Gibson ES 335

My ES 335 is the blond as opposed to the more popular cherry model. I bought the instrument from a professional musician when we lived in Houston, Texas in the early eighties. The 335 is a seminal piece of kit. Gibson, a longstanding instrument maker, were famous for their hollow bodied models produced before the war and in the forties and fifties. Their products were used by professionals the world over. As electrification became vogue, many guitarists complained of the feedback experienced by the big Gibson bodies and several manufactures, Gibson included, started producing solid bodied electrics (Gibson with their Les Paul series).

The ES 335 was a compromise, an attempt to reduce feedback and at the same time retaining the warmer tones of the hollow bodies; it was the first semi-solid. A solid Maple block runs up the centre with hollow sections on each side that have violin type ‘f’ holes. It was not a new idea; in the early forties Les Paul had produced his ‘Log’ which was a solid piece of pine with a Gibson fingerboard and two halves of an Epiphone acoustic grafted each side.

The design is one of the great classics and has progressed into several variants including the 345, 355 and the Lucille that are all versions of the basic 335 with add-ons. The list of top artists playing these Gibson reads like a who’s who of rock and blues guitarists. Chuck Berry was famous for his chicken walk across the stage with his cherry red 355. I suppose this and the Fender Stratocaster are arguably the two greatest electric guitars of all time.