Psychedelic-Rock'n'roll: GIBSON ES-335TD GUITAR

24 July 2011



The GIBSON ES-335TD GUITAR is one of those flagship models that spawned a thousand imitators, yet never lost its position amongst them.

It was manufactured manufactured from 1958 until 1982, however various reissues and artist signature models have meant that it has effectively stayed in production ever since.
Usually just referred to as a '335', the correct name GIBSON ES-335TD GUITAR, stood for Electric Spanish 335 Thin Line Double Pickup.
In 1958, probably the most innovative design of all appeared, the "Gibson ES-335".
The "ES-335" was revolutionary in several ways, and has become one of the more sought after vintage Gibson guitars ever.
This was the very first double cutaway guitar and was a true hybrid of the solid body and the more traditional hollow body guitars made previously.
It had a solid center block with hollow wings and an arched, laminated top and back, the first true semi-hollow instrument.
Players could achieve the amplified volume and sustain of solid body instruments, and yet retain the warmth and character of traditional hollow instruments.

gibson_es335td,psychedelic-rocknroll,bodyThe "Gibson ES-335" was an immediate success in the market and has been in continuous production ever since.
An entire family of guitars, the Gibson Thinlines, sprang from this original design, including the "Gibson ES-345", "Gibson ES-355", and much later, the "ES-340", "ES-347", "Gibson CS 336", and "Gibson CS-356".
But the simple, elegant "ES-335" remains the heart and soul of the family and is still considered one of the most innovative and useful guitar designs of all time.

Models and variations:
The major innovation that made the "ES-335" the groundbreaking instrument it was, was hidden in it's construction.
Rather than being completely hollow, the guitar had a central maple block running the length of the guitar, below the pickups and bridge. This gave the bridge posts something to anchor into, increasing sustain, and giving some of the brighter tonal qualities of a solid body, whilst still retaining some of the mellow character of an acoustic. Furthermore it reduced feedback which had always been a problem with hollowbodies when turned up loud.
Gibson ES-335TD - Sunburst finish
Gibson ES-335TDW - Walnut finish
Gibson ES-335TDC - Cherry finish
Some models feature a coil tap switch, which allows the humbuckers to produce a "single-coil" sound.
The "ES-335 Pro", "TD CRS" and "CRR" models were equipped with "Gibson Dirty Finger Humbucker", which had a significantly higher output than the standard pickups.
The "Gibson CS-336" is a scaled down, sleeker body type variant of the "ES-335" that has become quite popular. It has a smaller body and is not quite as neck heavy, while maintaining most of the essential features of the "ES-335".
The "Gibson ES-355" (Thin Line, Dual Pick-up) was at the top of Gibson's range of thin line semi-acoustic guitars. It was manufactured from 1958 until 1982.

gibson_es335td,psychedelic-rocknroll,bigby_tailpiece,clapton,lennon,mitch_mitchell,richardsEric Clapton with Gibson ES-335 TD in Dirty Mac during Rolling Stones Rock'n'roll Circus, December 11 1968

The "ES-355" was available with a "Vibrola Tremolo" unit or a "Bigsby B70 Guitar Vibrato tailpiece".
It had also been offered with stereo output and Varitone tone filter circuitry.
When fitted with the optional stereo wiring and Varitone, the model was known as the "ES-355TD-SV".
Most players agree that the finest examples of the "Gibson ES-335" were made between 1958 and 1964.
Original, unaltered examples of vintage Gibson thinlines have become collector's items with clean Natural finish examples selling for as much as $100,000, and, along with 1950's, "Fender Telecaster", "Fender Stratocaster", and "Gibson Les Paul", are the most sought after of collectible electric instruments.

gibson_es335td,psychedelic-rocknroll,eric_clapton,cream,1968Eric Clapton with a Gibson ES-335, 1968

The "ES-335TD" was finally withdrawn in 1981, with a replacement, the "Gibson Custom ES-335 Dot" (based on the 1961 ES-335TD) being launched the following year.

Mention should also be made of the "Epiphone Riviera", which was made with the "ES-335" in the Gibson Kalamazoo factory, using the same tooling, techniques and quite a lot of the same components.
The "Gibson ES-355" was widely used by Blues musician "B. B. King", who has been featured in Gibson publicity for the model from the 1960s onwards. "Chuck Berry" used one in the 1960s and 1970s, replacing his earlier "Gibson ES-345".
Many other guitarists such as "Eric Clapton" with "The Yardbirds,"Cream" and "Blind Faith", "John Lee Hooker", "Ritchie Blackmore", "Alex Lifeson", "Noel Gallagher", "Keith Richards", "Johnny Marr", etc. have also used the model..

see also "The Gibson 335: Its History and Its Players" book
and "Gibson Guitars: Ted McCarty's Golden Era: 1948-1966".


George said...

nice post. my friend has a nice cherry one that he got back in 1969

Jaggerfan1 said...

Hey wait a sec- Gibson ES-335? That's what Keith Richards plays on stage, no way, awesome!!! That's the guitar he uses!

Michael Lantz said...

Didn't John and George of the Beatles have a guitar just like the one at the top.I know George was a big guitar collector.I read somewhere when George was feeling depressed that Eric Clapton gave him a Les Paul as a gift.