to the plastic block with super glue. This may not hold on the back of the vinyl guard, but it seems fairly solid so far. 

Intonation as delivered with the flatwounds

cents error

E -12

A -3

D -6

G -4

B 0

E +5

Set up as delivered – The stop bar is screwed all the way down and the two E strings are touching the back of the bridge.

The bridge from the top of the guitar to the top of the thumb wheel is at 7.5 mm on the bass side and at 5.75mm on the treble.

Open string height at the twelfth fret – top of fret to bottom of string – is 2mm on the bass, 1.6mm treble. Relief with low E fretted at 1 and 12 is around 0.5mm.

All the electronics seem to be functioning correctly. Unscrewed the two pickups for cleaning and to check the back. The bridge pickup has been rewired for the coil tap with a grey cable. Neck pickup ring is broken – top high E corner.

From the front with the strings on all six tuners seemed secure and the front collar nuts seemed tight, however with the strings off and holding each of the tuner buttons I could waggle the tuners on the low E and the D, G and B strings. Either the tuners move back and forth on their rear screws or the button tension screws are loose and therefore the gear trains are loose, or both. The D and G had particularly loose gears. Any movement in the tuners will affect the tuning stability of the guitar.

Removed the truss rod nut to lubricate it. Looks like an attempt has been made to adjust it with the wrong tool. There is some damage on the flats of the hex nut.

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