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ES Semi-Hollow Models


brundaddy

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Gibson has made beaucoup ES models that came & went over the years. They have all been cool as hell. Since (more than) one of us was wondering which were Hollow vs which were Semi-Hollow, I bet it will be interesting to try to list them. This will probably get nostalgic. I'll start with some easy ones:

 

135, 137, 335.

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Gibson has made beaucoup ES models that came & went over the years. They have all been cool as hell. Since (more than) one of us was wondering which were Hollow vs which were Semi-Hollow' date=' I bet it will be interesting to try to list them. This will probably get nostalgic. I'll start with some easy ones:

 

135, 137, 335.[/quote']

 

Well I have a 135 and mine has a mahogany center block and a stop tail...the 135s with a trapeze tail, have a chromyte center block. The 137 and the 335/345/355 are semi hollows with maple center blocks, right?

 

The 165, 175 and 330 are hollow...

 

How about the Johnny A and 336, they are custom shop, solid carved mahogany back and carved mahogany tops aren't they? Hollow body?

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The CS-336 and Johnny A models are custom shop models, and hollow. The ES-5 Switchmaster is probably hollow, and is a custom shop model. The ES-175 and others are not 3xx types and usually hollow. As a rule of thumb all ES 3xx-series guitars are semi-hollow, except for the ES-330.

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The CS-336 and Johnny A models are custom shop models' date=' and hollow. [/quote']

 

Minor (perhaps) clarification: In the case of the CS-336 and CS-356 it sort of depends on what you mean by "hollow". Both of those have backs and sides carved/routed out of a solid slab of mahogany (as does the Johnny A), but importantly the 336/356 leaves a solid center block that is integral with the back, running from the neck to the tailpiece.

 

The Johnny A is indeed fully hollow, except for a small area under the bridge and tailpiece as I recall.

 

I'm pretty sure the inside of the JA features a flat back inside, while the 336/356 mirrors the outside back dish on the inside of the back (if that makes sense). The JA also uses the longer ("Fender") scale-length.

 

Gibson was calling the 336/356 and the JA models 'archtops' when they posted info on them.

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Minor (perhaps) clarification: In the case of the CS-336 and CS-356 it sort of depends on what you mean by "hollow". Both of those have backs and sides carved/routed out of a solid slab of mahogany (as does the Johnny A)' date=' but importantly the 336/356 leaves a solid center block that is integral with the back, running from the neck to the tailpiece.

 

The Johnny A is indeed fully hollow, except for a small area under the bridge and tailpiece as I recall.

 

I'm pretty sure the inside of the JA features a flat back inside, while the 336/356 mirrors the outside back dish on the inside of the back (if that makes sense). The JA also uses the longer ("Fender") scale-length.

 

Gibson was calling the 336/356 and the JA models 'archtops' when they posted info on them.[/quote']

 

You raise some good points! What do y'all think, does 'archtop' exclude semi-hollow guitars? To me 'archtop' means just that, the top is arched. I'm clearly far from an authority on this, I just always figured if the top and back are connected anywhere other than along the sides (such as by a block beneath the bridge, running the length of the center, or from the heel to the bridge). To my mind, as far as designating semi-hollow goes, it doesn't matter whether the block is glued-in or is a carved-out relief of the back.

 

Anybody else care to weigh in?

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I'm pretty sure that in Gibson nomenclature "archtop" refers to tops that are carved violin-like from two solid pieces of bookmatched wood. Of course... in the days of modern CNC computer guided routers, "carved" doesn't mean a group of fellows with tiny planes and gouges working the wood by hand -- at least until they get to the sanding stage.

 

The pressed-plywood method of, say, 335 and 339 construction essentially takes a flat maple plywood sandwich and shapes the top under heat/steam and extreme pressure to form the top dish. That was the method, as far as I know, for all the "ES" (Electric Spanish) tops.

 

Whether or not a guitar is "hollow" or "semi-hollow" is sort of a different issue, with the earliest designs bearing an affinity to acoustic guitars and generally being hollow. As time went on, pickups were added. And as amps developed more power, this fully hollow aspect could contribute to feedback. So... Ted McCarty and the engineering team designed the semi-hollow 335 first introduced in 1958 as a way to combat that and include some of the characteristics of solidbodies then gaining popularity.

 

In the marketing description at the time of the launch of the 336 design, it was said to derive from one of Orville Gibson's earliest ideas: carving the back and sides our of a solid slab of wood (then walnut). See here:

http://www.usd.edu/smm/PluckedStrings/Guitars/Gibson/10855/StyleO3Guitar.html

 

There are of course other hollow and semi-hollow models....but Gibson always called the CS-336 and CS-356 "archtops" rather than calling them semi-hollow (even though they "are" semi-hollow). And they didn't call those ones "ES" (Electric Spanish) either, since the lineage and construction method is different.

 

Reading back... I sure hope that clarifies rather than clouds the issue.

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