Gibson 50th Anniversary 1963 ES-335
Gibson 50th Anniversary 1963 ES-335

50th Anniversary 1963 ES-335, Hollow Body/Semi Hollow Body Electric Guitar from Gibson in the ES series.

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silverfox 11/07/2018

Gibson 50th Anniversary 1963 ES-335 : silverfox's user review

« Crossroads 335 inside :-) »

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Value For Money : Excellent Audience: Advanced Users
Made in Memphis, TN, right out from Gibson’s Custom Shop workshop
2013 50th Anniversary Limited Edition.

Product name : Gibson 1963 ES-335TD 50th Anniversary ltd
Category: Guitare Electrique Semi Hollow Body
Series: Custom Shop Electric Spanish
Made in : the USA
Top: 'Plain' laminated maple
Back: 'Plain' laminated maple
Sides: 'Plain' laminated maple
Center block: light maple
Neck: solid mahogany with a 60 profile identical to the original
Fingerboard: single-piece Indian rosewood with "historic block" cellulose inlays
Neck fit: set, mortise & tenon, hide glued.
Frets: 22 Medium Jumbo
Scale length: 24.75"
Radius: 12"
Nut width: 1.6875" - 42.86 mm
Nut: Corian (acrylic polymer), plek technology
Bridge pickup: Gibson Burstbucker 2 Alnico II Humbucker
Neck pickup: Gibson Burstbucker 1 Alnico II Humbucker
Controls: 1 volume and 1 tone control per pickup, 3-way switch
Electronics: Switchcraft toggle switch & jack, CTS pots (volume: 300k linear, tone: 500k non-linear), Black Beauty capacitors
Bridge: aluminium Gibson ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic Lightweight with nylon saddles.
Tailpiece: Gibson Lightweight Aluminum Stopbar Tailpiece.
Tuners: Kluson™ Deluxe Vintage tulip double rings, ratio 15:1
Hardware: nickel aged
Colors: Sixties Cherry (also available in Historic Burst)
Lacquer: V.O.S. (Vintage Original Specs) nitrocellulose
Accessories: comes with a 1963/64 model copy Gibson Custom Shop Memphis hardcase (golden inside), an authenticity certificate, quality control sheet and keys.
Recommended string gauge: 010.046, 010.052
Gibson SKU reference: ES63SBNH1

Link on Gibson’s website:

The guitar is pleasant from the moment you hold it. The neck’s shape was carefully reproduced from the original, making it closer to the brand’s “rounded ’60” than the thin and flat “slim taper” (as announced on some websites). Let’s describe it as thin and shortened at the nut but not too much, for an awesome contour thicker at the 12th fret. Il falls perfectly right in the hand.

I was astounded by how lightweight it was (3.3 kg). Considering how ergonomic this 335 is, needless to say the highest notes are easily reached.

As for its sound, it’s balanced, woody and warm – especially with the switch in the middle position.
I would have preferred the warm sound of a Classic '57 set (way more adapted to an ES to my taste) instead of these Burstbucker 1&2, which I consider not to allow this beauty to give all it has. Probably the sole upgrade I’m considering, it’s really worthy of a Sheptone Tribute set :-)

It perfectly fits my favorite musical genres which are Blues, Rock'n'Roll... By the way, it adapts to just any style.
The CTS potentiometers are reactive and rather precise, I like to exploit them to get from a crystal-clear clean to a fat crunch.

When plugged on my Marshall JTM 45, it brings me a rather wide sound palette, even without any added effect – except for a Weber attenuator aimed at providing me a nice crunch sound at a “reasonable” sound level at home, without making my cat go through the roof in sheer panic ^^
Think everything from classic Chuck Berry to Crossroads-era crunchy Clapton, Alvin Lee, Freddy King and many other historical references so dear to our musical hearts.

I’ve also used it with my '57 Fender Twin – and this is sound heaven! The sound is even woodier, more organic and warmer. From time to time I use a Fulltone OCD for perfect crunch sound with a Strymon Flint tremolo/reverb, and here we go, back to the 50's/ 60's!

I’ve use dit for a short time now and may complement my review later on, when I’ve replaced the Burstbucker pickups by another set more to my taste – which this guitar really deserves.

After ordering it, I had to wait for two (very) long months to finally lay my hands on it. Mind you, such a guitar can’t be built one day for the other. ^^ But my patience really paid :-)

Of ocurse, I have owned and tried many an ES335 model before (Historic '63, Block, dot), and even had an opportunity to try for a long moment an Eric Clapton Crossroads Signature 335 at Guitar Center US, which features are close to those of this model – except that of course it was way out of my budget as it’s a signed collector’s model in a very limited edition.

To be really picky, I’ll say that except for the stock pickups I love absolutely everything in that guitar.

In a nutshell:
Aesthetically, its horns are thinner and "Historically correct" (from the middle of the year '63), it’s a real lightweight! The neck ("hide glue" and so on) isn’t as thin as a slim taper, but rather round and close to that of a '60's LP (which is a good thing), nylon saddles as on the original...
The finish is neat and perfect!

Wit hits « goldie » finish, the hardcase is nice, very sturdy and efficiently protects and maintains the guitar. This copy was made respecting the standards of the original’s period, and it sports no Gibson Custom logo on the outside.

Its value-for-money is excellent, compared with a more expensive Historic Nashville model (no less great a model, though) which is also made in Memphis TN just like the ES, then assembled and tweaked in the Custom Shop workshop in Nashville TN.

In the end, a real high-end instrument - and a real achievement by Gibson!