|Body And Neck:|
When it comes to archtop guitars, nothing quite beats the ES-335, which is as great a blues guitar as it is suited for jazz, rock and country – just ask B.B. King, who’s legendary Lucille is a Gibson ES-335. However, as not all of us can spend big on such a premium model, today we’re looking at an affordable way to take home classic ES-335 style and tone, with modern upgrades and very little compromise on quality. Let’s take a closer look…
Players looking for the famous ES-335 style won’t be disappointed at all, as the Gibson subsidiary stick incredibly closely to the blueprints of various ES-335s that have been produced over the decades. It features the classic 24.75” archtop body with soft double cutaways, made from a laminate of maple and birch of varying thicknesses across the top, back and sides of the guitar. This is finished in several color choices, including the lovely Vintage Sunburst, a deep Cherry, and classic Ebony.
The mahogany neck is glued into the body and features a 1960s SlimTaper D profile for great comfort and playability, which is enhanced by a rosewood fretboard and 22 medium jumbo frets. Decoration is subtle, but makes this a sophisticated and accurate replica, with protective cream body binding, traditional f-holes in the lower bout, and pearloid block inlays. For a reasonably-priced guitar made in China, the quality and setup aren’t flawless but still very commendable, which matches the standard that Epiphone are known for.
The hardware is also classic Epiphone and offers superb tone and reliability. It’s voiced by two passive Alnico Classic Pro humbuckers at the bridge and neck positions, which are good quality Epiphone-designed pickups. These are controlled by a three-way toggle selector switch, individual volume and tone top hat controls for each pickup on the lower bout, with the volume knob doubling up as a coil-splitter via a push/pull function.
Sitting on the headstock is a set of Wilkinson Vintage Classic tulip style tuners with a 14:1 ratio and attractive green machine heads. These are precise and hold your tuning nicely, and are complemented by a solid nickel tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece at the bottom of the body.
The two humbuckers are actually very impressive. Through a clean amp these produce good warmth and sound quite full (the main a reason it’s popular with jazz players), but with a bit of gain they can produce some gritty, punchy driven tones with good character – perfect for blues. The coil-splitting and controls add extra versatility, so it proves a good choice for the blues player who likes to play around with different tones and genres.
Epiphone have done a superb job in creating their own ES-335. It’s not trying to be an exact copy of every Gibson ES-335 in history, but it uses them as influence to create a great guitar for so many styles of music. For the affordable price, the build, design and tone of this beauty is very worthwhile.