Semi-hollow and full hollow-body guitars have always been more than subjects of debate in the guitar world.
Most importantly, these guitars have been an integral part of the sound of several genres and styles like jazz, blues and pop music.
When talking about brands of hollow and semi-hollow body guitars, Gibson always makes it to that list, regardless of the listed parameters – be it budget, playability, and ergonomics. The Gibson ES 335 has always been an integral part of blues.
As a matter of fact, it was the guitar of choice for popular blues legend B.B. King. King loved his ES 335 so much that he named it “Lucille.”
In this article, we will do a side-by-side comparison of the Gibson ES 335 and the [also] popular Epiphone Sheraton.
The major difference between the Epiphone Casino and the Gibson ES 335 is that the Casino is a full hollow-body guitar while the ES 335 is a semi-hollow-body guitar. This major difference translates into size, tone, and weight differences.
For example, the Casino is a fully hollow body guitar that will be lighter in weight than the ES 335 which is a semi-hollow body.
About the Epiphone Casino
If you enjoy or have even heard, jazz and blues from the 60s and 70s, you will most likely have heard an Epiphone Casino being played. This iconic guitar was released in 1961 by Epiphone.
It was meant to be a competitor as well as a much cheaper alternative to the then-popular Gibson ES 335.
This is a classic hollow-body electric guitar that features a few interesting technical features that were revolutionary for that time and for the price point at which this guitar was available.
The most notable of these features was the hollow body design itself. This allowed the sound to resonate more and created a much fuller and brighter final product.
It also features the iconic P-90 single coil pickups that Epiphone pioneered. In terms of aesthetics, this guitar had a very different headstock which made it stand out from the rest of the competition.
One of the most popular musicians ever to have used an Epiphone Casino is John Lennon from The Beatles. John Lennon was also a co-vocalist in the group and you would nearly always find him sporting a natural finish casino around his neck.
The guitar’s lightweight build combined with how it didn’t pick up on electrical signals nearby made this one of his favorite guitars to use.
B.B. King, the King of the Blues, also used a Casino. He enjoyed his sunburst finish casino and it was a mainstay in some of his biggest hits regardless of whether he was recording in a studio or performing on stage.
King gave us some of the biggest hits in blues. The warm sound of the casino perfectly complemented his style of playing and allowed him greater flexibility than any other instrument could ever achieve.
About the Gibson ES 335
In 1958, Gibson came out with a unique offering that was destined to change electric guitars and even the future of music itself.
The Gibson ES 335 was a revolutionary product that combined features of the high-end fully hollow guitars with the cost-effectiveness of the solid body guitars.
This was achieved through the semi-hollow design, which was the highlight of the Gibson ES 335. The body was thinner than other models which made it lightweight and ergonomic.
Moreover, the guitar features a solid centre block which reduces feedback while improving resonance and giving the sound a distinctive warmth. This solid centre block was a massive change and even a breakthrough for both Gibson and musicians of the time.
High-end models from Gibson which were fully hollow had been in production since the 1950s but the challenge was feedback. The fully hollow structure created too much feedback but finally, there was a solution.
The sound from the ES 335 was unique yet versatile. This guitar was popular with musicians in the blues and jazz genres but was also a hit with players performing rock and even pop music. It appealed to a diverse range of professional musicians.
Some of the most prominent players to ever use a Gibson ES 335 include B. B King and Eric Clapton, Larry Carlton and Alvin Lee.
The Gibson ES 335 had a centre block that stretched through the entire length of the instrument. Starting from the belly all the way to the headstock.
This created a very solid base for the rest of the guitar to be built upon and also improved the resonance problem.
Moreover, the guitar also features laminated maple covers on both the front and the back of the guitar which helped to give warmth to the sound.
Unique details about the Epiphone Casino
The Epiphone Casino has been a hit ever since its debut in the early 1960s. Till today the rock and roll genre is dominated by the Casino.
Most other guitars that cater to this style of music have something or the other in common with the Casino. There are multiple technical features of this guitar that make it an excellent choice. Some of the top features include the following.
The Casino is a full hollow body guitar meaning that both the wings in the belly and the centre block are made of hollow 5-ply limited maple which is all covered in a sunburst finish. This gives the guitar a unique look and also plays a role in its iconic sound.
One of the things that made the guitar sound so different was the set neck that was glued in place rather than the bolt-on neck found on many other guitars of the era.
While this did make the sound very interesting, it was also a bit of a problem when it came to changing necks.
Double cutaway styling
Epiphone has been known to create ergonomic and slender designs. However, they took this a step further with the Casino with the double cutaway design on the belly of the guitar.
This not only looked great but it also worked perfectly for players who wanted to go high up on the fretboard to perform those crazy solos.
Epiphone did something a bit different with the Casino and introduced the Kluson tuners. These were a great addition not only in terms of functionality. They also looked great on the redesigned headstock for the Casino.
As is true for many Epiphone guitars, the Casino also features the iconic P-90 single coil pickups. These play a huge role in giving the Casino that smooth, clear and bright sound that it is known for.
When combined with the tremolo, you get that full spectrum of sound that Epiphones are noted for.
ABR 1 tune-o-matic bridge
The ABR 1 bridge is a classic bit of equipment that you will find on any vintage guitar these days but it all started off with the Casino.
