Gibson’s Legendary 335 Semi-Acoustic Electric Guitar – 10 Facts

The Gibson ES 335 semi-acoustic electric guitar is just one of those guitars that elicits countless fond and exciting memories of my youth, when I was very first in love with learning to play the guitar.

So many of the bands and musicians from the late 50s and 60s seemed to have a guitarist proudly playing these F-holed instruments. The old black and white Television footage on programmes like Top of the Pops would demonstrate the assorted musical genres that the 335 guitar could tackle without difficulty. Blues, jazz, pop and rock and roll were indicitive of the musical styles that guitarists performed on the Gibson 335.

Below are 10 fascinating facts about this guitar:

1. The Gibson ES 335 was the world’s very first commercial semi-acoustic guitar.

2. Until 1952 the Gibson company were only manufacturing entirely hollow bodied guitars. These guitars were definitely commonly vulnerable to feedback squeals when played through an amplifier at greater volume.

3. The 335 is neither a totally solid body or a hollow acoustic guitar. A solid block of wood extends through the middle of the body with hollow side’s containing two F-holes forming the acoustic chambers. This helped to relieve the horrible feedback.

4. The semi-acoustic layout was a coming together of past designs to create the very best of both worlds, in other words the mix of a solid and acoustic body.

5. Two mythical humbucking PAF guitar pickups were employed in the initial models. These humbucker pickups were exactly the same as utilised on the Les Paul models at that time.

6. The resulting guitar was exceptionally versatile and as described earlier suitable for many styles of music. Popular players of various styles of music include: Larry Carlton, Chuck Berry, B.B. King, Alex Lifeson, Dave Grohl, Lee Ritenour and Carl Wilson.

7. Production started in 1958 with the basic price of $ 267. 50.

8. The hardwood used in the construction includes: a solid maple middle block with a maple plywood top and back, mahogany was used for the guitar neck (maple was used quite rarely) and normally rosewood fretboard though from time to time ebony.

9. The most desirable model was what has become referred to as the ‘dot neck’ version. These employed dot inlays in the fretboard as opposed to block inlays. The 1958 and 1959 versions with dot inlays in addition to stop tailpieces are the very best.

10. 1962 saw the roll-out of block fingerboard inlays, replacing the dots and also the shape of the double cutaways evolved from the original ‘Mickey Mouse’ type ears to a little more pointed.

So there you have it. An exquisite ES 335 really is a joy to hold and play and the design continues to be mass produced today. It truly is well worth testing an example out in your local music retail store, even if it’s just to experience it.

Jim Ward is a very keen guitarist and loves to write about various electric guitars. For a great guitar blog on famous guitarists and all aspects of guitar pickups he recommends visiting: TubGuitarPickups.co.uk. There’s also lots of information there on upgrading your instrument’s current Humbucker Pickups.

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