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

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

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wesmuler 12/05/2009

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


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Excellent quality guitar made in the US. The finish is remarkable, although Gibson could still do better, like brands with guitars at the same price point already do (Gretsch 6120...).
The Herb Ellis is a guitar made for jazz, but not only.
It has no pickup selector because it only has one pickup. But that's more than enough, it gives more amplitude to the soundboard and makes the design more refined.


Very pleasant neck and, like most guitars with a cutaway, access to the upper frets is easy.
The sound is remarkable, the thickness of the body gives it a remarkable sound amplitude, which is typical of quality guitars.

The balance between bass and treble is perfect. It's silky and smooth.
You can do whatever you want with it.
The classic 57 is, as usual, good at what it does.


This guitar, like a good wine, was not made to play anything. Avoid effect pedals, distortions and the like.
You need to let it express it's natural sound, which is exquisite.
Plug the Herb Ellis into a tube amp, a Mesa for instance. A basic Fender will also do the trick.


I haven't used this beauty too long, mine is from 2003.
I believe the wood ply structure was changed after 2006: Instead of a spruce ply it now has a birch one (between two plies of maple for the soundboard). That may affect the quality and sustain in the long run...Spruce remains the best wood for sound transmission.
I have a guitar collection and this one is among my favorites. Finesse, shape, lacquer, sound, it doesn't lack anything.
It definitely has the jazz club spirit, but it has the Gibson price tag.

I think these guitars ought to be considered a different instrument. It's the kind of guitar you dream about and only after saving money for some time you can buy one. This type of guitar shouldn't belong to the consumption system we all know and hate. When buying it secondhand, get one in excellent condition!
It's often expensive, like all collection items. The price depends on the shape it's in.
Don't trust sellers who say their guitars are worth more due to the scratches they have accumulated throughout the years. 30-year old Gibsons can be in a great condition.

The decision to buy such an instrument shouldn't be taken lightly.