ES-339 Custom Review

manufacturer: Gibson date: 11/09/2012 category: Electric Guitars
Gibson: ES-339 Custom
The 339 sports Gibson's new Memphis Tone Circuit, which preserves the guitar's high frequencies no matter where you adjust the volume control.
 Sound: 10
 Overall Impression: 9.5
 Reliability & Durability: 9.5
 Action, Fit & Finish: 7.5
 Features: 9.5
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reviews (2) pictures (3) 14 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9.2
ES-339 Custom Reviewed by: Hydra26, on november 09, 2012
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: Musician's Friend

Features: 2008 Gibson Memphis ES-339. Made in Memphis, TN, USA. Standard Gibson neck setup, 22 Frets, bound rosewood board. 24 3/4" scale. Maple/poplar/maple laminate top, back and rims. Maple center block. Mahogany neck, 30/60 profile. Nitrocellulose Lacquer gloss finish. Nickel hardware: vintage style ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic bridge, stop bar tailpiece. Green Keys tuners with modern bolt bushings and vintage keystone buttons. Electronics: '57 Classic humbuckers in the neck and bridge position. 3-way toggle. Two volume, two tone controls. "Memphis" tone circuit. Included Acessories: Gibson Custom hardshell case, Custom Certificate of Authenticity, case candy (Vintage Repro hang tags, cable, polish cloth, picks), no owner's manual, I guess they assume you know how to operate a guitar if you're buying something the custom shop makes. // 9

Sound: Well, I used to tend to gravitate towards heavy styles of music. This guitar is a semi-hollowbody so some feedback shows up at higher volumes. That said, the tone is incredible. Resonant and articulate, the highs are sweet and glassy and the lows are full and punchy with good mid emphasis. There's more hum present than with a more modern styled pickup, but it's manageable and the tone is to die for. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: Setup was flawless form the factory. Lower even than I prefer, courtesy of the PLEK machine. Too low for slide, but great for everything else. Playing the guitar is effortless. Notes sing and dance with no difficulty what'soever, ringing loud and bright through the semi hollow body. The downside was this guitar had some imperfections in the finish, nothing major or noticeable, but a little less than perfect. There were rubs of vinish or varnish on the back face of the nut, same on the body side end of the fretboard. Just seemed a little bit sloppy for custom shop. Given how well this guitar plays and how fantastic it sounds, I wasn't willing to return it over these things, but it was just a little area of sloppiness that bothered me. I've learned to love the little distinugishing individualities on my instruments, but this was just sloppiness in the finish. Evidently they spent much more effort on the sound, feel and fit than on the finish. // 7

Reliability & Durability: I had to use a non-stock screw to attach a straplock to the back (standard practice for me) and it didn't fit well until I applied a couple toothpicks. Seems like it's holding up fine now. The finish and hardware are not as resistant to acids and abrasion as the poly finishes used on most modern instruments but over the decades ti will provide for a much more natural and aged sound while the appearance ages gracefully. This is not a weakness, I knew this buying it, but rather a benefit. Gibsons are extremely road worthy, that's why so many professional acts use them. I always have a backup but it's not a reflection on the instrument but rather in case of accident. // 10

Overall Impression: This was my first attempt at owning a semi-hollow. They've always been touted for their versatility and I can't say after playing it that I disagree. What a beatiful looking, sounding and feeling instrument. I'm sure this will stand the test of time and serve me well as I explore other genres of music. // 10

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overall: 9.2
ES-339 Custom Reviewed by: lithium26, on november 09, 2012
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 2200

Purchased from: Singapore

Features: 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. // 10

Sound: 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. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: 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. // 8

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 9

Overall Impression: 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. // 9

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