- Are Both Guitars Hollow?
- Do Both Guitars Feature The Same Pickups?
- Is An ES-355 Prone To Feedback?
- Are Both Guitars The Same Size?
The Gibson ES-355 and Epiphone Casino have been wielded by countless guitar heavyweights across the decades and, as a result, have found a place in the heart of many modern players. From Chuck Berrys’ red 70s ES-355 to seeing John, Paul, and George brandish their Epiphone Casino models right through peak Beatlemania. Both designs have endured the test of time and aged like a fine wine.
Players intrigued by the allure of the semi-hollow and hollow body guitar may be scratching their heads at which model is best suited for their requirements. After all, at a passing glance, both instruments look to be of relatively similar design. However, there are numerous differences between these Guitar classics so let us jump and get the lowdown.
The Epiphone USA Casino is a modern version of the legendary hollowbody thinline archtop that the Beatles used throughout their recording career.
Introduced in 1961, the Casino is a hollow-body electric guitar brandishing two p-90 style pickups and a floating trapeze tailpiece or Bigsby tremolo. Manufactured by Gibson’s sibling company Epiphone the Casino has seen use across a broad range of musical genres, including Blues, Rock, Pop, and Jazz.
Casino models have been produced in a variety of countries, including China, the USA, and Japan, with a Gibson counterpart known as the ES-330 being introduced previously in 1959.
From blues to jazz to rock, there’s just no substitute for the vibrant tone and supreme playing comfort of the Gibson ES-355.
Renowned as the world’s first commercially sold semi-hollow body Electric Guitar the ES-355 was introduced to the consumer market in 1958. Unlike the Casino, the 355 is not a true hollow-body guitar as it harnesses a solid center block to which the hollow side wings are glued during construction.
Like its distant cousin, the Les Paul, most ES-355 models will brandish PAF humbucker pickups and Tune-O-Matic bridges with stop bar tailpieces, though some models came factory equipped with Bigsby vibrato bars. In 1997 a more budget-friendly version of the USA-made 355 was introduced by Epiphone as the Dot model, manufactured in Korea and later China.
ES-355 vs Casino: Differences
1. Body Construction
The full hollow construction of the Casino is a key differentiating factor compared to the Gibson ES-355, which provides more acoustical volume from the guitar. While the full hollow construction of the Casino provides the benefit of added acoustic volume, it has a considerable drawback in that it is more prone to undesired feedback at stage volumes and when played with saturation fx, such as overdrive and distortion.
In an attempt to reduce the risk of feedback, players have adopted various methods of dampening, including stuffing the hollow cavity of the instrument with soft materials such as socks or tissues, taping over the F holes, and also carefully planning where they will situate themselves on stage during live performances.
The ES-355 features a solid center block upon which the pickups are mounted. While making the instrument somewhat heavier than the Casino, this construction method lessens the probability of feedback when the signal is overdriven or of significant volume. It also directly affects the sonic qualities of the instrument acoustically, making it sound somewhat more in line with a standard electric guitar than a Casino.
The trapeze tailpiece featured on many Casinos is another component that differs from the ES-355 mentioned above. This tailpiece harnesses a floating design raised off the body when the strings are brought up to tension.
This arrangement provides a unique feel to the instrument and a slightly different restringing method. It involves hooking the ball ends of a guitar string into specialized notches on the tailpiece itself.
Meanwhile, the ES-355 will typically feature the same bridge and tailpiece arrangement as the Les Paul and SG models. The tune-o-matic bridge and stop bar tailpiece requires one to thread the strings through holes situated on the tailpiece and then over the bridge itself. This results in a different feel than that of a trapeze tailpiece however it is also worth mentioning that some people enjoy top wrapping their stop bar tailpieces which is a method employed by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame.
Top wrapping the bridge results in a “slinkier” feeling string tension which some players find preferable for bluesy bends and smooth vibrato techniques.
Despite these apparent differences in construction and build, both guitars have the same dimensions. They will fit into a standard semi-hollow-sized Epiphone/Gibson branded hard case or similar.
Having spent some time looking into the construction of either model, it is well worth investigating the differences in electronics of both models. Despite both being dual pickup 3-way switch-equipped instruments with separate tone and volume pots for each pickup, there are notable differences in both circuits.
The ES-355 will come factory equipped with Gibson Paf pickups or Gibson-branded humbuckers of a similar lineage. Invented by Seth Lover and brought into production in 1955, PAFs set the gold standard for desirable attributes in a humbucking pickup with single vintage examples often fetching as much coin as some new Gibson Reissue Les Pauls in store. These pickups will reject the 60-cycle hum common with many single-coil pickups, such as those found on many Fender guitars.
Some ES-355s will come with a factory-installed Varitone switch famously found on B.B Kings Lucille Guitar. This switch essentially works as a notch attenuating specific frequencies across the spectrum across its six positions, providing an array of guitar tones unobtainable from a standard Gibson circuit.
Finally, it is well worth mentioning that some ES-355s feature stereo output jacks to connect the guitar’s output to more than one amplifier. This was useful in the 50s before the popularity of stompboxes, where players would depend more heavily on separate amplifier units for different sounds from one instrument without fx.
The Casino and Gibson ES-330 come factory equipped with P-90 pickups initially introduced by Gibson in 1946. The P-90 is unique amongst most Gibson pickups as it is actually a single coil design closer in design to that of the traditional fender single coil. However, the P-90 features a broader but shorter bobbin. This results in a considerably warmer and less trebly tone though P-90s are still susceptible to the 60-cycle hum encountered by traditional single-coil pickups.
Both the Gibson ES-355 and Epihone Casino are viable candidates for any guitarist in the Semi-hollowbody/Hollowbody market with a variety of options available to suit any budget or skill level. If you were spending time pondering which instrument is better suited to your individual needs and requirements we hope that our brief dive into both has provided some insight into this question and given you with the answers you seek.