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Gibson 336 and Midtown Standard How do Gibson 336 and Midtown Standard compare?

#1 User is offline   stratman2 

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 07:38 PM

Hello,

I recently acquired a Midtown Standard. This is the best Gibson I have owned in a very long time. The Bigsby is cool and I can get so many different sounds out of this guitar. I think it is accurate
that many are saying it is a cross between a LP and 335.
I was torn between the Midtown and a 335, but lack of $$ made it an easy decision.

Also, the Midtown, at least for me, was much easier to play due to it being smaller in size than a 335. But, there still is nothing like the huge sound out of a good 335. (some of the
early Cream Clapton 335 recordings, seeing Eric Johnson perform with a 335 etc..).

I have not gotten a chance to play a Gibson 336. Does anyone own a 336 and have they been able to compare it to a Midtown Standard or Midtown Custom? Are they very similar in sound and playability?

Also, I am curious about something -
would a maple fretboard on a Gibson mahogany neck (similar to a telecaster fretboard) sound like a typical Gibson semi-hollowbody or would the tone change that much over using real rosewood, ebony, or the Richlite that my Midtown has?

#2 User is offline   gnappi 

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 08:13 PM

View Poststratman2, on 28 January 2013 - 07:38 PM, said:

Hello,

I recently acquired a Midtown Standard. This is the best Gibson I have owned in a very long time. The Bigsby is cool and I can get so many different sounds out of this guitar. I think it is accurate
that many are saying it is a cross between a LP and 335.
I was torn between the Midtown and a 335, but lack of $$ made it an easy decision.

Also, the Midtown, at least for me, was much easier to play due to it being smaller in size than a 335. But, there still is nothing like the huge sound out of a good 335. (some of the
early Cream Clapton 335 recordings, seeing Eric Johnson perform with a 335 etc..).

I have not gotten a chance to play a Gibson 336. Does anyone own a 336 and have they been able to compare it to a Midtown Standard or Midtown Custom? Are they very similar in sound and playability?

Also, I am curious about something -
would a maple fretboard on a Gibson mahogany neck (similar to a telecaster fretboard) sound like a typical Gibson semi-hollowbody or would the tone change that much over using real rosewood, ebony, or the Richlite that my Midtown has?


The 336 is a real archtop set on a solid back that's anatomically curved. The Midtown is not an ES, it's a flat top with a flat solid back.

I don't own a 336 but I gotta say this, unless "I" have two different guitars at the same time and with the same amp I cannot tell you which is more pleasing to my ears. I have a Midtown Custom and several other ES-series guitars and they all please me in different ways, but I don't think I'd buy a 336 because I think its tonal character would be too close the Midtown.

I think you did real well with the Midtown, I also believe it will be a candidate to be "re-issued" someday and the originals will do nicely in price.

As far as maple necks go... The premium archtops with maple necks to my ears sound different while I'm playing them and I'd own any of them in a heartbeat.

The maple FRETBOARD on the other hand is a horror :-) There is a Les Paul Custom nearby with a maple fretboard straight from Gibson, and I played it... yuk... I could NOT warm up to the feel or sound at all. It's been in the store a L-O-N-G time and is played a LOT and so far not one even serious purchase nibble from anyone who played it so I'd give that a thumbs down.
Regards,

Gary

#3 User is offline   PP_CS336 

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 09:20 AM

View Poststratman2, on 28 January 2013 - 07:38 PM, said:

Hello,

I recently acquired a Midtown Standard. This is the best Gibson I have owned in a very long time. The Bigsby is cool and I can get so many different sounds out of this guitar. I think it is accurate
that many are saying it is a cross between a LP and 335.
I was torn between the Midtown and a 335, but lack of $ made it an easy decision.

Also, the Midtown, at least for me, was much easier to play due to it being smaller in size than a 335. But, there still is nothing like the huge sound out of a good 335. (some of the
early Cream Clapton 335 recordings, seeing Eric Johnson perform with a 335 etc..).

