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Archer993

ES-339

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I just received a new ES-339 in Antique Red with the 30/60 neck.

Paid $1,620 for it at GC. $50 shipping for 2 day which took 3 days. $81.00 sales tax.

 

I have always wanted a 335 but the size and price kept me away. I love Les Pauls - the ultimate guitar I believe.

When Gibson launched the ES-339 I thought - that's for me.

 

First Impressions:

 

The case was banging around inside the box when UPS delivered it. I let it sit in the box for an hour before removing it, and another 1/2 hour with the lid of the case just cracked. It's cold outside and didn't want the finish to suffer thermal shock. There was something rattling around in the case - sounded like broken plastic - and it was. Some red and white pieces that were on the case lining and on the guitar - don't know where they came from.

 

Upon removing the guitar my first impression was that it was light - almost any guitar is compared to a LP. I also thought the volume and tone knobs looked pretty cheap and the 3 way selector switch sounded a bit tinny. The neck had a bit of a grimy feel to it - like it had been handled by someone with dirty hands. I solved that problem by wiping it down and giving it a coat of Carnuba wax. My fingers were black after an hour of play - I think it's the fretboard. So at this point my impressions were starting to go south. But give it a chance, right. The finish on the guitar is beautiful - Gibson's finish people do great work!

 

I tuned the guitar, stretching the strings and checking intonation - perfect. Two of the tuners felt a bit sloppy though. No buzz, nice. The action was good but not at levels of my LPs. The guitar had a nice sound and decent volume NOT plugged in.

 

Time to plug in to my Mesa Express Amp. The guitar really came alive. The sound is very bright and it definitely has a different tone than any of my LPs. It reminds me a lot of John Mayall Bluesbreakers sound (even though Clapton used an LP - maybe it was the amps). On clean amp settings the ES-339 cam give you a great acoustic sound. Overdrive the amp and you are into blues territory. Hit the distortion and it can give you a T-REX tone.

 

All in all I am glad that I bought this guitar. I wish there was a manual with it and that Gibson hadn't gone to cheap cases.

 

More impressions to come.

 

UPDATED REVIEW

I still love the tone of this guitar. For anyone who loves Gibson guitars and especially wants a different tone beyond the LP this would be a great addition to a collection. The tone and volume controls are more responsive and predictable than the ones on my LP Standard or Custom Shop.

 

On the negative side - I have a broken neck pickup ring that I am waiting for a part replacement on. The guitar has been apart for 2 weeks (waiting for pickup ring) and I have given the fret board 3 applications of Fret Doctor Oil. The rosewood keeps soaking it in and my fingers, that I am applying the oil with, keep getting black from the dye on the wood.

 

The other negative comment about the neck is the irregular leveling of the white plastic binding that borders the frets and fret board. It looks unfinished or in some places like a student project. It is really BELOW the quality I have ever seen on a Gibson neck. I may have a luthier work on it once the guitar is back in order. This is disappointing. I would never have thought a guitar would come from the Custom Shop with this kind of workmanship. There was another poster somewhere on this forum who said in fact that the ES-339 was NOT made in the Custom Shop after all. Even if this were the case I am surprised that this neck could pass QC.

 

I was also surprised to find that the nuts bolting down the 6 tuners posts were lose - the washers actually rattled when I moved the guitar. That would account for some tuning issues early on. I also had to lubricate the area of the nut where the G string passes through as this string went out of tune on a regular basis.

 

So to sum things up, and in my experience with the instrument, the problems with this guitar have to do with human error. I think the design of the guitar is great and the sound of the guitar is great. If Gibson does some quality control (some manager needs to have a talk with a couple of the workers) this will be a classic addition to their product line and a very nice guitar for us -- Gibson customers.

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I would never have thought a guitar would come from the Custom Shop with this kind of workmanship. There was another poster somewhere on this forum who said in fact that the ES-339 was NOT made in the Custom Shop after all.

