Tom Delonge first started with a basic red Gibson ES-335 while touring with Box Car Racer, which the guitar was eventually covered with stickers. While recording his self-titled album with blink-182, this guitar was often seen. In spring 2003, his Fender contract was close to expiration; but instead of renewing his contract, he switched to Gibson to make a custom semi-hollow guitar, which is an ES-333. The first guitar of this model was brown with an orange stripe, which is considered a prototype. DeLonge has never used this guitar live, but instead uses it for recording and rehearsing. It was recently seen on the Angels & Airwaves Facebook fan page when the band was recording their album LOVE in 2009. DeLonge later had another model made, a satin brown with a cream racing stripe, which became his main guitar. This guitar has been seen with the blink-182 smiley face or with the Angels & Airwaves “Moon-Man”. After the indefinite hiatus of blink-182 in 2005, Angels & Airwaves formed. After their album We Don’t Need To Whisper, their tour was set out. DeLonge had 3 new guitars. A matte black w/ a gloss black racing stripe, which was used primarily for the song “The Adventure”. The second one in cream w/ a black stripe, which is seen in the music video for the song “The Adventure”, and the third being white w/ black stripes with black fingerboard and body binding. After blink-182 reformed in 2009, DeLonge used his basic brown w/ cream stripes, and used his cream w/ black stripes, which later had scrapes, burns, and stickers applied to it. He used the same guitars for the Angels & Airwaves tour in 2010. For the Honda Civic Tour 2011, DeLonge used his white guitar w/ a black racing stripe, which now has tape, scrapes, and burns on it, and used his black guitar w/ a black racing stripe, which is now full of abuse exactly like the white one. He used the brown w/ cream stripes as a back-up for this tour. Tom also used a black w/ a cream stripe guitar, which is actually made by Baratto. This version of the guitar has no neckplate and was painted with a natural finish, which has no stripe, and a copy of his basic brown guitar w/ a cream racing stripe. Delonge does occasionally use the Epiphone version, but after the song he ends up giving the guitar away to fans. All of DeLonge’s guitars have a free-mason logo somewhere on the body. DeLonge’s Angels & Airwaves bandmate, David Kennedy, uses this guitar as well, but airbrushes his own custom logos over the body, covering up the stripe and main body color. This was revealed on Facebook where there is a photo of him in garage painting the guitar. Delonge has been putting tape, stickers, scrapes and burns on a majority of his guitars since the blink-182 reunion.
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The Gibson ES-333 is a semi hollow body electric guitar made by Gibson Guitar Corporation.
The ES-333 is quite similar to the Gibson ES-335, but varies from the ES-335 in the following ways:
The finish is a thin satin finish, versus the ES-335’s thicker full gloss finish.
The headstock has a silkscreen Gibson logo, versus the ES-335’s inlaid pearloid logo.
The headstock has no further decorative inlay, versus the ES-335’s “crown” headstock inlay.
The pickups are Gibson type 490R and 498T, versus the ES-335’s Gibson 57 Classic pickups.
The back of the body has an access cover for the electronics, versus the solid rear of the ES-335.
The body is made of arched, laminated wood, with the exterior and interior laminations being made of maple. There is a maple central core in the body, to which the top and bottom, and neck are attached. The neck is one baulk of mahogany, with a rosewood fingerboard and pearloid dot markers. The hardware is nickel plated. As delivered by Gibson, the ES-333 had no pickup covers, nor pickguard, and came with black “speed” knobs. Switch tip color was alternately black or creme. The truss rod cover is unadorned, and the headstock overlay is the fibre material used on many contemporary Gibson models.
The ES-333 was available in “faded” brown, cherry red, natural and sunburst finishes, which are thin satin nitrocellulose lacquer. These finishes will take on the appearance of old instruments, after a period of being played, through the action of the players hands rubbing the satin finish to a fairly glossy patina wherever the hands make frequent contact with the instrument. There were also natural (very light amber) and three color sunburst finishes available from some of the larger retailers.
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