ES-330 review by Gibson

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.6 Superb
  • Users' score: 10 (8 votes)
Gibson: ES-330

Price paid: $ 750

Sound — 9
The guitar originally came with two P90 pickups, but these gave me problems as single coil pickups will if you play where they control the house lights with a rheostat. I had the two P90's replaced with two Gibson P100 vertical double-coil pickups which sounded great and didn't have the problems the P90's had. With the new P100 pickups, I get a really nice fat Gibson sound I hear from ES-335's, SG's and Les Paul's. It just feels and sounds more like the Gibson guitar sound I've grown to love. The rest of the electronics are Standard factory installed, three way pickup selector switch and associated volume and tone knobs for each pickup.

Overall Impression — 9
This was always my go to instrument. I keep it out at home next to my desk so that when I hear a song on the radio, I can grab the guitar and work out the song. Recently most of my outside playing has been on my Fender Strat as I've found it to be a little more versatile than the ES-330. But every once in a while, I have to take the ES-330 out and play it for a job.

Reliability & Durability — 10
The guitar has held up well the last 30 years with a little checking in the finish. The neck is superb and easy to play. Outside of replacing the pickups, nothing has been done to the electronics. All original wiring is in place. The chrome pickup covers fit over the newer P100 pickups so from an external viewpoint, you can't tell anything has changed.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The action has always been quite good. By replacing the original nut with a graphite nut, the strings no longer bind when using the Bigsby tremolo bar allowing the guitar to stay in tune even if the tremolo bar is used. A friend had a similar ES-330, only with the trapeze at the bottom. It didn't play as well or have the balance the Bigsby gives to the instrument. The sustain was much better with the Bigsby tail piece as well. The guitar includes a laminated beveled-edge pickguard, single bound top, back and rosewood fingerboard, small block mother-of-pearl fingerboard inlays, and a blackface headstock with the Gibson logo mother-of-pearl inlay. The dual pickups come with chrome covers, tune-o-matic bridge, Bigsby vibrato tailpiece, crown peghead inlay and a sunburst high gloss finish. The red shows up much more in the photo than it does in person.

Features — 10
The ES-330 is a thinbody, double cutaway, fully hollow body guitar produced by Gibson from about 1952 to the early 1970's. The original ES-330 attached the neck at the 15th fret, but starting in 1967, they lengthened the neck where it joined the body at 19th fret. This matched the neck length of the ES-335. I was originally looking for an ES-335, but saw the ES-330 posted in the newspaper for sale and had to go look. I lived in Huntington Beach, CA at the time and the guitar was for sale in Laguna Nigel down the coast past Newport Beach. I called and the owner told me to stop by. Turns out he was the piano player for the Pointer Sisters and decided he didn't need the instrument any more. I forget what I paid for it, but it was worth it. The original Gibson factory hardshell case still has a Pointer Sisters Equipment tag on the outside. Width at nut: 1 9/16" Body width: 16 1/8" Scale Length: 25"

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    i have played a genuine 1959 es330, and quite honestly, it is the best guitar i have ever had the pleasure of playing, i hope gibson have made good modern versions.