Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

NGD: Gibson Memphis 2017 ES335 Flamed Tobacco Sunburst Slim Taper

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by fjrabon, Dec 31, 2017.

  1. fjrabon

    fjrabon Tele-Holic

    Dec 22, 2010
    [​IMG]ES335 by Franklin Rabon, on Flickr

    Well, my dream guitar has always been a mid 60s sunburst stoptail conversion, small block tobacco burst 335. I've come very close a couple of times to dropping $5000-6000 for a player's grade version.

    The tone, versatility, look, feel, proportions, something about it, it just has always drawn me in. A couple of years ago when Gibson Memphis came out with their most recent iteration, I was also highly intrigued, because it was seemingly exactly what I was after, and it maybe fixed the only VERY minor issue I had with the mid 60s 335s: the narrow nut. However, they were $4000. My thought process was at that price, I would just get a vintage one, which would hold its value better.

    Fast forward to this december. Chicago Music Exchange is blowing out a huge shipment of Gibson Memphis guitars that Gibson sold at a ridiculous price due to needing to empty the Memphis factory they are shutting down.

    I found out about the sale about halfway though. Ironically enough, I was just randomly on Reverb searching for a 335. I saw the prices CME was offering and just did a double take. That couldn't be right. They were over 50% off what they had sold for new. ALmost 75% off what the 2018 models are selling for on Sweetwater right now. I did my research and found out that they were not factory seconds or floor models or anything like that, just extra stock. They had perhaps not been checked as thoroughly as a normal Gibson Memphis guitar would be, due to the way Gibson just sold their entire warehouse to CME. But I figured if I was ever going to do this, this would be my chance. CME promised that they would have a 30 days no questions asked return policy for these. I submitted an offer on Reverb for $1650 (list was $1795) around 9PM Tuesday. Next morning they had accepted my offer. It was really happening. It shipped out Wednesday morning and got to my door Friday at 2 PM.

    I didn't wait to open it, despite the CME warning. Honestly I wouldn't have minded some honest weather checking anyway. But, for good or ill, no weather checking issues whatsoever.

    I had read a few complaints early on in the CME sale, and seen several people positing that these were factory seconds. It seemed to be a few isolated cases, and CME took care of everybody who did have issues. Nevertheless, before arriving, I was both worried that I might get a dud (this was the most expensive guitar I had ever bought without seeing it first), but I also had extremely high expectations at the same time. I was expecting my dream guitar.

    And within just a few minutes of opening the lovely brown case, to the sweet smell of Gibson vanilla, I had a suspicion this thing might blow my wildest expectations away.

    [​IMG]335 by Franklin Rabon, on Flickr

    The first thing I noticed is that the finish was flawless. In my experience, that's a little rare for Gibsons. I've searched for two days now and am yet to find a single flaw anywhere in the finish. The tobacco burst is EXACTLY how I wanted it. almost black in the corners, to a deep dark chocolate, to a sunset red, to a golden amber, to a light yellow. The yellow *just* peeks in before the f holes, allowing them to fully standout. I've seen other 335 bursts where the f holes get covered up by the dark edges, and some where there is no dark edge. This was JUST right.

    The flame is interesting. As you can see, it can look like the flamiest 59 burst you've ever seen in some angles, to almost looking like a plaintop in other angles. I believe this is due to it being a 1 piece top. unlike Les Pauls witht heir book matching, the single piece top has to make some "compromises" when it comes to how the flame works, due to needing an entire piece of maple to cover the whole top. This was why flme top 335s were pretty rare up until recently. But, regardless, I really like the effect anyway.

    [​IMG]ES335 by Franklin Rabon, on Flickr

    [​IMG]ES335 by Franklin Rabon, on Flickr

    The back is also 1 piece, and if anything, actually more flamed than the front. Also, even though it's laminate, and thus the interior pieces of maple aren't the same as the exterior pieces of maple, they also used flame maple for the inside, if you look really closely at the matte black paint they use on the inside of 2017s (which I like the matte black on the inside. The sides are also fully flamed if you look very closely under the dark brown.

    [​IMG]ES335 by Franklin Rabon, on Flickr

    The fretboard is a wonderful piece of dark rosewood. It definitely feels like rosewood, it isn't overly slick, which I like. I like a little grit under my fingers. Headstock is pretty much a perfect inlayed crown and Gibson logo. It's the smaller headstock.

