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  1. #1

    Gibson ES 335 help

    Hello, I'm new to the forum and I would like to introduce myself first, I'm Rafa from Spain, I've been playing electric guitar for over 35 years and I consider myself a Les Paul boy .. I own several, my first one was bought in 2000, a very nice Standard Plus , the next one was a white Custom of 1987, a cannon, the next one was a whim .. a CC17 Louis, which I got very well of second hand price but in mint state and the last one a black Custom of 1979, is last is my preferred ... the t top tablets make a big difference in my Marshall 1971. removed the first one I bought the others on line and never had any problems with the shipments and the guitars were fabulous. I recently became an EN 335 ... for more than 6 months I have been looking at the different models and years of manufacture on the Internet ... colors etc. In the end I decided to buy one of the 80 'in natural color and I found one from 1987 in an immaculate state ... beautiful, with its Tim Swan, I fell in love and bought it on Line, where I live I have no chance to try them on I do not even know anyone who owns a 335 ... so I do not have a clear reference of how a 335 should sound, I mean to sound without plugging it in. I received the guitar this week, and I am devastated and very worried, it's like new without bumps or a lot of use, but artistically it sounds very sharp and bright, I have adjusted the bar of the trus rod ... and height of the bridge etc, but it continues dreaming close ... my question is if all the ES 335 are like this and if the acoustic tone can be improved with some modification of bridge and tailpiece etc. thank you very much and excuse my english

  2. #2

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    The guitar is beautiful. but I expected an acoustic sound similar to a Les Paul but with more volume. It sounds very bright and sharp ... is it normal? or is it a guitar that has gone wrong in the factory? The little use that has been given can be for its bad sound? It can be fixed? Thank you


  3. #3

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help


  4. #4
    Les Paul Forum Member OKGuitar's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    What pickups are in it? Some 80's 335's have Bill Lawrence pickups which, in my opinion, are pretty awful. If it has Shaws, then the best mod to make it sound better is to change the pots from 300K to 500K. The design didn't change from the "good" 80's years (81-85) so, once you get the electronics sorted, you should have a 335 that sounds like a 335 should. An 80's 335 isn't a 50's or 60's but I've owned enough 81-85's to know just how great they can be.

  5. #5
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Wait, what??? You adjusted the truss rod to make it less bright??? The truss rod only affects the bow of the neck (and thus your action on the fretboard).

    First thing you should be doing is adjusting the pickup height - if it's still too bright, is turning the treble down on your amp not an option?

    More drastic fixes are brass saddles for the bridge, new pots and caps, and new pickups.

    As for the unplugged sound..well who cares about that? It's not an acoustic guitar - it's an electric - you judge it from it's sound plugged into an amp.

  6. #6
    Les Paul Forum Member wmachine's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Quote Originally Posted by indravayu View Post
    As for the unplugged sound..well who cares about that? It's not an acoustic guitar - it's an electric - you judge it from it's sound plugged into an amp.
    A whole lot of people, including myself care about that. Fine for you if that is your way of doing things. But that is a proven gauge for lots of very knowledgeable players.
    Quite frankly I don't care if anyone thinks that doesn't matter. I know better.
    "I am the kind of guy that only buys 100 watt heads just to play at home. I feel like if an amp can't kill a heard of cattle 100 yards away what is the point of owning it."

  7. #7

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    First, if I read your question correctly, you're referring to the sound of the guitar unplugged, yes? It's acoustic properties, not how it sounds through an amp. Yes, acoustically, they are much brighter than an unplugged Les Paul, but I've never seen that as an undesirable trait. It's an electric guitar that is more audible when played acoustically than a solid body, but it was never designed to be dual-purpose in that regard, and the only way to judge the instrument is plugged in. If you were hoping it would sound like an acoustic guitar when unplugged, it will not, and any 335 would disappoint you if that is your expectation. I'm sure you've got a great guitar there, plug it in and enjoy it.
    "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." FZ

