Gibson CS-336 Review/GOTM
The Gibson CS-336 is made by Gibson USA’s custom shop (not one of those POS Gibson USA models) and comes with all the neat little knickknacks that we should expect for a $2700+ piece of wood/glue/nickel. Mine has the old “Gibson Custom, Art & Historic” Logo, rather than the new Gibson Custom seal on the case. And the inside? It’s what I would want to be buried in. Its blood red crushed velvet, perfect fit. There's a little pouch on where the neck rests, just enough room for some strings, tuner, tools, case candy, maybe a cable, and if you’re clever you might be able to squeeze a strap in there. The hardware on mine is gold, and is fading, so its obviously not real gold (go figure?). The lock is decently strong, but not strong enough for a 2700 dollar piece of anything. If my car has an alarm system, WHY DOESN’T MY GIBSON?!?! That's my only gripe; the case is well built, TKL canadian made, but it would be so easy to break into. Oh well.
A little background on the guitar. Its not technically a smaller ES-335, as one might suspect. It sure does look like one, but its what's on the inside that counts. Its more like a hollow les paul, then anything, and that's what Gibson intended; an ES-335/Les Paul mutant love child. The difference between this guitar and the ES-335 (besides size) is the fact that the back and sides and block are carved out of one piece of mahogany, rather than several bajillion layers of poplar and maple. then its topped with an absolutely brilliant curly maple top. I have not seen a CS-336 with this type of maple. Most of them have a really formal, and straight flame. This one is really wild, unique, and random. All this is made to be the “tonally carved” guitar. It’s extremely lightweight. Its unexpected, really. When you pick up a Les Paul, you don't want to wear it with a strap. And when you pick up an ES-335, well, you don't even want to pick it up, it is so damned heavy. Not this guitar. Its deceiving. Kind of like when you go to pick up a full soda, but it turns out that its empty, but your hand braced itself for heaviness. Everyone that holds this guitar reaches for it, grabs it, and says
“Whoa. This is light.”
Its lighter than my SG was!
Really, this guitar is a Les Paul in a miniature version of an ES-335’s clothing, but it has the best tone of the three, by far.
In use / Easy of use
There’s not too much I can say here. I mean, I spent a good deal of money on this guitar, of course it’s what I wanted! To be more specific, though, I wanted something that could reach a broad range of tones, and clean up overdrive with a twist of the volume knob (dynamics). I needed to play clean, indie stuff, to blues, to shred (think... going from elliot smith to the fall of troy). The neck is nice and easy. I love the neck.... I cant play any other. I have huge hands, but I like small necks (I seem to have this pattern with girls too, Im over 6 foot, but my girlfriends are always about a foot shorter than me.... too much information? ok.). Well, yah, this is smaller than my SG’s neck, amazingly. I think it may even be smaller than a 60’s neck, even. The rosewood fretboard has some nice patterns to it, for it not being a brazilian. The inlays are just dots, like an ES, which I never liked, but I grew fond of having all the wood, over time. The tuners are kind of pissing me off. I don’t particularly like any tuners I have ever used, though. Maybe Im just copping out. I would really like to add a Buzz Feiten tuning system to this guitar someday.
The heel on this neck is not noticeable, really. Everything on this guitar is so petite, its nice. There’s a great deal of room to reach the 22 fret, and it certainly beats the hell out of a les paul or PRS on upper fret access, and it can hold its own with a ‘61 SG.
Build quality / Reliability
Don't get me started about Gibson USA. I hate the fretboards and necks of most USA models. They feel so rough, and... dry. Something about them is not appealing whatsoever. This guitar however, has a much smoother, more appealing neck. You want to play this guitar all the time. Everything is tight and strong. All the hardware is where it should be, nothing loose. The frets are even. Some of the binding is a tad sketchy, but nothing you would notice without a magnifying glass. The jack plate is made of metal (unlike 99 percent of most gibson models these days), but the jack itself is a tad loose, but nothing a screw and some threadlock wont fix, permanently. I haven't had any noises... problems... break... nothing... since i bought this guitar about... 9 or 10 months ago.
This guitar can do some really round, warm clean tones, some funky/twangy cleans, spicy blues, thick blues, crunchy overdrive, biting distortion, heavy lows, prog highs, shred.... you name it. It cant get that strat sound, though of course. But you can certainly get sounds you didn't get with an LP or ES. I really love the response I get with these pickups. Im not sure how well these could stand up to Burstbuckers, but I would like to replace them sometime and compare. Im all about finding different sounds.
Overall impression & Value for money
The only things I would like to change/add:
1. Buzz Feiten Tuning System
Why: For a guitar this price, I want it to sound as perfect as possible, and no matter how expensive or nice the gear is, when its out of tune, it wont sound good. So adding it wouldn't be needed, but I’m sure any guitar could greatly benefit from it, especially this one.
Why: Obvious reasons.
3. Tuners (NOT NECESSARY)
Why: I would like to maybe see if better tuners would help, maybe locking, maybe just some grovers. I dunno, it would depend on how well it sounds with the BF.
4. Stetsbar (haha)
Why: I threw this in for fun, but come on! its a tremolo that flush mounts in its previous holes. How perfect.
Otherwise...It’s perfect... I love this thing to death. The only changes I have made to mine personally, is Ive taken the pickguard off (I don't have a picture of it since I did) so I could with a bow easier. Pickguards just get in my way, anyway. There are way more pick scratches on the top part of the guitar than the bottom, just the way I am when I play.
All I have to say about money, is that you really get what you pay for. It’s really important that you play this guitar first. Or any $400 and higher guitar.
I hope I didn't forget anything!
OH! Gibson C/A/H was really really helpful when I wasn’t given a certificate of authenticity by Guitar Center. All I had to do was give them my address, the serial number, and they shipped it to me. Its hanging on my wall, framed.
IN USE: 5
Value for money: 4.5