I recently purchased a used Gibson Custom Shop 356 with a koa top. I waited for a while to post until I felt like I had a good feel for the guitar and could give my impressions.....after the newness had worn off. The fit and finish is wonderful. Whatever issues Gibson has had with quality control, this guitar doesn't have any issues that I can find. Only a small number of the CS 356 models were made with a koa top which, in my opinion, gives the guitar a slightly different sound than its maple-topped brethren. I had wanted one of these without the Bigsby and felt fortunate to have this axe become available from a friend. It gave me a chance to play the guitar in my house and through my amps for over a week before deciding to pull the trigger. The neck is a thin one, so anyone looking for more of a "C" neck will need to look elsewhere. It is small for my hands, but very easy to play. The relatively flat ebony fingerboard is a joy and helps give a "snap" to notes when played fingerstyle. I'm not very good at describing tone, but I'll do my best. The CS 356 has a smaller body than a 335, which makes it very comfortable to hold and play. The concept was to combine the features of an LP and a 335 in one guitar, but with a body size much closer to an LP. That would also describe the tone. There is no missing the LP similarities in tone, but with a woodier sound that fits with the 335 body design. Reviews elsewhere that describe the sound as being more LP than 335 are accurate with this guitar. Yet, there is no mistaking the effect that the semi-hollow body has on this guitar. There is an incredible depth to notes and clarity to chords when played clean, even at louder volume. Lower string notes have a solid and deep bass tone. Notes played on the top 4 strings reach across the frequency spectrum to have a nice, but not shrill top end. The sound across the strings is smooth on the neck pickup soloed. The middle position offers the ability to play chords overdriven, but with a lot of clarity. The bridge pickup soloed gives a nice bite, but not one that is ear-piercing. Unlike the solidbody LP, there is no hump in the midrange. The tonal qualities of this particular guitar are the way the low end and the high end frequencies give a large dimensional sound. I haven't weighed the guitar but it feels like it is in the 7 lb. or less range. The solid mahogany block and mahogany back and sides give sufficient mass so that there is no hint of feedback at higher volumes. They have a significant impact on the overall tone of the instrument. Having compared this guitar to some of the maple-topped models of the CS 356, I have to say that I prefer the sound of the koa. It is "richer" and not quite as bright sounding, with lower frequencies being a bit more present. I guess I would describe the sound as "large" when played through either my Gibson 12R or Fender SuperSonic amps. Getting more subjective, this guitar just hits me the right way, in feel, playability, and tone. It sounds different enough from both a Les Paul and a 335 that I feel like I have a guitar that is "my sound"! Very pleased!