George Gruhn's Rare Bird: 1958 Gibson ES-335. (Input/Output)
Gruhn, George, Guitar Player
The year 1958 was a period of great productivity for Gibson president Ted McCarty and his design team. Among the new models introduced at the Summer NAMM show in Chicago that year were the double cutaway Les Paul Junior and Special, the Flying V and Explorer, the sunburst finish Les Paul Standard, and the ES-335. While all these models were of great significance, the ES-335 was the most radical new design concept.
The Les Paul Junior and Special were innovative in introducing double cutaways to give players an extended reach, but the ES-335 combined that concept with a semi-hollowbody construction and a solid center block that delivered the performance characteristics of a solidbody and a hollowbody. Today, most players take this design for granted, but in 1958, the ES-335 was the only semi-hollow guitar on the market, and it was the archetype upon which a whole new class of guitars was based.
Production figures for that year are not impressive by modern standards--267 sunburst and 50 blonde natural finish ES-335s were issued--but Gibson considered the model to be a success. …