Lets talk 335s


Supporting Member
It’s one of the few guitars I’ve never played. And I’m thinking about getting one. There are soooo many models. Memphis. Nashville. 63RI. VOS. Dot. What’s the hierarchy of 335s? Any years to avoid?


Supporting Member
Ok, so the standard model is the Dot, which has been more or less constantly in the range since '81. There are standard, figured and satin versions, depending on your aesthetic tastes.

After that there are the reissue versions, which are year specific, so the specs reflect the expected spec of that year vintage 335. Mainly that means neck profile, so 58 is big, 59 a little smaller but still on the big side, anything 60-62 slim front to back and 63-64 medium. There was a 68 recently that was narrow and slim. There are a few subtle differences in materials (adirondack spruce braces, hide glue etc) on the reissues and build quality is theoretically higher. The shape of the 335 changed a bit over the course of its life, so the outline of some of the reissues differ (look at the horn shape), and they also changed from dots to small block inlays in '62 so the later reissues have the blocks.

There's also the 345 that adds split parallelogram inlays, a little extra binding and an extra tone control, and the 355 that adds a lot of extra binding and Les Paul Custom style inlays (and traditionally an ebony fingerboard, although in recent years they've been richlite or stained rosewood). Vintage 345s and many 355s were stereo as well - some of the modern ones duplicate this, often with outputs on the rim rather than a single stereo output on the top.

Lastly there's the 330, which is the Gibson version of the Epiphone Casino. It looks more or less like a 335 but lacks the main maple section of the centerblock and has P90s rather than humbuckers. The neck join is different with poorer high feet access. That said they're still wonderful guitars, but not the same thing as a 335.

As long as we're talking '81 to present day, there's no real pattern to years that are better than others - people like to say things like 2012 was a good year or avoid 2009 or whatever, but it doesn't really bear out one got start posting lots of them. 335s can vary quite a bit in terms of tone from one to the next but that applies whether they came from different years or right off the same rack at the factory.


Cantankerous Luddite
Silver Supporting Member
There’s also the Fat Neck 335 which is a Dot but with fuller neck, Klusons instead of Grovers, and usually a long guard and bell knobs instead of reflectors. Those were made somewhere around 2007 through 2012.

Buck Woodson

Supporting Member
There are 330s with humbuckers as well. Lots of feedback but some love them, I returned mine.

Love my 345 and my 330 with p90s.


Silver Supporting Member
I’ll add that for the past few years, until the closing of the Gibson Memphis plant, the standard 335 had trapezoid inlays and was I think nearly identical in build and appointments to the 63 reissue except for neck shape. I think but am not sure that the only differences were the knobs and the shape of the pick guard. The center block and truss rods might be different, not sure, but they both have long tenon and no truss rod sheath.

Edit - I meant square inlays, like those in the ‘63 reissue
Last edited:


Supporting Member
There are also differences in actual body shape. The dot and ‘58-‘62 RIs will have the “Mickey Mouse” ears body shape, which is a more rounded body shape. The ‘63 RI will have a more elongated body shape. Hard to really notice unless you have them side by side.


I, too, love the Gibson hollow body guitars, though I mostly own (and play) Les Pauls, ten of which I've accumulated over the years, including two R4s, two 1957 LP Jrs, and a series of LP Deluxes, all but one of which have P90s (the other has mini-hums).

However, I've also acquired a couple of very nice 335s--(1) a 1961 with original wiring harness, SD Antiquities and beautifully refinished (tobacco burst) at Lays and (2) a 1982 blond with a huge neck and SD Antiquities.

They are both keepers, for different reasons.

The '61 is incredibly light, has the thinnest, narrowest neck of any guitar I've ever played, and has an amazing, round tone that blooms beautifully and rings like a bell.

The '82 is marked "SEC," is very heavy, but loud and bold as hell, like a cannon, maybe the best sounding rock guitar I own.

I've also been coveting a full hollow body for years--a Casino or an ES-330--but have not pulled the trigger on anything I've found.

I do have a good buddy (my college room mate in the 1970s) with a mint, early, tobacco sunburst 330 that I've a standing offer on, but he's not even considering selling.


Supporting Member
Gibson has done lots of little changes to the standard spec 335 over the past few years, typically switching between dots and small blocks, speed knobs and reflectors, klusons and Grovers, and then pickups (57's,BB's, MHS). Specs are really up to your preference, whether the guitar is resonant varies by guitar.


Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B
Silver Supporting Member
I have an '01 Memphis Dot Reissue that is truly exceptional. I took it to New York and had a professional setup done and now the worn out cliché "plays like butter" fits it well. While playing it earlier this week I thought about how incredible it sounded and played.

The '60s slim taper neck is perfect for my hand. Some prefer the thicker necks but being a traditional Strat player it was an easier adjustment for me.

When I first got it in '05 it sounded "new" and I was slightly disappointed. By '08 I definitely heard a tonal change and it sounded richer, more complex, and noticeably better. Now that it's 18 years old it sounds truly wonderful. It's great for everything from Jazz to Rock and is ideal for Funk and R&B.

If I had to let everything else go, that 335 and my '91 Custom Shop Strat would be the last two standing.



