Gibson Guitar Gibson Es333 Memphis Series Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar with Gig Bag
The ES 333 is a 335 Lite–Why Pay More?
Written: Sep 11 ’04 (Updated Sep 22 ’07)
Pros:A lower priced ES-333 that plays like a 335 in all but name
Cons:The guitar I played had construction problems that are probably unusual
The Bottom Line: The ES-333 is a virtual copy of the much more expensive ES-335, except for the humbuckers and
tuners. The question is: Why pay more for the 335?
I’ve been a Gibson man since the day I was born (my dad was a Gibson man through and through) and, since I finally broke down and bought a Les Paul Black Beauty to flesh out my hollow body collection, I’ve been itching for a classic Cherry Red Gibson ES-335 Dot Reissue, which is one of the all-time classic guitars, for those of yoiu have been keeping score.
But lately I’ve been playing a ES-333 at the local Guitar Center, and I’m starting to wonder if I’d rather a) plunk down two grand or so for the 335, or, b) get the 333 for a grand or so, and maybe get another Tele or a PRS Tremoniti or something, for the same price.
No decision yet, but here’s the deal on the 333, which is a double-cutaway semi-hollow body electric guitar: It’s a 335 in all but name and pick-ups. First, here’s the technical skinny on the 333:
Body: 15.5 by 20 by 1.75
Center Block: One-piece maple
Neck: Mahagony, 1960 slim taper
Peghead pitch: 17 degrees
Neck joint location: 19th fret
Fingerboard: Rosewood, 24″ scale length, 18.137″ total length
Nut width: 1 11/16″
Width at 12th fret: 2.062″
Inlays: Pearloid Dot
Black Speed Knobs
Green Key tuners
Pick ups: Neck–490R Alnico humbucker, Bridge: 498T Alnico humbucker
Controls; Two volume, two control, three-way switch
Case: Waterproof canvas
Colors: Transred (faded cherry), Natural, Translucent Brown
The model I played was the translucent brown, a color which I frankly care little for. For what is effectively a lower priced ES-335, the workmanship was generally excellent EXCEPT for a major finish problem on the reverse side of the body near one of the electronics plates; the GC salesman was willing to give me a major deal for what this damage.
The 333 plays just like a 335. Because of the cutaway, it’s comfortable up to the 19th fret, although I wouldn’t want to move too much above the 12th position. The action is good and movement up and down the neck is fast. The body is a typical Gibson semi hollow, which means it is NOT contoured for the body (unlike a Fender Strat, which is still perhaps the best designed mass-market guitar I have ever played). But it’s thin and reasonably light and you won’t get tired after gigging with it for a couple of hours.
The tone isn’t much different from the 335. This guitar can give you a wide range of blues, jazz, country and mid-rock tones using a combo of the bridge and neck pick ups. The neck pick up alone gives a nice bluesy tone, the neck is better for rhythm work. For rock players in particular, this box will give good service for ’50’s and 60’s era tunes, e.g. Chuck Berry, Beatles, and a lot of Stones. It’s kind of an in-between Strat and Les Paul, not quite one, not quite the other, so DON’T use if for surf music and DON’T use it for Led Zeppelin.
The bottom line is that this guitar isn’t one heckuva lot different from the far more expensive ES-335, except that the 335 comes with ’57 classic humbuckers for more growl, more color selection, and a hardshell case.
So the decision is yours: get the 335 for two grand, or the 333 for eleven or twelve hundred, and another guitar in the bargain.
I’m still making up my mind, but the bargain ES-333 is making my mind tick.
Schechter Diamond C+1
PRS Single Cut
Fender VG Stratocaster
Fender Classic 50s Esquire
Fender American HSS Stratocaster
Gibson Les Paul GT
Fender John Mayer Stratocaster
Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster
Fender Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster
Gibson ES-333 Memphis Style Hollow Body
Gibson Les Paul 1957 Goldtop
Martin D-28 Acoustic
Gibson Les Paul Classic Ebony
Fender 57 Stratocaster Reissue
Les Paul Studio
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Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster
G&L Legacy Strat
Gretsch White Falcon II
Variax 700 Acoustic
Gibson SG 61 Reissue
Gibson ES-335 1959 Reissue
Gibson ES-165 Herb Ellis
Gibson Super 400
Epiphone Zakk Wylde Les Paul Custom
Epiphone Les Paul Standard
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PRS Santana SE
Fender 50s Telecaster
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