He did break a string. It was his E string. I gave him my Strat and ran to the RV and swapped it out for him.
Regarding the differences between the two guitars, it's all about tone dude. There are NOTHING like a Gibson ES-355, 345 or 335 in my fathers hands.
Now to the specific differences.
The Gibson has two Humbucking pickups. My Stratocaster is a Lone Star. It too has a humbucker but it's in the bridge position. The other two are single coil Texas Specials. We both normally play using the neck pickup for the deeper tones. The Humbuckers sound like they are PAF's (really sought after Gibson pickups from the 50's for their tone and clarity).
2. Guitar Body
Semi hollow bodied guitars inherently will feed back if pushed. Feed back is a result of the lower range sound waves interacting with the body of the guitar. My dad has harnessed the power of feed back and uses it to his advantage. The really cool thing about that is if you get the tone and volume just right the body will literally vibrate/sing while you are playing it. That vibration sweet spot is right at the threshold before full blown feed back. WHAT A RUSH! The Semi-Hollow body ES-355 in combination with the pickups provide a wonderful range of tone and sustain. The main source of sustain is from the body vibrations at volume.
The Fender Stratocaster is a solid body guitar. Thus there’s little to no chance for the body to vibrate in the same manner as the Gibson. However, the Stratocaster can provide some really sweet tones and sustain due to the body.
6. Volume and Tone settings
Tone setting “trade secret”. The volume settings vary depending on the size of the room (remember vibrating/singing body good, full blown feed back bad.)
7. Varitone Knob
This knob widens the range of the pickup switch. The knob has five positions and the pickup switch has three positions. Thus, 15 different tones from the guitar and when combined with the tone controls (knobs), a nearly limitless combination is available. Varitone position "Trade Secret"
My Stratocaster has a five position pickup switch. It’s usually in the neck or neck middle positions for rthym playing and middle to neck when I’m messing up during my solo’s.
Dad has used Fender Dual Showman Reverb Amp Heads for a very long time. Allot of people knock the DSR heads as inferior. That's total BS! It's basically the same head as a Twin Reverb. There were two models of the DSR 100w and 135w! These amps can produce a ton of wattage and can be pushed VERY hard before they start to clip. They distort quite nicely and are excellent heads.
9. Speaker Enclosure
The Dual Showman Speaker Cabinets are TOPS when it comes to volume and tone. They have two count em TWO 15" JBL-D130F speakers. These things pump out so much bass it's simply ridiculous! They don't have all the top end treble but that midrange and low end are mind boggling!
10. Amp settings
Trade Secret! Come to a show and sit down front if you want those settings (hey, I can’t give all the stuff away).
NONE! Reverb 0! Vibrato 0! Just tone and volume (see 10).
12. The 1978 “Second” ES-355 my father uses 99.99% of the time. Jimmy has made the comment, I’ve observed it and its obvious my father thinks so. That thing is about the best sounding 355 I’ve ever heard. Somehow the Luther’s and hardware guys built and EXCELLENT Guitar! It’s amazing that guitar sounds that good. The 1970’s were not very the best years as far a quality of design and manufacturing for Gibson. The fact this thing sounds so good is a testament to somebody really putting in the extra effort to put together a GREAT AX!
What’s even wilder is the fact it’s a “SECOND”. At one time Gibson sold instruments that had some minor flaw, dent in the body, finish not perfectly sprayed or plating thinner than it should have been on the pickups ya know, stupid stuff that might leave it in the music shop longer than normal.
The guitar you saw was one of those “blemished” ones. Lord knows its sounds like my 1960 ES-345 with PAF’s! There’s a 1972 355 that’s been retired after years of use. It too sounded just like the 78 until the head stock to a good number bashings on the ground when he did the split.
13. The owner!
My dad is a genius (and I don’t mean to brag). He was one of the first to use the ES series Semi Hollow body guitars back in the late 50’s. The ES-350t’s are hollow bodied guitars and were bears to play with heavy amplification. Either you played like a jazzman with your tone controls way back OR used very little volume. When the ES-335 was introduced in 1958 it made things a BUNCH easier to deal with. With the PAF humbuckers and that semi-hollow body, it was the dawn of a long relationship.
There’s simply nothing else like the ES-3XX Gibson’s. I had a 2001 ES-345 from the custom shop (I won on EBAY) and it’s kinda close to the 78 but it’s not quite the same (he liked it after I played it at BlueBerry Hill and I gave it to him). The new chairman Henry (I can’t spell his last name) and the other guitar guys and gals at Gibson has driven the quality WAY up on the newer stuff. I’ve stuck to the Custom and Historic stuff (One 1998 tea burst 345, Gold Top Les Paul, Les Paul Elegant and a 59 Les Paul Standard) and they all are really good stuff).
Two custom shop 335's were given to my father as birthday presents from my mom, sisters and I. That 2001 345, the 335's are all featured on the new stuff he’s recording (in addition to the Holy Grail 1978 355).
As far as a lower cost guitar that might give you some of the same tones. Maybe a Epiphone or non Historic - Custom shop ES-3XX. I've never played the Heritage semi hollow bodies so I can't say what they sound like. You might want to try a mid 90's (after Norland sold Gibson to Henry and the guys) ES-335, 345 or 355. You might be able to find one on the cheap. As you know, the prices of 50's - 60's Gibson ANYTHING are skyrocketing!
It will be nearly IMPOSSIBLE to duplicate the sound of the Dual Showman combo. If the people at Fender only knew just how good those things were and put them in re-issue status. I do know about a newer Fender Twin Reverb with a 15" celsetian speaker (supposedly like the D-130F) you might want to take a look at. I know of NO effects box that gives the tube sound of a 70's Dual Showman Amp and JBL D-130F speaker tone period.
Way too much information but you got me started dude! Sorry for all the detailed explanations about all the stuff but we are talking Guitar technical geek stuff and other people might want to know what the hell I'm talking about.
As far as the Capitans Hat ask Alan Hale (Gilligans Island)