|The ES-335T was first announced in the 1958 Gibson Electrics catalogue|
...the ES-335T presents a striking appearance and sensational response. New body construction, with solid fitting neck, pickups and adjustable bridge, provides the solidity essential for clear, sparkling, sustaining tone
the new thin-body Gibson electric guitars provide new body-hugging comfort, plus unusally responsive action and free-playing performance
|Sales of the 335 were good in the latter part of the 1960s, with 1967 being the peak year. 1966 Gibson full line catalogue|
Thin, double cutaway - a newsmaker from its first appearance, this Gibson guitar offers outstanding performance for ensembles, recording, radio and TV at an amazingly modest price
|The 1975 thinline catalogue with bluesman BB King on the front.|
|The minimalist 1978 electrics catalogue entitled Quality / Prestige / Innovation|
|The 1980 'Gibson Guitar' catalogue was the last US catalogue appearance (excluding reissues by the current owners) of the ES-335TD, and the last to show Kalamazoo-built instruments|
The Gibson ES-335 TD is one of those flagship models that spawned a thousand imitators, yet never lost its position amongst them. It was manufactured manufactured from 1958 until 1982, however various reissues and artist signature models have meant that it has effectively stayed in production ever since.
Usually just referred to as a '335', the correct name ES-335TD, stood for Electric Spanish 335 thinline double pickup.
The major innovation that made the 335 the groundbreaking instrument it was, was hidden in it's construction. Rather than being completely hollow, the guitar had a central maple block running the length of the guitar, below the pickups and bridge. This gave the bridge posts something to anchor into, increasing sustain, and giving some of the brighter tonal qualities of a solid body, whilst still retaining some of the mellow character of an acoustic. Furthermore it reduced feedback which had always been a problem with hollowbodies when turned up loud.
The following description is taken from the 1970 Gibson thinline catalogue
An outstanding performer for ensembles, recording, radio or TV
and it sells for a very modest price. The thin double cutaway and fast, low-action neck allows easy access to upper register.
FEATURES: Curly maple arched top and back, chrome-plated metal parts. Slim, fast, low-action neck joins body at 20th fret. Laminated neck, adjustable truss rod. Rosewood fingerboard, pearl block inlays. Adjustable Tune-O-Matic bridge. Twin Humbucking pickups with separate tone and volume which can be pre-set. Three-position toggle switch to activate either or both pickups. 16" wide, 19" long, 1 ¾" thin; 24 ¾" scale, 22 frets.
ES-335TD - Sunburst finish
ES-335TDW - Walnut finish
ES-335TDC - Cherry finish
519 - Faultless plush-lined case
304 - Archcraft plush-lined case
ZC-19 Zipper cover for 519 case
|1980 Gibson ES-335TD with coil tap switch|
In 1976, the ES-335 was given a coil-tap switch, allowing the pickups to work in single-coil or humbucking modes, see the 1978 Gibson catalogue.
From the beginning of 1979, a slightly more expensive version ($100 more, 1/1/79), and a guitar perhaps more suited to the times, the ES-335 Pro was launched. It had a stop tailpiece, speed knobs, dot (rather than block) position markers, and high-output 'dirty fingers' pickups.
The ES-335TD and ES-335 Pro were both withdrawn, their last inclusion in price lists being April 1981, with a replacement, the ES-335 dot (based on the 1961 ES-335TD) being launched the following year. As the name suggests, this had dot neck markers, and a more traditional Gibson mahogany neck.
Famous ES335 players include Eric Clapton, Larry Carlton and Alvin Lee.
Other similar guitars in the Gibson 300 series are the Gibson ES330, Gibson ES345, Gibson ES355 and Gibson ES355 stereo varitone which were more ornate versions of the 335 - with stereo electronics and a number of cosmetic differences. A very similar guitar except for its 3" deep completely hollow body, the ES-150 DC was available from 1969-1979. Mention should also be made of the Epiphone Riviera, which was made with the 335 in the Gibson Kalamazoo factory, using the same tooling, techniques and quite a lot of the same components.
Other similar non-Gibsons include the Guild Starfire.