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Bluesy69

Gibson ES 335 or Epiphone 335 Pro...Be Honest

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I can only speak from my comparison. I owned an Epiphone Dot Deluxe, and it was a very nice guitar for the money. Played great, but was never my go to guitar. I came across a Gibson Memphis ES-Les Paul last year from CME and pulled the trigger. Its just a beautiful guitar and plain out fun to play. The quality is great, as well as appearance. And the pickups and electronics are top notch. And it seems EPI players seem to want to swap pickups and pots all the time. So, IMO, at some point, you will want a Gibson.

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Epiphone makes good guitars, for the money. I've had several Epi's, including their high end LP's. They were all good guitars. I've also had several Gibson LPs including two Ttibute T's, and they were all better in every way. Most of them were considerably more expensive than the Epi's. If you look inside your Epi at the electronics, they're just not the same quality components or workmanship. I will say that Epi has their finishing process down. They all look pretty good, but it's a poly finish that is much less expensive and easier process than Nitro.

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Epiphone is doing fine. Their guitars are fine, but you definitely get what you pay for and the market has been pretty stable as far as the price differences between Gibsons and Epiphones. Gibson's guitars are way better, IMO. I've had some of both and pretty much every Epiphone was kind of a brick compared to the Gibsons, hands down.

 

Worth five times as much? Mmmmm. Probably.

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I owned a 1959 Gibson ES345 Stereo which was a Masterpiece Guitar. Never should have sold it. Best I've ever owned & I've owned just about everything. I have a newer Memphis ES335 & love it too. A beauty.

 

I owned an Epi Dot about 8 years ago. It was a great Guitar. Don't know why I sold it? I have played some new Epi Dot Pros & think they are great as well. Better than the Std Dots. IMO. Worth way more than the asking price IMO..... I could buy one & be very happy to play it. Stock, no mods....except maybe a Bigsby..

 

That said I feel the Gibson ES335 is like a Rolls you buy it for life... The one I have now I won't ever sell.

 

Lars

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I owned a 1959 Gibson ES345 Stereo which was a Masterpiece Guitar. Never should have sold it. Best I've ever owned & I've owned just about everything. I have a newer Memphis ES335 & love it too. A beauty.

 

I owned an Epi Dot about 8 years ago. It was a great Guitar. Don't know why I sold it? I have played some new Epi Dot Pros & think they are great as well. Better than the Std Dots. IMO. Worth way more than the asking price IMO..... I could buy one & be very happy to play it. Stock, no mods....except maybe a Bigsby..

 

That said I feel the Gibson ES335 is like a Rolls you buy it for life... The one I have now I won't ever sell.

 

Lars

 

YES, exactly.....I just got a 2018 ES-335 Traditional....and it's a life-time type purchase, for a Guy like me anyway.......and OMG, it is a TONE MACHINE. Only Guitar I have played that was able to get the 'Sgt. Pepper Reprise' tone exactly. Some axe's got close, but my new ES-335 NAILS IT in 2 of 3 toggle positions running through a VOX/MARSHALL Stereo Tube Amp Rig set-up.

Every Epiphone I have ever played, and its not that many (10 total in my life-time), sounded like PLASTIC...so that settles that.

Before I got mine, I had never played an ES-335 and had I been able to play one or somehow had known what an AWESOME MONSTER of an Axe the ES-335 Traditional is, I would have owned one a lot sooner and definitely before I bought my last Les Paul Standard.

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The OP requests an honest assessment of comparison between the Gibson ES-335 and Epiphone ES-335 Pro. OK...here goes.

 

I've been wanting an ES-335 for some time, and a responsible buying decision required me to compare both Gibson and Epiphone ES-335s. The thing I care most about is the sound. Of course, playability and quality of workmanship are important, but I already knew that the Epiphone guitars coming out of Gibson's China factory these days are superbly built and can be set up to be eminently playable. I own an Epiphone Les Paul PlusTop Pro, and it's a fine instrument...easily worth many times what I paid for it.

 

So, I set up an appointment at a local guitar shop to do an A-B-C comparison of three guitars last week; one of them was an Epiphone ES-335 Pro. The other two were Gibson 2018 ES-335s—one a Traditional Antique Cherry, and the other a Figured Aquamarine.

