The 7 Best ES-335 Alternatives (That Money Can Buy)

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  • Gibson’s ES-335 has cemented itself as the premier semi-hollow-body guitar for professionals
  • Used and loved by legends such as Chuck Berry, B.B. King, Freddie King, and Dave Grohl
  • We’ve compiled an in-depth list of the absolute best ES-335 alternatives

The Gibson ES-335 is the instrument that was largely responsible for popularising the semi-hollow-body guitar.

First introduced in 1958 as an attempt to curb the feedback issues that plagued hollow-body guitars. 

It garnered immense popularity because of its sound, versatility, and functionality. In fact, guitar legends such as Chuck Berry, B.B. King, Freddie King, Dave Grohl, and Larry Carlton (aka, Mr. 335) chose it as their instrument of choice. 

Which are the best ES-335 alternatives?

The Heritage Standard H-535 is an uncanny replica of the Gibson ES-335, so much so that it is more of a genuine competitor than some wannabe copy. With superb sound, playability, and quality control, the H-535 is our pick as the absolute best 355 ‘copy’.

If you are on a budget, but still want to get your hands on a high-quality 335-type guitar, then the Epiphone ES-335 may be the one for you.

If on the other hand, you only want the best of the best, the Collings I-35 is our premium pick. 

  1. Heritage Standard H-535 (our top pick)
  2. Epiphone ES-335 (best value)
  3. Collings I-35 (premium pick)
  4. PRS CE 24 Semi-Hollow
  5. D’Angelico Excel Mini DC 
  6. Ibanez John Scofield Signature JSM100
  7. Gretsch G5622T Electromatic

1. Heritage Standard H-535 

OUR PICK
Heritage Standard H-535 

Paying homage to well-traveled and well-played instruments, the Heritage Guitar H-535 semi-hollow body electric guitar feels like playing vintage handcrafted guitar.

Why We Love It:
  • Boasts a huge sonic range
  • Crafted in vintage fashion
  • Authentic tones
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The history behind Heritage Guitar is quite interesting.

When Gibson announced that they were to move the factory from Kalamazoo to Nashville in 1984, three senior employees decided they were staying.

A year later these three employees, with over 84 years of combined guitar-building experience, started Heritage Guitar Inc. Using the same workshop space and much of the same equipment from the original Gibson factory.

Since then, Heritage Guitars has established its own tradition of quality by handcrafting guitars with flawless playability, tone, and visual appeal. The H-535 is clear proof that they succeeded and is our top pick for this list. 

Features 

  • Artisan-aged finish for a vintage original feel
  • Traditionally constructed semi-hollow body, well suited for rock, jazz, and country
  • Seymour Duncan ’59 humbuckers which re-create the flare of original PAF pickups
  • Factory Plek treatment guarantees your guitar is precision perfect with its setup
  • Mahogany neck for fantastic resonance and sonic depth

Review

The Heritage Guitar Artisan Aged H-535 semi-hollow body electric guitar features a laminated curly maple body that feels like a vintage handcrafted guitar.

This excellent 335 alternative features a pair of Seymour Duncan ’59 humbucking pickups that deliver a definitive semi-hollow tone that excels for rock, jazz, and country.

Installed in both the neck and bridge positions with a traditional pickup selector, these 59s offer the true sonic versatility that 335s are known for. 

As far as playability, the H-535 features a genuine mahogany neck with Heritage Guitar’s own standard neck profile, a 12-inch radius rosewood fingerboard along with a 24.75” scale length.

Additionally, it features:

  • A Corian nut with a width of 1.6875”
  • 22 medium jumbo frets.
  • Grover tuners
  • An adjustable bridge
  • 2-piece stop bar tailpiece
  • Hardshell case included.

Please keep in mind that all Heritage guitars (including this one) were built at Gibson’s original factory, by workers in the lineage of Gibson’s most experienced builders.

If you are a 335 purist but truly want to get your money’s worth, the H-535 is hard to beat. 

2. Epiphone ES-335 

BEST VALUE
Epiphone ES-335 Figured Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar

The Epiphone ES-335 Figured is a tribute to Gibson’s storied semi-hollowbody electric guitar, and with it by your side, you’ll take absolute command of the stage.

Why We Love It:
  • Quality construction
  • Distinct tones
  • An affordable alternative
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Epiphone were originally bought by Gibson over 70 years ago to avoid competition.

