By Mike Sichelman
my Gibson ES-135 for about a month now, and I think itís time
for an in-depth review.
Excellent! The guitar has that vintage 50s look & vibe
in spades. The blueburst finish was near flawless, save for
one small piece of dirt in the clear coat, which buffed off
with a polishing cloth & wax. The top, back & sides
are clear, with no obvious knots or other defects in the wood.
There is a slight flame in the middle of the top, between
the pickups, and the neck also has some figure that is more
pronounced, but still somewhat muted for my taste (itís a
bonus, given the specs of this model.)
The guitar arrived with some marks in the clear coat from
a buffing wheel, but they were uniform & unobtrusive.
It appeared to be buffed robotically, but I could be wrong.
These marks actually gave the guitar a nicer appearance than
hand buffing would achieve.
There was a small amount of red buffing compound in a few
areas where the binding met at corners, but this was easy
My only misgiving with the appearance was the mother-of-pearl
markers-they look like plastic, dull & lifeless. I guess
Iíve been spoiled by the Paua shell markers in my USACG Strat.
The fingerboard could be darker, but some lemon oil will do
Overall, the guitar looks very nice. Kudos to Gibson.
Fit & finish
to excellent. The guitar seems well put-together. No obvious
flaws to speak of. Bindings are all in place, no gaps seen.
The top & back are correctly set on the sides. The neck
joint appears tight, and the clear coat is not cracked. There
was a fair amount of sawdust inside the guitar that fell out
cleaner solved this issue, as well as a good shaking.
The paint on the headstock is flawless. The plated parts are
The frets are sore spot with me. They are smaller than Iíd
like, and very ďsquare.Ē The frets are fairly flat on top,
which makes sliding difficult for me. A fret crowning is in
order. I expected more, to be honest.
at best. But I also feel this is subjective. Let me explain:
The guitar was delivered with little string tension, as one
would expect. Tuned to pitch, I found the relief much higher
than I find comfortable. The guitar was very difficult for
me to play. Not only did I have to adjust the truss rod (half
to three-quarters of a turn) but the bridge had to be lowered
as well. After these adjustments were made, the guitar plays
much better. Itís still not quite as ďslinkyĒ as I expected,
being a shorter scale than a Strat.
A little more time spent with the setup will help, as I am
relatively inexperienced with Gibsonís bridge.
The frets have much to do with the difficulty I have in playing
this guitar. Having lower action will help as well. I may
invest in a professional setup, but I have a feeling Iíll
use this guitar as a tool to learn how to do it myself.
The pickups sound great, clean or distorted. The í57 Classics
gave me the humbucker sound I was looking for. This guitar
has a nice jazzy sound when played quietly. Tyrone Shuz was
able to make it scream pretty nicely when played hard. Not
quite a heavy metal sound, but good hard rock tone for sure.
is very versatile-too bad Iím not! As I grow as a musician,
I will be able to make better use of the numerous tones that
Kind of cheesy actually. The tolex is glued on the top &
bottom, over the pieces that make up the sides, which are
wrapped over the edges. Looks funky, and cheap. There was
glue in the felt, which was my biggest concern. The hasp for
the lock tends to stick some. I think the case has actually
flexed seems to be shutting off-center. Time will tell if
this gets worse.
I love the
way this guitar looks and sounds, but I have some concerns
with how it plays. I need to spend some time with it to see
how low I can get the action before I say for sure. I will
try a new set of strings soon, hopefully this will make the
guitar play a bit easier as well. The Gibson Brite-wires seem
to have pretty high string tension.
The guitar, being discontinued, is being sold almost everywhere
for $999. Had I paid more, Iíd probably be pretty disappointed.
A grand for this guitar is much more realistic than the price
advertised while still in production.
I do like the guitar very much.
It just isnít a Strat, ya know?