  8. #8

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Thank you very much for your answers. I usually practice on the sofa in my living room with the guitar unplugged when I wake up in the mornings and my family sleeps ... I like to listen to the electric guitars of good woods sound like that, balanced in tone and resonant ... the 335 I thought sound thick and with more volume when carrying a block of central maple. If I play with her soft and loose with the pua sounds very well and the mast and freatboard are luxurious, the sharp and not very musical sound for my taste is to play strong with chords, there comes a sound in my opinion poorly balanced without serious and a little metallic tin. But I mean the sound without plugging. I bought a Faber bridge and post upgrade ... the studs on the bridge are a bit longer than the ones on the current bridge that only come in contact with the cover, these new ones reach the central maple block ... I do not know if it will improve, when I arrive and install it I will update here. thank you

  9. #9

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help


  10. #10

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    The Freatboard is ebony ... perhaps it is also brighter than the Rosewood? My Les paul custom Blanca from 1987 is also ebony and the best guitars I have in unplugged sound. These pills are Tim Shaw?
    Last edited by rafalynch; 06-08-19 at 11:27 AM.

  11. #11
    Les Paul Forum Member fakejake's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    I would try different strings. Maybe chromes or flatwounds, as many jazzers do. This will likely give it a more mellow accoustic sound.
    Also, if you're already changing strings, try topwraping them. This will reduce the downpressure on the bridge and might also take away a bit of the harshness.

  12. #12

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Fakejake thank you very much for your advice. I use strings Dadario XL 10/46 ... of Nickel. I really like the tension of that thickness and the sound of nickel in my les paul. But I'm going to try something different in l 335 to see the change. thank you

  13. #13
    Les Paul Forum Member deytookerjaabs's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Something no one talks about I use are ABS saddles, oh the humanity! But, they feel stiffer like the old nylon saddles and if they have any effect at all it's to knock a tiny hair of brightness out...if they have any effect. They feel great and work well though in general plus here in the US they're cheap. There are some on Ebay being sold out of Germany so maybe give them a shot.

  14. #14

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    thank you very much ... I do not translate your comment very well ... I understand that you try naylon saddles?

  15. #15
    Les Paul Forum Member deytookerjaabs's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Quote Originally Posted by rafalynch View Post
    thank you very much ... I do not translate your comment very well ... I understand that you try naylon saddles?

    Not quite Nylon, ABS Plastic like these:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Gibson-Abr-...EAAOSwd9dcjom~

  16. #16

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    thank you very much ... they are not very expensive and to try .. I'm going to look for them here in europe ... thanks

  17. #17
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Quote Originally Posted by wmachine View Post
    A whole lot of people, including myself care about that. Fine for you if that is your way of doing things. But that is a proven gauge for lots of very knowledgeable players.
    Quite frankly I don't care if anyone thinks that doesn't matter. I know better.
    LOL, if you're judging an electric guitar based on its unplugged tone, you're doing it wrong.

  18. #18
    Les Paul Forum Member wmachine's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Quote Originally Posted by indravayu View Post
    LOL, if you're judging an electric guitar based on its unplugged tone, you're doing it wrong.
    Like you can talk me out of what I know? Doesn't bother me in the least, as I said, I know better.
    "I am the kind of guy that only buys 100 watt heads just to play at home. I feel like if an amp can't kill a heard of cattle 100 yards away what is the point of owning it."

  19. #19

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Vmachine I also believe that the quality and tonal balance of the guitar sound without plugging is very important.

  20. #20
    All Access/Backstage Pass Wilko's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Acoustic tone of an electric guitars very important. Anyone thinks otherwise doesn't know what they're talking about. The wood and construction make a huge difference. If it didn't make a difference than a Les Paul would sound the same as a 335. Guess what? they don't sound the same.