With its unique design to how it is planted right into the wood on the face plate, this is a popular design even today with guitars that go for the classic vintage look and sound.
Unique details about the Gibson ES 335
The Gibson is considered by many an engineering masterpiece. Here we go through some of the top features of this guitar that make it a powerful component in any guitarist’s arsenal.
Arched top and back
The arch at the top and the back of the Gibson ES 335 not only give it the unique visual appeal that it is known for but also plays a role in its tonal characteristic. This also makes the guitar ergonomic and comfortable to wear.
The semi-hollow design is a mix of a solid block right in the centre of the guitar and throughout the neck while the wings of the block extending to the sides of the belly are hollowed out.
This plays a huge role in the kind of sound that you get from the ES 335 and the solid block helps to nearly eliminate resonance.
One of the reasons why the ES 335 sounds so twangy is because of the F holes on the belly. While these do give the guitar a unique look they also play a role in making it sound more interesting.
Dual humbucking pickups
The single coils certainly have their niche audience but the ES 335 is powered by the much beefier-sounding humbucking pickups.
These are not only louder but they have a distinctive sound which has become a popular characteristic of Gibson guitars.
Intonation is made easy on these guitars with the tune-o-matic bridge design. This also makes adjusting the string height very quick and easy.
This range of customization offered solely because of the bridge makes this a very flexible guitar in terms of the kinds of sounds it can make and the kind of playing styles it can be modified for.
The stopbar holds the strings securely to the body of the guitar. It also helps to improve the sustain of the instrument leading to a better tonal experience.
Epiphone Casino Vs. ES 335 Features Comparison
Here are some details about the specific features of these two guitars when compared with each other.
Epiphone Casino Vs. ES 335: Neck
- Both these guitars have set necks rather than bolt-on necks. This improves sustain and also impacts the overall tonal characteristics of the guitars.
- Both guitars feature a 24.75 scale length neck.
- The Casino has a D-profile neck in a slim taper whereas the ES 335 has a slightly thicker neck that helps with its denser and deeper sound profile.
Epiphone Casino Vs. ES 335: Tremolo
- The ES 335 comes with a Bigsby Tremolo system as an optional addon while the Casino does not have a tremolo.
Epiphone Casino Vs. ES 335: Pickups
- The Casino comes with the Epiphone P-90 single coil pickups. These are humbucker-style pickups but they are very bright and deliver a clear, crisp sound.
- The ES 335 also features humbucker pickups but it is fitted with the Gibson BurstBucker series. These deliver a fuller sound with a bit more warmth and edge.
Epiphone Casino Vs. ES 335: Headstock
- The Casino is fitted with a ‘Kalamazoo’ style headstock. This is a vintage shape that is still used in some guitars that are designed to look like vintage-era models.
- The ES 335 features a thinner and more tapered headstock that is a bit more modern in its design.
Epiphone Casino Vs. ES 335: Body
- The Casino features a fully hollow body made with laminated maple. This creates more resonance in the sound and also makes it lighter and brighter.
- The ES 335 is made with a mix of maple, poplar, and maple laminate. It also features a solid centerpiece but also has hollow wings. This creates a deeper and richer sound with less resonance and feedback.
A Brief History of Epiphone Casino and Gibson ES 335
The Gibson ES 335 was launched in 1958; however, Gibson had been working on this design for nearly 10 years prior to its release. What made this guitar so unique and highly sought after at that time was the semi-hollow design.
At that time, guitars were either fully hollow or completely solid. This semi-hollow finish also had a huge impact on the sound of the guitar and it quickly became one of the most popular models.
Till today the ES 335 is considered one of the most iconic models to ever come out of the Gibson factory. Moreover, it is an extremely versatile instrument. It is used for everything from blues to jazz to rock and even heavy metal.
The Casino came out a few years after the ES 335 and was designed to be a more affordable version of what Gibson was offering.
Not only is the Casino a fully hollow body instrument but it also has some major differences in its construction and the kind of electronics that it uses.
All these together account for big differences in the sound of the instrument and make it a powerful instrument for any player.
The Casino was popularized by the Beatles who used it extensively for both studio recordings and live shows.
Serial Numbers and Factory Codes
The Epiphone Casino and the Gibson ES 335 have gone through a number of changes and continue to evolve.
To more easily understand exactly what kind of guitar you are dealing with it can help to look at the serial numbers and factory codes.
However, these also change over time. Here are a couple of tables to make this easier to understand.
Gibson ES 335
|Period||Factory Code||Serial Number Format|
“Y” stands for the last digit of the year and “N” stands for the production number.
|Period||Factory Code||Serial Number Format|
“Y” stands for the last digit of the year, “M” stands for the month (1-9 for Jan-Sept, and “O” for Oct-Dec), and “N” stands for the production number.
The Epiphone Casino and the Gibson ES 335 continue to be popular guitars to this day. For some people, it is about that classic vintage look while for others it is about the unique sound that you get from these instruments.
Some of the most highly prized items are vintage guitars from the 1950s and 1960s. Even Though these are still in production they have gone through several upgrades and changes throughout the years.
In any case, no matter what kind of music you want to play, both these guitars offer a flexible and powerful platform for you to build on.