    [​IMG]ES335 by Franklin Rabon, on Flickr

    The neck, i was originally worried about it being TOO slim. However, I knew that the 58 VOS 335s were just a tad too thick for me. I rolled the dice. It payed off. This is a dynamite neck. It's nominally a slim taper neck. But I have two Slim Taper necks and a 59 profile neck on other Gibsons, and this is definitely on the thicker side of slim taper necks. The nut width is perfectly standard Gibson. This neck just feels like home. It's also perfectly quarter sawn, and is very stable. I can do the tremolo neck trick, but I have to really try. Not like some rift/flat sawn slim taper necks I've seen that will bend out of tune if you chord too hard.

    [​IMG]ES335 by Franklin Rabon, on Flickr

    After playing it for a few hours, I confirmed what I suspected, that the gloss on the back of the neck was going to have to go. Got a brand new scotchbrite pad and went to town. I scotchbrited it down to an amazing satin feel. No more ticky nitro neck, it's fast and smooth as I could ever hope for.

    The binding is perfectly done. One of the few minor nits is that it's a bit more "pink" hued than I would like. I would prefer a bit more yellowed. But A) that will happen over time, and B) it's not even noticeable unless you really know the variations of Gibson cream inside and out (I do, so I noticed it). It's not the pinkest cream Gibson has done (like, for example, cream pickup bobbins from 2014), but it is a bit pink.

    I didn't love the look of the black tophats as much, but I have a black and white SG that had gold reflectors on it. I swapped them, putting the black tophats on the 335, and the gold reflectors on the 335, and I think it definitely improved both guitars.

    Swapped the cream pickup selector for an "aged" amber selector.

    [​IMG]ES335 by Franklin Rabon, on Flickr

    Also, I have a Goldtop tribute that had locking Grovers on it. THe 335 came with regular Grovers. I swapped those out as soon as I realized that this would easily become my #1. Love the convenience of Grovers, especially since that's what the headstock was already setup to accept.

    [​IMG]ES335 by Franklin Rabon, on Flickr

    Out of the box the setup was very good. didn't have to touch the truss rod, which, as far as I can remember, this is the first guitar that I've ever had where I didn't need a truss rod adjustment. Action will go as low as you want. I set it up for fairly medium action, which I like for bends, but it can go much lower buzz free. No dead spots anywhere on the neck. I did have to flip the G string saddle to get the intonation dead right, but that was easy, and after that it perfectly intonated all across the fretboard. Love that it comes with a wireless tone pros ABR.

    [​IMG]ES335 by Franklin Rabon, on Flickr

    Locking tone pros stop bar is also great as well. It came already setup with it all the way down, just like I like.

    [​IMG]ES335 by Franklin Rabon, on Flickr

    The factory bone nut seems to have been perfectly cut. no tuning issues whatsoever (I still nut sauced it anyway though). It even perfectly intonates at the first fret, which is pretty much shocking when it happens on a Gibson.

    Getting used to the vintage frets still. I don't have a problem with them per se, but I am used to slightly larger. Shouldn't take very long to adjust.

    Overall this guitar plays like an absolute dream. It passed my SG as my best player feel and speed wise. It's perfectly balanced and really fits my body. The neck just fits in my hand. Fret access is fantastic, playing all the way up to the 22nd fret is effortless.
    P Bill, LPTyler, TigerG and 14 others like this.
  2. fjrabon

    fjrabon Tele-Holic

    Dec 22, 2010
    Now on to the sound

    Played acoustically, it's brilliant. Notes are defined, decent volume, have a full decay, no buzz. This is a guitar I will definitely pick up and just play without an amp around the house. My wife even remarked on this, saying it sounds like a quieter version of my J45 (which is probably a bit far, but you get the idea).

    I was a bit worried that the mixture of burstbuckers (which are bright for PAF style pickups) and the titanium saddles would be ultra bright.

    And they are. Too bright for a 335 when you have the tone controls on 10. At first I was worried and starting to contemplate a pickup change. Or maybe swapping to nickel coated brass saddles, or both.

    But I tried the tone knob, and breathed a huge sigh of relief. Gibson really knocked it out of the park when pairing this guitar and these pickups with the pots and caps. They were very obviously selected extremely carefully. What it meant was that if you put both tone controls on about 7 or 8, you had a true vintage sounding 335. On 10, you could pull off a gretsch sound on the neck, and dang close to a broadcaster sound on the bridge. On 0 for the neck it's pure woman tone or clean you got old school jazz, and on the bridge on 0 it's Tony Iommi. What started off being a con turned into a pro. This guitar is more versatile than any other 335 I've ever tried, and ES335s are already known for being tonally versatile. You just gotta work the knobs, old school style, and you can pull almost anything off.

