ES-335 vs ES-339 – Gibson Custom Shop, Nashville and Memphis

We’ve already talked about the Epiphone ES-339 vs the Epiphone Dot, but what about their Gibson Custom Shop counterparts? Seeing as we have a couple on our wall in London, perhaps the time is right for our Gibson ES-335 vs ES-339 battle!

It’s Memphis vs Memphis, Gibson Custom Shop vs Gibson Custom Shop. Is it just a simple case of copying and pasting our Epiphone article here and replacing Epiphone with Gibson, or is there a bit more to it?

As you might expect, given that we have taken the time to write this, there is a bit more to it…

Gibson Custom Shop ES-335 vs ES-339 Body SizeGibson have a wonderful product line, but it does take a lot of getting your head around. There are the standard models, made at the Nashville factory, and the Custom Shop models, made in the wonderful Nashville Custom Shop; but let us not forget the Custom guitars made at the Memphis plant. Confused yet?

Oh, and they make their acoustics in Bozeman, Montana.

So, to our Gibson ES-335 vs ES-339 showdown. Let’s start with the geography. Now, while this is the way it’s supposed to work, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a Gibson ES-339 that was beak-crafted by Professor Yaffle and Parsley the Lion from broken fridge magnets and hummus in their secret lunar base, but that’s what makes Gibson so special…

All ES-339 instruments are made in Memphis. Most ES-335s are made in Memphis, but some are made in Nashville. Nashville and Memphis instruments are both Custom Shop instruments, but they come with differently presented certificates of authenticity. All very strange, but perhaps that’s part of the charm.

Basically, at least at the time of writing, Nashville ES-335 instruments, of which there are only four, are specific historic reissues of particular vintage guitars, such as the 1963 Block Inlay ES-335 Reissue. By contrast, the Memphis plant produces nine ES-335 models, as well as the ES-339, ES-295, ES-175 and Lucille.

So, let’s get on to la question du jour: what’s the difference between the Gibson ES-339 and ES-335?

As there are a lot of ES-335 variants, we’ll refer to the ES-335 plaintop in cherry as our benchmark 335.

Unlike the Epiphone equivalent, which features coil-splitting on its humbucking pickups, both the 339 and 335 are straightforward what you see is what you get instruments. Rather than explain it all in big paragraphs of text and write things along the lines of: “that’s the same” and, “that’s the same as well”, we thought we’d put it all in a handy table:

ES-335

ES-339

Body

Laminated Maple with
Maple Centre Block
Laminated Maple with
Maple Centre Block

Body Size

Width: 16 1/2″
Length (to neck join): 18″
Width: 14″
Length (to neck join): 16 1/2″

Neck

Mahogany Mahogany

Neck Profile

’60s Slim Taper ’59 Rounded or 30/60

Fingerboard

Rosewood with Dots Rosewood with Dots

Bridge

ABR-1 and Stopbar ABR-1 and Stopbar

Tuners

Grover Kidney Vintage Tulip

Pickups

2x 57 Classic 2x 57 Classic

Controls

2x Volume, 2x Tone 2x Volume, 2x Tone

Hardware

Nickel Nickel

Scale Length

24 3/4″ 24 3/4″

Nut Width

1 11/16″ 1 11/16″

Output Jack

Front Side

So, as you can see from the specs, for most of the features the ES-335 and ES-339 are pretty much identical, but there are a few key differences that may sway you one way or the other…

The first is, obviously, the size. The 335 does feel quite a bit bigger, and some players may find it uncomfortable. However, a lot of players appreciate the feeling of the large expanse of wood on the back resonating, and say that it sounds more ‘woody’.

For appearances, you may prefer the more ‘vintage’ look of the Kluson tuners of the 339, rather than the Grover kidney beans of the 335. Another interesting difference is the position of the jack socket, with the side-mounting of the socket of the 339 perhaps being a bit more practical and possibly subjecting the top to a bit more stress.

Then you get to the important subject of neck profile. If you like the classic, baseball bat-like solidity of a 50’s Gibson neck, then the 339 with the ’59 neck option is the one for you. The ’60s Slim-Taper neck of the 335 offers an easy and quick playing experience, with the choice of 30/60 neck splitting the difference. Which neck you prefer is will come down to your playing style, hand-size and personal preference, so it’s worth trying the different options.

335s, 339s and more: Red Dog’s Gibson guitars in London, Custom shop and USA!

Whichever Gibson Custom Shop guitar you go for, the ES-339 or the ES-335, you’re sure to find it inspiring and find yourself opening the case for another quick look when you’re on your way up to bed. Gibson ES-335 vs ES-339? It’s up to you…

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Red Dog Music is the UK’s friendliest musical instrument and pro-audio dealer. Between our 5000 square foot Edinburgh shop filled with an incredible range of products, and a London showroom in Clapham specialising in high-end instruments, dj and pro-audio, Red Dog Music has you covered from north to south and from performance to playback.

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Fynn Callum

producer, guitarist, engineer & dj
From indie guitarist to deep house producer via Northern Soul dj; mix engineer, producer and gear enthusiast. Jaffa Cake aficionado.

3 Responses to “ES-335 vs ES-339 – Gibson Custom Shop, Nashville and Memphis”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Keef Sparrow says:

    I absolutely love my Custom Shop 1959 re-issue – it's my dream guitar.

  2. Bruce Ruddle says:

    Hi. I am a bit confused by the statement about the jack sockets. (I have never played either the 335 or 339 but I’m looking to purchase one or the other) Your comment above says “… with the side-mounting of the socket of the 339 perhaps being a bit more practical and possibly subjecting the top to a bit more stress.” I would think the side mount jack socket of the 339 would put ‘less’ stress on the top, not more stress. Why is it more? Thanks – Bruce

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