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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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.