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Old 01-17-2013, 09:40 AM   #1
scottco86
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Gibson ES 339

Hey i am looking to buy a gibson es339 in antique red with a 30/60 neck but i was wondering about the pickups. In all the pictures i see of one the pickups have a cover over them but the one i am looking to buy you can see the humbuckers so i dont know if the plate is just off of it or if they are different pickups. You guys know anything about it?
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:48 AM   #2
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You might as well be asking us to guess what tuning you use. Without further information-detailed description, photos, etc—it's impossible for anybody to tell what you're on about. Most Gibson ES-339s come with covered pickups; however, not all do.
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:57 AM   #3
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You should look at the Epiphone ES339 Pro before you lay out the money for the Gibson. The Epi339Pro is a surprisingly well made instrument and for the money cannot be beat.

The Probuckers sound great and it also has coil tapping allowing for single coil in neck, bridge, and middle positions. You can change out the pickups if you don't like them for something you do, but you will also have about $2,000 left to buy some silver or gold coins. You will also have a new instrument from the start.

Look into an Epi 339 Pro first. Mine is cherry and not a blemish on it. Fit and finish are perfect. The action was as close to ideal right out of the box, but I had it tweaked further and won't part with this guitar. It's my main practice instrument and will be my main performing guitar when I have the chops to play publicly.

Also have a Les Paul Classic '60 RI that I'll play as well but not wanting it beat up, I'll probably use the 339 Pro most.

Last edited by ConcertShooter : 01-17-2013 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:17 AM   #4
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Ask the seller if they changed the pickups. I haven't seen any 339s without covers.

FWIW I think the Epi 339 Pro sounded awful. If you just want something cheap it's got a lot of features but the Gibson is a far better instrument.
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roc8995
FWIW I think the Epi 339 Pro sounded awful.


Naturally the Gibson should be a finer instrument. However, "sounded awful" sounds subjective to me. What specifically did you hear or not hear that you didn't like about the Epi 339 Pro?

I've seen some pros playing the Epi and they make it sound pretty good to me. I think sound has more to do with the guitarist\musician than it does the instrument. I suspect Eric Johnson could play a Fender Squire and make it sound good.
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:06 PM   #6
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Well of course it's subjective, and of course Eric Johnson can sound good on anything. Those are worthless arguments. Subjectivity is all we do here, and the existence of talent doesn't negate the existence of instrument quality.

But I sound good on plenty of instruments and the 339 Pros I played sounded tinny and dry. The piezos were especially unconvincing, the EQ was worthless, and the magnetic pickups were thin and weak sounding, and that's before using the coil split.

I really wanted to like the 339 Pro, on paper they've got everything I'd want in a semi-hollow, and they come in Pelham blue which is one of my favorite colors for an ES. But I played 2 or 3 and they were just unbearably bad.
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:07 PM   #7
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I'm definitely with Roc on this one. The shop I worked for had 2 of them. Not a fan of the sound at all. They seems really flat and thin.
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roc8995
Well of course it's subjective, and of course Eric Johnson can sound good on anything. Those are worthless arguments. Subjectivity is all we do here, and the existence of talent doesn't negate the existence of instrument quality.

But I sound good on plenty of instruments and the 339 Pros I played sounded tinny and dry. The piezos were especially unconvincing, the EQ was worthless, and the magnetic pickups were thin and weak sounding, and that's before using the coil split.

I really wanted to like the 339 Pro, on paper they've got everything I'd want in a semi-hollow, and they come in Pelham blue which is one of my favorite colors for an ES. But I played 2 or 3 and they were just unbearably bad.
You don't know what you're talking about and are confused since the Epiphone 339Pro DOES NOT HAVE A PIEZO PICKUP. It also has no EQ and does not come in Pelham blue. It does have two Probuckers that sound damn good.

Only the Epiphone Ltd Ed Ultra-339 comes in Pelham blue and I didn't like the Ultra either. Too gimmicky and they didn't sound good. There is a huge difference between the 339 Pro and the 339 ultra.

This guy demos the 339Pro. . Doesn't sound thin at all to me.

