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johnshua

Torn between CS-356 and ES-359

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Hi folks

 

First post here. [biggrin]

 

As the topic says, I'm torn between getting a CS-356 or a ES-359. Can I ask what the differences are between the two types?

 

By the way, I'm already aware they're the "upscale" versions of the CS-336 and ES-339.

 

I already have a Les Paul and wonder if a CS-356 or ES-359 would bring me much sonic difference from my Les Paul. Although I've tried an ES-335 before, I found it a little bulky but not too disagreeable. It may be something I can get used to - who knows? Would folks recommend I lean more towards the ES-335 side of things given I have a Les Paul? Or are the ones I mentioned different beasts and really groovy guitars?

 

I play mainly blues and rock stuff.

 

 

Thanks in advance

 

Woody

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Hi folks

 

First post here. [biggrin]

 

As the topic says, I'm torn between getting a CS-356 or a ES-359. Can I ask what the differences are between the two types?

 

By the way, I'm already aware they're the "upscale" versions of the CS-336 and ES-339.

 

I already have a Les Paul and wonder if a CS-356 or ES-359 would bring me much sonic difference from my Les Paul. Although I've tried an ES-335 before, I found it a little bulky but not too disagreeable. It may be something I can get used to - who knows? Would folks recommend I lean more towards the ES-335 side of things given I have a Les Paul? Or are the ones I mentioned different beasts and really groovy guitars?

 

I play mainly blues and rock stuff.

 

 

Thanks in advance

 

Woody

 

The two guitars are similarly-sized and much smaller than an ES-355. They also have similar levels of trim.

 

The difference is that the 359 is built like an ES-355, with separate laminated top, center block, back and rims glued together, while the 356 has a carved solid maple top, with back, block and rim carved out of one solid piece of mahogany.

 

I have never played a 359, but my 356's are fuller and warmer-sounding than my 355's were.

 

Danny W.

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Welcome to the forum!!!

 

Aside from the difference in price between the 2, the sonic tone from the 356 is going to be much closer to your Les Paul than the 359 due to the construction. The 356 is constructed more like a Les Paul with its routed back. The 359 is more like the 335 with a top, back and side rims put together. The ultimate test is to test them side by side. Also have someone else play them side by side so you can concentrate on listening to them rather than play them. I have a 339 because I have a Les Paul and the 336 was not as much of a noticeable difference than the LP. The difference will be up to you. If you asked my opinion, I would say the 359.

 

(My 2 cents worth....)

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Wow...thanks Danny and CR9

 

Your replies and the distinction between the various models are much appreciated. Two different schools of thought too. Yep...I reckon the best thing may be for me to try and find somewhere which has both and try them side by side.

 

Can I impose with a few more questions?

 

Can I ask...are all Les Paul models made the same way (similar to the 336 and 356 with routed back)? Mine is a Les Paul Studio with the partial nitro-cellulose finish in cherry. I was financially challenged when I bought it and wasn't caring too much about the bling factor. Although it doesn't look all that fancy, it has a certain appeal in its basic look which I've come to like and it plays and sounds an absolute dream. It's my best yet (and first Gibson) and I've owned lots of guitars over the years (strats, teles etc). I am aware it is a paired down (pitched as affordable) Les Paul regarding its looks. Will mine have been constructed the same as the other Les Pauls which are two or three times its price?

 

In respect of construction comparison, how do the Midtown Customs compare?

 

What is meant by 'plain top' in descriptions of these types of guitars?

 

 

Thanks for the welcome.

 

Woody

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Wow...thanks Danny and CR9

 

Your replies and the distinction between the various models are much appreciated. Two different schools of thought too. Yep...I reckon the best thing may be for me to try and find somewhere which has both and try them side by side.

 

Can I impose with a few more questions?

 

Can I ask...are all Les Paul models made the same way (similar to the 336 and 356 with routed back)? Mine is a Les Paul Studio with the partial nitro-cellulose finish in cherry. I was financially challenged when I bought it and wasn't caring too much about the bling factor. Although it doesn't look all that fancy, it has a certain appeal in its basic look which I've come to like and it plays and sounds an absolute dream. It's my best yet (and first Gibson) and I've owned lots of guitars over the years (strats, teles etc). I am aware it is a paired down (pitched as affordable) Les Paul regarding its looks. Will mine have been constructed the same as the other Les Pauls which are two or three times its price?

