ES-137 Custom Review

manufacturer: Gibson date: 04/22/2013 category: Electric Guitars
Gibson: ES-137 Custom
Gibson modernized the single-cutaway thinbody guitar in the 1990s with the addition of a solid centerblock, and the ES-137 Custom enhances the model with elegant new features, including an ebony fingerboard, split-diamond inlays, '57 Classic humbucking pickups, 6 position varitone and multi-ply top binding.
 Sound: 10
 Overall Impression: 10
 Reliability & Durability: 10
 Action, Fit & Finish: 9
 Features: 10
 Overall rating:
 9.1 
 Reviewer rating:
 9.8 
 Users rating:
 8.4 
 Votes:
 93 
reviews (3) pictures (5) 5 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 10
ES-137 Custom Reviewed by: unregistered, on november 09, 2012
7 of 7 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 1899.99

Purchased from: Musicians Friend

Features: I have a 2004 model made here in Memphis Tenn. I have visited the plant several times and just knew I had to have one. I couldn't buy it from the factory because they are only allowed to charge MSRP, and at $3375, that was a bit much. The tiger maple finish in light burst is a real thing of beauty. The semi-hollow body makes it the best of both worlds. It has the sustain of a solid body without feeling like you have a brick around your neck. // 10

Sound: I play pretty much anything pre rap and pre grundge. I am at the age where this stuff is just now being considered "classic rock." but like the song says, when did Motley Cure become classic rock? This guitar ran clean has the true "Gibson" sound. It sound very good ran clean for true classic rock, (Elvis, Carl Perkins, etc). When distorted, it sound great with The Who, AC/DC etc. The vatitone Switch is only available on the custom model. This is similar to the 5 position Switch on strats. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar came with saw dust still in the case from the Memphis factory. Even though it felt good and sounded good right out of the box, I still took it in for a complete custom setup. I wanted it set up to my action level, string type, etc. With an insturment of this value, I still take it in once a year for a checkup no matter what. // 10

Reliability & Durability: I ordered this guitar specifically with chrome hardware. Many of the guitars in Gibson's line only come with the gold hardware (the Lucille for example). This is ashame. I have never seen any guitar, even a Gibson, with gold hardware that didn't look like crap in 10 years or less. I plan on keeping this axe for much longer than that so I went with chrome hardware. Other than that, no complaints with fit or finish. The wax applied at the factory really gives a 3-D effect to the tiger maple. // 10

Overall Impression: I have been playing off and on for over 30 years. I finally said what the hey, and decided to bite the Bullet and buy my dream guitar. I have always browsed music stores looking for something that either looked cooler or sounded better than what I was currently playing. Well I'm afraid those days are over. I haven't picked up anything since getting my 137 custom that can even match this thing. After getting this axe, my wife said I had to get rid of my other guitars. I said ok to this. Then she was so bold to say that if I bought another Gibson, she would leave me. All I can say is come the first of the year, I'm sure going to miss her! // 10

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overall: 9.8
ES-137 Custom Reviewed by: unregistered, on november 09, 2012
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 2000

Purchased from: The Guitar Store Southampton

Features: USA made 2011 cherry burst es 137 custom, grover tuners, brite wire. 10 strings, maple neck with ebony fretboard, maple/poplar/curly maple body with a mahogany centre block, '57 classic pickups, stopbar tailpiece, gold hardware, single cutaway semihollow body (just the way Ted Nugent and I like it), varitone 6 way, split Diamond inlays, binding everywhere, really thin nitrocellulose finish and so on and so forth... I loved this the moment I played it, what you get for the price (compared with say, an ES-335 of the same price) with all the cosmetics and really quality pickups which work well with the varitone. My only niggle is that the neck feels a little sticky, I think because of the finish, but should be better over time though and it doesn't really hinder my playing. // 10

Sound: I mostly play anything from blues up to the hard rock/ classic metal spectrum, and this is the sound I have been looking for. I play through a Fender Super Sonic 22 and it sounds godly. The neck is an awesome lead pickup with the varitone bypassed, it's really meaty and well rounded, while the bridge suits rhythm well by cutting through the mix with a good amount of clarity. I find the pickups really HOT and I get breakup at about 3 on my clean channel. The varitone is really useful for cleaning up the guitar, by cutting volume and bass on the neck and thinning out the bridge pickup to a real convincing single coil sound (popping the strings with my fingers with the varitone on 3 sounds very Mark Knopfler). Don't Knock the varitone until you try it, it's a great feature of the guitar. Overallthe sound is easily a 10, it's perfect for my style and heavier, it's so gritty and raunchy and the feedback howls a beauty. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: Whoever done the fretting on this guitar should be made head of Gibson fretting, it was absolutely flawless. The action is great too, it is low and barely buzzes, unlike my Strat with a higher action. As far as I have seen, there were no cosmetic flaws, however the pickup selector clicks through the amp sometimes, but very rarely. The varitone is silent in switching, although the jack plate was a tiny bit loose. This is my first Gibson and it's amazing. Oh I forgot to mention it came with a case, but the locks are a bit scratched and oxidized, which disappointed me a little. // 9