 

Hey Archer993--

 

The confusion here comes from the fact that Gibson had dubbed the entire Memphis Plant as part of the "Custom Shop," even though it only makes standard-line guitars. All ES-model guitars are made in the Memphis plant and so are by Gibson's definition "Custom Shop guitars." However, Gibson also makes some historic re-issue ES-models in the Nashville plant, which also has a much smaller Custom Shop. So, if the person in the forum meant that the 339 is not made in Nashville, he or she was correct. But according to Gibson's rather odd self-definition, all ES-339s are made in the (Memphis) Custom Shop.

 

Neither plant, by the way, at this time accepts custom orders for one-shot custom guitars, which means that by most people's definitions, neither of them is a custom shop. Go figure.

 

Ignatius

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Hey Archer993--

 

I hate to say it, but compared to most of the necks that I've seen lately, yours looks pretty good. I'm not saying that you shouldn't complain. I'm just saying that I don't think we are in a golden age in terms of the use of neck binding. I wonder if it is becoming a lost art. At this point, I prefer unbound necks just because of how rough the binding typically looks on the Gibson electrics that I've seen of late.

 

Ignatius

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Well Ignatius, my new Page Custom is flawless - of course, it's 3X+ the price of this ES-339.

 

A lost art perhaps, but only in some parts for the Gibson organization.

 

It just really sucks that this "still American owned" iconic company is doing crap work like this.

 

The more I look at the finish on the neck of this new ES-339 the more disappointed I get.

Is this what the Gibson Custom Shop wants to be known for?

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I've had my new 339 for about three months and I'm still fighting with that same grimy waxy stuff that Archer993 had on his fretboard. I'm oiling it and wiping as much of the gunk off as I can. I've been thru alot of sets of strings. It's getting better.

 

My fretboard looks like the picture above. At least they're consistent. =D>.

 

The guitar is very versatile and sounds great!

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Gents, this is my first posting on the Gibson forums. I'm a long time acoustic player who put down the electric decades ago and then last year joined a working band. Since then I've been playing a Taylor T5, two Strats and an old Robin Wrangler. The ES-339 sounded like a great idea, so I ordered one through Guitar Center. This is the first guitar I've bought sight unseen. Scheduled delivery is in one hour, and I'm waiting with bated breath, praying that the guitar they sent will be free of the quality problems that I've read about on virtually every 339 review.

 

I have one comment and one question. First, the question:

 

Gibson must monitor these forums and reviews and be well aware of the quality problems on this production line. I've heard of varnish drips and overlaps, file marks, fret problems, neck binding problems, nut problems, pickup angle problems, bridge alignment problems, with everyone expressing dismay that GCS could let shoddy stuff like this out the door. But I haven't seen one response from Gibson saying, "We hear you, we're aware of these problems, people have been let go, and we're taking corrective actions." Is anyone out there aware of such a statement from Gibson responding to all these quality problems on the 339?

 

The comment:

 

Having said the above, even with the "fit and finish" problems, virtually everyone is thrilled with the sound and feel of this guitar. Thus my decision to buy, and, if necessary, get a luthier involved to get the guitar up to speed. Since I was aware that people were forking over an extra $75 - $200 to get the guitar set up, I negotiated with Guitar Center to throw in the setup if the factory setup is not to my liking. Of course, I'll still tip the guy to do it right.

 

The other thing I like about Guitar Center for these delivery orders is that you can return the guitar to your nearest store if there's something wrong with it, and not have to pay freight.

 

I'll let you know tomorrow how it went!

 

Cheers,

Luke[-o<

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I've had my new 339 for about three months and I'm still fighting with that same grimy waxy stuff that Archer993 had on his fretboard. I'm oiling it and wiping as much of the gunk off as I can. I've been thru alot of sets of strings. It's getting better.

 

My fretboard looks like the picture above. At least they're consistent. =D>.

 

The guitar is very versatile and sounds great!

 

5 applications of Fret Doctor and the rosewood (if it is rosewood) is still soaking up the oil.

