Period 1958 — present
Body type Semi-hollow
Neck joint Set
Body maple (plywood); usually maple center block
Neck mahogany on most models in most periods; sometimes maple
Fretboard rosewood on most models, ebony on some
Pickup(s) 2 Humbuckers
The Gibson ES-335 is the world’s first commercial thinline arched-top semi-acoustic electric guitar. Released by the Gibson Guitar Corporation as part of its ES (Electric Spanish) series in 1958, it is neither hollow nor solid; instead, a solid wood block runs through the center of its body. The side “wings” are hollow, and the top has two violin-style f-holes over the hollow chambers.
Before 1952 Gibson produced only hollow body guitars, which are prone to feedback when amplified loudly. That year saw the introduction of their first solid body, the Gibson Les Paul, based on Les Paul’s experiment, “The Log,” which was merely a fence post with a neck, hardware, and pickup attached. By 1958 Gibson was making a few solid body models which had much lower feedback and better sustain but lacked the darker, warmer tone and unamplified volume of hollow bodies. The ES-335 is an attempt to find a middle ground: a warmer tone than a solid body with almost as little feedback. Though semi-hollow bodies like the ES-335 are essentially a compromise of earlier designs, for the same reason they are extremely flexible as evidenced by the ES-335’s popularity in a wide range of music, including blues, jazz, and rock. With a basic price of $267.50 it quickly became a best-seller, and has been in continuous production since 1958.
Some models feature a coil split switch, which allows the humbuckers to produce a “single-coil” sound. The ES-335 Pro, ES-335TD CRS and CRR models were equipped with Gibson “Dirty Fingers” humbuckers, which had a significantly higher output than the standard pickups.
The Custom Made Canada Edition was a limited production run of fifty ES-335 guitars. A customization of the 1963 ES-335 Block Inlay reissue, all fifty are cherry red with vintage amber binding. They feature a Bigsby tailpiece and an engraved plaque stating “Custom Made” between two maple leaves. A maple leaf motif is printed on the back of the head stock with “Limited Edition” beneath it. The pickups are two Gibson ’57 Classic humbuckers with Alnico II Magnets. Chrome kidney shaped Grover tuners are installed in place of the vintage tulip shaped tuners that were fitted to the original 1963 ES-335.
Trini Lopez Standard
Main article: Gibson Trini Lopez
The Trini Lopez Standard, manufactured 1964-1970, was based on the ES-335. It had narrow diamond-shaped soundholes replacing the f-holes, a firebird style headstock with all the tuners on one side and slashed-diamond inlays reminiscent of the “slash cuts” used by Rickenbacker on its American semi-hollowbody models. Players of the Trini Lopez model include Noel Gallagher and Dave Grohl.
Dave Grohl Signature
In September 2007, Gibson introduced the DG-335, designed in collaboration with the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl. The DG-335 is a variation on Trini Lopez’s signature Gibson, essentially a Trini Lopez with a stopbar tailpiece and with Gibson’s new Burstbucker humbuckers. It was discontinued recently. The guitar was available in two colors – Pelham Blue and Ebony.
The Gibson Custom Shop has offered many variations of the ES-335. Recent years have seen period-accurate reissues of both dot and block-inlaid 335’s, as well as a limited run of 250 replicas of the guitar Eric Clapton used while playing with the band Cream, Blind Faith and others. Other signature models include the heavily customized Alvin Lee “Big Red” 335.
he ES-355TD (Thin line, Double pickups) was at the top of Gibson’s range of thin line semi-acoustic guitars. It was manufactured from 1958 until 1982, fitted with Varitone Stereo option (SV), as ES-355TD-SV released in 1959.
The headstock had a split-diamond inlay rather than the smaller crown inlay on the 335/345, in addition to multiple-layered binding. The fingerboard inlays are inlaid mother-of-pearl blocks, beginning at the first position of the fretboard. In addition to the headstock, binding was also applied to the fretboard and both the front and the back edges of the body.
The ES-355 was available with a Vibrola tremolo unit or a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece. It had also been offered with stereo output and Varitone tone filter circuitry. When fitted with the optional stereo wiring and Varitone, the model was known as the ES-355TD-SV.
B.B. King with Lucille
The best-known user of this guitar is probably B.B. King, whose trademark guitar, Lucille, was the basis for a 1981 signature model. It has the optional stereo wiring and Varitone circuitry as standard. It differs from the ES-355 by having a maple neck instead of mahogany, the name “Lucille” on the headstock, and the lack of an F-hole on its top.
Johnny Marr (The Smiths), though normally opting for Rickenbackers and Telecasters in the studio, used a 355 fitted with a bigsby vibrato for most of his early live performances with the band.
Another well known user is Noel Gallagher (Oasis) who began using a 355 for live performances in 2002 and it has since become his main guitar.
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