I have not gotten a chance to play a Gibson 336. Does anyone own a 336 and have they been able to compare it to a Midtown Standard or Midtown Custom? Are they very similar in sound and playability?

Also, I am curious about something -
would a maple fretboard on a Gibson mahogany neck (similar to a telecaster fretboard) sound like a typical Gibson semi-hollowbody or would the tone change that much over using real rosewood, ebony, or the Richlite that my Midtown has?


Hi, stratman2! I have a CS-336 (the CS stands for Custom Shop) and it is a beauty (it better be for over $2,000.00). I wasn't even looking for one when I bought it. I was looking for a moderately priced Les Paul,
e.g. the Les Paul Studio. Every one I tried I didn't like for one reason or another. Then I spotted this guitar that looked like an ES-335, sitting on a stand over in the corner of the shop, but the body looked smaller.
I picked it up and tried it out acoustically at first (the CS-336 is a semi-hollow guitar, yet real tone woods, i.e. carved mahogany back/sides and solid maple cap, as opposed to laminate woods like an ES-335 or
Midtown). Then I plugged it in. I couldn't believe the variety of tones I could get out of that guitar. I liked it enough to "pull the trigger" (I got a good bonus at work that year). Oh yes...it has a dotted rosewood finger board
over a mahogany neck. And '57 Humbucker p'ups. The playability is out of this world. Mine was not custom made for me (even though it feels like it), but you can get it that way as it comes out of the Custom Shop (hence, CS) line
and only out of that line. It was Orville Gibson's dream of melding the Les Paul (solid wood body) with an ES-335 (semi-hollow body) and I think Gibson succeeded. Best wishes with your Midtown.
Paul Pasquale

Gibson CS-336; Vintage Sunburst, Plain-top (from Gibson Custom Shop) USA, Dec. 2008
Gibson SG-Standard; Cherry Heritage; USA March 2011
Epiphone Sheraton II (NA); Aug. 2005 Saien, Korea; I Serial#
w/ Grover Rotomatic Locking Tuners and TonePros II Bridge/Saddle
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#4 User is offline   stratman2 

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 11:37 AM

Thanks everyone for your opinions on Midtown and 336. I was under the impression that the arching gives more kick to the tone, but as you plug into your amp, maybe more of the amp's sound and
other factors of the guitar take over and outweigh the arching? I stumbled on the Midtown and it just bowled me over with how fast action it has and it was partly that it is quite an unusual looking axe. Never seen anything quite like it. It might be good to eventually look at some large hollowbodies, which would sound more different than a 336. The 335 sounded different, too. The Midtown is so versatile,
it does some of the 335 tone, too. Getting into the large hollowbodies (or semi-hollowbodies) brings back some memories of wrestling with their size a little, but that big sound is something
to consider! Always tradeoff in size/tone....
I heard in the early days the acoustic archtops got bigger and bigger for a while, so they could be heard, but as electric guitars got built, the larger size became less important....

#5 User is offline   JO'C 

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 01:40 PM

Hi Stratman. I was a Stratman too for 25 years and then I started getting Gibsons. I have a custom one-off 336 that is to die for:

Posted Image

Besides the gold hardware it has an ebony board and pearloid dots. For semi-hollows I also have a Larry Carlton ES-335 and a Johnny A. as well as 5 Les Paul's. They all have their own personality. Even the Les Pauls are all different. I love a 335 but the big body is just too uncomfortable for me to play for long periods of time. The 336 is the best of both worlds; semi-hollow in a Les Paul sized body. The Johnny A. is very similar but with a longer Strat-like scale length. I can get LP or 335 tones out of both. They all have '57 Classics so no big surprise there. I haven't had the opportunity to try a Midtown, but I would guess it's similar. I agree with Joe Isuzu that looks and cosmetics are the main differences.

