Price paid: $ 2400
Purchased from: On-line from the US
Sound — 10
I play modern rock Christian worship songs in a church worship band. The venue is a 1700 seater. The ES 335 is ideal. I play with lots of overdrive and feedback/sustain through a Marshall 80Watt valvestate, which is about to be replaced by a Roland 60Watt cube. I've also played in through an Orange Rockerverb 50Watt. It sounds great through all of them. If the guitar didn't sound so good (now that it has been set up properly - see next panel), I'd never play it because of the aforentioned design fault.
Overall Impression — 7
The ES 335 is okay for what I play. However, if I'm playing octaves (say the third and fifth strings two frets apart), muting the other strings is not as easy as on my other electric guitar (a Carvin DC200T). I usually gig through a Marshall 80Watt valvestate with the overdrive gain and volume set just above three quarters and the Amp master volume control on half volume. This is mic'ed through a PA system. I'm about to get a Roland Cube 60Watt; in tests it sounded great but I haven't gigged with it yet. Through the Marshall it sounds truely sweet, fat, rich, beautiful. If I lost it, I'd probably look for a hollow body electric that looked and sounded similar but had a master volume control.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I love playing this guitar Live. However, the strap buttons could be a bit bigger. There have been a few occasions when I have had to catch the guitar after it had slipped off the strap. I don't think the head would survive a fall from chest height. It's a through neck so if the head breaks off, the guitar's had it. Fit strap locks: don't say you weren't warned. I always bring a second guitar as back up. You can't blame the guitar if a string breaks. I have every reason to assume the instrument will go on forever.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
The set up was rubbish. For the money, Gibson quality control should hang their heads in shame. It took two trips to a luthier before it was set up properly, and I'm not talking personal choices here; the set up was down right faulty. The action was uneven. Most of the strings buzzed when fretted between 8 and 15. The guitar is eye catching; guitarists and non-guitarist tell me "what a beautiful guitar!" When I get back from a gig, if I don't hang the guitar on it's hook in our dining room, my wife does it for me: she loves it (the guitar - you dirty minded person!).
Features — 4
US made, 22 frets, antique blond. Twin humbucker pick-ups with individual volume and tone controls. Who am I to criticize a design classic(? ) but I will anyway: it lacks a master volume control. I like to play with a lot of sustain; however, when I want to fade out, I have to either select one of the twin pick-ups (thus changing the texture of the sound) and then wind down the volume. This ridiculously fiddly! Alternatively, I have to decide at the start which pick-up I want (usually the neck) pick up because that is the only one I can reach with my pinkie while palm-muting the strings. Having bought a guitar with two twin humbuckers I would like to be able choose when I use them rather than have the decision made for me because of this really annoying design fault.