Over the years they would essentially become manufacturers of Gibson’s more affordable line of guitars. As a matter of fact, this is the only brand that can legally produce Gibson’s original designs. 

The Epiphone ES-335 is as close as you’ll get to a real 335 feel for less than a thousand dollars. Part of the reason it’s so much cheaper is that it is produced in China, as opposed to the United States. 

Features

  • Affordable re-creation of the classic Gibson ES-335
  • Layered maple top, back, and sides coupled with a solid maple tone block
  • Alnico Classic PRO humbuckers 
  • Rounded “C” neck profile for maximum comfort while playing
  • Indian laurel fingerboard with a 12-inch-radius

Review

In true 335-fashion it features a layered maple top, back, and sides, along with a solid maple center block.

The center block is part of the original 335 design, originally intended to suppress feedback while still offering both sustain and tone. 

You’ll still see this idea of a ‘tone block’ being used nowadays by companies such as Musicman on their premium John Petrucci models.

The body material is a layered maple with a gloss finish. Naturally, some compromises had to be made to bring the cost down so much.

Besides the woods used on this Epiphone, the pickups are also not equivalent to the Gibson 335. Here, you get Alnico Classic PRO humbuckers (on both the neck and bridge pickup), which are good, but don’t quite match up to Duncan 59´s.

The ES-335 features include

  • A laurel-capped, rounded “C”-shaped neck
  • 12-inch fretboard radius
  • 22 medium jumbo frets
  • Graph Tech Nu-bone nut with a width of 1.693”
  • A 24.724” scale length

The hard case/gig bag is sold separately this time, unfortunately. 

This is a good guitar for the price, but as you might expect, some concessions had to be made to bring the price down so much.

Still, the ES-335 is a good price for a student or someone who just does not want to blow $3000 for a 335. 

3. Collings I-35 

PREMIUM CHOICE
Collings I-35 | Semi-hollow Electric Guitar

With a 15" lower bout and hand-carved solid wood construction, the I35 is a unique modern tribute to the heritage of the double-cutaway semi-hollow electric guitar. 

Why We Love It:
  • The best ES-335 alternative on the market
  • Quick and complex tonal response
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Collings Guitars are one of today’s premier guitar builders.

Founded by Bill Collings in the late seventies, this company produces high-end acoustic guitars, electric guitars, mandolins, and ukuleles. Some of the artists on their roster include Lyle Lovett, Brandi Carlile, Mark Lettieri (Snarky Puppy), and even John Mayer.  

The I-35 is a unique modern tribute to the semi-hollow body 335-type guitar. This instrument has become one of Collings’ most popular models, and for good reason.

The I-35 is our premium pick for the discerning player that wants only the best of the best.

Features

  • Semi-hollow mahogany body with a figured maple top
  • Mahogany back and sides with a maple center block for optimal tonal response
  • Low-wind Lollar Imperial Humbucker pickups
  • Honduran mahogany body and neck
  • Gotoh SG301 tuners, and a Kluson Tune-o-Matic bridge

Review

Although aesthetically reminiscent of the legendary Gibson ES-335, the Collings I-35 is a guitar made for the modern player that wants a superb semi-hollow instrument.

Named after the busy I-35 highway in Austin, Texas (where the company is based). This guitar features a 15″ wide body and a slightly more angular shape that reduces its size and weight when compared to the ES-335. 

As far as the construction, instead of using the traditional method of pressed plywood and bent sides, Collings carves the back and sides from a single slab of mahogany.

Then, a solid top is carved from book-matched maple. The body is then heavily chambered to duplicate the density of the traditional design. The overall result yields a sonic advantage but preserves the aesthetic of the f-holes. 

The pickups featured on this guitar are some of the best on the market. They are low-wind Lollar Imperial Humbucker pickups that produce exceptional note definition and dynamic response. 

The I-35 also excels in playability, thanks in part to the combination of the precise PLEK machine leveling and hand fret dressing.

The scale length is 24 ⅞” with a nut width of 1 11/16”, and it has medium 18% nickel-silver frets. 

The Collings 1-35 comes with a deluxe hardshell case made by Ameritage.

Here is precisely where the adage “you get what you pay for” can be fully appreciated as this guitar is simply spectacular. A true top-of-the-line instrument and one of the best Gibson 335 Alternatives.