Does the Midtown stay in tune when you use the Bigsby? My Johnny A. does but my bandmate has a 70's SG that goes out every time the Bigsby is touched. Good luck with your new axe,

JO'C

#6 User is offline   stratman2 

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 03:00 PM

Hi JO'C,

I am still a Stratman, but I finally obtained some Gibsons after going decades without 'em. In the 70s - ES-335s for $250!!
The SG Faded I have goes out of tune a little too much, due to the kluson tuners, but I think the tuners look cool, so I don't want to touch 'em. The Faded I have appears to have an ebony board and is about 10 or 11 years old. The Midtown is in another league.

I found the 335 a little hefty, but the tone is so nice, I think about getting another one or maybe an Epi Dot. Your Larry Carlton ES-335 must be killer.

I have an Ibanez SZ which is similar to some LPs, but has some PRS in there, too. Between this Ibanez and the Midtown, I got the LP covered somewhat, but a LP would be nice, too!

Ever try any Japanese Fender Strats? I have one which is my favorite Fender and I just played a friend's Japanese Fender tele where he replaced the pups and wiring and it is one of the best
teles I have tried at any price.

Stratman



View PostJO, on 31 January 2013 - 01:40 PM, said:

Hi Stratman. I was a Stratman too for 25 years and then I started getting Gibsons. I have a custom one-off 336 that is to die for:

Posted Image

Besides the gold hardware it has an ebony board and pearloid dots. For semi-hollows I also have a Larry Carlton ES-335 and a Johnny A. as well as 5 Les Paul's. They all have their own personality. Even the Les Pauls are all different. I love a 335 but the big body is just too uncomfortable for me to play for long periods of time. The 336 is the best of both worlds; semi-hollow in a Les Paul sized body. The Johnny A. is very similar but with a longer Strat-like scale length. I can get LP or 335 tones out of both. They all have '57 Classics so no big surprise there. I haven't had the opportunity to try a Midtown, but I would guess it's similar. I agree with Joe Isuzu that looks and cosmetics are the main differences.

Does the Midtown stay in tune when you use the Bigsby? My Johnny A. does but my bandmate has a 70's SG that goes out every time the Bigsby is touched. Good luck with your new axe,

JO'C


#7 User is offline   JO'C 

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 03:45 PM

View Poststratman2, on 31 January 2013 - 03:00 PM, said:

Hi JO'C,

I am still a Stratman, but I finally obtained some Gibsons after going decades without 'em. In the 70s - ES-335s for $250!!
The SG Faded I have goes out of tune a little too much, due to the kluson tuners, but I think the tuners look cool, so I don't want to touch 'em. The Faded I have appears to have an ebony board and is about 10 or 11 years old. The Midtown is in another league.

I found the 335 a little hefty, but the tone is so nice, I think about getting another one or maybe an Epi Dot. Your Larry Carlton ES-335 must be killer.

I have an Ibanez SZ which is similar to some LPs, but has some PRS in there, too. Between this Ibanez and the Midtown, I got the LP covered somewhat, but a LP would be nice, too!

Ever try any Japanese Fender Strats? I have one which is my favorite Fender and I just played a friend's Japanese Fender tele where he replaced the pups and wiring and it is one of the best
teles I have tried at any price.

Stratman


Yeah, The Carlton 335 is great, probably my fastest playing guitar. My 23 YO son tried it and said "Hey Dad, I can shred with this guitar". That was the last time I let him play it. He plays an SG faded. My bandmate has an '80's MIJ Strat with photoflame top that plays really nice but the finish started cracking badly in the last couple of years. Last time we jammed a big chunk fell off right where his forearm touched the body. I have 6 Strat's; 4 AVRI's and 2 Custom Shop Robin Trowers. I prefer the '62 C neck to the '57 V or the 70's style necks. Long ago I had a '65 ES-330 but I didn't like it due to feedback issues (the 330 is full hollow, not semi)and back then I wanted to play loud all the time so I got rid of it. Wish I still had it. Those P90's would sound sweet with the amps I have now.

