335 VS Johnny A?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by jefrobie, Dec 25, 2009.

  1. jefrobie

    jefrobie Supporting Member

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    Trying to decide between the two. I really like my 339, jonesing for a Johnny A but also open to a 335 which seems to be a benchmark for many. Anyone have a preference? Lot's more opportunities and less financial outlay for a 335 which is one of the benefits of adjusting my sights so to speak. Anyone prefer the 335 over the Johnny that has played or owned both? Thanks,
     
  2. 440gtx6pak

    440gtx6pak Member

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    I don't own a Johnny A, but I did play one. It's nice but it does not have a normal Gibson scale. It has a Fender 25 1/2 scale. Also it is FULLY hollow, unlike a es335, which of course is semi-hollow.

    On the plus side, the Johnny-A is fully carved from solid wood, as opposed to laminated like the 339 & 335. You should also try the cs-336, which has a normal Gibson scale, is made from solid wood, and is semi-hollow. I like the cs-336 first, and the es-335 a close second.
     
  3. jefrobie

    jefrobie Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the input. Really hoping someone who has owned both weighs in. I'm just about to turn the ship and go for the 335, mainly because there are a lot more of them around and seems to be a consistent guitar for many guys...I haven't been able to find ANY reviews on the Johnny A Standard (which is mahogany top)...All of them are the maple Customs....Johnny A Standard owners/players where are you!
     
  4. Phoebe

    Phoebe Senior Member

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    Totally different guitars. If you have to ask, I think you'll like the 33X better.
     
  5. 1radicalron

    1radicalron Member

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    I do own several 335 336, 339 and a Johnny A.
    It is going to depend on what you want and need tone wise. Out of all of these my least favorite is a 335, mostly only because of the size and weight. The 339 can get you closest to the tone of a 335 in a smaller more streamlined package. 336 Is a Killer Guitar, But it has a Carved Mahogany Body, and has a bit more of a "rock" tone that a 335. Sort of a Tonal cross between a 335 and a Les Paul.
    The Johnny A is in a class by itself. Has a Very Warm Jazzy Tone with top end clarity that very few Guitars have. The Carved Mahogany Body/Maple Top and longer Fender scale give it some serious Mojo. My only complaint with the Johnny A is the neck size is a bit large for my hands. - I own a Hard Tail version of the Johnny A.

    So a recap:

    335 - Classic Guitar - They sound great!
    339 - Smaller version of a 335 with a somewhat similar tone.
    336 - Same size as a 339 but the different wood combination makes it tonally unique.
    Johnny A - Smaller body Jazz Box with a long scale neck. - Very Unique and Special Tone!
     
  6. jefrobie

    jefrobie Supporting Member

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    When you are living in the sticks it's tough as there is probably a 335 at a Guitar Center an hour away, but no Johnny A within hundreds of miles to try out. I do like the 339 I have, but once again it gets compared to a 335 quite a bit, so looking for just something a bit different.
     
  7. jefrobie

    jefrobie Supporting Member

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    That is helpful! So a question would be, if not for the size and weight of a 335, would you prefer it over a 339? Size and weight not being an issue for me @ 6' 5". Sometimes a guitar the size of a 339 or a LP looks a bit dinky on me. Most guys I've heard that gravitate away from a 335 are looking for something smaller, and seems to be the reason that a 339/336/356 are nice alternatives...
     
  8. jefrobie

    jefrobie Supporting Member

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    p.s You referenced the 336 as a cross between a LP and a 335. I've heard many including Gibson promotional material that claim that same thing for the 339. With that said, how much difference do you hear between the 339 & 336? About the only concern I have with the Johnny is it may not go into the "rock" zone quite as much as I'd like. For that reason, if I can get into a "standard" Johnny with the mahogany top I will probably go that route. One of the clips of Johnny a on those guitars was they were a bit warmer for more rock applications.
     
