I just saw a blurb about a new Gibson model, the "Midtown Custom".


As you can see, it's basically ES-335-like, but the reduced size (like the ES-339 and CS-336). It seems like it has a carved-out solid-mahogany body, more like the 336 model than either a 335 or 339. And probably the Midtown is even more "solid" than the 336. In some sense, it's probably more related in structure to a chambered Les Paul, but with more extensive chambering, so that there can still be f-holes. (The body binding only seems to be around the top, versus top and bottom for ES guitars.)

The interesting thing is that it is cheaper than all of the above. List is only $2300, and the street price is around $1500. Sounds pretty intriguing!

The one obvious negative, and what is sure to be somewhat controversial, is the use of a man-made, synthetic fretboard material. Presumably this is somewhat of a fallout of the recent raids on Gibson. But it also (presumably) accounts for much/most of the cost decrease between the Midtown and other somewhat similar models, like the ES-339 and CS-336. On the other hand, I think I have heard that the same material is used on some of the less expensive Martin models. It supposedly feels and looks a lot like ebony, and maybe this is the wave of the future, but I'm still a bit wary.

I have also heard someone say that the top is flat on this model, and doesn't have the same arch as an ES model. Hard to tell from the pictures.

On the plus side, the Custom-style headstock logo is pretty nice-looking.

I think the Midtown is also being positioned as a Gibson USA product, and not Gibson Custom.

What do you all think? Anyone seen/played one yet? How would you compare this to a somewhat pricier ES-339? (Street price more like $2000)
Last edited by rschleicher at Nov 18, 2011,
I'm not into hollow bodies, but this looks a lot like, like, every other hollowbody they've done, What's different, pickups? binding?
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Quote by Tango616
I'm not into hollow bodies, but this looks a lot like, like, every other hollowbody they've done, What's different, pickups? binding?

Thinline, brah.
Quote by JustRooster
How could you say no to Burstbuckers on a semi-hollow Gibson?

NO hmmm.... that was pretty easy
ya saying no to burstbuckers is pretty easy.

the midtown is similar in construction to the 336. back is carved out and the top is put out.

it's not a laminate like the 335 and the 339.
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The size is different, the pups are different, the fretboard material is different, the construction is different from other Gibson semis. But the smaller size and the Richlite fretboard means I haven't been persuaded away from an ES-137 yet.
Quote by Wisthekiller
The fretboard has me suspicious.

They need to do a bit more before I forgive the FIREBIRD X being the next revolution in guitar.

Oh god, people are digging up this again.

EDIT: To make this relevant, I actually quite like it.
Last edited by Pac_man0123 at Nov 18, 2011,
I've never tried a Richlite fretboard, but the guitar looks sexy ^^
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Whatever, ya'll. I'm with Greg. It looks great. I wonder if those who are wary about the fretboard are also people who love Parker guitars in every NGD thread.
Quote by JustRooster
How could you say no to Burstbuckers on a semi-hollow Gibson?

When the standard comes with '57 pickups =)

I personally liked the standard version much better, but the finish was kind of plain. This one is still boner-iffic though, and it makes me wish I was dumb enough to spend all the money I currently have
It boggles my mind that they have a new split-diamond-esque headstock inlay but then pair it with block fretboard inlays. One would think the idiots at Gibson would realize that all split-diamonds would be more cohesive. Oh wait, that's right. They're idiots.

And this is coming from someone who loves and plays Gibsons almost exclusively.
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The fretboard doesn't bother me. Think about how often your fingers actually come into contact with the fretboard wood. Even with a heavy touch and low frets you don't touch the fretboard itself that often, usually only for some chord shapes. If you have a lgihter touch you probably won't touch the fretboard at all and modern Gibson fretwire is just tall enough that pushing right down to the fretboard will be making you go sharp anyway.

And how many people happily play on maple fretboards with poly finishes on them? Or ebony, which is so dense it might as well be man-made in terms of feel and tone?

If anything I like this move to more modern fretboard materials. It's not as important a part of the guitar as the neck shaft or the body is and if it means the guitars can be produced quicker and cheaper then I'm all for it.

What bothers me is it's only got 14:1 Grover tuners which is pretty much what Epiphones have. Burstbuckers are nice sounding pickups but they're cheap for Gibson to use, they're effectively their default stock pickups. The nut is basic corian aka plastic and at this price you know it's going to be made in the basic Gibson factory. Les Pauls and SGs are okay to be made there but when you're talking about archtops you really want it to have been given the extra level of care and attention.

I just get the impression that in the world of Gibson archtops this one is kind of the half-assed 'studio' model, despite the 'custom' tag and inlays.
The fretboard actually sounds interesting! If more companies utilize this sort of fretboard, guitar prices could actually start to fall. $1,499 is like nothing for a Gibson guitar like that.