 

In respect of construction comparison, how do the Midtown Customs compare?

 

What is meant by 'plain top' in descriptions of these types of guitars?

 

 

Thanks for the welcome.

 

Woody

 

I have to say that neither of my CS-356's sound anything like a Les Paul to me. YMMV.

 

Plain top means unfigured wood--no flame, curl, quilt or anything other than basic wood grain.

 

Danny W.

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In respect of construction comparison, how do the Midtown Customs compare?

The body of the Midtown Custom is chambered from a single piece of mahogany and has a solid maple top. The top of the Midtown is flat, not arched. I believe the size of the Midtown body is larger than a CS-356 or ES-359, but smaller than an ES-335. There is a picture of a Midtown next to an ES-333 and ES-339 in the thread called "Show Your Midtown (Custom or Standard)" in the Gibson USA section of the forum.

 

http://forum.gibson....rd/page__st__20

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I tried both and eventually bought the CS356. The CS356 just sounded more natural and original to me. The ES359 sounded more like a small copy of the ES335 but in a cheaper way. Most important to me was the CS356 solid maple top versus the ES359 laminated top. I also own a CS346 PJR which is made of a carved maghogany back with a solid maple top.

 

Try both and let your ears decide.

 

Afterwards, make sure you try Daddario Pure Nickels 10 and you will love it even more.

 

Jazz,

[thumbup]

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Is anyone sure about the fretboards? Of course the Midtown employs the richlite material. How about the 356 and 359? Are they Ebony or the new richlite?

I had the ES-339 and used it extensively for over a year. It was a great guitar and my favorite neck carve is the 30/60. However, at the end of the day, sonically, it didn't offer much more in sound than any of my Les Paus. Of course it was a joy to play but I ended up selling it to fund the purchase of a 1990 ES-347 with Bill Lawrence Original pickups. This ES-347 offers such a difference in sounds and the ebony neck is great. Un amplified the ES-347 has almost a piano like tone rather than the woodsy tone of my ES-333 which I also love. This brings me back to my point about Fret boards.

 

From my Les Paul Custom to the ES-355, the Lucille, The ES-347 etc. The ebony fret board brings a sound of it's own combined with the woods used on the body. With the ES-347 we add in a lot of extra brass but even the ES-355's I have played at least to me, sound much brighter with the ebony fret boards then the semi hollow guitars with rosewood fretboards. So, in response to the question at hand, do the guitars in question have Ebony fret boards or richlite and, is that brighter sound one that is appealing???

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Despite the radical construction differences between the models in the OP's question, a lot of what people will say about the sound is highly subjective and varies from example to example... including what I say!

 

My CS356 has been my primary electric for nearly a decade now. 90% of what I play is blues and rock (the OP's target) and I love it for that. The way I always describe the sound is woody, rich, warm and slightly "scooped" - meaning it is capable of stronger lows and stronger highs than, say, the midrange emphasis of 'classic rock LP' tone or the (to me) even stronger mids-hump of a typical ES-335. It's sound has also been highly susceptible to small variations in things like pickup height, bridge and tailpiece height - I can hear a difference with just a small screwdriver adjustment on this guitar, and dialing it in has been very fun over the years.

 

My CS-356 killed off my GAS for practically every other humbuckered guitar because it's range is so broad: it can handle classic rock or clean blues with ease (plus or minus a little gain), but you can dial in a nice woody jazzy tone or a sound that has something of a Tele's brightness - all by just twisting the knobs a little. The size, weight and especially the versatility has made it my go-to guitar.

 

In contrast, the few 339s and 359s I've played sounded just a bit more mids-heavy than mine, but otherwise remarkably similar. They feel almost identical, so in my view you can't really go wrong here. The price differential comes from the cost and relative rarity of the solid woods they start with on the CS356. If warmth, richness, character and depth (more subjective terms) are important to you, then the CS356 might be the better choice for you, but again: the ES-359 can sound remarkably similar in my experience.