  9. 1radicalron

    1radicalron Member

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    I own 3 different 335's.
    1981 Custom Shop Natural finish
    1997 Custom Shop '58 Re-Issue Black
    and a 2001 Sunburst Standard Es-335
    The 2001 Sunburst is my personal Favorite. Has a great warm woody tone.
    A bit fuller and less boxy sounding than a 339.
    I really love the tone of the 335's and would prefer it over the 339 - just the size and weight is an issue for me.
    I do suggest playing a 336 if you get the chance. = Very cool Guitar!
     
  10. 1radicalron

    1radicalron Member

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    Johnny A has more of a Jazz Tone. You can get a bit of a rock sound on the Bridge Humbucker. But it is more of a Jazz Box kind of sound. The longer scale gives the strings a more slinky feel. Actually almost some twang. But the carved mahogany body keeps the sound Very warm.
    336 has a bit more complex lower mid's than the 339. = It really does sound like a cross between a 335 and a Les Paul.
    I love them both because they do completely different things.
     
  11. 1radicalron

    1radicalron Member

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    Finally - cannot stress the importance of replacing the standard Gibson ABR bridge with a Tone Pros. = Really makes a big difference!
     
  12. Loud Librarian

    Loud Librarian Member

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    I now am fortunate to own two Johnny As now and in the past I've owned a 345, 355, and an epi elite 335. I really like the Johnny As a lot for these reasons - they are brighter yet still full sounding, have a snappier feel due to the longer scale, the ergonomics feel great to me, even something as simple as the pickup selector switch placement and being on a 45 degree angle. I like the neck carve, though that is always a personal thing.

    The fit and finish are top notch, the light weight is nice, the feedback always musical and controllable. It can rock out just as easily as the semi hollows, no problem. It really is a Gibson with "something different" for sure.

    I'd say hold out and save up for one if you can, I'm really glad I made these two happen by selling other guitars, and dare I say this could be "the" model for me.
     
  13. jefrobie

    jefrobie Supporting Member

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    thanks! I appreciate the input, especially that it will rock out... I really enjoy a great clean, clean on the edge of breakup, which it seems as though the Johnny is very capable of. However, the biggest concern I have is the drive tones that are capable. Sounds like it will handle that with ease...
     
  14. NoahL

    NoahL Member

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    i dunno, i saw johnny a. a year ago and he was rockin' out pretty good. i suppose you can't do zakk wylde on his model, but he sure copped a lot of rock tones -- he does those medley deals where he throws in a bunch of famous riffs; greg koch does similar.
     
  15. stratlad

    stratlad Member

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    Well I have an old 335 and have played several and own a JA and a 336. I've also played a 339 and a 359 in stores. All these guitars can be excellent and prior posters' comments are valid, but I 'd be careful saying the JA is a "jazz guitar" though it can be used for jazz. It's not a jazzbox - as noted - its twangy and bright. Here's my 2 cents:

    335: Clean Tone: Clear but warm with well rounded 3D tones, and a touch of upper end brightness which adds clarity but still is a bit 'fat' sounding, with a lot of soul. A bit jazzy but one of the great blues guitars. 335's have a more woody and "echoey" overtone than the other guitars mentioned. At higher volumes 335s can have a more raw and less refined overdrive tone. Great for blues - less so (IMO) for some other styles. Physically a much larger body than the other guitars here. Necks tend to be thin and 335s are usually very easy to play.

    339: Similar in some respects to a 335 but tighter; tones are warm but not quite a 3D or "rounded" compared to a 335. Great guitar, but if you really want a 335 tone you likely won' t quite be satisfied with a 339 (though that's not to say you would not be satisfied with the 339 - it's just not identical to a 335).

