Gibson’s electric guitars can be categorized into two: solid-body and hollow-body/semi-hollow-body guitars. We have been talking a lot about Les Paul guitars, which are solid-body guitars. Now, let’s talk about the hollow-body guitars, particularly, Gibson 330 vs 335. More often than not, beginners get confused with these guitars as they are very identical. Hence, in order to determine which is the perfect hollow-body guitar for you, you need to check its background first.
Prior to 1952, Gibson Guitar Corporation only made hollow-body guitars, which are prone to feedback when the amplifier is cranked up. So, in the same year, Gibson released the solid-body Les Paul with a center block to lower feedback and better sustain. Unfortunately, it lacked the dark and warm tone of the unamplified volume of hollow bodies, hence, the ES-335 was made in 1958.
Gibson ES 335 is the first commercial semi-hollow-body electric guitar introduced to balance between design and tonality – which became popular in genres like blues, jazz, and rock. Just a year later, a thinline hollow-body ES 330 electric guitar was introduced. It has shared great goodies of its predecessors, but it features single-coil P-90 pickups instead of two humbuckers. More in-depth comparisons will be discussed in the following sections.
Gibson 330 Overview
This is a thinline hollow-body electric guitar model with a very similar appearance to the 335. It has single-coil pickups instead of humbuckers of the 335. The first few releases of the 330 have a neck joint in the 16th fret, then, Gibson changed it to the 19th fret. Both guitars (with the different neck joints) are still present today, the current version being called ES 330L (“L” stands for longer).
Aside from the variation in terms of the neck joint, you can also find 330 with single pickups and dual pickups. The former is referred to as ES 330T, while the latter is the ES 330TD. The Gibson 330s come with the same scale length of 24.75 inches.
Gibson 335 Overview
Also referred to as semi-acoustic, the Gibson ES 335 is neither fully hollow nor fully solid. It has a maple block that runs through its body. You can find the side “wings” or the two cutaways wherein between is a centre block. It’s primarily used to decrease feedback while keeping the dark and warm sound of the hollow bodies.
Since the 335 offered the best compromise of the design and the sound quality, Gibson has released different variations of this guitar ever since. You’ll find versions with dot fretboard inlays and block inlays. Aside from that, the ES 347 and ES 369 feature a coil-split switch to produce single-coil sounds from the humbuckers on board. If you want to know all the variations of the ES 335 until now, check right here.
The 1959 ES 330 seems to be just a stripped-down version of the 335. They are almost identical when it comes to aesthetics, but they are two completely different guitars. Check the quick comparison of their specifications below.
|GIBSON ES 330||GIBSON ES 335|
|Body Shape||Double-cut thinline hollowbody||Double-cut thinline hollowbody|
|Body Material||3-ply maple/poplar/maple||3-ply Maple/Poplar/Maple|
|Neck Shape||SlimTaper||Rounded “C”|
|Scale Length||24.75 in.||24.75 in.|
|Number of Frets||22 medium jumbo||22 medium jumbo|
|Pickup Configuration||P-90 single-coil||Burstbucker 1 & 2|
|Controls||2 x volume, 2 x tone, Toggle switch||Lead Volume, Rhythm Volume, Lead Tone, Rhythm Tone|
|Bridge||ABR-1 with titanium saddles||ABR-1 with titanium saddles|
|Weight||8.7 lbs.||8.5 lbs.|
Design & Playability
Based on the table above, they are mostly identical. They just differ on the neck profile and the pickups. At first glance, you could easily mistook one for the other. However, if you can play both, it’ll definitely change your perspective.
Initially, the 330’s neck joined the body at 16th fret, while the 335’s at 19th fret. Then, Gibson later changed its 330’s neck joint to 19th fret. With the redesigned 330, both guitars have superfast necks, great action, and have easier access to the higher frets.
The 335 can be a bit heavier because of the center block, which the 330 don’t have. Hence, the latter is much lighter and easier to the shoulder. Yet, the additional weight of the 335 also means less feedback, which is better if you want to access the upper registers.
Pickups & Sound
When it comes to the tonal characteristics of these guitars, they are hugely different. Gibson 330 has the P-90 single-coil pickups while the 335 has humbuckers. At lower output, the 335 may sound just like the 330. However, if you want to increase your volume and try to access the higher registries, you may have some problems with your 330.
With this, the 335 is more versatile than the 330. In addition, if you really want something loud, the 335 is the one you need. The P-90 pickups of the 330 offer a unique sound and personality of the guitar, yet, the humbuckers on the 335 make it an all-rounder.
Overall, the 330 offers livelier lows and is quite more acoustic than the 335. You can make the 335 behave like 330 to achieve warm, sweet, jazzy tones. Yet, it’s really a challenge to achieve all the greatness of the 335 from your 330. Here’s a comprehensive video comparing their tonal differences.
As quickly mentioned, the 330 seems to be a more affordable version of the 335. And, indeed, it is. Although there isn’t much of a price difference, you need to save more if you want the more versatile 335.
Gibson guitars are widely accepted and used by great guitarists. Hence, both 330 and 335 aren’t different. The Gibson ES 330 is loved by William Reid, Roky Erickson, Elliott Smith, B.B. King, and many more. The 335, on the other hand, together with its variations, are played by famous artists like Chuck Berry, Ritchie Blackmore, Alvin Lee, Larry Carlton, and Elliott Smith, to name a few.
It’s no surprise that it’s hard to choose which of the Gibson guitars you want to have. Especially with electric guitars, it’s difficult to identify which one among the array of premium guitars is perfect for you. So, this article has discussed two great semi-hollow-body electric guitars – Gibson 330 vs 335.
If you don’t know what genre to focus on and play, you must get the 335. It’s more versatile and allows you to access a wide range of tonal characteristics. However, if you are geared towards acoustics and want to achieve sweet and jazzy tones, settle for the less expensive Gibson 330. The choice is yours.
Hi music fan! I am Jeff. Hope that you enjoy some stuff I shared here in my personal blog.
About myself, Currently I am in charging as Artist Manager/Music Supervisor at 72 Music Management. I did managed album to Grammy Award in 2017 with 7 Nominations from 2014-2020 and had the opportunities to work with : A.J. Croce, Blind Boys of Alabama, Bobby Rush, Dom Flemons, Dustbowl Revival, Sarah Grace
Governor of the Memphis Chapter of The Recording Academy is one of a award that I am lucky to achieved.