“Striking limited edition reissues of the very first ES-335”: Gibson celebrates its 130th Anniversary with the Custom Shop, Murphy Lab-aged 1958 ES-335 Reissue

Gibson Custom Shop 1958 ES-335 Reissue
(Image credit: Gibson)

Gibson turns 130 this year and to mark the occasion the Nashville-based guitar giant has released a trio of Custom Shop 1958 ES-335 Reissues, each in a Murphy Lab-aged finish, with ’58 period specs to get electric guitar collectors and super-fans of the semi-hollow excited.

We’re talking unbound Indian rosewood fingerboards – dot inlays of course – and the kind of neck profile that really fills out the palm. If you like your necks big, rounded, comfortable, this won’t disappoint.

Of all Gibson’s guitar designs, you could make a serious argument that the ES-335 has been the most versatile, and the most influential. It was the world’s first semi-hollow electric, with its maple centreblock construction offering a solution to the feedback that had often plagued fully hollowbody instruments when the volume got turned up. And in 1958, as rock ’n’ roll was cresting and youth culture was becoming a recognisable phenomenon, turning the guitar amp volume up was the order of the day.

Offered in Light Aged Tri-Burst, Heavy Aged Dirty Blonde (think a natural finish that smokes 20 a day), and Heavy Aged in Faded Tobacco Burst, these don’t look like 21st-instruments, and yet here we are.

The spec list is top-shelf Gibson. All three are fitted with a pair of unpotted Custombucker pickups, with the typical dual volume, dual tone configuration, and all wired up with CTS 500K audio taper pots, paper-in-oil capacitors, with Switchcraft providing the output jacks and the three-way pickup selector switch.

Said switch is True Historic Amber, and is complemented by True Historic Gold Top Hat knobs with dial pointers, and aged nickel hardware, all which of course adds to the illusion that this is a guitar that really is 66 years old. 

That illusion begins before you even take the guitar out of the case – Gibson is shipping these in a brown reissue Lifton guitar case, lined with pink fur, with five latches to secure the instrument.

Fundamentally, these have three-ply bodies of maple/poplar/maple, with mahogany necks joining the body with a glued-in long-tenon joint. They have 24.75” scale lengths, 22 vintage profile narrow/tall frets. Single-ply Royalite binding has been applied to the top and bottom of the body. A spritz of aged nitrocellulose lacquer from the Murphy Lab is applied to each.

The tuners are single line, single ring Klusons. The pickguards are black five-ply ply. The nuts are nylon and the strap buttons are white plastic. All things considered, you can see why former Gibson president Ted McCarty considered the ES-335 his finest hour. Legions of players might well agree.

The Custom Shop 1958 ES-335 Reissue is available now, priced $6,499 for the Light Aged Tri-Burst model, $7,999 for the Heavy Aged Dirty Blonde and Faded Tobacco Burst models. And remember they’re only making 130 of each. For more details head to the Gibson Gazette, or right on over to Gibson where you can order one.  

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.