The Gibson ES-335 is a true icon, a guitar that has inspired countless musicians to pursue their dreams and create some of the most memorable music of our time. It's a guitar that evokes emotion, passion, and a sense of timelessness, and its history is one that is intertwined with the very fabric of rock and roll.
The ES-335 was the brainchild of Ted McCarty, the president of Gibson at the time, who wanted to create a guitar that would appeal to jazz and blues musicians used to traditional archtop guitars, who now needed to compete with electric instruments. He chose to use a semi-hollow body design,with a solid center block but hollow on the sides and back. This design provided the best of both worlds, offering the resonant tone of an acoustic guitar while eliminating the feedback problems that often plagued hollow-body electric guitars.
Ted Carty later told Guitar.com, “The idea for the 335 was primarily one I came up with to make a solidbody guitar in sound, but looking like a regular acoustic guitar. And we never patented that. I patented some [Moderne, Flying V, Explorer] because I knew what Leo would do. So if I had a patent, he wouldn’t dare. A lot of the others, I never bothered with patenting. It costs money to patent a guitar shape or whatnot."
Introduced in 1958, the ES-335 was the first guitar of its kind. It combined the warm, rich tone of an acoustic guitar with the power and projection of an electric, making it the perfect instrument for the new generation of musicians who were seeking to push the boundaries of what was possible with a six-string. With its iconic semi-hollow body design, the ES-335 quickly became a favorite among blues, jazz, and rock musicians, who used it to create some of the most memorable sounds of the 20th century.
From its earliest days, the ES-335 has been associated with some of the greatest musicians of all time. Legends like Chuck Berry, B.B. King, and John Lee Hooker all made the ES-335 their go-to guitar, and its rich, full-bodied tone can be heard on hundreds of classic recordings. As rock and roll evolved and grew, so did the ES-335, and it remains one of the most sought-after guitars in the world, more than 60 years after its introduction.
Today, the Gibson ES-335 remains one of the most popular and iconic electric guitars in the world, used by players as diverse as Dave Grohl, Eric Clapton, Noel Gallagher and Larry Carlton, and has inspired countless clones and versions from brands such as Yamaha, Eastman, Heritage, Gretsch and others. Still revered for its warm, rich tone and versatility make it a classic instrument that will continue to be appreciated for generations to come.
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