Gibson Custom Shop ES335 i ES339 – semi-hollow body electric guitars.
Sometimes it is, that something needs to change. Need to find other activities, image or sound. As, I'm lazy by nature, and I always keep my hair short, I decided to "betray" my Stratocaster and get interested in semi-hollow body guitars. My choice, which I further fueled by listening to Freddie King, fell on the Gibson Custom Shop ES335 and its smaller brother ES339.
Gibson Custom Shop ES339
After opening the black case with the inscription Gibson Custom (aha, Custom Shop, let's see if they put in the work 😉 ) I saw a relatively small guitar resembling the shape of the ES335 in Vintage Sunburst. Without pausing for a long time, I put on the belt and… first surprise. The guitar is very well balanced. I have not noticed, to change position then, when I didn't want it. I ran my hand over the griffin and… fingers didn't fall off 🙂 No sharp edges etc. I am writing this for no reason. I've had this type of guitar before, specifically with the Gibson Lucille model, which I bought at the time. And soon I sold it… Unfortunately, my copy of "Lucyna" was not the pinnacle of luthier craftsmanship…
Let's go back to the Gibson ES339 – not to mention the weight of this guitar. It's light, but what can you expect from a "holey" guitar 🙂 Ok, visually fits, manually too (model, which I tested had a thickened "slim 60" neck profile, which turned out to be quite nice by hand). But how does it sound? So… there is space, air, but without exaggeration. You can hear it right away, that we are dealing with a semi-hollow guitar. The guitar responds great to playing with volume knobs. However, the claw shows only on overdrive 🙂
Overall, the hardware is well made, it is smaller and lighter than the ES335, with a similar sound. For these, those who like half-box Gibson ES339 can be an interesting alternative, especially, that the distributor priced it relatively reasonably - at least before the crazy changes in exchange rates and the crisis in the USA. And one more thing. In terms of size, the Gibson ES339 is more like a Stratocaster, than a Les Paul as the manufacturer's photos suggest. But who cares… After all, there are also Gretsches 😉
Gibson Custom Shop ES335
After playing with the Gibson ES339, it's time for the Gibson ES335 model. I reopened the case… hmm… big… Red… with a corrugated maple top… pretty 🙂 Oh… The back is also made of wavy maple. My eyes reached a feeling of satiety 🙂 Did I mention already, that it's big? As my friend put it "a big guitar for a big guy".
I reattached the strap and retested. Compared to the Gibson ES339, the Gibson ES335 has a slight tendency to drop the headstock. Fortunately, it's so small, that almost imperceptible. The neck is "slim 60", contrary to appearances, it is not so slim and you can get used to it quickly. I connected………. still………. still………. I already picked my jaw up off the floor.
It's been a long time since a guitar captivated me so much. Space, air, clarity with the almost imperceptible "mud" characteristic of Gibson guitars (no offence :-)). Just like the Gibson ES339, The Gibson ES335 responds great to turning the volume knobs. Neck pickup – volume max, tone 5-6, this is blues poetry to me. Great, nasal sound. However, not only the blues is the domain of this guitar. Bridge pickup with knobs on full and we have rock. And what kind! He's laughing his ass off. For me, this guitar is the quintessential sound, I was looking for. From the gentle, up to "rock claw". The only drawback for me is the price – I guess I'll have to start playing the lottery…. eeehhhh. Ale to Custom Shop.
We recorded the samples a bit later, on the ES339 owned by Marcin Popek and on a copy of the ES335 other than the one provided for testing, located in the Rock n Roll store in Gdańsk – this time with a sunburst finish. The workmanship is just as perfect, and the sound… I admit, that I was close to a compromise solution - I almost decided to buy the Gibson ES339 model. However, a direct comparison showed a class difference. In favor of the larger and unfortunately more expensive ES335. The recordings were made in the Rock n Roll store in Gdańsk on the Mesa Boogie Stiletto ACE amplifier 2 x 12″ Combo. We used Shure SM57 and Audix i5 microphones. The preamplifier was the Alesis MultiMix8 mixer, and the whole thing was recorded on Edirol R09HR. Here are audio examples.