 

I'm going to have a luthier FINISH this guitar the way it should have been FINISHED.

 

I wish I could play this guitar BUT Gibson still hasn't set me the pickup ring that was promised 3 weeks ago.

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Dear Brothers,

 

My prayers have been answered!!!

 

ES-339 received!!! Action, setup, intonation, fit and finish PERFECT!!! VERY playable right out of the box.

 

I also love the case, although I understand the complaints from LP owners who are missing the combination lock and the shroud. Well, I don't miss those things. It's a hardshell case with a key lock, very plush and with a nice roomy storage bin inside.

 

Hey, maybe they fixed the quality issues. Or maybe I still have some issues to find. But one thing is sure -- this guitar is a keeper!!!

 

O:)/

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Dear Brothers' date='

 

My prayers have been answered!!!

 

ES-339 received!!! Action, setup, intonation, fit and finish PERFECT!!! VERY playable right out of the box.

 

I also love the case, although I understand the complaints from LP owners who are missing the combination lock and the shroud. Well, I don't miss those things. It's a hardshell case with a key lock, very plush and with a nice roomy storage bin inside.

 

Hey, maybe they fixed the quality issues. Or maybe I still have some issues to find. But one thing is sure -- this guitar is a keeper!!!

 

=D>/ [/quote']

 

Glad yours is OK. They must have fixed the quality issues.

 

Now for those of us that have the sloppy ones:

 

GIBSON - ISSUE A RECALL!!!!!!!!!!!

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After reading the frequent QC concerns, I'm pleased that the new toy arrived today in A-1 shape and no finish issues. Factory setup on the first play seems dead on. Whew!

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Thinking about purchasing a 339… Has anyone compared the 339 standard vs the more expensive 339 figured (flame-top)? A local guitar store has one 339 in stock, it is a flame top, they claim it’s a “custom higher end one”. They are asking $2400, it plays great and Im just wondering if I go with the $1799 one will I be as impressed?

 

I am planning on taking either one I get to my luthier to get it properly setup if I need too…

 

Thanks for the help!

 

~Bob

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I have a 339 in the figured maple version. I don't think the quality (more on this later) is any different than the standard maple. The "flame" is very subtle and is very dependant on the viewing angle and lighting. IMHO it is not worth the extra $$. Street price is supposed to be $2859 or over $1000 more than the plain top. Here's a couple of pictures of it - one trying to get the most of the flame and another showing how different it is at another angle.

 

Now as to the quality there were/are a number of QC issues on this one including numerous sloppy neck binding finish flaws from someone that really should consider another line of work. The neck pickup is mounted crooked with the resulting angled gap between the neck and PU. There were other QC concerns as well. The only saving grace that this guitar had that prevented me from sending it back was that it sounds great which is basically all that counts in the end.

 

339figured-4a9br7fid.jpeg

339figured5-4a9broeig.jpeg

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Archer993 Posted: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 2:20:16 PM

 

They must have fixed the quality issues.

 

Now for those of us that have the sloppy ones:

 

GIBSON - ISSUE A RECALL!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

I own two 339s both with born on dates from late February and it's still a crap shoot if you get one with decent fit and finish. If Gibson needs to recall anything it should be how to manufacture an instrument that is of consistent quality worthy of the money they sell them for.

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I'm sure this is much hashed over topic, but.... Yeah. Gibson QC aint that good. Its my opinion that they have a high employee turnover. Nobody stays long enough to really get good at luthier skills.

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It's a shame to hear that more ES-339s are leaving Gibson poorly finished. I had hoped that mine was an exception. Maybe they should send the necks to Japan or Korea where the work ethic is toward high quality.

 

I am sure there are workers at Gibson who take pride in what they do and love their work. They must hate that there are hackers in their organization who ruin it for the rest of them.

 

I hope Gibson does not go the way of General Motors or Chrysler.