 

I started with the Epiphone, running it through each and both pickups, with different tone and volume settings, clean and using preamp overdrive, in full humbucker mode and coil splitting (single coil) mode. As expected, the range of sounds is impressive. It's a beautifully made guitar, and a great value.

 

Then I plugged in the Aquamarine ES-335.

 

As soon as I started to play, I involuntarily exclaimed, "OHMYGAWD!" A guy who was standing nearby cracked up and said, "Big difference, huh? Kinda like apples and oranges?"

 

I replied, "Actually, it's more like elephants and amoebas." There's simply no comparison in the tone, the sustain, the (dare I say it?) thickness and richness of the sound of the Gibson. I'll spare y'all any additional undefinable and utterly subjective guitar blather about "shimmer", "sparkle", and "warmth". It's enough to say it sounded a whole lot better. [wink]

 

Then I plugged in the Traditional Cherry...and I was blown away. As good as the Aquamarine was, the Cherry just did it for me — the tone, the feel, the way it sounded acoustically, its responsiveness on leads, strumming, and finger picking. Both guitars have MHS pickups, of course, but the pickups on the Cherry were much better matched, and gave exactly the kind of sound I hoped for.

 

It's no secret that two "identical" guitars can actually sound and feel very different to someone who's sensitive to those differences. That's what happened when I picked up the Cherry. I knew right away, "This is the one!"

 

I walked out of there with my very first ES-335 — a 2018 Traditional Antique Cherry, and it's a keeper.

 

I won't participate in a pointless argument about whether the differences in sound (or other qualities) between the Gibson and the Epiphone are worth the difference in price. Of course I think they're worth the price difference; otherwise I wouldn't have spent so much more to get the Gibson. But I make no representations that my subjective preferences apply to anyone else. Talking about it is useless. My best advice is to go play the guitars, and get the one you like best. It ain't rocket surgery.

 

The OP asked for my opinion, and there it is. I expect that everyone else must do their own homework, their own due diligence, and make their own choices based on their own subjective valuations. All I can say is that, for me, there is a huge difference between the Gibson and the Epiphone, and that difference is worth every penny. YMMV.

 

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I have a number of Gibson ES semi hollow gits (335's, a 345, 135, 137 etc) as well as Epi (Sheraton) Ibanez, Peerless, Heritage, Eastman, D'Angelico and every single one falls short of the real deal. Why is that? There's nothing magic about a few slices and hunks of wood... it's all old tech, going on 60+ years old no?

 

But there is something elusive about the 335 that I can't put my finger on that others (even other Gibson models) just do not have. Whether I'm playing my black 1990 or 2017 natural 335's it's always the same, like putting on a pair of comfortable shoes or shirt that fits right and has the perfect material that I barely know is there.

 

Since my first mid 60's model (which I sold to pay rent in the early 70's) to current models I've always had a 335 to compare against others. Don't get me wrong, some clones are very respectable (like the cheapo Ibanez AS-120) while some with much more visual pizazz fall even further away from the 335 vibe (like the Ibanez AS-153) but are still very useful.

 

So, is the Gibson 335 "head stock logo tax" worth it? IMO yes, for sure, no doubt.

Edited by gnappi

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People say "Epiphones are almost as good as Gibsons, they only have a few differences." The way I look at it is that there's nothing really the same about them at all. They're different from top to bottom. They may look the same but the the Dots and Sheratons are consistently bricks. The plywood's thick and stiff, the center blocks are laminated, everything's cheap, they're heavy, the neck angles are usually off. The QC is consistent but the workmanship is not up to the same standards.

 

Gibsons always play smooth as silk and they rarely buzz. Epiphones just don't set up as well.

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I'd be elated to find an Epiphone I really liked (especially given their price tags).

That hasn't happened yet - they all go back on the wall.

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I'd be elated to find an Epiphone I really liked (especially given their price tags).

That hasn't happened yet - they all go back on the wall.

 

Try an Epiphone Elitist Casino. On par with any Gibson. Not sure if they make a comparable Dot 335?

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Next time I'm out and about I'll see if I can't track one down.

Looks like it's big brother is the Gibson ES-330.

 

It is. For half the money but every bit as good!

 

Als,if you can find any of the Ltd. Edition 50th Anniv. 1961 Casino's. Also really good Guitars for not a lot of money!

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