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Contemplating a 2018 H-535 purchase. Seeking sage advice!


Glory
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Hi friends!

I'm brand new to this forum, but not brand new to Heritage guitars. I bought a 535 brand new from Jay Wolfe back in the 90s, but there was something off with the geometry of the fretboard and I could never seem to get it to play in tune. I ended up selling that one in about a month after a few local luthiers could not get the intonation issue addressed.

Fast forward 30 years... I'm now a luthier and have a vibrant repair shop, and am a custom builder. I've been looking for a 335-style guitar, and am contemplating purchasing a gorgeous Artisan Aged 2018 H-535 in Trans Cherry. Here's where I could use some advice from those with way more knowledge on Heritage than I. I understand that there was a lot of turmoil brewing at Heritage in 2018 with a recent change of ownership, firings of legendary builders, retooling for CNC and pleck, etc. Is there any reason to be cautious about purchasing a guitar from 2018 due to all these issues at the time?

Thanks!

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There should be no issues with a 2018 era guitar.    By that time, they had the new manufacturing space going, with the new spray booth (big improvement), the Plek was working, and Pete Farmer was overseeing the operation.   Jim Deurloo, Bill Paige and Ren Wall were still roaming around.   We visited the factory that year, and things were running smoothly. 

Also, there was no CNC being used.   The same old machinery was being used, necks were still being hand shaped, the binding hand wrapped, and bodies hand cut and sanded. The changes were a cleaner work area,  more organized work flow,  a more limited line which meant that they were concentrating on nailing down the process more tightly.   The folks there were still putting out excellent guitars.    One of the big pushes was to improve overall quality.  

At that point,  Edwin Wilson was coming on board after leaving the Gibson Custom Shop.    Everything I've heard about his artisan aged guitars has been positive.  

I wouldn't hesitate at all if I was in the market for another 535.

 

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Just now, TalismanRich said:

There should be no issues with a 2018 era guitar.    By that time, they had the new manufacturing space going, with the new spray booth (big improvement), the Plek was working, and Pete Farmer was overseeing the operation.   Jim Deurloo, Bill Paige and Ren Wall were still roaming around.   We visited the factory that year, and things were running smoothly. 

Also, there was no CNC being used.   The same old machinery was being used, necks were still being hand shaped, the binding hand wrapped, and bodies hand cut and sanded. The changes were a cleaner work area,  more organized work flow,  a more limited line which meant that they were concentrating on nailing down the process more tightly.   The folks there were still putting out excellent guitars.    One of the big pushes was to improve overall quality.  

At that point,  Edwin Wilson was coming on board after leaving the Gibson Custom Shop.    Everything I've heard about his artisan aged guitars has been positive.  

I wouldn't hesitate at all if I was in the market for another 535.

 

Thanks so much!

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There is a 2020 Artisan Aged H535 in the For Sale forum here.

I can vouch for the aging process they are using. It is excellent.

I also have a newer H535.

Great build quality.

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7 hours ago, Lkdog said:

There is a 2020 Artisan Aged H535 in the For Sale forum here.

I can vouch for the aging process they are using. It is excellent.

I also have a newer H535.

Great build quality.

Thanks!

That's actually the one I was referencing in my initial post. It was actually a 2018 based in the "AI" serial #. I had to pass on that one because in order to have the intonation close, the low E, A and D saddles had to be slammed all the way to the front. I like to have a little travel in both directions on all saddles once excellent intonation is achieved!

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I have not heard of the bridge posts being misplaced that way.  I wonder what went wrong.  I have had many 530s, 535s and 555s with never such a problem.  But I don't doubt you.

Take a listen to the first two minutes of this Wes Montgomery session.  He states that guitars simply don't stay in tune.  This is a comment beyond intonation and about the limits of the instrument.  Your issue with the 535 reminded me of his quotes.

Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoZnindlI78

 

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The owner sent me a video playing open strings and then the 12th fret octave. The intonation was very close… but the bottom 3 saddles we’re all the way up with no adjustment travel left.

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23 hours ago, Glory said:

The owner sent me a video playing open strings and then the 12th fret octave. The intonation was very close… but the bottom 3 saddles we’re all the way up with no adjustment travel left.

If the intonation is very close, maybe new saddles could be cut with a steep backward notch, a knife edged sort of cut, to raise the pitch.  Best to avoid the instrument though.

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On 6/18/2022 at 8:41 AM, MartyGrass said:

Take a listen to the first two minutes of this Wes Montgomery session.  He states that guitars simply don't stay in tune.  This is a comment beyond intonation and about the limits of the instrument.  Your issue with the 535 reminded me of his quotes

5 hours ago, pressure said:

Spoken like a true Gibson player. Ha.

Maybe there's a reason why Buzz Feiten and Earvana have come up with those fancy adjustments nuts.      

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That aged 535 is a stunner... You should have no issues with that guitar whatsoever.  

Buy it, enjoy it, and appreciate it from a player's and luthier's perspectives.

Either way, let us know what you choose.

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On 6/19/2022 at 2:10 PM, TalismanRich said:

Maybe there's a reason why Buzz Feiten and Earvana have come up with those fancy adjustments nuts.      

Maybe there is a reason Marv, Jim and JP insisted on the straighter pull of the Heritage headstock rather than an "open book" style on a real Gibson

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