Friday, March 20, 2009
Guitar Fridays: Gibson ES-335
by M A N
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of guitar designs in the world. But of all of them, from your run of the mill Strat copies to Prince's rare and unusual "Sign" guitar, the Gibson ES-335 is my favorite.
The 335 was designed to help reduce the feedback that was common in Gibson's larger hollow body guitars. Though it still maintains that delicious womanly hour glass shape of the hollow body models, the depth of the 335 is much shallower (known as a semi-hollow body). As you you can see in the image, there are two F holes (much like a violin) that show the hollow inside of the guitar body. This helps shape its distinctive sound.
It has a maple body with a set* mahongany neck and rosewood fingerboard. Most 335s have a fixed bridge though it isn't uncommon to see one with a Bigsby tremolo system. The Bigsby trem is the spongy predecessor to the "whammy bar" and is used to add vibrato (personally, I'm not a big fan of the Bigsby but there are many players who love it). The two humbucker pickups help give it the range it needs to go from thick, weeping solos to crunchy rhythm instantly.
What I love so much about this guitar is it's versatility. The 335 is just as comfortable on stage with smooth jazz players like Larry Carlton to throw down rockers like Dave Grohl. This guitar can do it all. Just take a look.
Going Home -- Ten Years After with Alvin Lee, live at Woodstock
All My Life -- Foo Fighters Dave Grohl is using his own custom 335 (the DG-335) in this clip. Just listen to how BIG that axe sounds! You can hunt buffalo with this guitar!
Room 335 -- Larry Carlton (Mr. 335 himself) and Steve Lukather I can't recommend their album "No Substitutions: Live in Osaka " enough.
Sweet Sixteen -- B.B. King playing the most famous 335 of all, Lucille. This particular performance has a lot of cultural significance as it was part of the concert that took place in Africa celebrating the "Rumble in the Jungle" fight between Ali and Foreman. B.B. at his best, indeed.
As a little bonus, here's B.B. live at Sing Sing prison in 1972. Yeah, that's the blues.
* There are a few ways of attaching the guitar neck to the body. A "Set" neck means it's attached to the body via a dovetail joint and adhesive. "Bolt on" means it attached with heavy screws. "Neck thru" means the single piece of wood that makes the neck extends thru the body of the guitar.