Gibson guitars have always been steeped in tradition.
After shaking up the music world with the solidbody Les Paul model, which was introduced in 1952 and evolved into its final form throughout the course of mid-to-late 1950s, the company returned to its roots by offering an electric guitar with the attributes of a solidbody and the likeness of an acoustic archtop.
The result was the ES-335, which was first released in 1958, but reached its most desirable form a year later in 1959. It’s no secret that original guitars from this year of production have attained astronomical heights on the collector’s market, in many cases surpassed only by the ’58-’60 Les Paul Standard (and super-rare Flying V and Explorer).
Now, 50 years after reaching this zenith in semi-acoustic guitar design, Gibson Custom is bringing these guitars back to the guitar world with the introduction of the 1959 ES-335 Dot Reissue, available in Antique Vintage Sunburst and Antique Natural finishes with either standard gloss or V.O.S. treatments, and strictly limited to just 250 guitars in each finish option.
A Brave New Design
With its arched top and f-holes, the ES-335 bore recognizable links to its predecessors among Gibson’s archtop acoustic-electrics, but a quick probe inside its double-cutaway thinline body with solid center block revealed it as a brave new design. More subtle in its advancement of the template than some other models released alongside it in 1958 — including the Flying V and Explorer in the Modernistic Series, and the Heritage Cherry Sunburst Les Paul Standard — it was in many ways no less revolutionary, and also more acceptable to players who were hesitant to strut too far ahead of the pack.
Semi-Hollow and Feedback Resistant
The new ES-335 had the advantage of possessing some of the familiar ES features, and in particular was only a few steps away from thinline hollowbody models like the Byrdland and ES-350T of 1955. But that chunk of maple that ran down its middle to render it a semi-acoustic made a world of difference to its performance. The solid wood meant the ES-335 could carry a tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece, or the fully anchored Bigsby vibrato that was available as a factory option, all of which worked together to produce a quick response, great note definition and the kind of sustain that couldn’t be had from any fully hollow archtop on the market, thinline or full bodied. To top it all off, plugging up the center of that body achieved impressive resistance to feedback, a major pest to archtop players of the day.
An Overnight Success
While its more radical stablemates in the Modernistic Series were just too far out for many players to appreciate at the time, and the Les Paul had yet to really set the rock world on fire, the ES-335 was an immediate success. It was taken up quickly by adventurous jazz and country players who recognized its advantages, rapidly proving itself equally at home in the hands of blues, pop and rock players too. One of the most versatile electric guitars ever produced, it has been a Gibson mainstay ever since.
A New 1959 for ’09
Gibson Custom’s limited production 1959 ES-335 Dot Reissue captures this desirable classic in greater detail than any “reissue” style guitar previously produced. From the plain laminated maple top, back and sides to the one-piece mahogany neck with long tenon to the nickel hardware to the rounded ’59 neck profile, this is an instrument born in the image of its inspiration. In addition to the period-correct look, the 1959 ES-335 Dot Reissue sounds the part too, thanks to its pair of ’57 Classic humbucking pickups and high-quality CTS volume and tone potentiometers with “bumble bee” capacitors. Each guitar comes with a custom shop reissue case, certificate of authenticity and custom care kit.
Here are the complete specs for the 1959 ES-335 Dot Reissue from Gibson Custom:
Body & Hardware
- Plain laminated maple top, back and rims
- 16” (W) x 19” (L) x 1 5/8” (D)
- Single-ply cream binding on top and back
- Nickel Hardware
- ABR-1 bridge, lightweight aluminum stopbar tailpiece
- Available in Antique Vintage Sunburst and Antique Natural finishes (both in either standard gloss or VOS treatments)
Neck & Hardware
- One-piece mahogany neck with long tenon
- 22 fret rosewood fingerboard
- Pearloid dot inlays
- Single-ply cream binding with tortoiseshell side dots
- 1959 rounded neck profile
- 24 3/4” scale length 1 11/16” nut width
- Holly headstock veneer
- Vintage tulip tuners
Electronics & Strings
- ’57 Classic humbucking pickups
- CTS pots and bumble bee capacitors
- 2 volume, 2 tone, 3 way selector switch
- Vintage Reissue .010 - .046 strings
Click here for a closer look at the 1959 ES-335 Dot Reissue.