The Gibson ES-335 was released by Gibson Guitar Corporation in 1958. This particular model was the world’s first commercial thinline archtop semi-acoustic electric guitar. It is part of the Electric Spanish (ES) series.
The Gibson ES-335 is neither hollow nor solid. Rather, it offers a solid maple wood block which runs through the center of its body and side “wings” which are hollow. The top features two violin-style f-holes over the hollow chambers. Before this guitar’s release, Gibson only produced hollow-body guitars. However, these are prone to feedback when sound is amplified loudly.
By 1958, the company was producing more solid-body models which offered much lower feedback. Unfortunately, these models did not offer the warmer tone and unamplified body that hollow bodies provide. The ED-335 was the company’s first attempt to find middle ground between hollow bodies and solid bodies. In 1962, the guitar received its first major update. The most visible change was made to the markers on the neck. Earlier models featured dots while later models had blocks. This led to the two versions being nicknamed “dot neck” and “block neck.”
Gibson ES-335 Models
There are a variety of special ES-335 models including the ES-335 Pro, ES-335TD CRS and CRR models. Each of these were equipped with Gibson “Dirty Fingers” humbuckers. This offers a significantly higher output than the standard pickups. Some of the ES-335 models also feature a coil split switch. This allows the humbuckers to produce a “single-coil” sound. A number of signature ES-335 models have also been produced. One of the most famous is the Trini Lopez-inspired model, produced between 1964 and 1970. It offers narrow diamond-shaped soundholes which replace the traditional f-holes, slashed-diamond inlays and a Firebird-style headstock with all the tuners located on one side. Another more recent signature model is the Gibson DG-335 which was designed in collaboration with Dave Grohl in 2007. It is a variation on the Trini Lopez Gibson and has a stopbar tailpiece and the new Burstbucker humbuckers. Some of the other more popular signature models include Alvin Lee “Big Red” 335, which is heavily customized.
New for 2015
The Gibson ES-335 2015 model offers a few new features, including:
- Grover Milk Bottle Rotomatic tuners in a Retro style with modern features for improved tuning accuracy
- F-Hole emblem engraved truss rod cover
- Historic truss rod
- Rolled neck binding to comfortably fit the contours of the guitar player’s hand
- Block inlay fretboard
- Burstbucker 1 & 2 pickups calibrated for each position
- Capacitor changes
- Locking stop bar tailpiece which increases resonance and makes string changes easier
- Low profile frets for smooth playability and accurate intonation
- Redesigned neck dimensions with added thickness to Peghead transition for greater strength and stability
- Bone nut for smooth tuning
- New finish colors including vintage and new colors
The ES-335 is an extremely popular model, as evident in its use in a wide range of music including rock, jazz and blues. If you are looking for a durable, high quality and iconic guitar to add to your collection, you should certainly consider the Gibson ES-335.