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Wannabe Gibson ES-339... or?

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Recently I bought a guitar that I cannot identify properly, can you help me out?




There is a topic about this instrument on the Dutch Gitaarnet forum but we are running out of knowledge, so I thought this would be the proper place to continue my quest.

The clickable links in the following description will take you to the .jpg's on ImageShack (the pictures are quite large).



Semi-hollow, small body, maple centre block, sunburst laminated bookmatched flame top with 5-ply binding

Black sides and back with 1-ply binding

Set neck, rosewood fretboard with 1-ply binding, MOP(?) dot inlays, 22 frets, no volute.

Unmarked Schaller-style tuners (no other screw markings visible on the peghead).

"GIBSON" TRC but that also covers three screw markings of a smaller sized TRC.

Trussrod adjustment requires a 4 millimeter (or slightly larger inch-sized) Allen wrench.

The peghead itself has been reworked to make it look like the open book.

"Union Made" label with s/n 196024 at upper F-hole.

Black stamped s/n 8 2171 at back of peghead.

Color coded wiring, no markings on pickups, pots or switch.

The jackinput is mounted on a thin chrome plate, oval shaped, two screws.

The distance between stoptail and bridge is ca. 3/8 of an inch larger compared to a Les Paul Custom 1978.

The distances between bridge and bridge pickup, and between bridge pickup and neck pickup, are identical to the LPC.


Dimensions (in inches):

body length, 15 7/8

body thickness, 1 15/16

width lower bout, 13 15/16

width upper bout, 10

total length, 38

nut width, 1 11/16

neck thickness @ 1st fret, 15/16

neck thickness @ 12th fret, 1 1/16

scale, 24 3/4


The overall build quality is up to a high standard, I own several vintage and modern Gibson guitars and this guitar is no disappointment to me.

Playability has been affected by the bridge starting to sag, but the neck is a very comfortable C-shape, not too thin and not too small.

Acoustic sound is just that lovely woody tone you get from fine semi-acoustics, amplified sound is deep and crisp at the same time (but less relevant since the electronics probably are some aftermarket drop-in).

It is definitely not my intention to sell, since it is a great player, it sounds great to my blue ears, and it just has that vintage vibe I love.


The label and the s/n's suggest this could be a USA-made Epiphone, maybe 1964.

We (at the Gitaarnet forum) doubt that very much, based on the following:

- this is definitely not an ES-339 (that model was introduced in this century, right?)

- the "Union Made" label does not look like it is an original

- the tuners look like the ones Ibanez (and others, but not Gibson) used in the early eighties

- nowhere on the web have we found (a reference to) this model


I have already searched through every vintage Gibson, Epiphone and Ibanez catalogue I could find: no luck.

Any help in identifying this instrument would be hugely appreciated.

If you need any other information, more detailed pictures, anything, just ask.

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Thanks for your reply Alfonso, that confirms my line of thought.

Maybe an early AM-type, it can not be found in the Ibanez catalogues though. Could be something else alltogether.

Oh well (great song!), this is a very nice instrument to play and to look at. Definitely vintage, definitely good craftmanship.

I have a complete set of 1972 Maxon pickups + electronics lying around, maybe I'll use that for an upgrade.

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That's going to be tough, because not only does it not have any brand or real markings to start with, but what is here has been altered.


As you have said, the label itself is false. There is no way for a label itself to be from Kalamazoo and say "Es-339", or anything "339". The peghead being re-worked also says that someone went through some effort, however bad the effort is. Who knows what other things were changed or replaced.


So basically, even if you can guess what it might have been, FINDING pics detailed enough to match up with what is left on this one might be next to impossible. Evan if you seen a pic, you might dismiss it.


I might try googling brand names like ARIA, or whatever brand you might guess and check the images to see if there are any other simularities. I don't recall ever seeing an Ibanez with quite those f-holes.

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