ES-137 Classic review by Gibson

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 9.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.3 (46 votes)
Gibson: ES-137 Classic
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Price paid: $ 1500

Purchased from: Alto Music

Sound — 9
I play jazz and blues through this guitar and this fits the bill beautifully. I play though a reallyyy old Fender Champ, it sounds so beautiful! Get a decent amp if you get this guitar, it deserves such a luxury. It's got humbuckers, so there ain't much noise. The tone rolled down on the neck pickup provides such a beautiful sound that just lights up the world. I also play through a self-made Strat for heavier blues but that poor guitar hasn't gotten much playing time lately... Ok so there is one con. The bridge pickup just feels sorta weak to me. Perhaps I had been playing single coils too long but I need something with a lil more pop, because right now I can't get a good funk sound out of this (it doesn't have to be good, just useable so I don't have to lug around 2 guitars). That is just personal preference though, and it shouldn't be a problem when I put in a hotter pickup. I give the neck pickup a 10/10, the bridge position an 8/10.

Overall Impression — 10
A friend of mine described this guitar as "classy" and ever since then, it's been my Classy Guitar. It is the best way to describe it; don't try to play anything too dirty, but it can handle tube drive. The blue burst looks beautiful and it sounds beautiful and can handle anything I throw at it (but don't actually throw stuff at it, poor life choice). If someone stole it, I'd track the S.O.B. down and wreck him. I don't think I'd replace this guitar with something more expensive even if I could, as I can get a much stronger blues sound from here than I could get from a typical archtop, and the jazz still sounds jazzy and gorgous, and I couldn't find anything quite like it. This thing is classy I named it Clarissa. One thing I wish it came with is a cookie.

Reliability & Durability — 10
I will gig without a backup when I find an indestructible guitar. Having said that, this guitar should last me a lifetime. Keep the humidity and the air pressure right and it should outlast me. Everything about it seems really strong (and it's reallyyyy heavy!) so just be careful. Take care of the guitar, it will take care of you.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Don't EVER get a guitar like this without getting a full setup from an experianced guitar tech. It makes no sense. I tried a non set-up 137 and thought it was rather horrible. I asked a sales rep if there were any set up ones in the store and he showed me a used one that felt good (the pickups were switched out to these horrible metal pickups and metal isn't my style). Just get it set up, no questions asked. Gibson has pretty good quality control, I'd be surprised if someone found a dud. There was a rather stupid flaw in mine that I think is in every 137: the wires in the hollow part of the guitar weren't secured properly and sometimes they would rattle like hell at louder levels. It's very silly and VERY easy for a tech to fix, so just ask him to do it when you get it set up, no big deal. My tech told me about it when he set it up (took him 3 hours to figure out what was rattling, poor guy).

Features — 8
My 137 was made in 2009 in Memphis like the rest. I bought the Blue Burst finish, simply beautiful! I was extremely hesitant to purchase this, as it is semi-hollow, not fully hollow, and I play jazz blues and some funk (nothing too distorted though) and I was looking for the sound of my friend's Vintage D'Angelico archtop without coughing up 10 grand for such a unique guitar. There is a 3 way selector Switch and 2 humbuckers (490R and 498T I believe). I think the bridge pickup isn'tas good as the neck pickup.

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