ES-339 Custom review by Gibson

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.5 (46 votes)
Gibson: ES-339 Custom

Price paid: $ 2200

Purchased from: Singapore

Sound — 10
This semi-hollow guitar produces a wide variety of amazing tones. This is my first humbucker-equipped guitar, and I was choosing between this and a Les Paul Standard. I ended up picking this guitar up because it's much lighter and brighter sounding than the Les Paul, more similar to my single-coil guitars. My main amp is a THD Flexi-50 head into a Vox Heritage V112HTV cab loaded with a Celestion Alnico Blue Speaker. I also use a Roland Cube 30 for night time playing. This guitar sounds Stellar with these two amps, and are able to produce a wide range of sounds comfortably, from sparkly-clean "indie rock" tones (which my Fender '62 AVRI Jaguar excels at) to dirty blues tones, all the way to Megadeth-esque metal. Of course, you need the right amp (and pedals) to produce these tones. This guitar does not feedback at all, to my surprise, even at the highest of gain levels, at high volumes. It is also dead silent. Whatever little noise that was present with my Jaguar is eliminated completely with this guitar thanks to its pickups' hum-canceling capabilities. I love my Jaguar to death (my #1 for 6 years) but this guitar may take over the Jaguar for live performances, as it is more "predictable" and less problematic as far as 60 cycle hum is concerned. Furthermore, a wider range of tones is easily available with this guitar than with my Jaguar. You never know what kind of crap equipment is available. Furthermore, the tone I can get from this guitar is a little "darker" than my Jaguar, and a wider variety of sounds is easily available with this guitar.

Overall Impression — 9
Besides the issue with the nut, everything about this guitar is pretty much perfect. It's an incredibly versatile guitar that's worthy of being the only humbucker guitar in a single-coil man's arsenal. I play all sorts of music - my clean tone is really really clean, almost sparkly, and I use a rat clone for my dirty sounds - and you know rats can get pretty nasty, in a good way. The rat complements this guitar and my amp really well, and I'm taken aback by the Stellar sound I'm getting. I don't really have to make arrangements to my existing gear, this guitar fits right in. It was either this guitar or a Les Paul, but I ended up choosing this one as it was lighter (and easier on my back) and brighter than your typical Les Paul. Plus, it was on sale at the right time so I grabbed it without hesitation and never looked back. I think this one's a keeper.

Reliability & Durability — 9
So far, this guitar has only been used for bedroom playing and jamming with friends so I can't really say much. I doubt it will fail, though. I never had to play with backups as my AVRI Jaguar was pretty much perfect. Besides that, I'm not sure if I'd trust the Kluson-style tuners, but only time will tell - I'm thinking of getting them replaced in the distant future. One thing new owners should do is check out the nut, and replace it immediately if there's an issue with the cutting.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I have one major complaint - the corian (aka plastic) nut is cut sloppily, so much for "Custom Shop". I am intending to swap it for a bone nut in the near future. Besides that issue, everything is pretty much perfect. I've heard countless horror stories about Gibson's legendary QC, but besides the nut issue, everything checks out fine - no paint or finish sloppiness, the neck is great, electronics are perfect, etc. I bought it used so the tailpiece has minor oxidation, but it's nothing a little brasso/autosol wouldn't fix. It was already set up pretty much perfect by the previous owner, who's an experienced old-timer. One thing to note is that the neck is glossy, so players looking to purchase this guitar should take this into consideration! Players with extremely sweaty palms or shredders may encounter discomfort or difficulty using the glossy neck.

Features — 10
2012 model made in the Memphis factory in TN, USA. 22 frets, rosewood fretboard on a slim profile 30/60 mahogany neck with glossy finish. Laminated figured maple top in triburst finish, with cream binding, topped off with nitrocellulose gloss lacquer. Nickel-plated zinc tune-o-matic bridge and "Gibson Custom" kluson-style tuners. Pickups are stock '57 classic humbuckers on the neck and bridge positions. Electronics are the standard 2-volume, 2-tone knob configuration, and a special tone circuit dubbed by Gibson as the "Nashville Tone Circuit". Included accessories are the Gibson hardcase, certificate and your standard case candy items.

1 comment sorted by best / new / date

    Yea i had a similar issue as the first reviewer with finish flaws. There were bits of cherry finish on the fretboard binding and a little bit on the nut, which i thought was strange. Like, come on, its a custom shop; for over $2k spent, there shouldn't be any flaws. I got a knife and scraped most of it off anyways