    Perhaps you just weren't expecting the sound you are getting. I love the sound of the 335 unplugged. I did have a 1984 and it was fine sounding acoustic tone. My current 335 is a 1965 and is very light weight and sounds quite bright acoustically. I prefer the brightness and actually use a lightweight tail piece and metal saddles to make it brighter/clearer sounding.

  21. #21

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    I guess it is no real surprise that my ES 330 is my best sounding unplugged electric? You may want to consider one. I mean if you are buying electric guitars to play acoustically? Mine makes for a killer acoustic jazz box (too bad I am not a killer jazzer ). It is fairly extraordinary plugged in, too, due to the hollow construction and P-90's.


  22. #22
    Les Paul Forum Member Don's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Unplugged, my ES-225 sounds like a little cello. Rich, warm, fat... I wish I could do something with that tone. My Les Paul is quite a bit quieter, but has a nice bassy thump that amplifies well. Unplugged, my ES-335 sounds like a transistor pocket radio. Plugged in, it sounds like a giant Telecaster. I had an Epiphone ES-335 Pro that sounded much warmer unplugged. It wasn't as good plugged in, though.

    I had a 5-1/2 pound mid '60s Epiphone Olympic that had a beautiful acoustic sound. Very lively. I've played old SGs that were like it. They sounded awesome plugged it, too.

  23. #23

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Thank you very much for your comments and help. I have tried several bridges and tailpiece and there is no difference. The sound when playing loud is unpleasant and I do not see a solution other than to sell it and that the experience will be useful for the next one and not buy before without trying it in person. thank you very much to all

  24. #24
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Quote Originally Posted by Wilko View Post
    Acoustic tone of an electric guitars very important. Anyone thinks otherwise doesn't know what they're talking about. The wood and construction make a huge difference. If it didn't make a difference than a Les Paul would sound the same as a 335. Guess what? they don't sound the same.
    LOL, you people crack me up!

    I have been playing for about 35 years, have owned 80 guitars in that time, and played many hundreds more than that. There is rarely any correlation between the unplugged sound of a guitar and how it sounds running through an amp.

    335s are electric guitars. They are meant to be plugged into an amplifier and not played like acoustic guitars.

    Unplugged, they sound enemic and plinky (though at least you can play hard on them without bothering anybody in your home who might be sleeping!).

    Plugged in, they sound full bodied with balanced highs and lows (assuming the pots/caps/pickups are of good quality and the guitar has been set up properly - same goes for the amp).

  25. #25
    All Access/Backstage Pass Wilko's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Quote Originally Posted by indravayu View Post
    LOL, you people crack me up!

    I have been playing for about 35 years, have owned 80 guitars in that time, and played many hundreds more than that. There is rarely any correlation between the unplugged sound of a guitar and how it sounds running through an amp.

    335s are electric guitars. They are meant to be plugged into an amplifier and not played like acoustic guitars.

    Unplugged, they sound enemic and plinky (though at least you can play hard on them without bothering anybody in your home who might be sleeping!).

    Plugged in, they sound full bodied with balanced highs and lows (assuming the pots/caps/pickups are of good quality and the guitar has been set up properly - same goes for the amp).
    Some people get it. I've been playing over 40 years. Why do you think some bursts sound great? its the wood. That can usually be heard/felt. I absolutely makes a difference. If you don't notice it, great for you. I can ID a tone turd by playing it unplugged. Pickups can always be changed, the wood is a huge part of the sound. You can't feel the difference between a 335 and Les Paul?

  26. #26

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    It may be that you prefer pickups with a lot of ohm output and with them it sounds in the amp much like an Ephiphone that a Gibson .... in this case what sounds is the pickup. But if you try low output pickup 7.6ohm / 8.5 ohm you will check how the sound in the amplifier changes from one guitar to another with the same pickup .. with these low output pickups you can hear the "voice" of the wood and is where a good Les Paul gets very much on top of a $ 50 trash guitar

  27. #27
    Les Paul Forum Member Billy Porter's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    I built a kit ES335 putting it together with Seth Lovers and quality hardware and I was greatly disappointed at the acoustic sound and also when played at low volumes but...……………….boy does it come to life at larger volumes and rehearsals. So much so that I'm taking it to a gig instead of my Les Paul. It resonates with the rest of the band and feels like it's alive.