    The notes just have more "air" around them than on a Les Paul. There's almost a sort of natural reverb. I've noticed when I plug this in, I almost immediately turn the reverb on my amp down by about half. resonance wise, it's absolutely like a very good early/mid 60s 335.

    It takes gain much better than I expected. Feedback is easy to control up until when I have a fuzz and overdrive pumping at the same time, at full volume. But even then it's kinda Hendrixy and always musical. It is an absolute rock machine with mid-levels of dirt, especially since you can always roll the tone up to 10, and rock out. The neck rolls down to 0 and gives a perfect woman tone, while maintaining definition. It power chord riffs like a champion, and can scream while soloing.

    Clean, chords ring out gorgeously. Lots of complexity and note definition, while still being rich and powerful. Clean solos can easily pull off a chuck berry vibe with ease. Jazz lines can go from Wes Montgomery to Grant Green to Al Di Meola no problem.

    Despite me already thinking I was going to change out the pickups, these bad boys are absolutely staying.

    This guitar is basically not only my dream model, dream finish, dream wood. It also has basically every thing I like from different periods of the 335. I honestly, right now, can't think of a single thing I'd change about it. NOT A SINGLE THING. If a month ago you gave me an unlimited budget with the custom shop, I'd basically have them build this guitar.

    This is my dream guitar, and I'm still floored that I own it, and I'm even more floored that it happened for under $1700 delivered to my front door.

    Pairing this with my Tele, I have my Yin and Yang:

    [​IMG]ES335 by Franklin Rabon, on Flickr

    I can't think Chicago Music Exchange enough!
    LPTyler, Artslap, tomtama and 10 others like this.
  3. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Telefied Ad Free Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Austin, Tx
  4. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

    Outstanding. Simply beautiful.
    I have long coveted an ES-335.
    fjrabon likes this.
  5. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

    Nov 28, 2006
    Very jealous. Enjoy it!
    fjrabon likes this.
  6. Billnchristy

    Billnchristy Tele-Holic

    Sep 21, 2017
    I feel very similarly about the es lp I got my daughter from them. It's just flat beautiful in looks and sound. Adding the price to it makes it even better. It's amazing to get a Gibson for epiphone money.
    LPTyler and fjrabon like this.
  7. fjrabon

    fjrabon Tele-Holic

    Dec 22, 2010
    yeah, if I didn't already have two les pauls, and if this first 335 wasn't already not expected/in the budget, I probably would have gotten an ES Paul during the sale as well.
  8. Picton

    Picton Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Feb 7, 2009
    Reading, Massachusetts
    Holy cow.

    Not my kind of guitar, but you wrote it up in such a way that I almost want one. Congrats; I’m happy for you.

    Way to start the new year!
    fjrabon likes this.
  9. SamIV

    SamIV Tele-Holic

    May 14, 2011
    South Louisiana
    That is a nice looking Guitar. Good review and nice to hear something positive about Gibson.
    fjrabon likes this.
  10. BradL

    BradL Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Feb 9, 2009
    Sussex, UK
    Words do NOT do that guitar justice so I'll just sit here and flabbergast!
    LPTyler and fjrabon like this.
  11. cabra velha

    cabra velha Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2016
    estados unidos
  12. AlabamaOutlaw

    AlabamaOutlaw Tele-Meister

    Feb 20, 2011
    I have no words, there are no words!!
    fjrabon likes this.
  13. voodoo tele

    voodoo tele Tele-Meister

    Sep 30, 2009
    Man that is a beautiful guitar! Very envious
    fjrabon likes this.
  14. Doc3

    Doc3 Tele-Meister

    Mar 20, 2014
    San Ramon, CA
    Beauty, great write up. Love it when things work out so well. Happy New Year!
    fjrabon likes this.
  15. Ducerro

    Ducerro Tele-Meister

    Nov 20, 2017
    Yoakum, Texas
    Beautiful guitar! And your photography skills are top notch too - good job!
    fjrabon likes this.
  16. Controller

    Controller Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Jun 11, 2010
    Great review, great pics, obviously a labor of love.

    fjrabon likes this.
  17. dreamingtele

    dreamingtele Tele-Afflicted

    A 335 and a tele would be a dream for me too! nice looking Tele as well! Congrats and happy new year, new guitar day!
    fjrabon likes this.
  18. fendertx

    fendertx Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Nov 12, 2008
    That guitar is a beauty! I appreciate your patience in finding the right deal on your purchase. That is a phenomenal price!
    fjrabon likes this.
  19. smartsoul72

    smartsoul72 Tele-Meister

    Nov 24, 2017
    Really cool, man! Congrats!
  20. FenderGyrl

    FenderGyrl Friend of Leo's

    Jul 22, 2012
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.