There’s no truer sign of Gibson Memphis's dedication to improvement and innovation than the ES-359, which was unveiled in 2008. At its heart, the ES-359 is a luxuriously appointed version of the ES-339 – a flexible tone machine with edge and bite at any volume. What sets the ES-359 apart is its gold hardware, Grover tuning pegs, and an Richlite fingerboard with large mother-of-pearl block inlays to accentuate the classic elements of this innovative guitar’s appearance.
Both the ES-359 and ES-339 trace their roots to the introduction of the ES-335 and ES-355, the world’s first semi-hollowbody guitars, in 1958. They are part of Gibson’s continuing quest to optimally wed the dark, rich tone of hollowbody guitars with the edgy command of solidbodies – with the added benefit of a solidbody’s dimensions. The ES-359 employs a maple/poplar/maple laminate and boasts another small design improvement over classic ES-335 and ES-355 models – the input jack is mounted on the rim rather than on the body of the guitar.
Like all ES models, the ES-359 has a body with two rounded wing chambers and f-holes, but with solidbody-like dimensions: 13-inches wide, 16-inches long, and 1 11/16th-inch deep. Finishes available are lacquered Richlite or vintage sunburst. The neck is one-piece mahogany for classic Gibson resonance and sustain. There are 22 frets on the model’s Richlite fingerboard, which has large mother-of-pearl block inlays and a single-ply cream binding.
Unlike the ES-339, which has fat and thin neck options, the ES-359 comes with a Lucille-type profile neck which tapers more and is fatter at the 12th fret than the ES-339. The scale length is 24-3/4" with roughly a 1-11/16" width at the nut. The headstock has high-quality Grover tuners and multi-ply binding on the top and back.
The other major Gibson innovation in the ES-359 figured top model is the patented Memphis Tone Circuit. Using a logarithmic system to analyze the way a guitar’s volume controls affect tone, the Gibson Memphis engineers developed special 500-k frequency audio taper pots to preserve high end as the volume decreases, giving the ES-359 a consistently sweeter, brighter, punchier tone than other guitars of its ilk as it gets quieter.
Besides the Memphis Tone Circuit, the ES-359 model’s electronics are pure Gibson: two ’57 Classic humbuckers, two volume pots, two tone pots, and a three-way selector switch. Additionally there’s an ABR-1 bridge and a stopbar tailpiece; all hardware in gold. The guitar comes wearing Gibson Brite Wire .010 strings inside a Gibson Memphis case, with a certificate of authenticity.