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Gibson ES 339 Review: Is It the Right One For Your Style?

Gibson ES 339 Review: Is It the Right One For Your Style?

Our Gibson ES 339 review will give you all the information you need to know to help you decide if this guitar is for you. You’ll probably be familiar with the well known and iconic ES 335. Over the years it has been played by the likes of BB King, Noel Gallagher, and Eric Clapton to name just a few.

As we’ll discover, the Gibson 339 retains all the classic style and sound of the ES 335, but in a slightly smaller and more compact model.

Gibson ES 339 Review

We’re going to explore all the main features of the Gibson ES 339 to find out how it sounds, what it looks like, and how it feels. You’ll find out the pros and cons of this type of electric guitar, as well as whether there are any alternatives worth looking at.

Gibson ES-339 Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar | Guitar Center

The Gibson ES-339 is a modern classic designed for those seeking the tone and look of an ES-335, but desire a slightly smaller, lighter instrument.

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We may receive compensation from the companies whose products we review. We only recommend products that we believe in and test.

We’ll answer some common questions about the guitar and by the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll have everything you need to know to make your choice.

Key specifications of Gibson ES 339

Made in Gibson’s custom factory in Memphis, Tennessee, the Gibson 339 is a high-quality semi-hollow electric guitar in a smaller size than it’s more famous big-brother the ES 335. Here are the main specifications of the Gibson ES 339.

Body Shapedouble cut, semi-hollow body.)
Body MaterialTop and back – 3-ply Maple/Poplar/Maple. Bracing – Spruce Centerblock – Maple
Frets22 x Medium Jumbo
PickupNeck – 57 Classic Bridge – 57 Classic +
WarrantyLifetime for the original purchaser from an authorised dealer.
Our score9/10
Latest priceClick here to find the latest price.

Core features of Gibson ES 339

The Gibson ES 339 comes from a very well-known and highly respected giant in the world of guitar making. Gibson are always tinkering with their designs, innovating with their technology and developing their range and the ES 339 is a development from the ES 335.

The ES 339 is part of the ES family which began with the ES 335 in 1958. The 335 quickly became an icon and a firmly loved guitar in the Gibson stable. Not content, Gibson expanded the range with two downsized semis, the ES 336 and the ES 346. In 2007 they launched the modern classic ES 339:

Size and shape

The Gibson ES 339 is similar in size to the 336/346. At 14 ¼” wide and 16 ¾“ long it’s considerably smaller than the ES 335 which comes in at 16” x 19”. The rim depth is 1 ¾”.

If you’re a fan of the ES 335 but you just don’t get on with the larger size and feel that something a bit more compact would suit you, then this is definitely the guitar to consider.

It has a delightfully curvy shape with lightly arched top and bottom and an overall comfortable play. The one-piece quartersawn mahogany neck comes in two possible sizes: 30/60 with the slimmer but wider feel of the earlier 1960s, or the ‘59 neck profile which is somewhat heftier.

It’s topped with a back-angled head at 17°. The neck is a c-profile and the frets on the pearloid dot inlay rosewood fingerboard are well rounded but tall which allows plenty of scope for gymnastic bends, pull-offs, and hammer-ons.

Overall we find the size of the ES 339 a real plus-point. You don’t always want to be carting a big guitar around the place and this guitar is just so comfortable to play.

It feels much less bulky than the 335, closer to the feel of a solid body, and the curves mean that it sits really nicely in the hollow of your body. Some people find that the cutaways are a little tight to get to those high notes, but we’ve found that this isn’t really a problem and you can definitely reach them.


Obviously the most important factor when choosing a guitar – what does it sound like? The Gibson ES 339 has all the great sound you’d expect from a Gibson. It has superb loud, acoustic resonance from the semi-hollow body.

The tone is dynamic and clean with plenty of soaring highs and roomy lows. The well-known ‘57 Classic humbuckers provide a lovely smooth sound at the neck, a thick bridge and when you mix them you get an open jumping twang, so you’ve got a great repertoire of tones to play with.

