Gibson ES-339

9.0 score
[Editors rating (9.0) + Users rating (9.4)] / 2 = (TheGearHunt) score (9.0)/10

Editor rating: 9.0 / 10
User's rating: based on 3 user ratings
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Gibson ES-339 Review Facts

The Gibson ES-399 is a versatile addition to the Gibson guitar family. It can cover everything from blues to jazz to rock. It has a semi-hollow body. The Gibson ES-339 is a cross between the Gibson ES-336 and the Gibson Les Paul.

People appreciate the rich semi-hollow tones of the ES-335 but find the body size to be unwieldy. It can be compared to the archtop guitar. The ES-339 hybrid marries the ES-335 with the Les Paul. It was released in 2007 and has generated positive player response around the world.

Bridging the gap between the Les Paul and ES-335 resulted in a semi-acoustic guitar. It produces semi resonance from clean blues and mellow jazz to country as well as solid bodies associated with fat searing tones without the irritating feedback for which semis are infamous. This guitar has sharper artistry than either the ES-335 or Les Paul.

Editor's Pros & Cons
  • Build
  • Concept
  • Finishing
  • Sounds
  • Heavier than the ES-335


The Gibson ES-339 is a semi-acoustic guitar that has all of the design appointments of the ES-335. They include dot fingerboard inlays, a gloss finish, Kluson machine heads, ABR-1 stop-tailpiece and bridge, and a solid center block. It arrives with a Gibson Custom Shop certificate of authenticity and the Gibson hardshell case. The ‘Memphis Tone’ circuit is used to maintain the low top and even volume.

Basic Features

A beautiful nicotine colored vintage hue is used for the single strip of binding on edge. It has a classic pearl inlaid, a crown motif, and brand logo that is slightly yellowed. The tuners are an appropriate vintage vibe. They are Kluson-style with ‘tulip’ buttons that are opaque and slightly too dark.

The sound of the guitar is typical for the type of instrument it is. The pickups types are basic Gibson PAF Alnico II. Wiring does not sound any different. It sounds typically Gibson. Pickups are adjustable to taste to get a balanced sound from every string.

Advanced Features

Some special features included in the ES-339 are a 30/60 neck profile and ‘Memphis Tone’ electronics. The ES-339 is the Gibson Custom Shop’s next generation. It goes where other guitars have not gone.

The new, bold semi-hollow tone is rich with expressive overtones. Exciting enhancements include reduced weight and dimensions, Memphis Tone electronics, and outer rim output jack. Memphis Tone electronics use 500K audio taper pots.

An interactive load preserves high end as the volume is turned down. The full-bodied tone is maintained. ES players have wanted the outer rim output jack. No cable crosses the body to get in the way or spoil the clean looks of the guitar.

Sound Quality

The ES-339 sports the Memphis Tone Circuit that preserves the high frequency of the guitar regardless of the volume control adjustment. It replaces a standard volume pots having 300k ohm linear taper with 500k audio taper pots, preserving the high end as the volume is turned down.

A nice fight is provided by 0.010 to 1.046-inch strings as well as clean action and roomy, loud acoustic resonance. The 8.75-pound guitar has a more massive build than the early original. When it is plugged in, it is immediately apparent that an open, dynamic tone is created with less one-dimensional solid body grunt, roomy lows, and plenty of highs.

The MTC Plus (Memphis Tone Control Plus) circuitry paired with MHS II (Memphis Historic Spec II) humbucking pickups showcases the versatile tone players have craved for more than 60 years. A Stopbar tailpiece, ABR-1 brass-saddle bridge, and Grover ‘Milk Bottle’ tuners provide precise intonation and tuning stability.


The top and body feature a maple/poplar/maple laminate. Mahogany is used in the neck. The 22 frets and fretboard are made of rosewood. A stop-tailpiece and tune-o-matic variety make up the bridge.

Kluson tuners outfit the guitar. It has two ‘57 Classic Humbuckers in the neck and bridge along with chrome Gibson parts hardware. The Humbuckers are finished with nickel. Alnico magnets, plated pole pieces, and enamel coated wire are used for the pickups, which is standard for Gibson guitars.

They are found in the Les Paul line. The dimensions of the guitar are 14.25 x 16.75 inches, which is smaller than the ES 335. Like the ES-335, the back is a slightly arched laminate that is top glued to the sides that are also laminate.

The center block is mostly maple cushioned and has spruce between the top and back. The neck and fret finger are bound on the body with a one-ply cream binding. The hand-rolled Rounded ‘C’ neck of mahogany with the rosewood fingerboard sporting pearloid dot inlay takes the players on a trip down memory lane.


Strapped on, the ES-339 feels less bulky than ‘solid body.’ It is more manageable than the ES-335. The cutaways are a bit light and may not be for everyone, but for most, it is not an issue. Playing the Gibson ES-339 may feel a bit strange to someone used to playing rock guitars.

It may feel chunky but quickly becomes second nature. It has nearly effortless string bending. The unique feel of the neck of the guitar makes vibrato easier than other guitars. Twin volume and tone pots are part of the Memphis Tone Circuit.

The Gibson ES-339 has excellent balance when strapped around the neck. When strummed acoustically, the semi-acoustic instrument rings a wide range of pitches and tones. There is no sound the guitar cannot produce.

Many players think the ES-335 is ideal in function and appearance. They are not likely interested in this guitar. Those who dislike the size of the ES-335 find the ES-339 to be the best-yet compromise.