Supporting Member
I wont be a huge help here, but after having zero experience with the 335, I recently purchased a 2013 VOS 59 reissue. Man oh man, what a great guitar that is able to do so many cool things. Good luck in your journey.


Gold Supporting Member
I've owned 2 335's. Once was a 335-TD in the walnut color and the other was a sunburst dot-neck reissue. Both were nice guitars but I'm not a tall person so they felt very big because they are big guitars. The TD was in need of a fret job and other minor adjustments but I did not have a lot of money at that time and played it as it was. It had a really nice tone and was easy to play. The sunburst was a better guitar and it was the better sounding of the two. But, I just could not bond with those guitars. I eventually sold them and bought something else.

If you've got the itch and the cash, then buy one. I don't subscribe to the "its like a 335 but cheaper" crowd because there is nothing like the real thing. But, and I stress this, you need to see it, smell it, hear it, and play it before you buy it. My experiences with Gibson is there is a lot of variance in the guitar sound and feel. Playing the one you are buying will help you decide.

Bob Womack

Twelve years ago, after seeing a couple of videos with artists playing 335s, I spent a fall season looking into the ES-335. I played everything from DOTs to Historics. I couldn't afford any of them so I figured I might as well check them all out. What I was looking for was a sweet sounding ES-335. I found hard sounding ones, bright sounding ones, dark sounding ones, etc. After playing, I think, about eleven different ones, I finally found the sweetest-sounding one of the bunch, and it turned out to be a DOT. This was the classic 2005 DOT with the slim, wide-shouldered neck and jumbo frets. A few weeks later my lovely wife surprised me on Christmas Eve with a little tiny package containing a note that said, "Let's go get that guitar."

That guitar has become the centerpiece of my studio kit. It has absolutely no snob appeal to the historic or classic crowd but it plays and sounds fantastic and has been on a BUNCH of recordings. It is my guitar that I have to force myself NOT to play every time I go in to play for myself.



Supporting Member
IMO, it's a model that exhibits the greatest amount of variability between guitars, and can be frustratingly difficult finding the right one. I'm all for trusting proven web stores to help pick one, so if you deal with an experienced one like Wildwood or Willcutt it'd help narrow things down, but more than any other model, it's one where playing it first would really help as well.

If you're looking at higher end models, be sure to also include Collings.


Supporting Member
Epiphone Dots can be a great value, love mine...
On the other end , Heritage 535 rules.
I agree completely with this.

Had an Epi Dot I upgraded to 57 Classics and put locking tuners on it because the originals weren't very precise. Strung it with flats and it was a cheap jazz machine.

The 535 would be what I'd get if I wanted 335 guitar. I'm happy with the smaller 339.

Happy hunting, OP.

JJ Fux

This is just my opinion.

I have never really played or owned an ES-335 type of guitar except for the Sheraton II Pro by Epiphone (China).

I have an Epiphone Sheraton II Pro that has both "2015" and "2016" stamp on the back of the headstock, LOL.

The paint job is unimpressive. It's just okay in terms of coil-tap/single-coil tone. It doesn't stay in tune very well. The thing is surprisingly heavy and somewhat too big in size. The hardware(?) on this thing is just total junk and same goes for the switch/wiring.

Despite all this, I like the thing.

The neck is fantastic. It plays very well. The appearance can be super deceiving because I think it's a gain monster, believe it or not, yet it doesn't feedback like crazy, and it can sustain notes for a long time. I dig the clean tones very much, but I can't seem to get that "woody" jazz-y clean tone.

As an owner of the Sheraton II Pro, I'm super content when it comes to making comparisons between the Sheraton II Pro and Gibson LPs. I know it's quite random to match the Sheraton up with LPs, but that's just what happened in my life.

I paid around $700, new. IMO, you have to have patience and spend a little more cash for an upgrade. I've installed a new nut and luckily received a free repair and parts under warranty. It's now all pretty good.

If I were to go back, I would buy something a little more expensive if that something didn't include all these shortcomings while offering all the great things about the Sheraton II Pro. I guess that something will not be an Epiphone.

I have thought about spending around $5,000-$6,000 on a Gibson ES-335, those Byrdland type of Gibson, a Gretsch or even a PRS semi-hollow. I still need to play all of them before making any more "bold" claims, but I'm not sure if those guitars like 7 times better than the Sheraton? I'm just ranting here, sorry.

Apart from the sound and durability issues, I would love to find something as cool-looking as the Sheraton II Pro but lighter in weight and slightly smaller in size (like an ES-335).

Out of all the "lower-priced" semi-hollow guitars, I went with the Sheraton II Pro because it sounded great on YouTube, and it looked so sexy. Plus, I wanted the largest semi-hollow guitar in terms of size. I thought it would sound huge. Well, that's not the case at all, and I'm starting to think that I like these pickups more than the actual guitar. Never mind.

Sorry for the long post!


Silver Supporting Member
IMO, it's a model that exhibits the greatest amount of variability between guitars, and can be frustratingly difficult finding the right one.
This has been my experience too. I LOVE 335s but have only played a handful that I felt were worth the money. Some day.

Trending Topics