Gibson ES 339 features

To compare the sound, it’s a bit of a mashup of the ES 335 and the Les Paul, slightly more ‘solid’ in tone, and not as wide in the bass as the modern ES 335.

It’s more modern sounding than the ES 335, but more expressive than the Les Paul. Overall, this is a really great sounding guitar with a smooth, classic sound perfect for blues but happy to step in to rock any time.

Other features

If you’re new to a semi-hollow guitar design you may want a bit of information about how this works. There are three body types out there, the solid-body, the semi-hollow, and the hollow, all of which contribute to the sound of the guitar.

  • Solid bodies are most common.
  • Hollow bodies are closer to acoustic guitars.
  • The semi-hollow (like the ES 335 and ES 339) have two hollow areas with a solid center block through the middle of the guitar.

In terms of sound, this makes them tonally similar to the solid body but with less sustain and less focus at the low end. The block in the center reduces the feedback common in a hollow body.

Semi-hollow bodies are favored by blues or jazz type players who like the focus and tightness of a solid body but with a hint of the acoustic tones of a hollow guitar.

In the Gibson ES 339, the solid block is made mainly from maple, but with spruce cushions at the top and back and is clearly but tidily visible through the f-holes.

The control layout is almost the same as the ES 335, with top hat pot knobs on the two-tone and two-volume controllers and toggle 3-way selector switch.

The one difference is that the output jack is on the side, which many will feel is an improvement. Other hardware includes the nickel light-weight ABR-1 Tune-o-Matic bridge and stops bar tailpiece.


Making sure that you have a guitar that will retain its performance over a lifetime is something you’ll want to think about before shelling out hard cash for a guitar. In this case, paying a premium price for a Gibson makes this a pretty sure bet.

Gibson is well known for building high quality, long-lasting guitars and there is no reason the ES 330 will be any different. The lifetime warranty on materials and workmanship is a testament to Gibson’s confidence in their product.

Of course, there will be things that you need to do to maintain optimum performance. You’ll need to store and ship your guitar properly, and you’ll need to replace your strings every now and then and give it a clean.

Gibson ES-339 Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar | Guitar Center

The Gibson ES-339 is a modern classic designed for those seeking the tone and look of an ES-335, but desire a slightly smaller, lighter instrument.

Check price Check availability on Reverb
We may receive compensation from the companies whose products we review. We only recommend products that we believe in and test.

Pros of Gibson ES 339

This is a really great guitar so there are some fabulous features to pick up on here.

  • Gibson’s Memphis Tone Circuit – A nice little addition that helps to preserve high frequencies no matter the volume. Many guitars go a little dark when you turn down the volume because the volume appears to turn down the high tones more than the lows. This little innovation in wiring means you still get the full spectrum of tones even when the guitar volume is at a lower level.
  • Classic tone – If you love the tone of the ES 335 then you’ll love the tone of the Gibson ES 339 too. The neck and bridge pickups are nicely balanced. The neck pickup is warm but clear giving an almost jazz tone. The bridge pickup is controlled, but bright and sounds great with a range of styles.
  • Great build quality – From the way that the lightly arched, pressed laminate back and top are glued to the laminate sides using kerfed linings to increase the gluing area, to the nicotine colored single strip edge binding every aspect of this guitar is carefully handled and neatly achieved. Using a computer-controlled Plek machine to level and finish the frets creates an even and reliable finish. There is superb workmanship throughout this guitar.
  • Looks and design – With its the studio body shape, tidily cut ‘f’ holes, and super slim waist, the Gibson ES 339 is not only comfortable to play, but also holds its own up there on the stage. Every aspect has been considered from the matt black paint disguising the laminate layer edges in the f-holes to the pearloid dot inlays on the rosewood fingerboard and the pearloid inlay logo on the headpiece.

Cons of Gibson ES 339

As with any guitar, even one as beautiful as the ES 339, there are always a few negatives to tell you about.

