Gibson ES -339
Review Date: Wednesday 15th of April 2009 06:10:33 PM
Last Updated: Tuesday 1st of June 2010 03:36:10 PM
Reviewed By: Martyn Casserly
Keeping the construction details the same, Gibson have scaled down the ES-335 delivering a more focused voice at a killer price.
It's fair to say that most electric guitars I test tend to spend a
little less time on the clean channel than the drive. With the ES-339
though, it was hard to drag myself away from the variety of tones
available simply from the guitar and blending the pickups together.
Plugged into a Cornford Carrera set clean, and with a bit of reverb
going on, the 339 just sings. There's snap in the bridge, a bit of honk
in the middle, and warmth aplenty in the neck. A sound that
particularly caught my attention was with both pickups on, the neck
tone set around 3-4 and the bridge tone set to 0 –it's a warm, jazzy
sound that still has an edge and really opens up when strummed. For
mellow noodling and ballads you really will have to go a long way to
beat this instrument.
Add a bit more bridge pickup into this
twin-pickup mix and a passable acoustic-type tone is produced, and
thanks to the great playability even a strictly electric player like
myself can sound half-decent.Increasing the gain slightly and opening
up the neck pickup by itself leads us unexpectedly into David Gilmour
country. Okay, obviously the master mostly uses a Stratocaster, but
think of the tone from the fabled Another Brick In The Wall solo,
played, as all fans know, on a Les Paul goldtop with P90s – the ES-339
gets very close. Those trademark Gilmour bends are also easy to play,
and for the most part the tuning stays put.
Bluesy grit comes
naturally with a touch more added gain, and the guitar is quite happy
to get down and dirty with plenty of attitude. Treat the bridge pickup
to a bit of aggressive strumming and you're rewarded with a nasty
bar-room tone that will get a crowd of drunken rednecks dancing and
fighting in no time.
Classic rock, of course, exudes out of every
pore of the ES-339 and Gary Moore, Thin Lizzy and Lynyrd Skynyrd tunes
can all be faithfully reproduced with ease. But this is no
stuck-in-the-past axe, and slight adjustments to the volume and tone
unleash Oasis, Stereophonics, and even U2. You could fiddle about for
hours with it and still be surprised with the sounds it produces, but
pretty much all of them would be highly usable.
Sure, the ES-339 is not a Les Paul or a 335, but that’s the point. This new addition to the Gibson family takes some of the best aspects of its prodigious siblings and creates a new voice all its own. There’s loads of sustain, open breathy tones, warm jazzy cleans, punky roars, fast playability, easy big bends, and musical feedback just waiting to be tamed. Also, due to Gibson setting up a new distribution centre in Europe, a new pricing structure is being put in place. We can see the benefits of this by the ES-339 retailing at £1199 – a steal for a semi of this quality, from a brand that tends to keep its worth in the secondhand market.
In short the ES-339 is a real cracker that could well gain a huge following, and deservedly so. Fabulous tones, classy looks, great feel, reasonable price…
it’s got just about everything.
1. Gibson ES -339
2. Gibson ES -339 electric guitar review | Sounds