In the Gibson semi-hollow body range, you’ll find four main electric guitar models:
In this article I’ll compare all these guitars so you can work out which is right for you.
The Gibson ES-355, ES-345 and ES-355 all share the same body size, whereas the ES-339 is a scaled down version which is roughly 2.5″ shorter, and 1.69″ narrower at the widest point (lower bout). The depth is the same on all models measuring 1.69″.
Check out the table below for the detailed dimensions.
|Body Dimension||ES-335, ES-345 and ES-355||ES-339|
|Lower Bout Width||15.94″||14.25″|
|Upper Bout Width||11.38″||9.88″|
Here’s a comparison of the following models:
- Gibson ES-335 Original/ Modern
- Gibson ES-345 Original
- Gibson ES-339 Modern
- Gibson 1959 ES-355 Reissue
These are the only non-signature/ custom shop models available at the time of writing.
|Bind||Single-Ply Cream||Single-Ply Cream||Single-Ply Cream||Multi-Ply Cream|
|Body Finish||Gloss Nitro||Gloss Nitro||Gloss Nitro||Gloss Nitro VOS|
|Nut||Graph Tech||Graph Tech||Graph Tech||Nylon|
|Inlays||Acrylic Dots||Acrylic Dots/ Blocks||Acrylic Split Para||Mother of Pearl Block|
|Tuners||Vintage Deluxe Keystone||Grover Roto-matics||Vintage Deluxe Keystone||Kluson|
|Pick-guard||5-ply Black||5-ply Black||5-ply Black||Multi-Ply Bound Celluloid|
|Knobs||Black Top Hat||Black Top Hat||Black Top Hat||Amber/ Black Top Hat|
Since the 1959 ES-355 Reissue is the only guitar which cannot be found in the regular Original or Modern series, it comes with a much higher price tag and some more premium features such as a nicer nitro finish, mother of pearl inlays, gold hardware. and Kluson tuning machines.
The ES-355 also has an ebony fretboard which feels smoother and harder compared to the rosewood fretboard found on the other models, and a slightly narrow nut width.
When comparing the ES-335, ES-339 and ES-345, you’ll notice that there are barely any differences between them except for the pickups. The only other differences are more minor such as the inlays and tuning machines. There are also different color options for each version.
All versions share the following features:
- Maple/ Poplar/ Maple Body
- Spruce Bracing
- Maple Centerblock
- Rounded C Neck
- Mahogany Neck
- Gloss Body and Neck Finish
- 12″ Fretboard Radius
- 24.75″ Scale Length
- 22 Medium Jumbo Frets
- ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic Bridge
- Aluminium Stop Bar Tailpiece
- 2 Tone and 2 Volume Controls
- 3-Way Pickup Selector
- 0.010-0.046″ Strings
- Hard-Shell Case (although the one on the ES-355 1959 Reissue is more premium)
Gibson ES-335 vs ES-339
The Gibson ES-339 is a smaller version of the ES-335. The ES-339 is roughly 2.5″ shorter, and 1.69″ narrower at the widest point (lower bout) compared to the ES-335 which is considered the “standard size”.
The size difference has an impact on both the tone and feel of the two guitars.
The ES-335 sounds louder, warmer and fuller compared to the ES-339 which sounds brighter with more attack but less depth.
Check out this YouTube video where you can hear both guitars being played back-to-back.
The smaller body on the ES-339 feels a lot more manageable particularly if you have a smaller frame. The ES-335 is also heavier, weighing in at 8.5-9.0 lbs on average compared to the ES-339 which only weighs around 7-8 lbs.
However, the upper fret access is better on the ES-335 since the horns are wider apart compared to the ES-339.
When comparing the two current ES-335 and ES-339 models you’ll also notice that they have different pickups, and tuning machines. Otherwise the specifications are virtually identical.
Gibson ES-335 vs ES-345
The ES-345 is a more premium version of the ES-335 with some minor upgrades which are mostly cosmetic. The ES-345 has acrylic blocks instead of dots, and the quartersawn spruce bracing compared to the regular spruce bracing on the ES-335.
When the ES-345 was first introduced in 1958 it had some interesting features such as the “varitone” switch which acted as a notch filter. However, the current versions of the ES-345 and ES-335 are incredibly similar guitars with barely any differences between them other than a few cosmetic ones.
Both these guitars have the same body shape, calibrated T-Type pickups, hardware, hand-wired orange drop capacitors, and gloss nitrocellulose finish. However, the ES-345 is still $200 more expensive.
Which Should You Choose?
This answer will vary from person to person, but I wanted to make some key points that I think are worth considering:
- If you have a smaller-frame and are looking for a guitar which isn’t huge, go for the ES-339
- If you want the classic tone and feel but without the excessive price tag, for for the ES-335
- If you want the most premium option available, go for the ES-355
The only guitar I’ve not explicitly recommended is the ES-345, and that’s purely because I don’t think it’s a proper step up from the ES-335 so I can’t personally justify the price increase.