  • Somewhat expensive – The ES339 is not a cheap guitar. Of course, coming from the Gibson Memphis workshop you are getting great quality parts and skilled craftsmanship as well as the Gibson name, but if you have a tight budget or are looking for an inexpensive guitar then at upwards of $2000 this is possibly not the guitar for you.
  • Not that easy to find – Despite its popularity (or perhaps because of it) the Gibson ES 339 is unlikely to be held in stock in your local guitar store. In fact, at the time of writing, many popular online guitar retailers were out of stock with this popular guitar model. You may need to search around or get in line to get your hands on one of these beauties.
  • Narrow neck playing area – Thicker binding, which goes over the ends of the frets, on the neck reduces the playing area of the neck somewhat. That narrower fret means that you can easily slip off the treble side of the neck. It’s not a huge deal, and you quickly learn to automatically compensate in your playing, but it may take you by surprise when you begin to play.
Gibson ES 339
Image from Flickr

Are there any alternatives?

Ibanez Artcore Expressionist AM93ME

Ibanez AM93ME Artcore Expressionist Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar | Guitar Center

Built with tone woods selected for their beauty as well as their musicality, the Expressionist models are perfect for a wide range of styles, from jazz and blues to rock and folk.

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We may receive compensation from the companies whose products we review. We only recommend products that we believe in and test.

The Ibanez Artcore Expressionist AM93ME is another semi-solid body electric guitar, but in a much cheaper price bracket, so accessible for the budget-conscious musician. A Macassar Ebony semi-hollow body, Nyatoh/Maple neck, and ebony fretboard combine to create a warm resonant tone in the Ibanez Artcore.

The double-cutaway allows good access to the 22 frets. The whole guitar is beautiful to look at with the ebony top, body and sides, gold hardware, and elegant pearl block inlays on the ebony fingerboard. Ibanez Classic Elite pickups give well-balanced output and a big tone, full of character.

This is a perfect guitar for fusion or eclectic players who like a bit of a mixture of jazz, rock, country, and blues. Check out our Ibanez Artcore AM93 review here.

Hagstrom Tremar Viking Deluxe

Hagstrom Tremar Viking Deluxe Electric Guitar Gloss Black | Guitar Center

Dressed to kill, the hagstrom Tremar Viking Deluxe Electric Guitar will burn up the competition with its select flame maple top and lush finish. 

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We may receive compensation from the companies whose products we review. We only recommend products that we believe in and test.

The Hagstrom Tremar Viking Deluxe is a bad boy of a jazz guitar. Extremely playable with a contoured maple body and maple set neck. Capturing the incredible Angstrom style with tight quality control and Angstrom’s exclusive technologies, these are a really incredible guitar.

The vibrato hollow body is made from contoured flamed maple and the set maple neck sports resonator wood with angstrom pearl block position marks.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between the Gibson ES 335 and ES 339

The key difference is the size, though there are differences in tone too. Where the ES 335 is 16” x 19”, the ES 339 is 14 ¼” wide and 16 ¾” long. In tone, the ES 339 is similar to the ES 335, though while retaining its versatility, it can have a slightly more aggressive sound and give tones more reminiscent of a Les Paul. Both have a laminated top and, despite the difference in size, both weigh in at 4.65lb.

What finishes are available on the Gibson ES 339?

The finishes available at the moment from Gibson for the ES 339 are gloss nitrocellulose lacquer in Cherry and Trans Ebony.
What’s the Gibson ES 339 “figured”

The design spec on the “figured” version is the same as the standard ES 339. The difference is in the wood construction used. The “figured” version uses curly or flamed maple. This accounts for a difference in price too.

What kind of tuners do you get on the Gibson ES 339?

The tuners are Grover Rotomatic tuners with kidney buttons. This appears to be a change as older models had Kluson style tuners with tulip buttons but there were a number of issues with keeping the guitar in tune. This change of tuner seems to have fixed that issue and is a much better set up.

What does it come with?

The Gibson ES 339 comes with a hardshell case and a Gibson Accessory Kit, which includes a nylon strap and some cleaning equipment.

Final thoughts – the Gibson ES339 is a great guitar, but you pay for it.

