Over the many years of guitar-making history, two companies have always stood out. The question of who is better, the Fender or the Gibson, was and still is the neverending debate among musicians. Both companies rarely missed the introduction of new models, and among those models are the iconic Gibson ES 335 and Fender Telecaster.
These guitars will grow to legendary status in many different genres across the years. Both have a special place in many guitarists’ hearts, and not too often are they compared. With the different look, they also pack a different sound.
When you compare these models, their look of them is the first thing that you will notice differently. The ES 335 model is bigger and more elegant than the Telecaster model, which many people call chunky. The main difference would be that the Telecaster is solid body guitar, and the ES 335 has a semi-hollow body.
Tonally, the ES 335 has a tone with more air and warmth to it than the Telecaster, which leans more to the brighter side of the tonal specter. This is the reason why you can see Telecaster being used in genres such as country or rock more often than the ES 335, which is standard for genres such as jazz or blues.
Since the first models were introduced, both companies continued making these guitars. Both models will live to be part of major eras in different genres.
|Gibson ES 335
|Number Of Frets
|22, Narrow Tall
|22, medium jumbo
|Type of Bridge
|2-Point Synchronized Tremolo with Cold-rolled Steel Block
|Tune-O-Matic with stop bar
|Fender Standard Die-cast
|3 x Fender V-Mod II Single-coil
|Calibrated T-Type humbuckers
|5-way blade pickup switch
|3-way toggle switch
|1 x master volume, 2 x tone (push/push add neck)
|2x master volume, 2x tone control
|8.5 lbs (3.85 kg)
Gibson ES 335 History
Gibson ES 335 was introduced back in 1958 as part of the Gibson series ES which stands for Electric Spanish. This guitar meets in the middle between a solid-body and hollow-body guitar. This guitar will live to be one of the most iconic models of Gibson guitars.
Until this model, Gibson only made hollow-body guitars that were prone to problems with feedback. They will introduce the solid body, Les Paul, to fight this problem. The ES 335 is the best of both worlds. It has the warmth of a hollow body and plays without any feedback problems. Since the first model, Gibson will never stop producing it.
Fender Telecaster History
You will not be wrong to consider Telecaster as a grandad of Fender guitars. The Telecaster is the first mass-produced guitar by Fender, with the first model made in the 1950s with the name Broadcaster. Later, with the influence of TV and the legal dispute with Gretsch, it was renamed, Telecaster.
Over the years, Fender will keep the soul of the instrument with its body, but Telecaster will see many different versions with different hardware. You will not be wrong to consider the Telecaster to be a great platform for upgrades and changes in hardware.
When comparing the bodies of the guitars, they have nothing similar. For a start, the Telecaster is a solid-body guitar, while the ES 335 is a semi-hollow guitar. This will result in different body weights as well as shapes.
The body of Telecaster is made out of Adler and has a single cutaway design. The ES 335 has a body made out of Maple-poplar with a double cutaway design, allowing guitarists easy access to the higher frets. The Telecaster is slightly heavier, weighing 8.5 lbs (3.85 kg), and ES 335 weighing 8lbs (3.6.kg).
Neck & Scale Length Compared
The body is not the only thing these guitars are different by. The neck of the Telecaster is made out of Maple, while the ES 335 models have a Mahogany neck. The shape of the neck is also different, giving a different feel to both instruments. ES 335 models pack a Rounded C neck shape, and the Telecaster has a Deep C neck shape.
There is also a difference in scale length between these guitars. The Telecaster models have a 25.5″ scale length which is slightly longer than ES 335 which has a 24.75″ scale length. The fretboard material is also different. The Telecaster has a Maple fretboard, and ES 335 has a Rosewood fretboard.
The neck construction of the Telecaster models is Bolt-on, while the ES 335 has a Set neck construction. The only thing that these models share is the number of frets which is 22 for both models, with ES 335 having the Medium Jumbo frets and Telecaster having Narrow Tall frets.
The Telecasters come with a 3-way toggle switch to control the pickups. This gives the instrument great variety in tone. Along with the toggle switch, the model also has one master volume and one tone control knob. Telecasters also pack the 2-Point Synchronized Tremolo with Cold-rolled Steel Block and the Fender Standard Die-cast tuning machines.
