Gibson ES 335 Full Performance Review 2020

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Okay, not everyone gelled with the ‘robot’ tuners, brass zero frets (and so on) of some recent USA production models, but that’s only 1 part of what the brand is approximately.

Gibson’s Memphis division, which creates the mainly laminate ‘f-hole’- styles, appears to have a different slant on modernism that’s typified by the recent semi-solid ES-Les Paul and the downsized ES-339: classic guitars but with a different spin.

Today we’re looking at the ES-335 Premiere Figured. “They are new because of this year,” says Mike Voltz, director of R&D/product development at Gibson Memphis, “but all of the changes are internal. We started dealing with thermal treating a year or two ago – so, here, the centre block is thermally engineered.

“The bracing is quarter-sawn thermally engineered Adirondack spruce, and we adhere the braces with hot hide glue and that really helps to create a guitar that’s acoustically louder, open, and with an increase of clarity.”

These changes aside, our classic centre block thinline semi is pretty identical to the recently-reviewed ES-275, measuring 42mm at the rim, and 409mm wide ( just over 16 inches). There is no yellow-toned top coat here, therefore the look is a bit more contemporary.

The ‘burst top and back also look newer than vintage, as the translucent dark brown/ almost-black sides and neck-back finish add contrast that creates an elegant appearance, together with the nickel hardware.

We also get yourself a lightweight aluminium stop tailpiece with locking studs, but that is all-very-classic ES-335 fare, including the small block inlays and the tiny fleur head logo. Again, Gibson’s build specs reveal we’ve MHS ‘buckers and here the ‘Memphis Tone Circuit’ includes matched pots with a good five % tolerance, with the same ‘orange drop’ tone caps as the ES-275.

Sounds


Plugged in, it’s like all our Christmases attended at once. There’s a far more solidbody response here, as you’d expect, and it certainly pushes out the sound. It requires that oh-so-Gibson voice of the ES-275, cleans up the low end, but nonetheless does effortless jazz or hugely vocal blues and fusion lead and we’re still on the neck pickup.

Tidy up your amp again and just funk from the mix: sparkle, depth, musicality. Swap to a classic rock Marshall voice with an increase boost and edge back the tone and/or volume, and you could rock out with just about anybody – there’s a vibrancy and resonance you could feel from your guitar since it leans into feedback.

Visit the mix again, roll down among the tones, and it’s really a Clapton-y ‘woman’ tone or Santana- esque tube-y vocal sustain. An excellent ES-335 is very something. This is an excellent one.

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