This is a superb guitar. You get the looks, style, and sound of the classic 335 but at a more manageable size. You get clean workmanship, a great set-up, and classic finishes from the Memphis Custom Shop. And of course, you get the Gibson ES tone from that semi-hollow body.

This really is one of the best new Gibsons on the market – a great guitar built with quality and consistency. Many people love the function and looks of the Gibson ES 335 but just don’t get on with the size. This is the best compromise you could have: An ES 335 for the solid-body player that still retains the character of it’s a larger sibling.

However, all this workmanship and the great Gibson name will cost you. It may be easy on the ear, but this guitar is not easy on the bank balance.

Gibson ES-339 Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar | Guitar Center

The Gibson ES-339 is a modern classic designed for those seeking the tone and look of an ES-335, but desire a slightly smaller, lighter instrument.

Check price Check availability on Reverb
We may receive compensation from the companies whose products we review. We only recommend products that we believe in and test.

Check out more Alternatives from Gibson:

Latest posts by Jodie Chiffey (see all)


Tuesday 7th of March 2023

I own a studio which I liked so much that I bought a figured. The ES339 is a wonderful instrument, and yes, you have to pay for it, but it's worth it.


Friday 3rd of March 2023

This is truly a beautiful Instrument. If you're looking for Tone and Sustain, rock-solid Intonation, feedback at your call, the goodies of a 335 and the comfort of a guitar you can play way longer than your kid can survive on Playstation, then this is worth a play. If you can get your hands on one....I saw one online, procrastinated, then bit the bullet and gambled on selling some other guitars if I got it.... I took delivery of a 2014 model in wine red, in perfect condition in Australia. Your review is spot on. This Guitar has re-birthed passion. There's not a day goes by when I cannot resist but pick her up and play several times a day, acoustically or through a Matchless Avalon 30 or a Fender Champ. I am fortunate to have quite a few guitars, all with different actions, neck widths etc. Some Classy axes in there, too... This Gibson 339 is pretty much the only Instrument I am playing. Took a week or so to get my feel for it after playing so many different guitars. Now, I've got to tweak my playing to her, I think I can pretty safely relegate to the storage room the playthings: including the Fender Strat Lonestar (99 with the legendary Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates and hand-wound Tex Specials), the awesome Fender Tele (Page Dragon), whiplash PRS Torero, cooking P90s Eastman T486B and Gibson Les Paul Studio (Ebony board and classic p490/498 pickups). Gibson ES 339? If you can get your hands on one, secure it. Play it for a week or two, and nothing else matters...

Mike Geyer

Thursday 2nd of December 2021

Although I love the tone , playability and looks of my Gibson 339 it is a love / hate relationship. Tuning stability is horrible! You cannot gig with this guitar. Changing temps or humidity will make the guitar unplayable. I’ve taken it the several gigs and have yet to be able to use it as it WILL NOT hold tune. The addition of a string butler allows to to work in my basement but taken the a gig and different environment it’s useless. I own a 335 & Les Pauls and only the solid body Les Pauls seem that not experience this issue. I also had electrical issues with my 335. Delamintion of the finish on the neck has also started. I find it ridiculous that I paid this much money for this guitar that I was truly excited about only to have all of these problems. My 335 ( custom shop) has also had issues. Both of these guitar should have NEVER left the factory. Out of my two Les Paul stds. One is perfect the other required lots of work to make right. My 335 & 339 are now unfortunately eye candy and that’s it. My Teles , Strats & PRS go to the gigs. I’m totally done with Gibsons . That’s a shame!


Monday 4th of October 2021

Hello! Great review! Thanks, I own a ES-339, and Im really in love with the sound and overall experience of playing this guitar. I have a doubt I hope you could help me clarify. I would like to customize a bit more my ES-339 by adding a trapeze tailpiece, would you recommend or approve this??


Monday 12th of April 2021

The 339 is a fantastic guitar. Super versatile, a workhorse! Great review, thank for sharing! I tried the AM93 an it is a fantastic cheap alternative.