History speaks for itself. The ES-335 is one of the most important guitars of all time. Right from its introduction in 1958 as the world’s first semi-hollowbody electric guitar it has been a mainstay of players eager to balance the gorgeous, round, mellow tones perfect for jazz and blues with the edge and sustain of a full-blooded solidbody.
Today Gibson Memphis creates exacting duplicates of the ES-335 as it first left the Kalamazoo plant in 1958. That year just 267 were built, but the original vintage 335s grew steadily in popularity, peaking in 1967 thanks largely to Eric Clapton’s high-profile use of a cherry ES-335 in the band Cream.
Body and Finishes
The Gibson Memphis ES-335 is available with many finish options, reflecting the color choices that have evolved over the model’s 50-year history. In Satin finish, trans black and cherry colors are available, with a plain maple top, back, and rims. Ebony is available only in plain maple. With the figured maple top, back, and rims option, cherry, tri-burst, antique natural, light burst, and vintage sunburst colors are available. Wine red, trans brown, Beale Street Blue, and cinnamon burst finishes are also available in limited quantities, along with gold hardware, for figured and for plain maple models.
Regardless of color, the ES-335 retains its classic proportions: 16 1/2-inches wide, 20-inches long, and 1 3/4-inches deep. The neck is one-piece mahogany beneath a 22-fret rosewood fingerboard with pearloid inlays and a single-ply binding. Additionally, there’s single-ply binding on the top and back.
All hardware is nickel, and there’s a classic ABR-1 bridge with a stopbar tailpiece. Neck length is 24 3/4 inches with a 1 11/16-inch nut width. Satin finish models have vintage style tulip shaped tuners, while figured and plain tops come with Grover kidney-shaped tuners. All Gibson Memphis ES-335s have powerful ’57 Classic humbucking pickups, two volume pots, two tone pots, and a three-way pickup selector switch. They are strung with Gibson Brite Wire .010 strings and come safely nestled in a black levant case.
Spanning numerous decades, the ES-335 has been in the hands of countless musicians. From Chuck Berry’s numerous performances to Alvin Lee’s incendiary performance at Woodstock to Police’s 2008 tour in NYC, the ES-335 has been the instrument of choice for any players seeking gorgeous, round, mellow tones, tempered with the edge and sustain of a full-blooded solidbody electric like the Les Paul.