    As other posters have previously stated, they're not really made for playing acoustically (I've a Tele that does that a lot better). Give it a bit of volume and appreciate what these can really do
    You’re never alone with a schizophrenic

  28. #28

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Quote Originally Posted by wmachine View Post
    Like you can talk me out of what I know? Doesn't bother me in the least, as I said, I know better.
    Totally! I’m gonna drop a pair of Throbacks into my Martin D-28! That thing’ll sound SO good when I plug it in!

  29. #29
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Quote Originally Posted by indravayu View Post
    LOL, if you're judging an electric guitar based on its unplugged tone, you're doing it wrong.
    +1 ..still waters can run Deep ( more so in the solid body realm )
    Last edited by garywright; 06-08-19 at 06:51 AM. Reason: Opps 335 thread

  30. #30

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Quote Originally Posted by indravayu View Post
    LOL, you people crack me up!

    I have been playing for about 35 years, have owned 80 guitars in that time, and played many hundreds more than that. There is rarely any correlation between the unplugged sound of a guitar and how it sounds running through an amp.

    335s are electric guitars. They are meant to be plugged into an amplifier and not played like acoustic guitars.

    Unplugged, they sound enemic and plinky (though at least you can play hard on them without bothering anybody in your home who might be sleeping!).

    Plugged in, they sound full bodied with balanced highs and lows (assuming the pots/caps/pickups are of good quality and the guitar has been set up properly - same goes for the amp).

    I had to make a account to post to respond.

    You could be trolling but on the other hand you might actually believe it.

    Do You know how acoustic guitars work?
    A 335 works similarly. They do have a smaller body so they don’t project as much and don’t go as deep in tone as a acoustic. There is a reason why they are called a semi acoustic.
    if it sounds “dead” unplugged you’ll have to work at to make sound great through a amp.
    Playing a semi unplugged is a perfect way of checking it out.

    my 2cents.

  31. #31
    Les Paul Forum Member deytookerjaabs's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    You can have it both ways.


    An electric guitar that really seems to sing & be vibrant on it's own is a neat thing regardless, just tells ya the woods are workin' as a team and will have a certain voice to work with. Ones that might seem a bit dull unplugged but are boss when plugged are also cool as hell. Teles are especially great at this. I once picked up a very expensive (at the time) Custom Shop Tele that I plucked a few notes on and thought it was the deadest damn thing ever heavier than a late 70's glossier than thick rimmed glasses with uber blingy looking cuts of wood. Plugged it in and it was the twangiest mother****ing twang machine out twanging anything that'd come before or after, bach sounded like pieces written for Banjo on that thing, it could not un-twang, what a sound it had.


    But, if it's legit dead sounding unplugged as in excessively poor sustain etc that's a different animal, you're not going to get something that isn't already there.

  32. #32
    Les Paul Forum Member Don's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Porter View Post
    I built a kit ES335 putting it together with Seth Lovers and quality hardware and I was greatly disappointed at the acoustic sound and also when played at low volumes but...……………….boy does it come to life at larger volumes and rehearsals. So much so that I'm taking it to a gig instead of my Les Paul. It resonates with the rest of the band and feels like it's alive.


    As other posters have previously stated, they're not really made for playing acoustically (I've a Tele that does that a lot better). Give it a bit of volume and appreciate what these can really do
    This is exactly how I feel about my ES-335. I seldom even use it at home, but it's great with a band.

  33. #33
    Les Paul Forum Member deytookerjaabs's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Well, IMO, ES-Semi's are one of the most all-over-the-map guitars there are. Some will be very quiet unplugged but come at ya like a thick Les Paul when overdriven, on the opposite end some have a huge almost fully hollow unplugged jazz box like tone that will be sweet as molasses with a nice dual showman, oohwee.

