We take a look at the new, Epiphone ES-339 – do good things come in small packages?
The Gibson ES-339 is one of the legendary US brand’s newest designs. And yet, this compact hollow body clearly shares some classic guitar DNA with its older, more famous brother, the ES-335.
Like many of Gibson’s most famous guitar designs, it has seen fit to produce a more affordable Epiphone version. But how does the Epiphone ES-339 fare, compared to it’s bigger brother? It stands up very well indeed, and even has a few ‘twists’ over its Gibson sibling…
Slim, compact design
The original ES-339 was produced as a solution for those wanted ‘ES’ hollow-body guitar tone, but found the Dot a bit unwieldy. Essentially it took the same, classic semi-hollow design with solid centre channel, and shrunk it to size more akin to an all-solid design.
The result was a guitar that was far more manageable, but still with all the classic tone.
This Epiphone model is very much in the same mould, with a quality of construction that is surprising for a guitar of its price. On this cherry model, there’s a nice, subtle bit of figuring visible beneath the translucent finish, too.
The LockTone bridge takes the place of Gibson’s Tune-o-matic here, but it does an equally great job of keeping things stable and in-tune.
The pickups are two USA designed humbuckers with Alnico magnets. Plenty of thick, warm tones can be wrung from these. The range of sounds that this ES-339 is pretty staggering- from creamy cleans, to powerful crunch (think Foo Fighters style tone). And this is before we get onto the coil tapping…
Yes, unlike the Gibson model, pickups can be split into single coils via push-pull volume controls. This extends the range of available tones vastly, and arguably puts the Epiphone ES-339 among the most versatile guitars available at this price.
So, who will buy an Epiphone ES-339? This is a guitar with very broad appeal. If you’re a fan of slim line Tele’s, but need something with a thicker tone, or a fan of the Dot tone, but find the body a bit big, then you’ll love it.
Equally, if you have an open mind, give this a try, as it can do everything from clean to pretty nasty overdrive, and everything between, at a great price, with classic looks and design. Thoroughly recommended.
Lawrence is a contributor to the Dawsons blog, reporting on new products, music news and the general happenings over at Dawsons HQ.