#8 User is offline   Twang Gang 

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 11:17 PM

I own a CS336 and would have to say there are considerable differences from a Midtown Standard. Both are Gibsons, and both have mahogany bodies with maple tops - that is about where the similarities end. From what I can read about the Midtown, it's mahogany body starts out solid, and is then chambered (sections drilled out) and it does have f-holes. Not sure how big the chambers are. A 336 starts out as a solid slab of mahogany, and is hand carved like a violin to make it into a semi-hollow body. The "center block" is not a block of wood added, but is part of the original slab of wood, and the rest of the body has been hollowed out above and below the mid section. The 336 also has a carved maple top from a solid piece of maple. The Midtown I am not sure if the top is a laminate or not, but from their prices I would guess that it is. The 336 has a mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard. The Midtown has the Richlite fingerboard. So the construction methods vary a great deal, and the materials while similar are not identical. All of these factors result in the 336 having a much higher price than the Midtown, but as to sound and playability that is pretty subjective and up to the individual player's ear. 336s usually have '57 classic humbuckers but can be special ordered with other pups. The pickups each have their own volume and tone controls. The Midtowns only have one master volume and master tone so you cannot blend the two pickups when you are in the middle position using both pickups at the same time. This limits the tone shaping you can do compared to a 336.

As to your second question about a maple fingerboard on a Gibson mahogany neck, some people will say it wouldn't make any difference at all in the tone. Having been a Fender guy yourself wouldn't you say that Strats and Teles with rosewood fingerboards sound different than the ones with maple? I always felt (and heard) a Strat or Tele just didn't have the same signature tone when a rosewood board was used. Again in the ear of the beholder. But Gibson has started using what they refer to as "baked maple" for fingerboards (the boards are heated in an oven to harden and dry them out) and I have a 2011 Les Paul that has this new board and it sounds and feels fine to me - just like a LP should sound. For the third time - this mostly depends on the players perception of the tone.
2013 L5-CES Natural (Maple/Spruce)
2013 Les Paul Custom Lite (Mahagony/Maple)
2002 Custom Shop 336(Mahagony/Maple)
2007 Taylor Solid Body Custom (Sapele/Walnut)
2010 Fender Telecaster (Ash)
2006 Taylor Grand Symphony (Rosewood/Spruce)
1981 Ovation Balladeer
1963 Walthari Mittenwald Classical
Rivera Venus 6 (1 X 12)Combo
Blackstar HT-5R (1 X 10) Combo
AER Compact 60-2

#9 User is offline   Twang Gang 

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 11:18 PM

I own a CS336 and would have to say there are considerable differences from a Midtown Standard. Both are Gibsons, and both have mahogany bodies with maple tops - that is about where the similarities end. From what I can read about the Midtown, it's mahogany body starts out solid, and is then chambered (sections drilled out) and it does have f-holes. Not sure how big the chambers are. A 336 starts out as a solid slab of mahogany, and is hand carved like a violin to make it into a semi-hollow body. The "center block" is not a block of wood added, but is part of the original slab of wood, and the rest of the body has been hollowed out above and below the mid section. The 336 also has a carved maple top from a solid piece of maple. The Midtown I am not sure if the top is a laminate or not, but from their prices I would guess that it is. The 335 has a mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard. The Midtown has the Richlite fingerboard. So the construction methods vary a great deal, and the materials while similar are not identical. All of these factors result in the 336 having a much higher price than the Midtown, but as to sound and playability that is pretty subjective and up to the individual player's ear. 336s usually have '57 classic humbuckers but can be special ordered with other pups. The pickups each have their own volume and tone controls. The Midtowns only have one master volume and master tone so you cannot blend the two pickups when you are in the middle position using both pickups at the same time. This limits the tone shaping you can do compared to a 336.

