Gibson ES-165 Herb Ellis Signature
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Gibson ES-165 Herb Ellis Signature

ES-165 Herb Ellis Signature, Hollow Body/Semi Hollow Body Electric Guitar from Gibson in the ES series.

aswilliams 03/10/2015

Gibson ES-165 Herb Ellis Signature : aswilliams's user review

« A Classic Jazz Box »
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Value For Money : Correct Audience: Advanced Users
I purchased the Gibson ES 165 when I began playing more classic jazz standards in a jazz ensemble. I had previously been using an Epiphone Broadway and it just wasn't doing it for me. The ES 165 met all of my needs perfectly.

Above all else, it is important to note that while this guitar excels when playing jazz, I did not find it useful for any other type of music. The design of it is very prone to loud feedback when the volume gets too high, or when more than a few effects are layered into the sound.

I used the guitar with a Mesa tube amp. The combination provided a smooth and full-bodied sound that fit into a Big Band ensemble better than can be imagined. I used D'addario flat wound strings, which I would recommend to anyone using this guitar. The guitar's tone is very bass heavy, and the trebles don't always cut through a mix when the guitar was plugged in directly to the amp. For this reason, I used a Danelectro Fish n Chips EQ pedal with it to even out the tone.

The ES 165 is a work of art to say the least. Looking at every little detail in the construction you will find that Gibson didn't hold back in making a professional instrument. The original ES 165 has a Gibson 490R humbucker pickup, a volume and tone control knob, a fully hollow body, rosewood fingerboard with a round neck, and grover tuners. I have heard that newer models are slightly different though, so be sure to do some research before purchasing one to find out what you're getting.

The neck shape was very nice for playing the many barre chords required by Jazz Standards. I found that I could effortlessly hold a barre for more than enough time to play music from the Real Book. The intonation was nearly perfect, probably the best i've ever had in an instrument. I never had issues with tuning consistency. Another nice feature is the adjustable bridge. You can alter the height of both ends of the bridge to your liking.

The only problem is that because this guitar is designed to play jazz, it does poorly in other styles. If you use even a moderate amount of distortion, you will find a whole world of problems to solve in feedback issues. Modulation effects caused similar problems as well. Because the body has such a bass-heavy tone, an effect like a chorus of flanger would cause feedback when the lower frequencies were pushed further.

If you love jazz and want a guitar for playing jazz standards, look no further. If you only dabble in jazz and think you will want a more versatile guitar, I recommend checking out the Ibanez Artcore. Overall this is a great instrument for what it does, and you will not be disappointed in it if you know how to use it!