Reliability & Durability: I've only had it for a couple of months but it seems pretty solid, and if I did, I'd not bring a backup for the specific sounds I wanted from it because it's solid an well made. I'm digging the worn look and because of the thin lacquer I hope it wears quick. The pickups are heavily lacquered with gold as is all the hardware, so should last ages. // 10

Overall Impression: From blues to classic metal, it fares easy with it's wicked awesome tone that you only get from a semi hollow. I have an American 50th anniversary Strat I use for single coil chimey clean that's loaded with bare knuckle slowhand pickups and it's my clean machine, but the es 137 custom has a flawless flame maple, ballsy tone and suits my heavier sounds much better than the weaker single coils. To be honest apart from the 11 month wait this guitar is my soulmate. If it was stolen or lost I'd get it back in a heartbeat. I didn't really want to make this a sales pitch but it really is the perfect semi hollow guitar. The only thing I wish it came with is locking tuners or a signature from Ted Nugent! // 10

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overall: 9.6
ES-137 Custom Reviewed by: unregistered, on april 22, 2013
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Features: It was made in the USA 2011. I'm guessing on the year based on the serial number. It has grover tuners, 2 Humbucking pickups and gold hardware. It came with a Tune-O-Matic bridge setup and Corian nut but I've had it customized with a Gibson locking bridge and end piece (with tuning screws like a violin has), bone nut, gold fret wire and input jack plate. The finish is flamed maple sunburst. Very cool! It has a volume and tone control for both humbucking pickups and it came with the "Gibson USA" case. // 10

Sound: I thought the guitar was fantastic. I've owned lots of cheaper guitars and this was my first production quality guitar. The sound is absolutely wonderful. I get comments all the time about how nice my guitar sounds. It definitely suits my rock/blues based playing. I usually use my Zoom G9.2tt Multi-Effects pedal combined with a Fender Super Sonic Amp. The sustain was good when I initially got this guitar but after I had the locking bridge and end piece installed it goes on and on. Really incredible! The selector switch in the down position selects the front or neck pickup and with the pre-amp or amp adjusted appropriately you can get the twangy (or at least I think it sounds twangy) sound of a Strat or a more robust deeper sound reminiscent of a Les Paul. In the middle position the sound gets throatier and this is frequently where I do the majority of my playing. Rock on! From time to time I use the selector switch in the up position selecting the rear or bridge pickup. Gets a very nice warm tone highlighting the lower notes. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: My initial impression was very good. It did seem to have an action that was a little low and buzzing in some of the higher fret positions but I would have to check with my guitar setup guy to find out precisely what he did to make it "right" for me. I can say that some of the fret wires appeared to have indentations in a couple of frets near the nut around the 5th string (B string). It was resolved by the refret of gold wire. As far as action goes I think it's really a matter of what each individual artist likes and I wouldn't expect any instrument to fit me perfectly without some fine tuning. Overall I would say this guitar was excellent with minor issues easily resolved by a competent craftsman. I could have had the pickups adjusted but at this time I liked the sound the way it is coming out so I wasn't going to fix what wasn't broke. // 8

Reliability & Durability: Very reliable. I've played this at church once a month for 12 months now with no issues. While having the guitar setup I also had them insert a plate where the input jacks go in. It's a common problem among some Gibson models for the area around the input jack to break and need repair (if it doesn't have a plate). I'm not waiting around for that to happen. Everything was solid on this guitar except the design defect as noted. Finish quality was excellent and I expect this to last a very long time. // 10

Overall Impression: My overall impression of this guitar is excellent. I have been playing for close to 38 years. I love everything about this guitar, the sound, the feel, the weight (which also steered me away from the Les Paul since this is a lot lighter). Really nice when you get older. I checked out several other guitars including ES-335, Les Paul and I used to own a Strat so I knew I wasn't interested in that sound or feel. This seemed to have the most dynamic range and versatility I was looking for and let's me explore different styles at the flick of a switch. I would like to get another guitar with a Tremolo Bar which is the only thing this guitar doesn't have (I don't want one on THIS guitar either). It is perfect just the way it is. // 10

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