NGD - 2020 Gibson ES-335 Figured

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Alright y'all, the least I can do to repay the insight you'd provided for the "lacquer crack" on this beauty is give you a proper NGD post. Ha! Never thought I'd do it, did ya @endial? My `endearing` brand of lazy/busy/selfish gives way to nobler causes on occasion. But, my charming character flaws isn't why you called, is it?!

As some of you may be able to attest, I have an uncanny penchant for transforming what could be said in a simple, efficient, 4-sentence snippet into an overly verbose -- often excruciating -- treatise. I shall do my best to forego that tendency. Let's watch me fail, shall we?

So, for a great long time -- like, since I was a wee lad -- I had been lusting after what Jimmy Page made my dream guitar: a 'burst finished Les Paul Standard. Little did I know that my dream guitar was financially equivalent to the GDP of some small to mid-sized countries. What can I say, I guess I've always had expensive taste. So, upon learning that the going rate for my children, home, and soul would only get me about 13% of the way to getting me a real `Burst` I reluctantly lowered my sights to a simple Les Paul Standard/Traditional.

All the while, I've always been interested in a 335-esque semi-hollow (e.g., Epiphone ES-335s, Sheratons, etc.), figuring the one and only "real" Gibson I'd ever get my hands on would be that Lester. Especially given the difficulty in finding any ES-335s around me -- and the fact that they have tended to run for a handful of pennies more than their fully-solid counterparts. Anyway, some time ago, I received some good advice on this here forum that led to my getting an Epiphone ES-335 Pro and a Fender Modern Player Starcaster. I loved the Epi. The Fender played well, but I could never get on with the jangly-ass electric tones. But the Epiphone surpassed my expectations in enumerable ways. I'd never owned an ES-type guitar, and the shape, feel, layout, etc. all proved to be something I jived with quite well. But, long story short, I was still left wanting. Namely for that Les Paul that Mr. Page burned into the deepest, darkest depths of my psyche.

My quest for the Lester continued. After months of time, and countless threats of divorce from my wife, I had amassed a good idea of what I wanted in a Les Paul and what the market was currently bearing out. In what will eventually be a NGD post for another day -- despite not having been new for months now -- my wife succeeded in her attempt to frighten my heart into malfunction. She simply pulled the trigger on a '16 Les Paul Studio that barely registered on my radar. In fact, this guitar was about as far away from the desired specs I'd drawn up in my head as a Gibson Les Paul could get. Seriously guys, aside from a cool Pelham Blue finish, I hated every spec on this thing. I spent the week waiting for its arrival rehearsing ways to hide my disappointment in what was ultimately a very thoughtful, caring gesture by my beloved. Deets on this will come eventually in its own NGD post. But, (spoiler alert) my practice was all for naught. This Studio immediately became the best playing guitar in my arsenal -- loud as shit acoustically, too. I loved it; still do. It's not going anywhere. Ever. And it has sufficiently scratched my "but I need a Les Paul" itch.

BUT, it did illuminate a fatal flaw in my dream guitar fantasy: the Les Paul body is not the most comfortable for my playing positioning/style. Coming mostly from the Fender world -- I played Teles and Strats throughout most of my youth -- and predominantly playing in a sitting position, that small horn on the Lester just isn't substantial enough to grab my thigh the way my brain has been conditioned to expect. Furthermore, I've recently developed some wicked ulnar nerve issues in both arms that is really taking its toll on my hands (this isn't due to the Les Paul, but more guitar playing in general and my career as a software developer; oh, and the fact that my kids' sole purpose on Earth is to subconsciously inflict as much pain unto their father as is humanly possible).

So, while stupidly ignoring my body and playing the shit out of the Les Paul (and my Teles) anyway, my mind kept wandering to my Epiphone ES-335 and how little effort it seemed to demand of me. At this point, the Epi has been somewhat sidelined due to a nut issue that my *incredible* luthier skills failed to fully remedy. Even still, I would pick it up to play a bit and would be immediately stricken by just how well the contours seemed to fit me -- despite not being a very big dude. In fact, I noticed that I could play it for noticeably longer sessions than my other guitars without aggravating my shitty nerves.

I'm noticing as I write that this tale may have undersold my longstanding infatuation with the Gibson ES-335. Part of my focus on the Les Paul -- aside from the aforementioned Jim-fluence -- was, believe it or not, pragmatic. All the 335s I'd come across in my life were a) more expensive than the Les Pauls, b) wildly varying in their quality, and c) few and far between -- for some reason, there just haven't been many that have crossed my path. In any event, the practicality, or lack thereof, surrounding the ES-335s eventually led me to subconsciously dismiss this guitar as one I'd ever reasonably expect to own. Hence, the more singularly focused desire for a Les Paul. But make no mistake, gentlemen. The Gibson ES-335 always stood toe-to-toe with the Les Paul in my "if I could only have one" dreams.