Last edited by ConcertShooter : 01-17-2013 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ConcertShooter
You don't know what you're talking about and are confused since the Epiphone 339Pro DOES NOT HAVE A PIEZO PICKUP. It also has no EQ and does not come in Pelham blue. It does have two Probuckers that sound damn good.

Only the Epiphone Ltd Ed Ultra-339 comes in Pelham blue and I didn't like the ultra either. Too gimmicky and they didn't sound good. There is a huge difference between the 339 Pro and the 339 ultra.




that sounds totally thin and shrill by the way.
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ConcertShooter
You don't know what you're talking about and are confused since the Epiphone 339Pro DOES NOT HAVE A PIEZO PICKUP. It also has no EQ and does not come in Pelham blue. It does have two Probuckers that sound damn good.

Only the Epiphone Ltd Ed Ultra-339 comes in Pelham blue and I didn't like the ultra either. Too gimmicky and they didn't sound good. There is a huge difference between the 339 Pro and the 339 ultra.


I won't argue that the Gibby a finer instrument, but you really do get a hell of an instrmunet with the Epi 339. Pickups need a swap, the rest on mine was near-perfect and ran me $300 last year new with some good couponing. I hated the Ultra as well, for whatever reason it just sounded stale and cheap, but the Pro really does have a different tone. The Pro did come out in Pelham Blue (you can still buy them) but Roc is talking about the 339 Ultra, a different guitar than the Pro.
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:31 PM   #11
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Do you know what the differences between the Pro and the Ultra are besides the electronics? Seems unlikely the $400 Pro would be remarkably better than the $700 Ultra. To me they look like the same model but with and without all the electronics stuff.


In any case, this guy wanted help about open or covered coils on a used Gibson 339. Maybe telling him to get a budget Epi isn't the most useful thing in this context anyway.
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:39 PM   #12
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I think the amount of electronics in the Ultra kill the tone - maybe just too much junk packed into that particular model. They may have the same construction, but those electronics make a huge difference. I'm going to drop some Dream 180's in mine for fun and see what happens, I definitely think the Pro could use a pickup swap. At $300, it's the cheapest of my guitars, but every time I think about selling it I pick it up and remember how well it plays.
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:40 PM   #13
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I could believe that. I'll have to try a Pro next time I see one. Epi usually does decent work in those budget ES models, which is why I was so excited about the Ultra when it came out.
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:52 PM   #14
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I think they're having trouble moving the Ultras, whereas the Pros were backordered for months. That either speaks to the quality/value of each instrument, or the fact that people don't want to pay $700 for an Epiphone. Definitely try out a Pro, if you don't dig it then it just wasn't meant to be. Different strokes and all.
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Old 01-17-2013, 02:11 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roc8995
Do you know what the differences between the Pro and the Ultra are besides the electronics? Seems unlikely the $400 Pro would be remarkably better than the $700 Ultra. To me they look like the same model but with and without all the electronics stuff.

In any case, this guy wanted help about open or covered coils on a used Gibson 339. Maybe telling him to get a budget Epi isn't the most useful thing in this context anyway.
The difference in price is related to the electronic crap stuffed inside the bottom of the Epi 339 Ultra and the nanomag pickup which stifles the tone of that guitar making it sound "thin" as described by others.

You should play a 339 Pro if you have the chance and make your own decision about that instrument. For $400 it's an incredible value. You're paying for the electronics with the Ultra which is why it costs more.

I had originally intended to purchase an Ultra but after playing it for no more than 10 minutes and then playing a Pro for the same amount of time, I knew the Ultra was not the guitar for me.

There's only one f-hole on the Ultra which essentially makes it equal to a Fender Thinline Tele with a bunch of junk stuffed in the bottom instead of there being wood and volume\tone controls. (The Fender Tele Thinline sounds better than the Ultra) Along with the electronics and the lack of a second f-hole the sound is not that of a semi-hollow body guitar. The Pro model has the sound of that genre of guitars.