The pickups of the ES 335 are controlled with a 3-way toggle switch. With the switch, the ES 335 allows you to further control the tone with the two master volume knobs and two tone control knobs. This model has the classic Grover Rotomatics tuning machines and a Tune-O-Matic bridge with a stop bar.
Pickup Configuration Compared
The stock versions of these models pack different pickup configurations. The usual configuration of the Telecaster pickups is two single coil pickups. These pickups have a major role in the sound of the Telecaster. Still, you can often see them replaced with a humbucker or add an additional single coil for more variety in tone.
On the other hand, we have the ES 335 with the two calibrated T-type humbuckers. Along with the body of the ES 335, these pickups are responsible for the warmth in the sound of this guitar. These pickups are what get this guitar to the middle ground between the solid body and hollow body guitar.
Gibson ES 335 Tone
Besides its beautiful look, the ES 335 has a great tone many guitarists will recognize easily. Considering that it is the midground between the hollow and solid bodies, you get the best of both worlds. Because of this, it has a uniquely warm, round, and airy tone that soothes the ears of many guitarists across the world.
Fender Telecaster Tone
Many guitars will be able to recognize the Telecaster sound within seconds of hearing it. It has a bright and punchy tone with a great twang to it. On the frequency specter, it is dominant in the high range. Its tone is the reason why you can see it being used everywhere, from rock to jazz.
Gibson ES 335 Feel & Playability
The Gibson ES 335 is a great guitar to play. Since its introduction, it has experienced almost no changes in its design. The only thing that will change on this guitar over the years is the neck. Gibson will add the neck with a C profile to boost the playability of the instrument.
Fans of small-body guitars will not fall in love with the ES 335 because its body is rather big, but this does not mean it is uncomfortable. On the contrary, it feels natural in the hands, especially for acoustic guitar players.
Fender Telecaster Feel & Playability
Considering that the Telecaster was their first mass-produced, this guitar’s feel and playability are rather good. Its single cutaway design adds to its feel, and the neck of this guitar tends to be a little chunkier. Of course, you can find many models with amazing neck feel.
Another thing that Telecaster is known for is its lack of forgiveness for mistakes. This is the result of its great clarity and presence, so playing a Telecaster will most likely improve your guitar skills.
Gibson ES 335 Look
Seeing Gibson ES 335 on stage is a beautiful sight to see. You will not be wrong to list this guitar among the most beautiful guitars ever made. Since its production, the design will remain the same. It has a beautiful body that is easily recognizable, and every guitar will once in his career wish to own one.
This guitar model will be part of many different eras throughout history. You may recognize a similar model from the iconic movie Back To The Future, where Morty plays Chuck Berry’s Johhny be Good. Part of the reason why it was chosen for the movie is its beautiful look.
Fender Telecaster Look
The Telecaster is among the most iconic guitars ever made. You wouldn’t be wrong to say that there is no guitarist who has not seen this guitar. At the time of its introduction, its design was revolutionary. It has a single-cutaway design with chunky edges to it.
This can be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on what kind of look you are going for. Overall, it is a beautiful guitar, and today you can see it is customized to the point where it becomes almost something else. Usually, with the customization, the sound of the Tele is kept.
Famous Gibson ES 335 Players
Alvin Lee was the lead vocalist and guitarist of Ten Years After. He became famous for playing at the Woodstock festival and introducing the unique technique of his fast playing, which boosted his career significantly.
Throughout his career, he will stick with the Gibson ES 335, which was a big part of his guitar playing. He added an additional single coil pickup to it, which will create his unique tone and be his trademark. Unfortunately, he passed away due to unforeseen surgical complications in 2013.
The man behind some of the greatest licks and songs ever recorded is the man himself, B.B King. Throughout the entirety of his career, he used the ES 335 model. Among many different guitarists, he is one of the most responsible for the popularity of this model.
He will nickname his guitar Lucille, and there is quite an interesting story behind the name. During one of his shows in 1949, one man will put a burning barrel of kerosene in the middle of the dance floor, starting a huge fire. While evacuating, B.B King left his Gibson guitar inside by mistake and returned to the burning building to retrieve it.
