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Gibson Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitars

Posted on December 3rd, 2013 by Joe G

While there are many Gibson Solid Body guitars, like Gibson Les Paul Standard, Les Paul Custom, Les Paul Special and Les Paul Junior, SG Les Paul, Gibson Firebird, Gibson SG Standard, Custom and others, and they all have their own distinctive sound and tone, there is something special about the Semi-Hollow body electric guitar.

They are extremely versatile and offer a wide array of sonic nuances in tone that are unique to the body style and construction. Since 1958 Gibson produces the ES335 with humbucking pickups. Some early models did not have binding on the necks; they were a thin double cut-a-way semi-hollow body and had a block of wood that runs down the center of the guitar, which helped prevent feedback as well as enable the use of a stop or stud tailpiece to be installed on the top of the laminated maple top.

The ES335 has a laminated maple body and a mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard. These guitars came in sunburst, red and blonde/natural, and some custom and limited models were produced in black and other custom colors including sparkle finishes. They have a 24 3/4″ scale neck measuring 1 11/16ths at the nut; later in 1967 models were produced with 1 9/16ths nut, then resumed back to 1 11/16th.

You can get a great jazz tone, blues tone, country and rock tone from these very versatile instruments. Gibson also made an ES345 Stereo which has a rosewood fingerboard with parallelogram inlays instead of the dots which originally were on the ES335 and later which changed to small block inlays in the early 1960’s. The ES345 has a Vari-tone switch that changes the tone of the pickups from full on to thin to out-of-phase sound. They also used this on the ES355 which was their top-of-the-line version with ebony fingerboard and pearl block inlays. Some models used vibrato tailpieces that ranged from Sidewinder, Bigsby and Maestro styles. Some ES345 and #%% were made in Non-Stereo, which are rare.

The Gibson ES330 was a very similar model in body shape and wood construction but did not have the center block of wood running down the inside center, had a smaller scale neck and used P90 single coil pickups. It was made in a single and double pickup model which are both really great instruments for blues and jazz.

Some famous artists that have used models of the ES335, ES345 and ES355 are B.B. King, Larry Carlton, Alvin Lee, Shuggie Otis, Frank Zappa, John Scofield, Elvin Bishop, Eric Johnson, Eric Clapton, Rick Derringer, Tony Mattola and Hank Garland.



ES355 with varitone and Maestro vibrola

ES345 with Bigsby

ES355 with sidewinder vibrola

Dots Parallelograms and Block inlays

ES335 with small block inlays

ES355 non-stereo no varitone custom made

ES330 single pickup

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