And that's how we have gotten here. See? Was experiencing my failure to be succinct as fun for you as it was for me? No? Yeah, I didn't think it would be. Sorry, but remember one of those character flaws is selfishness. So, I guess I'm not that sorry. Anyway, as I'm sure most of you know, the used market on guitars in general is insane right now. It seems particularly nuts when it comes to the 335s. And despite being interested in a used Memphis model -- mostly to avoid those bushings for the ABR-1s -- I just haven't been able to find a deal that I could justify. Add my experience of these guitars being all over the map in terms of individual quality, and I was too nervous to take the plunge on a guitar that I couldn't send back if it turned out to be a dog.

Enter the insanely priced, brand new 2020 Gibson ES-335 Figured models. Nearly $4k for a production line guitar; crazy, right? Agreed. Especially since I don't give a shit about figuring. But, alas, I am unable to fully thwart my vanity, and those goddamn block inlays do it for me every time . . . bastards. I could never afford this and, on paper, wouldn't even want to, frankly.

Thankfully, I didn't have to shell out retail. I got cut a halfway decent deal -- hopefully made sweeter by that lacquer cracking -- and got to send this thing through the ringer a bit with my sales guy before pulling the trigger. Taking anything I hear with a well-advised grain of salt, something about the nonverbals in the way he said "this is a killer guitar, and I'm not just saying that" seemed to me to read more like, "holy shit! I was going to say this guitar was awesome no matter what. But, I'll be damned, it *actually is* an awesome guitar!" I went with my gut, sight unseen -- again, I didn't give a shit about the appearance. Then I saw the studio pictures -- after having made my decision -- and thought, "hell, if this plays/sounds half as good as she looks, I'll be ecstatic!"

And boys, let me tell you, the pictures don't do this thing any justice. When I popped that case open the first time, I about fell over. Again, I can't stress enough how I didn't care about the appearance. I already admitted my shallowness with the block inlays, so you have no reason to doubt my sincerity in this respect. But, goddamn! Whether I own it or not, I think this is about as beautiful as an instrument can get. And, most importantly, of course, she sings! Took me a minute to dial her in the way I wanted, but when I got there (got to the finish line last night as a matter of fact). Phew! She plays every bit as well as that Les Paul Studio -- again, my (former?) favorite player. I do need more time with these new T-Type 'buckers before I can give my full opinion, but I've been thoroughly impressed thus far. Clarity goes nowhere even when rolling the tone down like crazy. But, that's another discussion for another day. All I know, is that the color of the sticker in the f-hole, the mounting mechanism for the bridge, the factory out of which it was made, the sheer aesthetics, and the digits on that price tag haven't meant a damn thing when I pick it up. And that, to me, is the very definition of a great guitar.


TLDR: Don't worry, my attention-span is also nonexistent. Here's some pics! (The original studio pics are in the thumbnails)
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Rds

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That is a soooper nice top and soooper nice guitar. I would buy that too!
 
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endial

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Damn.

I'm thrilled for you, bud. I'll have to work on this "envy" thing for a minute, though.

I hadn't noticed in the pics you sent the way the grain stands out, subtly diminishing any overbearing flame. I LOVE that.
Beauty fretboard, too!

I hope it inspires you as it would me. Rock that dog, brother.
 
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Damn.

I'm thrilled for you, bud. I'll have to work on this "envy" thing for a minute, though.

I hadn't noticed in the pics you sent the way the grain stands out, subtly diminishing any overbearing flame. I LOVE that.
Beauty fretboard, too!

I hope it inspires you as it would me. Rock that dog, brother.

Thanks! And take your time, my friend. I'm sorry to have elicited the envy in the first place. I would probably never have gotten this without your help/advice, though. So, first, thank you for that! Second, I apologize for spilling some salt in that nasty wound. :p
 
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Thanks for all the love, everyone! I’m thrilled with it, damage and all, and your kind words have reinforced those feelings even further.
 

mikey

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Wow. What a guitar. Nice fretboard !!

What lacquer cracking issue?
 
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Wow. What a guitar. Nice fretboard !!

What lacquer cracking issue?
Thanks a lot! It's a dream come true, honestly. And the issue is shown/discussed here. Doesn't seem to be a crack, though. I think some of the other members are right in that it's sort of a scratch from scraping the binding away.
 


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