 

As to the ebony/non-ebony question, I can't really speak to the current crop. It's impossible to check the current specs since Gibson STILL doesn't have the CS-356 on their website (sorry, I've been complaining about this for seven years). But my 2003 CS-356 has an ebony board - the original spec. I love the look and feel of it under my fingertips, but I'm not so sure you can attribute a huge amount of sound character to that spec, especially when there are such large block inlays on these necks. For years online and elsewhere people have claimed that ebony boards lead to a brighter sound... but I've personally never been able to reconcile that lore with all the ebony boards on warm and woody jazz boxes, especially on an electric guitar.

 

Good luck in your hunt. My sig has more 356 than you'll ever need to hear to get an idea of how they can sound.

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Welcome to the forum Woody,

I defer to the expertise of Danny, CR9 and Clayville but figure I'd offer my own opinion. I have 5 Les Pauls, some chambered, some not, a Larry Carlton ES-335 and a CS-336. I also play mostly Blues and Classic Rock and was a Strat guy for many years until I got my pile of Gibsons. I find that the 336, which is the same as a 356 with less bling can get very similar tones to a Les Paul, especially a chambered one. It can also deliver the warmth of the 335 tone, without the bulkiness. I love my 335 but I get tired of holding it after about a half hour of playing. It's not really the weight as much as the size of the body, although my 336 is 1.5 lb lighter than my 335. If you are keeping your Les Paul, you might want to consider the 359. If you are trading up and want versatility, a 336 or 356 will serve you well. I don't think the Midtown is in the same league and wouldn't go for it unless money is a major factor, and you could still get a 339, which is a much better guitar for a couple hundred more. Good luck with your quest.

 

JO'C

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Wow...thanks everyone. That was all outstanding advice.

 

Looks like I've got some decisions making ahead.

 

I'm sure my Les Paul is chambered. When I gently knock the back of it at the very opposite end from the headstock, it sounds hollow...but as I continue to knock, moving up towards the bridge and pick ups it sounds solid without the resonance of the previous hollow knocks. My Les Paul has a curved top too. I can see where people are coming from regarding construction similarities being a factor in belonging in a certain family of sounds. Good advice too regarding "subjectivity" and "YMMV".

 

 

So, let me get this right....

 

ES-335 and ES-355 (larger body size) have mahogany backs with sides and laminated curved tops glued to them.

 

ES-339 and ES-359 (smaller body size) have mahogany backs with sides and laminated curved tops glued to them.

 

CS-336 and CS-356 (smaller body size) have a mahogany back, sides and center block routed from a single piece of mahogany with a curved maple top glued to it.

 

Midtown Custom has a body size somewhere in between the two previously mention types and, although constructed similarly to a CS-336 and CS-356, has a flat bottom, and flat laminated top.

 

Les Paul (chambered) is constructed similarly to the CS-336 and CS-356 but slightly smaller in size.

 

 

You know what? I'm now at the stage where I'll be trying out a ES-335, ES-355, ES-359 and ES-356. I might as well. It's a lot of ££$$ to put down and one must get it right. I drove the sales assistant at my local shop daft when I bought a Taylor acoustic. I got him to play it as I walked around the shop. I'm also a recording geek so these things matter to me.

 

What is the dimension of widest part of the 335/355 body? The reason I ask is that I have my father's old Gibson style copy (Korean) and may have mess around on it for an hour or two to see how it feels. In relation to size, I'm thinking it must be close to a 335/355.

 

Also...is the ES-355 a blinged up ES-335?

 

 

Thanks...you guys are great.

 

Woody

 

 

p.s. Nice sounds in your Sig Clayville. B)

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So, let me get this right....

 

ES-335 and ES-355 (larger body size) have mahogany backs with sides and laminated curved tops glued to them.

 

ES-339 and ES-359 (smaller body size) have mahogany backs with sides and laminated curved tops glued to them.

