#1
There were alot of firsts in 1958. America launched Explorer 1, our first satellite. VISA and American Express are introduced along with the Ford Edsel. Speaking of cars, the first Toyotas and Datsuns are imported. The Boeing 707 begins production. The first Grammy is awarded to the song "Volare". Uncle Sam invites Elvis to join the Army. The first Pizza Hut opens and children all over America begin twirling the Hula Hoop.
The first time in 26 years postal rates are increased to .04 cents. The average Joe was making about $90 bucks a week. A new Ford was just north of two grand and a gallon of gas was .24 cents. But there was another first to mention.
Gibson introduced the Electric Spanish semi-hollow body guitar ... namely the ES-335 for the tidy sum of $270.00. Or about three weeks wages.
In 2015 the average Joe makes almost $900 a week and a spanking brand new ES-335 Gibby will take about 3 1/2 weeks wages to bring home. Funny, the more things change ... the more they stay the same. Perhaps I'm just trying to justify laying out just north of three grand for my recent purchase (is there a "shrink" in the house?) but alas ..
I did.
Whatever could have driven me to such an insane decision? Answer: a small manufacturing plant located in Memphis, Tennesee .... Gibson. For 2015 "the powers that be" decided to give their iconic war horse a fresh makeover and we're not talking just a facelift but a real effort to increase playability. And IMHO they nailed it!
There have been eleven (yes 11) major improvements starting in 2015 and only two are cosmetic. The rest are geared towards making a better guitar for players like you ...
and me.
I'd like to review each of the upgrades from my perspective (as a player) ... your mileage may vary. By that I mean one man's nirvana may well be another man's nightmare. We all have different backgrounds and taste not to mention varying degrees of musical interest and along that vein, hearing.... might I say " hearing peculiarities". That's not necessarily a bad thing.
Speaking of hearing let's talk pick-ups first. No doubt musicians all over the world have been happily enjoying the fat full sound of Gibson's PU of choice in their ES line the '57 Classic Humbuckers. As I'm sure most of you already know their inherent virtues. Potted and evenly wound (or balanced) having an equal number of turns of wire on each spool.
In 2015 Gibson has decided to replace the '57's in the 335 for the unpotted, un-balanced (not an equal amount of turns of wire per spool) Burstbucker's 1 and 2.
The common thought is a "potted" PU will greatly reduce the dreaded "microphonic" effect that un-potted PU's exhibit. That's largely true for older un-potted PU's but a newly (and properly) manufactured PU given todays tightly controlled manufacturing processes will not exhibit extreme microphonic issues (when used properly) potted or not.
However, from what I understand after researching other forums, Gibson does pot the Burstbuckers on production models. Aftermarket Burstbuckers remain unpotted.

I chose to learn guitar on an acoustic. I didn't want to introduce the inherent variables of amplification into my learning process. The notes on a properly tuned acoustic ring out like the bells from heaven and you know in your ear and heart if you've got it right. What's that got to do with anything? From my perspective that's the same degree of accuracy of note I hear produced from the Burstbuckers.
There is no hint of muddyness. Just pure crystalline like notes ringing out unobstructed by wax the way they were meant to be. I'm sure plenty of you will be all to eager to disagree with me (and that's fine) but remember I'm giving you MY perspective and like I said in my opening "your mileage may vary" (and probably will ...amen).

So I like Gibson's choice of pups in the 2015 ES-335. Remember just recently they only came in some of the pricier "historics". And for a good reason I assume ... they more closely matched the heralded PAF's of old. OK ... enough pup stuff ... let's move on. Oooops before we do I might mention upgrade number two. Gibson decided to make a change in capacitor value giving the Burstbucker #1 in the neck position a .015 mfd cap to replace the tried and true .022 still found in Burstbucker #2. The change to me sounds subtle but the neck now sounds "to me" just a tad louder and more articulate which is a good thing.

Number three improvement is the reinforced area directly behind the neck leading into the headstock. Gibsons neck angle has caused more than a few breaks and snaps even when cased. This is a major improvement and frankly should have been done years ago. That move also led Gibson engineers to install the Historic Truss rods (used in earlier production models) in all 2015 ES's. It was used in recent Historic models and now they all have the beefier truss rod. Kudos Gibson for improvement number four.
Number five gives us new 18:1 Grover Milk Bottle Rotomatic tuners. I have already put new Gibson Pure Nickel 10's on and yes the tuners are very sensitive to minor tweeks as I reset intonation. A nice touch.

Improvement number six brings us rolled binding of the fingerboard. The neck melts in my hand as if I've been playing it for a decade!
Speaking of feelings improvement number seven has turned out to be a biggie for increasing my playability.
Gibson has cleverly reduced the height of the frets in 2015 by 28%. At first I thought that would not be so good but I find it's terrific. I can now fret chords with much reduced finger tip pressure but more importantly I can ring each note out even if I'm fingering well behind the intended fret where before I would have to consciously press down a lot harder away from the fret back edge in the lonely wooded area of the fret board.
Improvement number eight brings us a locking tailpiece using the same stop bar any Gibson ES has so no change in looks but easier string change and perhaps an improvement in sustain ... not sure.
What I am sure about is this incarnation of the iconic 335 has plenty of sustain. On a good downward stroke of the strings I can count to almost 25 before all traces of sound completely disappear. That may also be part and parcel of improvement number nine ... namely the installation of a bone nut. Can't argue about that. They last forever.

Ten and eleven are cosmetic improvements. Block inlays and a bolder paint scheme namely Sunset Burst which I have on mine. In dim lighting conditions (see photo) the hue is very subdued almost like any other Vintage burst but when the bright light hits it (as "stage" lights for instance) oh boy does that yellow ever wake up.
I guess Gibson just wanted to put an exclamation mark on the newly designed '15's and boy did they ever.

Well how does it play? To me ... like buttar'. The notes ring out true and clean like tapestry bells from heaven. Perfect for my genre of Blues and Classic Rock. These days I mostly enjoy playing at home alone thru an older Peavy Classic 20 tube amp which seems well suited for the task.

The Gibby arrived well packaged from Sweetwater (great customer service) and there were zero fit and finish issues. I think Gibson plant workers paid extreme care putting together the new 2015's. They even added their own stamp this year with a special moniker on the truss rod access cover as if to say "here 'ya go fellas, we built this the old school way with love and attention to detail".
Well done Memphis ... you should all be very pleased and proud of this one ... I certainly am.
http://i669.photobucket.com/albums/vv54/Bullitt4001/Harley%20and%20Geetars/mikes%20Gibby%20007_zpsx59cuvky.jpg
http://i669.photobucket.com/albums/vv54/Bullitt4001/Harley%20and%20Geetars/mikes%20335%20set%20up%20006_zps0cgptzxu.jpg


Last edited by ponderwilu at Apr 21, 2015,
#2
Ooof, that was a bit hard to read. Might want to format your text better next time.


Anyway, nice score. The Memphis 2015s didn't get the things that really affected the standard USA lineup (they didn't get the robo-tuners, the wider/taller neck profile, brass nut and funky wiring...) so they are largely unchanged from previous years IIRC. Great guitars all around.


HNGD
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#3
HNGD but tl;dr
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