2008 Gibson ES335 – Highly customised, refinished and upgraded.

When I bought this Gibson ES335 off Danny L. from “Hellhound Hearts,” he described it as….

“Gibson 335 Plain Top, heavily used, heavily customised!

It started life as a 2008 black plain top which i bought new from Guitar Guitar in Newcastle. Since then i have played over 300 shows with it, modding it along the way. Firstly the top was stripped and resprayed in a vintage white ( you see gold tops so why not white tops ) Pickups were replaced with an uncovered Bareknuckle Blackdog in the bridge and a Vanson p90 in the neck.

It was later fitted with a Bigsby B5 trem which was then taken off when i realised that all they do is look cool but make your guitar constantly out of tune! ( the mounting holes and marks can be seen in picture 3 )

Also fitted are Sperzel locking machine heads and a Schaller roller bridge.

This guitar has been heavily used, but not abused. It is 100% functional and has had no major damage or headstock breaks, but there are small chips / dents and scuffs all over after 7 years of hard touring and use.

The reason for the sale is simple, its time for a change of guitar brand and i sadly can’t afford to keep this and get new gear. This could either be continually used as it is as a unique 335 or be the basis of a restoration project.”

I received the guitar and knew that I’d have to change a few things – but it was also a good excuse to try out new ideas…..

The finish on the front that Danny had applied was heavily worn where the Bigsby had been installed, and it was clear that the lacquer clear coat had not adhered to the white layer.  Plus there were those annoying holes from the Bigsby.  I was also looking for a more articulate P90 for the neck pickup.  It sounds like there’s a plan!

When I stripped down the guitar I noticed that it had clearly been “touched up” on the upper rear horn – but for some reason a matt paint had been used.  As it’s not immediately visible I decided to leave certain aspects of the guitars history as “mojo and vibe.”  There are a number of knocks and bangs but the worst is a chip in the headstock paint (and the retouched upper rear horn.)

Ordered a new BareKnuckle Pickups, Humbucker Sized “Blue Note” P90 for the neck, bought some Pelham Blue (Dave Grohl-esque) lacquer and started to restore.

Filling in the Bigsby Holes was tricky but I’m happy with the result.  After the Blue lacquer was applied I added about 6 coats of clear nitro, all in all a great result.

So what is it?

The body is an original Gibson ES335 (plaintop).  The woodwork shows clear evidence of wear, but no breaks.  The neck has a great Rosewood fingerboard and lovely wide and low frets – which only show light signs of wear.  The neck feels quite wide and thin – a D shape if anything.

The front face of the body has been refinished for a second time – now in Pelham Blue Nitro Lacquer.  The rear finish on the body and neck and sides is the original black lacquer.

All the electronic controls are original, pickups upgraded, the hardware is a textbook mix and match of excellent quality components – Sperzel locking tuners, Schaller Roller Bridge Schaller Straplocks, and original Gibson tailpiece.

The case has it’s own share of Rock & Roll vibe with the traditional spray paint and stencil labelling.   I’ve added a few pictures of Danny L using the guitar and the pictures he used to advertise it when I bought it….

I’m actually so impressed with it I may keep this one…