 

 

You're close, except for the mahogany. This is what it says on the ES-339 page of the Gibson website: "The top, back and sides of the Custom Shop ES-339 are crafted with the same pressed-arch, laminated-maple with solid maple centerblock construction that was used by Gibson to produce the first ES-335s 52 years ago."

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Thanks for measuring your 335 for me JO'C. Much appreciated. My father's old guitar is 15.5" and I played it for around 30 mins earlier and found it to be fine. Therefore, I'll be trying the larger ones too. Do Gibson still make ES-355s?

 

Thanks for that clarification Mark2. I'm writing all this down in a word document to keep me right. All the models and builds can get a bit confusing. [biggrin]

 

 

Woody

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

 

All excellent advice so far...as usual...

 

Here's another 0.02 to pitch into the mix...if you will...

 

Personally I'm a 335 man...the original classic semi...

 

And, at risk of going even heavier, the ES 137 Classic is a remarkable blend of archtop and Les Paul design

 

As a UK resident I suggest checking out luthier Gordon Smith

 

He makes a range of quality Gibson influenced guitars...Les Paul and Les Paul Junior type plus others

 

There is an option of a 'semi' S/C or D/C version...

 

So many guitars...So little time... :blink:

 

V

 

:-({|=

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Thanks Versatile

 

Just checked out the guys website. Pretty cool stuff.

 

Dunno about the ES-137. Although I've never played one, for blues and rock artists I'm trying to play like, it doesn't appear to be the natural choice of guitar. I thought this one leaned more towards the blues and jazz side of things? I'm just guessing mind you as I've never used one.

 

Anyone any info on whether Gibson still make ES-355s?

 

Thanks again Versatile

 

Woody

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Some people prefer the tone of semi-hollows with laminate tops as opposed to solid tops, and would go for the 359.

 

Bill Collings makes fantastic guitars, including a couple of I-35s that are similar to the 356 and 359. If you have the time to read this Tone Quest Report interview and are interested in tone woods, you might be surprised by Collings' discoveries about the beautiful and consistent and more musical tone of the one with the laminate top when compared to the one with the solid top.

 

http://www.collingsguitars.com/Images/reviews/I35LC_tonequest.pdf

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Some people prefer the tone of semi-hollows with laminate tops as opposed to solid tops, and would go for the 359.

 

Bill Collings makes fantastic guitars, including a couple of I-35s that are similar to the 356 and 359. If you have the time to read this Tone Quest Report interview and are interested in tone woods, you might be surprised by Collings' discoveries about the beautiful and consistent and more musical tone of the one with the laminate top when compared to the one with the solid top.

 

http://www.collingsguitars.com/Images/reviews/I35LC_tonequest.pdf

 

Thanks Rich

 

Interesting article which gives a good deal of attention to details.

 

 

Woody.

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My take: my cs356 sounds different from my Swiss cheesed LP. It has more of woody growl that sounds really nice with limited gain and effects. The pups are nice. Not sure what a 359 uses. I really love the ebony board. It feels the fastest to me.

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Hi Woodrow,

I was having a similar issue a few weeks ago, in relation to buying a 339 or a 335. I finally chose the 335. I think FennRx's comment at the bottom of the first page sums up the situation, I started finding the 339 similar to my Les Paul's , and I suspect that the construction of the 356 may make it even more "Les Paul like". Just a thought to bear in mind if you want something different from your Les Paul.

 

Link:

http://forum.gibson.com/index.php?/topic/88723-which-339/page__p__1217965#entry1217965

 

Good luck and happy hunting,

Ian.

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Thanks OldBlue&Blondie and IanHenry

 

I'm hoping to try out a whole bunch of them in a week or two.

 

by the way...the 356 and 359 both use '57 Classic Humbuckers, same as the bigger bodied 335, 345 and 355.

 

Turns out my Les Paul may have Burstbuckers.

 

 

Woody

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Is anyone sure about the fretboards? Of course the Midtown employs the richlite material. How about the 356 and 359? Are they Ebony or the new richlite?

 

I think it depends on when they were made. My CS-356 from 2012 has a richlite fretboard. In all honesty I didn't know that until I contacted Gibson and asked them. Looks and feels very similar to my LP Custom(which does have an ebony board)

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