As to your second question about a maple fingerboard on a Gibson mahogany neck, some people will say it wouldn't make any difference at all in the tone. Having been a Fender guy yourself wouldn't you say that Strats and Teles with rosewood fingerboards sound different than the ones with maple? I always felt (and heard) a Strat or Tele just didn't have the same signature tone when a rosewood board was used. Again in the ear of the beholder. But Gibson has started using what they refer to as "baked maple" for fingerboards (the boards are heated in an oven to harden and dry them out) and I have a 2011 Les Paul that has this new board and it sounds and feels fine to me - just like a LP should sound. For the third time - this mostly depends on the players perception of the tone.
2013 L5-CES Natural (Maple/Spruce)
2013 Les Paul Custom Lite (Mahagony/Maple)
2002 Custom Shop 336(Mahagony/Maple)
2007 Taylor Solid Body Custom (Sapele/Walnut)
2010 Fender Telecaster (Ash)
2006 Taylor Grand Symphony (Rosewood/Spruce)
1981 Ovation Balladeer
1963 Walthari Mittenwald Classical
Rivera Venus 6 (1 X 12)Combo
Blackstar HT-5R (1 X 10) Combo
AER Compact 60-2

#10 User is offline   Twang Gang 

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 11:32 PM

View PostJO, on 31 January 2013 - 01:40 PM, said:

Hi Stratman. I was a Stratman too for 25 years and then I started getting Gibsons. I have a custom one-off 336 that is to die for:

Posted Image

Besides the gold hardware it has an ebony board and pearloid dots. For semi-hollows I also have a Larry Carlton ES-335 and a Johnny A. as well as 5 Les Paul's. They all have their own personality. Even the Les Pauls are all different. I love a 335 but the big body is just too uncomfortable for me to play for long periods of time. The 336 is the best of both worlds; semi-hollow in a Les Paul sized body. The Johnny A. is very similar but with a longer Strat-like scale length. I can get LP or 335 tones out of both. They all have '57 Classics so no big surprise there. I haven't had the opportunity to try a Midtown, but I would guess it's similar. I agree with Joe Isuzu that looks and cosmetics are the main differences.

Does the Midtown stay in tune when you use the Bigsby? My Johnny A. does but my bandmate has a 70's SG that goes out every time the Bigsby is touched. Good luck with your new axe,

JO'C


JO - is that the tangerine burst? Man I love that finish - mine is traditional and was the only one in the shop when I got it.
2013 L5-CES Natural (Maple/Spruce)
2013 Les Paul Custom Lite (Mahagony/Maple)
2002 Custom Shop 336(Mahagony/Maple)
2007 Taylor Solid Body Custom (Sapele/Walnut)
2010 Fender Telecaster (Ash)
2006 Taylor Grand Symphony (Rosewood/Spruce)
1981 Ovation Balladeer
1963 Walthari Mittenwald Classical
Rivera Venus 6 (1 X 12)Combo
Blackstar HT-5R (1 X 10) Combo
AER Compact 60-2

#11 User is offline   stratman2 

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 01:44 PM

I played some LPs recently and I preferred my Midtown. Though, the $2000+ LP models are so good, I could be very happy with one of those!
I also played some more 335s and 333s and I can see the differences in tone with the Midtown. Like 'em both, but they are different.

#12 User is offline   JO'C 

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 01:20 PM

View PostTwang Gang, on 09 February 2013 - 11:32 PM, said:

JO - is that the tangerine burst? Man I love that finish - mine is traditional and was the only one in the shop when I got it.


Hi Twang,
Yes the finish is Tangerine Burst Quilt. According to Gibson it was a custom order from Fuller's Vintage Guitars in Houston. I'm pretty sure it's a one of a kind. I'm not the original owner but I've done a lot of research the last couple of years and nothing close to it has come up.

#13 User is offline   gnappi 

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 07:04 PM

View PostTwang Gang, on 09 February 2013 - 11:17 PM, said:

The Midtown has the Richlite fingerboard.


Only the midtown custom has richlite, the standard is rosewood.
Regards,

Gary

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