    A lot of people I think prefer the thick Les Paul thing and anything else is "garbage" but I am not one of them.

  34. #34
    Les Paul Forum Member wmachine's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Quote Originally Posted by indravayu View Post
    LOL, you people crack me up!

    I have been playing for about 35 years, have owned 80 guitars in that time, and played many hundreds more than that. There is rarely any correlation between the unplugged sound of a guitar and how it sounds running through an amp.

    335s are electric guitars. They are meant to be plugged into an amplifier and not played like acoustic guitars.

    Unplugged, they sound enemic and plinky (though at least you can play hard on them without bothering anybody in your home who might be sleeping!).

    Plugged in, they sound full bodied with balanced highs and lows (assuming the pots/caps/pickups are of good quality and the guitar has been set up properly - same goes for the amp).
    You make the mistake of thinking just because you can't tell, and it makes no difference to you, that there is nothing too it. That's what happens when you don't have an open mind and think the world revolves around you.
    "I am the kind of guy that only buys 100 watt heads just to play at home. I feel like if an amp can't kill a heard of cattle 100 yards away what is the point of owning it."

  35. #35
    Les Paul Forum Member JPP-1's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    The guitar itself is the voice and the pickups are the mic. Electric guitars have a tone unplugged and that’s what the pickups capture. That being said, just as some voices are photogenic or I should say audiogenic so are some guitars and may be a pleasant surprise how they sound thru an amp, The inverse is also possible. There are harmonics and overtones that are difficult to detect with an unplugged electric. So while the first thing I do when I try an electric guitar is test it acoustically I also plug it into an amp.

    Another note, I think most of us equate acoustically loud with good. I know I tend to prefer an acoustically loud electric, but surprisingly some of the best sounding and most sustainy electrics I ever played were ones that weren’t particularly loud acoustically. I guess If loud always equaled better everyone would be playing 335s.



    To the OP, since you already have the guitar I would plug it on and see how it sounds. Brightness is a guitar is usually never an issue. It’s the easiest thing to dial back. However muddy or particularly dark guitars can be hard to work with. Good luck
    Last edited by JPP-1; 06-09-19 at 01:07 AM.

  36. #36

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Thanks for your comments and advice. Today I took it to my rehearsal with my group ... I plugged it into my 1971 Marshall Jmp and I loved how it sounds ... it's like my Paul but with a more creamy and smooth sound ... very inspiring. The only thing when lowering the volume potentiometer to clean the saturated sound of the Marshall, the sound becomes very dark and muddy. Surely it is to change the potentiometers for a CTS 500k ... as you have already advised me, but I feel sorry to modify the guitar and also it does not seem easy to do it. I thought to sell it but every day I like it more. Thanks for everything

  37. #37

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Quote Originally Posted by rafalynch View Post
    ... I plugged it into my 1971 Marshall Jmp and I loved how it sounds ... ...very inspiring... Surely it is to change the potentiometers for a CTS 500k ...
    The ‘80s ES335s are great instruments. They’ve got good bones! Changing the pots to 500K would be an improvement to the guitar. It will not affect the value of the instrument. In fact, it may add value! Go for it!

  38. #38
    Les Paul Forum Member J.D.'s Avatar
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    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Install .001uF caps across the volume pots and be done. Google "bright cap"

  39. #39

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    50's wiring should help.

  40. #40

    Re: Gibson ES 335 help

    Quote Originally Posted by brandtkronholm View Post
    The ‘80s ES335s are great instruments. They’ve got good bones! Changing the pots to 500K would be an improvement to the guitar. It will not affect the value of the instrument. In fact, it may add value! Go for it!
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by J.D. View Post
    Install .001uF caps across the volume pots and be done. Google "bright cap"
    This is also a good suggestion.

    Quote Originally Posted by mdubya View Post
    50's wiring should help.
    This would be the finishing touch!

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