4. PRS CE 24 Semi-Hollow

PRS CE 24 Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar

The new and improved PRS CE 24 brings you the snappy attack, woody tones, and American twang of a bolt-on maple neck at an appealing PRS price point. 

Why We Love It:
  • Great playability
  • Versatile
  • Visually stunning
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Paul Reed Smith Guitars need no introduction. This company has built a stellar reputation in a relatively short time thanks to its attention to detail and consistent production of high-quality instruments.

The PRS CE 24 Semi-Hollow is further proof of that.

If you are looking for a 335-type instrument, but with modern features that reflect the advancements in guitar construction and design, the CE 24 is an optimal choice. 

Features

  • Semi-hollow mahogany body with a figured maple top
  • Bolt-on maple neck with Pattern Thin profile and a satin finish
  • Natural maple binding
  • East Indian rosewood fingerboard with 24 medium jumbo frets and those iconic PRS bird inlays
  • PRS’s own 85/15 humbucking neck and bridge pickups

Review

The PRS CE 24 features a lightweight, semi-hollow mahogany body with a single F-hole. Paul Reed Smith’s choice of woods for this instrument are fantastic. Featuring a figured maple top and a velvety rosewood fingerboard

The neck features a PRS Pattern Thin neck profile which is basically an updated version of the traditional wide-thin neck style.

This Pattern Thin neck shape is a great fit for players with smaller hands or guitarists who use classical left-hand positioning, pivoting with their thumb on the back of the neck.

The CE 24 has 24 frets, a 25-inch scale length, and a 1.6875-inch PRS patented nut.

It’s also a great alternative for musicians that dislike heavier instruments, as the CE 24 features a thin and lightweight body that has a comfortable top carve for your arm to sit on.

This guitar plays a lot like a PRS’s highly popular Custom 24 guitar but has a woodier attack and more aggressive bite, which along with its lightweight build, make it a solid choice for 335-type guitar seekers that are after something more modern and with its own personality.

The CE 24 comes with  PRS 85/15 pickups, which provide rich and harmonic overtones reminiscent of vintage humbuckers, the 85/15 set is a fantastic choice for a modern hollow body guitar.

Additional features on the CE 24 include

  • A 3-way toggle pickup selector
  • Master volume
  • Push-pull master tone for coil splitting
  • PRS’s patented tremolo bridge
  • PRS designed ‘low-mass’ locking tuners,
  • Nickel hardware
  • Dual-action truss rod 

5. D’Angelico Excel Mini DC 

D'Angelico Excel Series Mini DC Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar

The D’Angelico Excel Mini DC is a highly playable semi-hollowbody electric guitar with killer tone and eye-popping visuals.

Why We Love It:
  • Superb sound
  • Great playability
  • Packed with good features
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D’Angelico guitars have a solid reputation built over decades of producing fantastic instruments at a good price. World-class musicians such as Bob Weir, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (Steely Dan) use D’Angeligo as their weapons of choice.

The Excel Mini DC is a great option for players that favor a less bulky instrument but still want to have superb sound, playability, and overall features. 

Features

  • Laminated mahogany top, back, and sides with a center block
  • Maple/walnut set neck with a “C” shaped profile with a gloss finish
  • Bound ebony fingerboard with a 16-inch radius and mother-of-pearl/abalone Split Block inlays
  • 24.75-inch scale length
  • 22 medium-jumbo frets
  • 2 Seymour Duncan ’59 humbucking pickups

Review

The Excel Mini DC features a reduced-size laminated mahogany body with a solid center block, just like in the traditional 335s, providing great tone and sustain.

The neck is a 3-piece maple/walnut with a “C” shaped profile that has a satin finish for ease of movement when traversing the neck. It features 22 medium-jumbo frets and a 16-inch-radius fingerboard with a 24.75-inch scale length.

Tone purists will be delighted with the set of Seymour Duncan ’59 humbuckers and 3-way pickup selector toggle switch featured on this guitar.

These vintage-inspired pickups are well known for producing a warm, full-bodied tone with a crystalline clarity.

Additionally, the tone pots are push/pull, enabling you to have extra control over a range of snappy single-coil sounds and more.

Additional features on the Excel Mini DC include

In short, the D”Angelico Excel Mini DC is one of the best options for guitarists that don’t want to spend a fortune but still want all the qualities of a great 335-type instrument. 

