Gibson 336/339 alternatives?

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by Tom Rawlinson, Nov 12, 2017.


  1. Tom Rawlinson

    Tom Rawlinson Supporting Member

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    Hey folks! I'm thinking of acquiring a small-bodied semi-hollow with 'buckers. The leading candidates are the CS-336 and ES-339, but before I take the plunge I want to know if any of the smaller builders out there are making similar guitars.

    I've checked out Collings, Eastman, Heritage and D'Angelico, but so far as I can see, none of them make a smaller-bodied semi. This won't be my number 1, so anything cheaper than a Gibson Custom would be great.

    Any other builders out there I should be looking at?
     
  2. mattjayworker

    mattjayworker Supporting Member

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    Have you checked into the Heritage Prospect? It's dimensionally similar to the ES-339 and is offered in a traditional semi-hollow, full hollow and floating block build style.

    Here's my full hollow Prospect CM,

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  3. Tom Rawlinson

    Tom Rawlinson Supporting Member

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    I haven't come across that! I've heard nothing but good things about Heritage guitars. I will try to find one to check out.
     
  4. pirateflynn

    pirateflynn Member

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    I would check out a Hamer Newport. You have a choice between the standard model, which will come with PhatCat pickups and a Bigsby, or a Newport Pro that has humbuckers and a stop tailpiece. Most have spruce tops but maple tops pop up here and there. I've owned three over the years. They are excellent guitars and a bit more like a 330 than a 335, with a little Gretsch mixed in. Light weight and a nice manageable size, too.
    There are a handful on Reverb right now between $1,300 - $1,500. You'd be hard pressed to find a better value. Good luck!
     
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  5. Bob H.

    Bob H. Member

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    Benedetto Bambino and Bambino Deluxe
     
  6. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    For the kind of scratch you are going to put out for a new 336 or 339, you could find a used Artinger, Forshage, CP Thornton and other small batch builder guitars.

    Don't forget PRS HB I & II or their discontinued Archtop. I had one and wish I'd not let it go.
     
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  7. WayneM

    WayneM Member

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  8. guitarsenal

    guitarsenal Supporting Member

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    Ibanez AS50 from the early 80’s. Necks are a bit skinny for my taste (I’ve owned two over the years). But a really well made Japanese guitar in a very comfortable size.
     
  9. Whitecat

    Whitecat Member

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    The Knaggs Chena is a superb option. Built similarly to the 336 - mahogany back with maple top. Gibson scale length and radius, and a fatter ‘59’ style neck instead of the slimmer neck the 336 includes by default. Lots of options on custom orders, including spruce top, Bigsby, different pickups, piezo, etc... but lots of nice off the peg examples new & used out there too.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. romo

    romo Supporting Member

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    The Collings I-35 is actually quite a bit smaller than an ES-335. I wouldn't completely rule it out before trying one.
     
  11. NeuroLogic

    NeuroLogic Supporting Member

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    Artinger, Artinger, Artinger, Look at his website for tons of examples.
     
  12. Benz2112

    Benz2112 Member

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    I had pretty similar requirements, and wound up with a Kiesel SH550, shown in my avatar. It is of similar construction to a CS-336 in that it is chambered and made from solid woods, and is small bodied. They also make a double cutaway known as the FG1 (Frank Gambale model). You may want to consider the question of laminate vs. solid and the degree of hollowness, that might narrow the search even further.
     
  13. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Used PRS McCarty Hollowbody. (Not the newer HB2s with the additional bracing!) Sold my 359 because the PRS sounded better.
     
  14. Okra

    Okra Member

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    Yeah those Thorns are looking mighty righteous these days.
    I like the look of the Knaggs, too.
    Probably some much better choices than Gibson!
     
  15. MartinPiana

    MartinPiana Supporting Member

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    Have you checked out the Eastman T184 and T185? fully hollow, solid woods, the size you're looking for. I have one of each -- cover most of the 335 territory plus get a lot more woody and hollow, jazz boxy (but with sustain)....
     
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  16. Antelope

    Antelope Member

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    Was just going to say what MartinPiana already said. I have a T184 and love it. The 184 is 14" at the lower bout, the 185 is one inch wider. Both smaller than a (16") 335.

    Also, very cheap and not at all bad are the Epiphone 339 models. You can get them with buckers or P90s (I have the latter). I was really surprised at the fit and finish -- I had heard epis were Chinese garbage, but mine doesn't have any obvious flaws and cost something like $350.
     
  17. Rex Anderson

    Rex Anderson Member

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    Agree. Not quite as small as a 336/339, but perfect IMO.
     
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  18. burningyen

    burningyen Gold Supporting Member

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    Seconded.
     
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  19. TDJMB

    TDJMB Gold Supporting Member

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    Collings I-35 or SoCo. I played a SoCo while my friend played an I-35 and I liked the SoCo better. There's another thread here about it. The difference is in the neck attachment. I think they're both 15" bouts - yes, not as small as a 339 but smaller than a 335. There's also the Ronin Badmoon but that's getting into $ (and well worth it) - light as a feather, too.
     
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  20. Tom Rawlinson

    Tom Rawlinson Supporting Member

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    This is all great guys - thanks!
     

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