Guitar Repair London: 1968 Gibson 330 Semi Acoustic: The Dilemma

This lovely old Gibson ES330 Semi Acoustic guitar dates back to 1968.

It has been well looked after and cherished by its owner (one of my regulars).

Simple Problem

What had started out as a simple problem soon turned into a long and complicated repair.  The jack socket had come loose and when the owner tightened it up all the electrics stopped working. This is a common fault with many types of jack sockets because the connecting cables often break if the jack socket is allowed to rotate. This was the cause of this jack socket failure.

To repair this faulty jack meant stripping the guitar down, taking out all the electrics through the pickup cavity and making the necessary repair.

A Convoluted Scenario

Due to the guitar’s age the wiring had become rigid and brittle. Any slight movement to the components or the wiring resulted in a minute fracture in the wiring circuit resulting in an intermittent fault.

The Dilemma

The value of a vintage guitar is determined by several factors

  • The make
  • The condition
  • The functionality
  • The authenticity

To remove and replace all of this 330’s electrical wiring and components would detract from its authenticity and therefore decrease its value. However, it could be argued that parts have to be changed and upgraded for the guitar to function properly. Should all the working parts on a valuable vintage guitar such as this one (including the wiring) be continually maintained and repaired?

Take part in the poll.

Vote functionality if you think that it is more important to change and replace parts as necessary for the sake of functionality.

Vote authenticity if you think that a vintage instrument should retain all of their original parts and remain completely authentic.

Vote now!



In this instance the guitar was repaired using its existing wiring and components. It was painstaking work as any slight movement, tugging, pulling or distortion in the wiring would lead to another failure in the circuit.

I am happy to report that the guitar is now fully functional, playing beautifully and remains completely authentic, but for how long is yet to be determined.

Comments Please

Should an old vintage beauty such as this one be kept completely original, even if it becomes very labour intensive and costly to do so?

Or should all faulty parts (such as perishable cables etc) be replaced to keep the guitar in tiptop functional condition?

At what point should the old be replaced by the new?

I would be very interested to read your views on this so please feel free to make a comment.

6 Responses to “Guitar Repair London: 1968 Gibson 330 Semi Acoustic: The Dilemma”

  1. Dave N Says:

    Classic cars – brakepads etc MUST be replaced if they are still to drive on the roads, likewise tyres etc. Unless the guitar is a museum piece surely it makes sense to replace perishable/ consumable items so it can still fulfill it’s main purpose, ie being a guitar. I would see wiring and switches as replaceable, pickups only to be replaced with similar ‘vintage’ items. Just an opinion though…

  2. Al Eason Says:

    I agree with Dave N, the bleedin` things are for playing!
    The original electrics could have been placed in an ermine bag and stored in a Dingly Dell until the guitar was for sale and offered up as an extra. i.e:- comes with “complete original wiring loom and switches”
    I can hear thousands of Japanese collectors beating down doors!
    p.s. I had a similar looking 335,should never had sold it. Discuss!

  3. Gary Pownall Says:

    Of course you should upgrade the parts if the guitar is meant to be played. The only exception to this is would be if it was destined for display only.

  4. Richard SP Says:

    I think the majority are right in this instance. As Dave N says, service parts are meant to be replaced at regular intervals. Wiring in electric guitars WILL decay with time (at least the insulation will). Tuners, too, will wear out and, if they cannot be repaired, need replacing with the nearest possible. If a guitar is a collectors item and is never – or rarely – played, then these parts will not wear out anyway!

  5. D. Says:

    If you own it because you love playing it, upgrade. If you own it as an investment, keep it authentic. The diificult part is deciding why you have the guitar, because somne are easy to fall in and out of love with.

  6. Fred Says:

    Keeping authenticity is rarely needed actually. It only would be in the case of a rare item that shows rare characteristic, or have some historical value.
    The important thing is knowledge : if we know how things were done at a certain period, and why they were done that way, the history of the technique, the materials used, the rest doesnt really matters.
    Knowledge is important because it allows to restore properly (guitars, or anything else in fact : art, architecture, cars…)
    IMO authenticity, “vintage” are often used as an sale argument. But when I buy a guitar online, Il use the authenticity as a counter argument to lower the price, as you would do when you buy an old house : too expensive, it needs work, has problems.
    And all those artist we want to emulate, and whose guitar we covet so much, their guitars were new at the time they used them. And their feedback about the insruments lead to innvovations etc. Things changed, for better.
    With guitars, what gives real added value, is the wood quality. but that is another topic.

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