6. Ibanez John Scofield Signature JSM100

Ibanez John Scofield Signature JSM100

The Ibanez JSM100 signature semi-hollow electric guitar gives you the same feel, features, and sound found in jazz legend John Scofield's prized instrument.

Why We Love It:
  • Looks, feels, and sounds like Scofield's favorite
  • Not just a pretty face
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Ibanez has been one of the most popular electric guitar companies for years and for good reason, they produce high-quality guitars for modern players at an affordable price.

They re-created John Scofield’s original (and now discontinued) AS200AV with great detail for the JSM100.  

Besides playing with icon Miles Davis and others, “Sco” has had an illustrious career as a solo artist, and is well known for his spectacular tone. 

Features

  • Figured Anigre top/back/sides with a mahogany neck 
  • 24.75″ scale length, bound ebony fingerboard, compound radius
  • 1.712″ half bone/half brass nut for balanced highs and lows
  • Super 58 humbucker for the neck and bridge positions
  • Pearl/abalone block inlays

Review

The Ibanez JSM100 John Scofield signature semi-hollow electric guitar gives you the same feel, features, and sound found in the jazz legend’s original instrument. 

This guitar was designed by making a digitized reproduction of Scofield’s original Ibanez AS200A guitar and applying the exact dimensions to the JSM100

In true 335 tradition, the JSM 100 features a large internal sound block to reject feedback and enhance the tone

Other notable features on the Ibanez JSM100 include

  • A nut made of half bone/half brass
  • Polyurethane body finish
  • 22 jumbo frets
  • Acrylic and abalone block finger inlays,
  • G510BN bridge
  • Gold hardware

As far as electronics, the JSM100 features two Super 58 humbucking pickups for that classic, rich tone, and is the pickup of choice for John Scofield.

The JSM100 is a fantastic instrument, and in the words of Scofield himself, a “perfect hybrid of a solid body and an archtop”.

7. Gretsch G5622T Electromatic

Gretsch Guitars G5622T

The Gretsch G5622T Electromatic Center Block semi-hollow body electric guitar provides you with a wide range of tones fit for any genre.

Why We Love It:
  • Powerful tones
  • Fantastic clarity and tone
  • Vintage flair
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Gretsch is one of the most traditional guitar makers and offers a sound, feel, and overall vibe that has been a staple of rockabilly, country, and jazz for decades.

The GG5622T Electromatic is a good choice for those that want the Gretsch experience on a budget.

In the case of this guitar, it even includes a Bigsby bridge to complete the vintage Gretsch experience

Features

  • Laminated maple body for snappy, open tone
  • Broad’Tron pickups in both the neck and bridge
  • Weight-relieved spruce center block
  • 3 volume controls and 1 tone control for tonal flexibility
  • Bigsby B70 tailpiece 

Review

The Gretsch G5622T Electromatic is a double-cutaway semi-hollow body electric guitar with that classic Gretsch styling.

It features a laminated maple body with a long spruce center block to curb feedback and provide an authentic hollow body tone. 

The G5622T features Black Top Broad’Tron humbuckers on both the neck and bridge positions to provide an even and balanced tone.

You can easily crank up the volume and add some saturation without fear of feedback creeping in. The note definition, clarity, and the sustain on the Electromatic are fantastic for a guitar in this price range.

For many, one of the most attractive features of this guitar will be the Bigsby bridge. It adds tons of vintage flair in sound, feel, and looks to the guitar.

The Bigsby B70 vibrato tailpiece that’s installed on the G5622T Electromatic allows you to create vibrato textures in a unique way only possible on a Bigsby.

This Gretsch features

  • Maple neck with a standard U-shaped profile
  • A 24.6” scale length
  • 12-inch fretboard radius
  • Laurel fingerboard
  • Pearloid neo-classic inlays
  • 22 medium jumbo frets

In short, a good choice for those that prefer that vintage Gretsch sound and feel, but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for an American-made guitar. 

FAQ’S

What are 335 guitars good for?

These guitars are known for being quite flexible. Because of their body type, they are the preferred instrument for many modern jazz and blues players.

Because they were originally designed to avoid the feedback commonly associated with hollow-body guitars, 335-type instruments are great for rock, country, and any other style that may need more gain and distortion.

Why is the ES-335 so expensive?

The Gibson ES-335 is expensive due to the fact that it is made in the United States by skilled luthiers using only premium woods.