|Mark Knopfler's '58 ES-335|
McCarty felt the ES-335 was right behind the Les Paul solid body as the companies most important body design. He stated, “I came up with the idea of putting a solid block of maple in an acoustic model. It would get some of the same tone as a regular solidbody, plus the instrument's hollow wings would vibrate and we'd get a combination of an electric solidbody and a hollow body guitar.”
In 1952 Gibson had taken a chance on production of Les Paul’s concept of a solid body guitar which would eliminate the electronic feedback that was common to hollow body electric guitars when they were amplified loudly.
|Les Paul with The Log|
|A modern ES 335 with maple block|
This concept was essentially repeated with the Gibson ES-335. Its body had wings that were hollow shells of maple with F-holes over those chambers, but a significant maple block separated the two sides and it was routed out to contain the pickups and anchor the neck.
|'49 Bigsby Guitar|
Fender had been making its double cutaway Stratocaster since 1954. Surprisingly enough Paul Bigsby had built double cutaway guitars as early as 1949. And Bigsby’s guitars, though solid in appearance were actually hollow body instruments.
By 1958 Gibson had latched on to the double cutaway concept.
An original 1958 Gibson ES-335 was given a suggested retail price of $335. Although in 1958 most were selling at around $267.50. By the way, in today's money $267.50 is equivalent to around $4,000 USD.
|1958 Gibson ES-335|
|1958 ES-335 Neck view|
|PAF Stricker from 1958 humbuckers|
This year the ES-335 was only available with a sunburst or natural finish.
|1959 ES-335 Cherry finish|
A few changes occurred in 1960. This year the neck was given a thinner feel to the back shape. The volume/tone knobs have a chrome reflector top. The pickguard was shortened this year and does not extend past the bridge.
In 1961, Gibson discontinued the ES-335 with a natural finish. This year the strap button were changed to metal. The selector switch tip colour was gradually changed to white. Most notably the serial number was stamped into the back side of the head stock.
By 1963 the neck shape gradually got larger again.
|1965 Gibson ES-335|
By 1966 the Brazilian rosewood on the fretboard was changed to Indian rosewood. The neck angle decreased from 17 degrees to 14 degrees. The bevel of the pickguard was also changed making the black/white/black layers less noticeable.
|1968 Gibson ES-335|
By 1968 Gibson resumed making the nut and neck slightly wider by going back to the 1 11/16th” spacing.
|1969 ES-335 Walnut Finish|
It was not until 1969 that any more changes occurred. That year the guitar was offered with a walnut finish.
|1977 ES-335 with coil tap switch|
In 1977 Gibson, now owned by Norlin added a coil tap switch on the upper treble cutaway to keep up with the trends of the day.
In 1981 the ES-335TDC was discontinued, but replaced with the ES-335DOT. These were made through 1985 and were very good guitars.
|1990 Gibson ES-335|
By 1990 the Gibson ES-335DOT was discontinued and replaced with the Gibson ES-335 reissue which remains in production.
|1987 ES-335 CMT|
From 1983-1987 the ES-335 CMT was available. A very similar guitar to the ES-335DOT, but with a curly maple top and back and with gold hardware.
|1990 ES-335 Studio|
I recall the music store I used to spend time at had a Gibson ES-335 Studio model. It was Gibson’s effort to update and offer a lower price point. This guitar had no F-Holes, and came with twin Dirty Finger humbucking pickups. These were made from the mid 1980’s through 1991.
|1988 ES-335 Showcase Edition|
The Gibson ES-335 Showcase Edition lasted only a year. The hardware was black. It came with two EMG pickups. The guitar was either white or beige. Only 200 units were made in 1988.
|'94 ES-335 Centennial|
1994 gave us the Gibson ES-335 Centennial model to celebrate the company’s founding. This also was a limited edition of only 100 units. This guitar came with a gold medallion on the headstock and the tailpiece had diamond inlays.
|1998 ES-335 Historic '59|
Four years later Gibson came out with the ES-335 Historic Collection, which was a replica of their original 1959 ES-335.
|'85 ES-335 Nashville made|
However in 2000 Gibson opened a facility in Memphis, Tennessee. This is where ES-335’s are built today.
Through the years following 1958, Gibson made other models that were either based on the model ES-335, such as ES-330, which was a hollow body guitar, or the ES-345 and ES-355, which had a broader tonal palette and were fancier guitars, and even the Trini Lopez Standard, which had a similar body, but different sound holes, inlays, and headstock, the ES-335 is the original starting point for all similar models.
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