Epiphone ES335 Dot Electric Guitar

The Epiphone ES335 Dot was not my first choice of guitar when I was invited to join some friends who were forming a fifties rock & roll band.

With a repertoire that covered everything from Doo-Wop to Rock-a-billy, I knew I needed to try to get hold of a semi-hollow-body guitar with a Bigsby tremelo unit so that it looked the part and had the right full ‘twang’ sound reminiscent of the that era. My first choice was a Gretsch model and while they are amazing electric guitars, I found them a little difficult to play high up the neck because of the large heel and my stubby fingers. So I started to look round for a Gibson ES335 model with a Bigsby.

Epiphone ES335 Dot

Epiphone ES335 Dot

They are amazing guitars too but sadly they were out of my budget for a band that was unlikely to be playing venues larger than small clubs and pubs. I also discovered that the ones with a fitted Bigsby are as rare as hen’s teeth, so after months of searching, I gave up and started to explore the opportunity of maybe buying a cheaper semi-acoustic guitar, adding a Bigsby and upgrading the pickups to get a more vintage sound.

I tried a number of guitars and quickly settled on a ‘vintage sunburst’ Epiphone 335 Dot.  It seemed ideal for me because it looked great and played really well but it didn’t have a Bigsby and the humbucker pickups were not quite right for the fifties style of ‘twang’ that I needed.  My friendly guitar tech recommended fitting a Seymour Duncan JB Model Humbucker pickup in the bridge position and a Seymour Duncan ’59 Model Humbucker at the neck.  He also fitted a Bigsby for me.  The guitar cost £299 and the pick-ups and Bigsby cost just about the same to buy and £150 to fit.  So in total, the guitar cost me just under £750 but it now looks, plays and sounds really great with that super sweet, warm semi-acoustic tone.  The guitar has an amazing tonal range and the playability is first-rate.

The specification of the original guitar was:

  • Body: Laminated Maple
  • Top: Laminated Maple
  • Neck: Maple
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Inlay: Dot
  • Neck Join: Set
  • Scale: 24.75″
  • Nut Width: 1.68″
  • Pickups: 2x Humbuckers
  • Controls: 2 vol, 2 tone 3-way switch
  • Hardware: Chrome
  • Tailpiece: Stopbar
  • Finish: Vintage Sunburst

The stop bar needed to be removed to fit the Bigsby but my guitar tech glued a circle of Mother of Pearl over each of the threaded holes and they now look superb and in-keeping with the style of the dot markers on the neck.

The sound of the pickups is now so much warmer and fuller than the original pickups which were good value but sounded a little brittle.

The guitar is a delight to play and through a valve amp with a layer of slap-back echo, it gives me that perfect authentic 50’s rock & roll sound.