Gibson ES-339 Figured Electric Guitar





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Published on Aug 26, 2011

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A quest to wed the dark, rich tone of hollowbody guitars with the edgy command of solidbodies sparked the invention of the ES-335 in 1958, and the rest is history. In 2007, the Gibson Custom Shop revisited that historic mission. The result is the ES-339, a semi-hollowbody newcomer that has the size, power, and feedback resistant qualities of a solidbody guitar, yet sports the classic looks of Gibson's great, vintage Electric Spanish models.

The ES-339's ancestry in the ES-335 is apparent not only in its appearance and semi-hollowbody design but in the ES-339's optional fat and slim neck profiles. Nonetheless, the ES-339 is just as much a direct descendent of the more contemporary CS-336, which has back and sides carved from a single block of mahogany with a mahogany centerblock. The ES-339 is lighter and less costly thanks to its laminated figured maple, top, back, and rims and maple centerblock and weighing in at about eight pounds.

The ES-339 also boasts another small design improvement over classic ES-335 and ES-355 models -- the input jack is mounted on the rim rather than on the body of the guitar.

Body and Neck

While the historic look of vintage ES models is reflected in the ES-339's finish options of caramel burst, antique red, and vintage sunburst, its 13-inches wide, 16-inches long, and 1 11/16th-inch deep body gives it solidbody dimensions. The neck is one-piece mahogany for classic Gibson resonance and sustain. There are 22 frets on the model's rosewood fingerboard, which has pearloid dot inlays and a single-ply cream binding.

Like the early ES-335s and the Custom Shop's reproductions, the ES-339 has two neck options. The "30/60" neck has the slim feel of an early '60s Gibson, with an extra .030 inches of depth. The other option is the '59 style neck also available on the Custom Shop ES-335 Fat Neck model. The headstock sports tulip-style Kluson tuners. Either way, the neck's scale length is 24-inches and a 1 11/16-inch width at the nut. It has multi-ply binding on top with single-ply on the back.


The other major Gibson innovation in the ES-339 figured top model is the patented Memphis Tone Circuit. Using a logarithmic system to analyze the way a guitar's volume controls affect tone, the Custom Shop's engineers developed special 500-k frequency audio taper pots to preserve high end as the volume decreases, giving the ES-339 a consistently sweeter, brighter, punchier tone than other guitars of its ilk as it gets quieter.

Besides the Memphis Tone Circuit, the ES-339 Figure Top model's electronics are pure Gibson: two '57 Classic humbuckers, two volume pots, two tone pots, and a three-way selector switch. Additionally there's an ABR-1 bridge and a stopbar tailpiece; all hardware in nickel.

The guitar comes wearing Gibson Brite Wire .010 strings inside a Custom Shop case, with a certificate of authenticity. And as with all Custom Shop guitars, each ES-339 is examined and dressed by a state-of-the-art Pleck machine before leaving the shop, guaranteeing the optimum ready-to-play condition. .

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