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My very first Gibson (ES-335) - Questions!


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Hello all!


I have recently bought my very first Gibson guitar. I bought a lefty 2015 ES-335. The guitar is beautiful, but having been used to Strats and tele's for the last 10 years, it is a huge change.


My questions pertain to the sustain of the guitar and the general sound of it. I am familiar with how they sound, but I am finding my guitar has little sustain, especially when you pass the 12th fret. It has the 335 classic woody sound, but I am so used to the singing sustains of the Strat and Tele, I wasn't quite expecting the 335 to be so incredibly different. Should this guitar have good sustain? Or is it supposed to be this way? It can also often sound muddy and bassy, again, to my ear. I had it set up and Elixir Nanowebs 10's put on it. Any suggestions would be appreciated! :)



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Hello Tim, welcome to this nice place in the web! [thumbup]


Sustain depends on many factors.


First, several guitars of same make can be different. In particular sapwoods like maple, alder or ash tend to change over the first years of an instrument's life. At least all of mine did respectively still do. In contrary, none of my guitars built from heartwoods only like mahogany, rosewood or ebony ever changed.


Then there is the setup. Depending on string gauges used on this guitar before, she may call for readjustments after a change until a steady state is achieved.


Correct neck adjustment is crucial. Within the neck/body transition, that is circa from 15th to 22nd fret on an ES-335, truss-rod adjustment has no effect like with all guitars. This must be taken into account when adjusting the neck. String clearance should be checked circa at 6th fret with strings in tune and capoed or fretted at 1st and fretted at 14th. Otherwise overly neck tension may fret out notes when approaching the neck/body transition point. An Epiphone Les Paul of mine came that way from the factory - it's not easy to predict how the guitar may react at all and also to different climates. Some careful adjustments during the first months I owned her did the trick, and now she is stable since nearly four years.


String action and pickup heights should be adjusted when neck adjustment is done. For best transfer of string vibrations, the bridge saddles, bridge and tailpiece should sit soundly in their respective places.


Giving the strings some more pickup clearance will help the sonic clarity. When all other adjustments are done, pickup heights should be adjusted so that the space between strings and pickups is approximately the same for both pickups with the strings fretted at 22nd fret. This usually gives best tonal balance with both pickups on and all the pots fully raised, and will also achieve matching volumes when comparing both pickups in single use.


Hope this helps.

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Hi tim and welcome to the forums.....[thumbup]


You are not alone.....:blink:


Many 335'ers ask the same questions


Great though they are....335's IMO can require more careful settings and EQ than perhaps guitars like Strats and Teles....which seem to snap and sustain straight out of the box....


Some 335'ers go for maximum treble on the guitar and amp to lift the sound out of the mud....dry.gif


The other ploy is to run the guitar at lower volume settings and let the amp take things higher.....


Checking out famous players' rigs can be informative too....





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A 335 should have plenty of sustain. Pickup height as Cap mentioned may be an issue. If the pickups are too close to the strings the magnetic pull can have some effect. A little further away than spec is probably much better than too close. Lower the pickups a little and see if that cleans up the muddiness and helps sustain. You mentioned you had it set-up. Was this done by a tech or luthier that you use regularly for all your guitars? Or was it one of those "for an extra $20 the clerk at the store" will set it up? My point is not all people who claim to know how to set up a guitar actually know how to do it.


Also you will want to set the EQ on your amplifier differently from when you play your Strat or Tele. The single coil pups on them are much different than the humbuckers on your 335. Also don't think that you should have both volumes and tone controls on the 335 set to 10 all the time. You probably don't ever want them all on 10 unless you are going for an extreme effect for a given song.


The combination of the semi-hollow body construction, maple tonewood, and humbucker pickups makes your 335 a completely different animal than a Strat or a Tele and it will take you some time to find the sweet spots. Just keep working with it and varying volume and tone settings on both the guitar and amplifier and you will eventually find that you have a very versatile guitar that can be super clean sounding with plenty of sustain. [thumbup]

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Me personally I would stay away from Elixirs on a 335. They're pretty thin sounding strings. Maybe try regular old nickel wounds and see how they sound. [thumbup]


And the louder you play, the muddier 335's can get. So you have to stay away from using predominantly the neck pickup when you're playing leads. They have a narrower usable tone range than Fenders and Les Pauls. Also, as you play louder, the sustain in a 335 comes from the wings of the guitar vibrating from the amp, so it's a different kind of sustain. Less sustain at low volume as the guitar wings absorb the vibrations and more sustain at high volume from the wings kind of feeding back with the amp.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

timmilesmusic I am a bit late to this. Having been a Tele, Strat, Musicman player for many years over that last ten years I have fallen in love with Gibson semi's. I found that there were adjustments to make. I have to say that I was looking for a thicker kind of sound for the jazz/funky stuff that I was doing at the time. It also depends what kind of sound that you are after, whether you play clean or like a little dirt. I happen to like both. A lot of the solution lies in the set up and strings as has been mentioned.


Certainly I would say get rid of the awful Elixir Nanowebs. I use D'Addario 10.5s or 11's. These will give a similar tension to the 10s on a Strat or Tele. The 335 responds well to theses slightly bigger strings. Secondly the way that you set up your amp makes a vast difference to the sound and feel. Settings for a Tele and a 335 are quite frankly incompatible. I always set up the amp a little brighter and less bottom end, especially when using the neck pickup. On small amps especially it is important to cut back the bass to avoid the muddy bottom end. I often use a compressor and the volume/tone controls on the guitar to fine tune from the guitar end. The 335 can clean up nicely with a turn on the volume control when using a drive sound. I don't agree that 335's have a narrower tonal range when you take the amp into consideration. Actually you will find that with more volume you will get a very responsive sustain from acoustic feedback and everything will sound bigger that a Stat or Tele can manage (without help).


Persevere with your 335 and you will be rewarded with a sound that will complement the sounds of the Fenders in your collection. Listen to the playing of Robben Ford whose sound with the 335 or Epiphone Casino is beyond compare.

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