The Ultra has a USB port. Will there be a USB protocol in 20 years? Will the onboard tuner last more than a year without needing repair? Too much in that guitar to go wrong for my liking although I did like the nanomag pickup, but not enough to sacrifice the hollow body on on the treble side of the guitar body.

The OP apparently hasn't purchased the Gibson yet which is why I suggested he check out an Epi 339 Pro first. Not the Ultra. I don't like the Ultra and agree that it lacks sound in a big way, but the Pro is a different instrument completely.
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Old 01-17-2013, 02:12 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by SteveHOC
I think the amount of electronics in the Ultra kill the tone - maybe just too much junk packed into that particular model. They may have the same construction, but those electronics make a huge difference.
Exactly right. Too much stuffed into that Ultra body.

Last edited by ConcertShooter : 01-17-2013 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:50 PM   #17
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None of this talk about Epiphones is relevant to the original question. Additionally, you're all wrong.

OP, please ignore these eejits; again, if you could provide more information and/or photos of the guitar in question, perhaps we can help you out.


As for the rest of you, for the sake of shutting y'all up, allow me to lay out the differences—or rather, lack of difference—between the guitars mentioned.

The Ultra and Pro are exactly the same, other than the Pro has coil splits and the Ultra has an active pickup, built-in tuner, stereo jacks and rear access. In every other regard, they are identical; same necks, same bodies, same hardware, same pickups.

If you thought the Ultra sounded 'thin', you most likely didn't turn the active pickup off. It is not possible for this pickup to 'stifle' the tone as its signal is parallel to the standard pickups' signal. It can only add, not take away. It can't effect the tone any more than the middle pickup on a Strat effects the tone of the neck or bridge pickups. If anything, the Ultra's active pickup encourages you to keep it away from the sound of the other pickups, with its separate jack. The point of the active pickup is to blend it with the regular pickups' sound to expand the treble and bass of the tone, to achieve a range of tones from regular ES, through to Rickenbacker-like sounds, to single coil-like tones, all the way through to acoustic-like tones. It does not, just by virtue of being present, effect the tone. It only effects the tone as you blend it in.
On the other hand, the Pro really does offer no advantages and several disadvantages; coil splits are the easiest 'mod' to install in a guitar, though the Pro has no rear access so changing—or fixing— any part of its electronics is a gigantic pain in the arse.

So stop your fighting. They are the same guitar, only one has an extra pickup shoved in and is easier to fix. That's where your extra money goes. There's no scam to it, there is no superior sound. The Ultra can do the same tones the Pro can; it's simply up to you whether you like the extra tones it can do or not. If you don't like the blended tones and are confident that you'll never want to mod the guitar or need to open it up, save your money and get the Pro. If you want more variety or simply want to be sure you can get to the innards easily, get the Ultra.

And in either case, if somebody is considering the Gibson ES-339, there is no reason for them to be looking at the Epiphones. They're very different-sounding—and, more importantly, different-feeling—guitars.

Now drop it.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:02 PM   #18
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Thanks, that was a well-informed, misguided attempt, at stifling a discussion about a legitimate opinion on a guitar that the OP may not have considered. I maintain my point that the mass of electronics can, in fact, impact the tone. Seeing as, as you've pointed out, that the guitars have completely different electronic components, it stands to reason that some may hear sound qualities differently.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:14 PM   #19
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The additional electronics are completely separate, as I made clear several times. They even have their own jack so you can send the signal to an entirely different amp, if you wish.

Any difference in tone can and should be attibuted to the fact that the pickups' coils, in both guitars, are wound unevenly and only within quite loose tolerances. This is the largest, most glaring culprit for any variation in the fundamental sound.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:31 PM   #20
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Right, and again, you can upgrade the pickups as needed. Even at the top-end you're looking at around $300 investment (by my estimation) including a professional installment, though dropping new pickups in the Pro is an hour-long home job if you can work a soldering iron.

We'll just remain in disagreement, which is fine. I own the Epi 339 Pro, like it well enough, and would recommend it as a budget alternative to the Gibson 339, though I like those well enough too.

In any event, your opinion is your opinion. I'm not going to try to change that.
Your facts are fine, good for you.

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