He will later find out that the fire was set by one of the two men fighting over a woman called Lucille, hence the guitar’s nickname.
Among the veterans of Rock’n’roll music, one of the greatest is Chuck Berry. This man stands behind the origin of the music we know today as rock’n’roll. Along with great guitar skills, he made sure to put the show on the stage with his iconic duckwalk dance.
For the majority of his career, he used the ES 335 along with many other similar models. Like B.B King, he had and still has a major influence on many young guitarists to pick up the guitar and start playing. His licks can be heard in almost every rock-n-roll guitarist’s solo.
You may know him as the drummer of Nirvana or the leader of the Foo Fighters, but one thing is for sure, Dave is giving the best of himself to keep rock-n-roll alive. Ever since he was 17, after the audition for Nirvana’s drummer, he never stopped playing and touring.
You would not be wrong to say that he is one of the most influential musicians of the new era. His go-to guitar is the 1967 Gibson Trini Lopez Standard ES 335. He will eventually get a similar-style signature guitar made by Gibson called DG 335.
Larry Carlton will build his career by recording guitar for great hit songs and becoming a go-to studio musician. He recorded hundreds of albums in many different genres, but where he will shine in the genres such as Jazz fusion, rock, and pop.
During his rich career, he will, like many other players, fall in love with the tone and feel of ES 335. The guitar he used the most often was his 1969 Gibson ES-335. Larry will eventually close a deal with Gibson to introduce his own signature ES 335 model.
Famous Fender Telecaster Players
This rock’n’roll legend is 90% of the time seen with his trusty Telecaster. It is as if the Tele has been born with him. Over the years, many Telecaster models went through his hands, but one particular model will stick to Keith.
The model is the 1950 Micawber Telecaster, which he received as a birthday gift from the legendary guitarist Eric Clapton. Keith will eventually modify the model with the unique pickup configuration to fit his needs. He will replace the single pickups with humbuckers and turn them upside down, significantly adding to his sound.
The man that stands right beside Keith when it comes to Fender Telecaster is Bruce. Like Keith, he will grow with Telecaster and eventually be stuck with his 1952 Telecaster, which he nicknamed “The Mutt.”
The original model was heavily modified with sophisticated electronics. All of these modifications will be removed by Bruce. The reason behind this is the weight of the instrument. Removing the modifications will allow Bruce to move freely on stage.
When it comes to the modern era of guitar, Johny Greenwood is the guitarist that stands out for using the Telecaster. The lead guitarist of Radiohead will love his Tele and add to the band’s overall sound. He is most often seen with his Telecaster Plus model.
With its great looks, this guitar packs a great punch with the 90s Lace Sensor pickups. Johny will add many unique modifications, such as a killswitch or ball-end of guitar string screwed into the guitar’s body, giving it better sustain.
The lead guitarist of the Beatles will, for most of his career, play Epiphone and Rickenbacker guitars, but you can also see him play his Fender Rosewood Telecaster in many recordings. Although the Beatles used Fender guitars in many different recordings, to Fender, this was not enough.
Fender will eventually convince the Beatles to be their endorser and give them many different instruments. This gave the band a new sound, which was quite refreshing for the time.
Among the great guitar names, Steve Cropper deserves to be one of them. You can consider this guitarist to be one of the unsung heroes of the guitar world. Steve is most often seen with his Telecaster, which he modified to fit his needs.
He will record many great songs with Blues Brother and many others. In almost all his recordings, he used his trusty Telecaster, which added to the great blues sound.
Telecaster and ES 335 are among the most famous guitars ever produced. The question of which is right for you and which is better is not easy to answer since it all depends on what kind of guitarist you are.
The Gibson ES 335 models will most likely suit guitarists who like warmer tones with little air to them. You can consider it like a midpoint between electric and acoustic. On the other hand, telecasters are slightly more versatile and would probably be a better option for guitarists who are just entering the world of electric guitar. It is brighter with a little more punch.
Nonetheless, going down to the music store that has both of the models in stock is what will close the details. Trying both models will answer all of the questions one guitarist may ask.
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