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ES-339 vs ES-359 vs CS-336 vs CS-356


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Fellow Forum Members,


Can the owners of these Gibsons give me an idea of the various 'good bits' about these particular models.


I am an LP owner used to a '95 Standard which I am happy with, however, a semi-hollow is in my future. I would prefer one of these smaller body hollows rather than the ES-335 which feels too big too me but has a great sound.


The sound I am basically after is 'vintage Larry'....... ie. Phat not over the top.


The feel I am after is 'thin neck' with plenty of pace.


Probably would prefer Ebony over Rosewood board thus I am leaning towards the 359 or the 356....


The ES-339 doesn't do it for me......


Regards to all from Australia.



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I've owned a CS-356 since 2003 and play it almost daily (and sing it's praises on forums every other day[cool] ).


ES-335s always seemed too big for my body even though I loved the sound, and these small-bodied semis are a perfect match for me -- very comfortable size and weight. My CS-356 will throw off anything from a warm and woody jazz tone to a rich ballsy blues tone and can hang in there for rock as well. The neck pickup is simply the best sound I have in my modest arsenal, but the bridge sound can be quite a bit brighter than many Gibsons. To me that's a good thing, in that it can get quite close to a Tele's bight at the extreme end of the knob range. Dialing down the tone gives me something like a "slightly polite" LP on that pickup. So... versatility is a key feature of this guitar for me. Some folks believe that an ebony fingerboard can contribute to brightness, but the rosewood versions I've tried sound about the same to me. On the 359/356 you'll pay a premium for the gold hardware, block inlays, triple-ply binding, ebony board and split parallelogram headstock inlay. Except for perhaps the sound and feel of an ebony board, the differences between the lower and upper versions of each model are purely cosmetic.


I can get as close as I need to be to a 335 or an LP on that sound spectrum... but that might not be true for everyone. Even a high percentage of a 335's sound is, well, not a 335. Ditto on the LP end of the scale. Still, I don't miss what might be missing.


By now I'm sure you're aware that the ES and CS small-bodies are constructed completed differently even though they're the same size and shape (the 336/356 has a solid mahogany back with very large tone chambers and a center block and sides that are part of the back wood, capped with a book-matched maple top like an LP; the 339/359s are built like a 335 with ply top/back and sides sandwiched over a center block). Personally, I felt like the 339s I've tried we're a little stronger in the mid-range frequencies, while my 356 is a little "scooped" with strong lows and strong highs. Spinning the knobs works, though! Both models seem very articulate at polite gain levels with clear string definition and a rich and detailed timbre, and both are quite capable of "giving up the good stuff" when pushed harder. In the end, for me, my 356 isn't going anywhere and I don't need "another"... so my experience with the 339/359 is somewhat limited. I love the small shoulders of the "60s Slim Taper" neck on mine. The "30/60" neck on the 339s seemed a bit fuller, but not too big for me.


I'm no Larry, and wasn't really trying for him here, but here's a link to a Steely-ish thing I've done recently on my CS-356. More examples of what one (or at least I) can do are below that:


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