Monday, 11 January 2016

Book Review - The Gibson 335 - Its History and Its Players by Adrian Ingram

I've had this on my Amazon wishlist for a while now.  It's not a cheap book and in the end Mrs F perusing said list for inspiration for a Christmas present bought it for me.

I have to say my knowledge of Gibson's ES-300 series isn't that good.  I can easily spot Les Paul's, SGs, Strats and Teles readily knowing the age (or increasingly the reissue basis) etc. quickly but other than telling an ES-335 from an ES-345 or ES-355 my knowledge lacked.  To that end this has been a really useful read.  I knew that through the 60s and 70s the ES-335 moved from dot finger board with a stop tail-piece to block inlays and a trapeze one but the other changes around particularly the internal construction and the move from "mickey mouse" ears etc. made this a good read.

Also Adrian covers a lot of other models, notably the obvious sister Epiphone line with Sheratons, Casinos etc. which in the UK are possibly more sought after with their associations with Lennon, Weller, Oasis etc.  It is interesting to read about the various changes and why they were brought in - some were considered "upgrades" that now you wonder how they thought that but others sadly were clearly dictated by the bean counters in the Norlin controlled days.  It is interesting particularly to here about changes under the skin for example in the make up of the laminates used on the body, the switch to three piece maple necks - originally for stability on high end jazz guitars but by the time on the 300 series really all about using smaller cuts of wood more cheaply and with an easier, quicker finishing process - maple isn't as porous as mahogany so you don't need to grain fill and allow less time for drying.

There is quite a bit about descendants and copies including things like the Howard Roberts Fusion model for example but also the ES-336 which got soon renamed the CS-336 reflecting that it was actually a hollowed out solid guitar (like a Telecaster thinline) rather than a back, sides and front constructed semi-acoustic.  The thing the 336 did lead to was however the ES-339 (and ES-359) which are the smaller bodied models constructed in the ES-335 manner now available.  Sadly the copy I have was published in 2006 and therefore that and other developments in the last decade are missing which is a real shame... so no Dave Ghrol Trini Lopez reissue mentions etc.  Also the other unfortunate thing is whilst there is a set of good colour photos in a dedicated chapter most photos that accompany the text are black and white making the book feel actually more like one published 20 or more years ago.  Many aren't reproduced with the greatest of care either sadly.

Overall if like me you need a bit more history on the ES-335 and it's cousins this is a good read, esp if you can find a second hand copy in good condition at reasonable price.  However there is a hole in the market for an update and one with better photography especially... where's Tony Bacon?

I'd give it a two thumbs horizontal on the FTUBRS due to the less than ace photos and being a bit too out of date too

* Furtheron Thumbs Up Book Review Scale - 
lowest is both thumbs down with a frown
two thumbs down, 
one thumb horizontal,
two thumbs horizontal, 
one thumb up, 
two thumbs up 
two thumbs up with a grin - very rarely awarded

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