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I'm sure this is much hashed over topic' date=' but.... Yeah. Gibson QC aint that good. Its my opinion that they have a high employee turnover. Nobody stays long enough to really get good at luthier skills.[/quote']

 

I wonder how many of these workers in the Custom Shop video (half way down the page) have enough years of experience to be considered skilled luthiers?

 

AMS link with factory video

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Dear Brothers' date='

 

My prayers have been answered!!!

 

ES-339 received!!! Action, setup, intonation, fit and finish PERFECT!!! VERY playable right out of the box.

 

I also love the case, although I understand the complaints from LP owners who are missing the combination lock and the shroud. Well, I don't miss those things. It's a hardshell case with a key lock, very plush and with a nice roomy storage bin inside.

 

Hey, maybe they fixed the quality issues. Or maybe I still have some issues to find. But one thing is sure -- this guitar is a keeper!!!

 

#-o/ [/quote']

 

 

Congrats, Like! Did you order from the Larchmont store? I've been there a handful of times... They actually have a decent selection of high end instruments in stock. But nothing beats the Manhattan store.

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i walked into my music store today here in the Bay Area, to buy a pair of drum sticks. one of my fave salesmen was holding a 339 Figured Flame Top, it having just arrived. I fell in love immediately. However my wife is still getting over my purchase of an Ash Deluxe Strat three weeks ago, and an American Standard Tele two weeks before that. Then you throw in the Custom Shop Red Spruce J-45 Limited Edition acoustic i got in like March, and i'm a bit of a pickle.

 

I put my name on it and had them set it aside, but i gotta figure out the funding without getting wife upset. As a teacher she has no summer income.

 

But now that i've read these concerns above, thank you very much, i will have to take a closer look at it tomorrow. I'm a bass player primarily, and have a music room full of various instruments, but lately i've been on a quality guitar purchasing kick.

 

Thanks to all. That's interesting about the "Custom Shop" decal and the Gibson policy.. Guess the "Figured" version would have the same thing true... not really a "Custom Shop" like Bozeman?

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Thinking about purchasing a 339… Has anyone compared the 339 standard vs the more expensive 339 figured (flame-top)? A local guitar store has one 339 in stock' date=' it is a flame top, they claim it’s a “custom higher end one”. They are asking $2400, it plays great and Im just wondering if I go with the $1799 one will I be as impressed?

 

I am planning on taking either one I get to my luthier to get it properly setup if I need too…

 

Thanks for the help!

 

~Bob

[/quote']

 

Response to previous post:

 

I've had my figured 339 almost three months.... Best guitar I have ever owed. No major complaints on the workmanship or quality (ie fret bindings/board, nut, etc). It is basically still "custom shop" set-up with a few minor tweaks. Most of all though this guitar sounds incredible, and that is all that matters. I highly recommend this guitar!

 

~Bob

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well my wife and daughter surprised me on the eve of my birthday by bringing home a brand new ES-339 Figured Curly Maple Flame... which i heard was specially made for GUitar Center, though it was purchased at our local non-chain store.. think they got a deal on some of them because the flame was not as pronounced, or something. I'm about to play it. Came with a certificate, nice case.

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Got my red ES-339 from GC today - action, intonation, fit & finish perfect right out of the box - just tuned and played. I have ES-345 for comparison and ES-339 sounds just as good but much lighter and smaller. Takes more volume knob than ES-345, but guitar is alive! I play blues and R&B thru Fender '65 Princeton Reverb or 30W Fargen custom head and cab w/trem/reverb. Guitar sounds awesome! I didn't believe I'd still have that beautiful woody tone but it's all there, and extra .030 on neck is great for me. I also have classic '57 pups on my Epi Sheraton and Epi G-400. I'll have to get used to aged binding color and darker color neck on Antique red but I'm an old Chicago blues man from '60's so I have to have red. Seriously, after 50 years of Gibsons this is the ultimate player's guitar. Sustain is there in upper registers, bend those blues! Paid $1620 plux tax. Happy!!!!!

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