The Gibson ES-339 is a classic, modern designed guitar for those seeking the look and tone of the ES-335 with a slightly lighter, smaller instrument. It retains the character of the larger-bodied model with improvements in controls that allow a more extensive range of useable sounds. Add in sharper-than-normal craft, classic finish, and set-up and the guitar plays, feels and sounds as great as it looks.


The ES-339 is made nearly the same as the ES-335, The back top pressed, slightly arched laminate is glued to laminate sides. Tidily kerfed linings increase the gluing areas. The center block of the ES-335 has been retained.

All are visible and neatly done. It is seen through the unbound f-holes. The f-holes have edges. Other visible laminate layers are nicely disguised with matte black paint. The guitar comes in three colors - antique finish sunburst, antique red, and light caramel burst.

Modern Gibson guitars have a variety of finishes. Gibson uses nitrocellulose for all guitars except startup models. The finishing for the ES-339 is the ideally colored, old-style sunburst. The center blends from black to deep brown to golden yellow.

It is not as mirror-flat as expected from other USA brands, but is highly glossed. When the burst over the heel fades, the natural colored one-piece quartersawn mahogany neck emergers. The head has a 17° back angle. It is faced in jet black.

Despite smaller dimensions, the ES-339 does not have an awkward dwarf appearance. Gibson artisans were able to save several inches from the traditional semi-hollow body design and retain perfect proportions that are natural and classy. The difference often goes unnoticed until a player picks up the ES-339 and realizes how much more comfortable and lighter it feels.


The apparent quality of the Gibson is evidenced by the Indian rosewood fingerboard that is deep purple-tinged brown. It has a tall and chunky wire that is well-rounded and finished which is not true of all Gibson protections that seem to have square section frets.

The Plek machine is used for leveling and finishing the frets. Gibson adds the binding after fretting the board which results in a binding ‘nib’ at the end of each fret. Vintage models have a greater binding thickness that reduces the playable width.

The nibs may separate from the fret, and high E fades into a gap. With the ES-339, the method used dresses away from the nibs. It does not alter the width and feels fine. Two neck sizes are available. The 30/60 feels like an early ‘60s Gibson that has a slim, wide feel.

The ‘59 neck profile is heftier. It has a slight flat back and a big feeling neck that has rounded shoulders. The electronics and hardware are what you would expect. The pickups of choice are covered ‘57 Classic Humbuckers.

Ease of Use

It has the same control layout as the ES-335 except for a side-mounted output jack which many players will see as a plus. The guitar has very positive playability with well-rounded, tall frets that give plenty of height for pull-offs, hammer-ons, and gymnastic bends.

It is easier to slip off the treble side than a full-width fret. Players soon learn to compensate. The modern sound is less dynamic than the ES-335 but more expressive than Les Paul. Previous modern-spec Gibson electrics were slightly under par regarding tone and volume control tapers.

The ES-339 is a treat. Control tapers are smooth. Using the volume control for effect causes lower volumes to sound a little clearer. Cleaning up the tone by reducing volume does not soften or darken the sound as much.

Its subtlety helps the mix where altering pickup tones and volumes are all about subtlety. Like the ES-335, the 339 is easy to edge in musical feedback. The overall design and changes have a profound effect. With sound at lower settings and controls that feel smooth, there are more sounds before the player touches the effects or amps.


The first thing the consumer notices when unpacking the ES-339 is how playable and comfortable it is compared to the ES-335. Reviewers claim it is the most comfortable semi-hollow body guitar they have played.

All the excellent Gibson hollow body sounds are there also. The reviewers played everything from B.B. King to Larry Carlton to Eric Clapton. All of the music sounded great. Feedback was easy to control and usual when cranked up.

The guitarguitarguitar is among the most versatile evaluators have reviewed. It plays country, jazz, blues, and rock. The 30/60 neck profile is extremely comfortable and makes playing a joy. An extra 0.030 inches front to back on the ‘60s style neck helps preserve classic semi-hollow body tone while providing solid playability.

The ES-335/Les Paul mix is a sonic performance with tighter wide bass and marginally more ‘solid’ tone. The ‘Memphis Tone’ feature offers a different tone and volume control settings. The Memphis Tone electrics are simple in their practical value. The guitar’s highs remain consistent through the taper as the volume is turned down.

Typically, the high end is lost when the volume of a guitar is decreased. There is a decrease algorithm that corresponds with the volume know numbers that keeps it even and smooth as the volume is reduced.


The musician can let loose and know the sound produced is of the highest quality. Gibson may have turned a corner in consistency and quality. The ES-339 is not only a great guitar, but it is also sold at a better price. It is among the best Gibson guitars. Gibson’s new distribution network has changed prices for the better. The ES-339 is a steal when the overall quality and Memphis Custom Shop origins are taken into consideration.

Key Features

* All nickel plated hardware
* Epiphone ProBucker Humbucker brand pickups
* Smaller body dimensions than ES-335, but with ES Series bell-like tone
* Taper ‘D’ profile neck provides comfort and fast action
* Push-Pull coil tapping permits switching between single coil tones and Humbucker for each pickup

Bottom Line

Reviewers found nothing they would improve on the guitar. The finish and fit are ideal from the factory. The guitar is a testimony to the Gibson Custom Shop quality. The ES-339 is a versatile addition to the Gibson line that is capable of playing blues, jazz, or rock.

The sleek design catches the eye and gives off an excellent impression from the minute the consumer sees it. The quality provided throughout the model leads to sound clarity it produces. It is a comfortable guitar to play.