ES-335 Kansas City Semi-Hollow review by Glen Burton

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 6
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.6 Good
  • Users' score: 5 (13 votes)
Glen Burton: ES-335 Kansas City Semi-Hollow

Price paid: $ 185

Purchased from: Guitar Warehouse Online

Sound — 8
I like to play various music style from classic rock, progressive and metal. All my amps are Marshall's, but there is also a wide range of amps included with my DAW that I can switch to for recording. The guitar itself is not noisy, it is pretty quiet, but the pickups are rather HOT which is to be expected from this model. That is the reason why I bought this model guitar in the first place. To experiment with different sounds. I got what I wanted. The Glen Burton plays bright, it is not muddy but clear and responsive. I hear sounds and harmonics out of this guitar that I can't get out of my Gibson Studio which is a little more warm in tone but not much. I can of course tone down the GB with the knobs but why, that is what I bought it for. Maybe some of my observations have to do with the strings. The first thing I did when I received the guitar was to put a set of Dunlop 9-42 string (not the new set that was included by the seller). My Studio has Elixir 10-46 so there is a difference. But I also have a Vintage Larrivee LS-4 with the same Dunlop and a Humbucker, and it is muddier than both the GB and the Gibson. So I don't know. All I can say is I like the pickups the GB came with because of the nuances in sound I never got to hear before. If you played it loud in front of the amp you might get a lot of feedback, but that is not the point with this guitar. On the other hand, it doesn't resonate as much as I'd like, but the sustain it still decent. So far so good as far as ES-335 reproduction.

Overall Impression — 8
A good looking ES-335 reproduction with cheap hardware. The wood and finish appearance is near flawless but all the hardware including the electric would eventually need replacing to make it a real player. I have been playing on and off over 30 years. I own a 2011 Gibson Studio, a 1986 Larrivee LS-4, a Fender CD-160-E 12 strings acoustic electric, and an Epiphone Bass. If money was no object I probably would've bought something more costly, but I am happy with this guitar and I would buy another. I love how it plays, the sound and the finish, but I know the hardware is not going to last. My favorite feature is that it is a good looking ES-335 model at an extremely affordable price. They are not all the same, but if you find a Hohner HS35 at a good price you might want to go with that instead. I just couldn't find one. Of the 10 different guitars I looked at (335 models), the Glen Burton came second in my evaluation after the Hohner in terms of features, appearance and price. There are pricier models that are available, but this is not what I was after. I was after the best of the cheapest ES-335 I could find, with the intent to upgrade it over time. To finish this review, I'd like to mention about the SKB-35 hard case I've found for this guitar. I've looked at and measured a lot of cases, the SKB fits perfectly. Cheers.

Reliability & Durability — 6
The finish does look like it will last. It is a hard finish and unlike my Gibson, even after a few small accidents the finish remains flawless. My Gibson sustained (minor) damage barely touching another instrument once (I've heard the cure time is very long on those white finish). But that is where the buck stops. In terms of reliability and durability, the hardware is just plain cheap. The toggle switch feels loose, the pots are tiny and would break easily if hit, the jack and basically all the electric components are just not up to par. As far as the hardware and the electric, you do get what you pay for. My plan was from the beginning to upgrade this guitar, but I would definitely not trust it to gig without a backup as is, even though I would never gig without a backup anyway. The likelyhood that something will break is high. The hardware looks and feels cheap compared to a more expensive instrument. Typical stuff from China I'd say. To the exception, the tuners seem to hold fairly well but I wouldn't hold my breath as far as how long that will be the case. I just don't know. So overall the hardware does the job, for now.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I wanted a ES-335 model without the high price of a similar model Gibson, but I wanted it to actually look like a Gibson. So even if I need to upgrade components down the road, it has at least the right appearance IMO. Like I've said I changed the strings right away. I do the same everytime I buy a new guitar, but this time I had another reason. There was a buzz playing the 3 lower strings. I redid the setup but the buzz was still there. I finally figured out it was from the little springs around the screws inside the bridge. Until I get a new bridge, I placed a small piece from a match next to each of the 3 lower springs to keep them from vibrating. That stopped the buzzing and it is invisible. I'll discuss hardware below, but the rest of the guitar has no flaw that I can see. The finish is excellent. The seller made mention of a small line in the finish on the back where the neck is set, but it really is minor and a non-issue IMO. The finish of the guitar is excellent. It all looks very very good. The neck plays very nicely too. I know I am supposed to be critical in this review, but there really is nothing negative I can say about the body of the guitar or the neck.

Features — 8
I think the Glen Burton's Kansas City ES-335 first appeared in 2011 as an upgrade to a previous model (Menphis GS-355). Bought it about a month and a half ago, so I had decent play time with it. The body and neck on mine are black, with white inlays and a red top finish. It's a 22 frets, semi-hollow maple body with maple neck and rosewood fretboard. 2 dual humbuckers, tune-O-matic bridge. There is a 3 way toggle switch, 2 volume controls, and 2 tone controls. Non-locking tuners. The seller threw in some goodies like strings, picks and a convenient little string winding tool.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Very well done review! I am in the market for a semi-hollow and now have one to look at that I hadn't considered. Thank you
    Thanks. I feel I was a little bit harsh about the hardware. It is on the cheap side but not as bad as it sounds. Overall, a superb guitar that almost looks exactly like an ES-335 at a price you just can't go wrong. Put new strings on it, do a nice setup and I'm sure you'll agree. I play mine just as often as my $1300 Les Paul so that should tell you something. Cheers,
    Hi! very nice story. i ordered Menphis GS-335 model few days ago . & it was litle expensive than cansas.not clear why you told that cansas is a new model.memphis 180& cansas is 150&. my question is: what the difference between GS 335 & ES 335.because i have considered to install a Bigsby tremolo.& now i dont shore about Bigsby model.i need for SE-335 or GS-335 bigsby,or this a same model ? if somebody know ,i will thank for the answer. thanks!!!