    336: Think of this as a spectrum with the 339 closer to the 335 and the 336 a bit closer to a Les Paul but (i) retaining that hollowy/ woody tone of the 335 yet (ii) being a bit more open / less "rounded" (i.e. slightly thinner / brighter) tone than a 335 or a 339. RadicalIron I think said "more complex" in the mids. I'd agree with that. I think this guitar "works" better with more different kinds of amps than does an LP or even some 335s or 339s, due to its clarity and detail. Sounds great raging with overdrive too. Body is close to identical to the 339.

    JA: Totally different critter than all the above - closest to it would be the 336 but they don't sound the same. The JA's ebony fretboard and 25-1/2" (strat) scale length, make this a cross (IMO) between a tele and a clear LP with some hollow overtones thrown in (oddly my 336, which has a carved internal back, sounds more "hollow" than my JA which has a flat internal back). The JA is snappy and twangy, but much fuller sounding than a Fender due to the fact that it has humbuckers and a maple/ mahogany body. Johnny A designed it in part to emulate a P-90 tone with a humbucker. The neck is also different as RadicalIron noted - I have had a little work adjusting to it (whereas my 336 fits me like a glove). The JA to my ears can get very warm on the neck pickup but still not quite a jazzbox tone. It's a great guitar for aggressive tones too. I run mine with a Zendrive into a Carr Rambler and get Robben Ford tones easily. This guitar is very unique among Gibsons. I really cannot think of any Gibson that sounds like it.
     
  16. dharmafool

    dharmafool Member

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    I own a JA and have owned Gibson semi-hollows. I agree with the comments made above (except the jazz box comparison).

    A good, fast way to hear how a JA signature model sounds is to watch a Johnny A vid on his Web site or on YouTube.

    I have yet to read any complaints about the tone, build quality or fit and finish of the Johnny A Sig. You don't often see them for sale used because they are made in small runs at the Gibson Custom Shop. On the other hand, 335s are in abundance at many price points and many levels of tone and build quality.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2009
  17. jads57

    jads57 Supporting Member

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    I've owned a Johnny A, Pat Martino Custom (like a 336), and a ES-345 all from Gibsons Custom Shop.
    ES-345 etc has more midrange tonally than the other 2. Johnny A has more highs & clearer lows due to longer scale length. Ergonomically ES-345 least comfortable due to larger size. I ended up changing all of the Classic 57 p/ups on all guitars, to harsh!
    It's really a matter of personal taste which you would prefer. But Johnny A had the largest size neck of the 3. I actually like big necks, so that's a plus for me.
    Design wise overall I prefered the Pat Martino Custom best, so I'd say go for the ES-336 or ES-339. Best of luck!
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2009
  18. jefrobie

    jefrobie Supporting Member

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    Anyone played the mahogany top, I think it's the Standard Johnny A?
     
  19. stratlad

    stratlad Member

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    Jefrobie: If you owned a 359 - that is a great guitar - I've played one and really liked it. A 336 will be similar in feel but will likely be more open with a somewhat less fat / thick sounding than the 359, though not miles off. The JA will have a more different feel and is more of a hybrid Gibson due mainly to its scale length. The JA is a phenomenally versatile guitar. Without adjusting my amp EQ at all I could (on clean settings) get a jazzy /smoke (yet still clear tone) on the neck pup; brigth and ringing clear rhythm on the middle setting and quasi tele tones on the bridge pup.

    The JA is the most unique of these guitars IMO but if you want a more traditional Gibson tone it is a few degrees different. Hard to explain but as noted above you can listen to some of Johnny A's videos on youtube where he plays the JA and that is a pretty accurate representation of what it can soundlike.
     
  20. jefrobie

    jefrobie Supporting Member

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    The 359 I played had a bit more bite than the 339. I think it was because of the ebony fretboard. 339 a bit thicker as you've described. Stratland, have you played the standard? I know it has the rosewood neck, the custom has the ebony. I think at this time I'm leaning towards getting the Johnny....Have a pretty nice Custom I can pick up for $2850 plus shipping. Need to get a guitar or two turned, but we'll see how it goes...
     

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