1985 Gibson ES-335 Dot

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: Iconic looks, condition, originality, Tim Shaw pickups, nickel hardware, colour and finish, OHSC

Thumbs down: Sizeable body, quite weighty, not an old vintage example

Decree: A ‘modern’ vintage classic Gibson design that looks great, plays well and sounds just right

Model Description:

During the so‑called ‘golden era’ of electric guitar design, Gibson introduced the innovative ES‑335 to the unsuspecting public in 1958. The double cutaway thinline semi-acoustic electric guitar was revolutionary because of the solid maple centre block running through the length of the body, thereby providing stable mounting for the neck, humbucking pickups, tune‑o‑matic bridge and ‘stop bar’ tailpiece. The major advantage of the semi hollow construction was a perfect compromise between the fully hollow and solid body guitars. The added mass also helped to increase sustain and reduce feedback, especially in high gain live situations. The basic design principles of the ES‑335 may well have been inspired by guitarist Les Paul’s early experiments into developing electric solid body guitars. Les Paul had attached hollow ‘wings’ to a central solid plank of timber (known as ‘the log’) in an attempt to convince Gibson executives of his vision. Ted McCarty, then president of Gibson, seemed to have adopted the idea and the ES‑335 was subsequently born. The guitar was a commercial success from the outset, proving to be highly flexible across multiple music genres and became hugely popular with guitarists. With only minor changes to its fundamental design, the ES‑335 has remained in continuous production since its launch, testament to the robustness of the original concept. Unsurprisingly, original vintage instruments have become very highly collectable, especially the early 1950s examples. The ES‑335 went on to spawn a broader range of ES (Electric Spanish) models including the fully hollow ES‑330 with twin P90s and other humbucker‑equipped semis such as the ‘stereo’ ES‑345 and upmarket ES‑355. There have been many variants and reissues over the years, including the Trini Lopez and the EB‑2 bass. The ES‑335 has been in continuous production since it was launched. Budget versions of the Gibson ES‑335 have been produced by subsidiary brand Epiphone. The ES‑335 has become an industry standard, much imitated by other manufacturers.

Guitar Description:

Meet Dotty. And, boy, isn’t she loverly? ‘Dotty’ is an exceptional, all-original mid‑1980s ES‑335 Dot in classic cherry red which, for many, is THE colour to have. The original ES‑335s had dot markers on the fingerboard but from 1962, these had changed to small block markers. In 1981, Gibson revisited the ES‑335 and the ‘Dot’ reverted back to the classic original design, which proved a very popular move (and also gives ‘Dotty’ her name). All the features that make the ES‑335 an icon of modern music, including the colour, classic dot neck markers and nickel hardware are present and correct. Look very carefully and the finish shows a slight hint of flame maple without it dominating and distracting from the cool ‘plain top’ look. Many early 1980s Gibsons featured the celebrated Tim Shaw Patent-Applied-For (PAF) humbucking pickups, as used here, which sound truly amazing. The sound is powerful and strong, yet subtle and nuanced, fully justifying its reputation as a do‑it‑all professional grade instrument. She plays superbly with all the tonal characteristics that you would expect from a top quality ES‑335. Not only that, she looks very pretty too and is in very good condition indeed, including its original brown Gibson hard shell case. If there is a (minor) downside, the ES‑335 is quite a large instrument and it is quite heavy because of that solid centre block, but that is common to all ES guitars, other than the fully hollow ES‑330. It is easy to see why the ES‑335 has become so popular and successful with musicians in every genre of music. Ok, while she isn’t an old vintage example, this guitar is strong evidence that, despite what some may say, 1980s Gibsons aren’t all bad. The ES‑335 makes for a very good instrument and the mid‑1980s example is WAY more affordable than a 1950s or 1960s original. You’d be dotty not to love it.


  • Made in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A. in April 1985
  • Large bodied double cutaway semi‑acoustic
  • Bound maple laminate body with solid centre block and unbound f‑holes
  • Cherry nitrocellulose finish
  • Mahogany set neck
  • Bound rosewood fingerboard with 22 frets and dot markers
  • Scale length 24¾” (629mm)
  • Original nickel hardware
  • Original tuners
  • Original 3‑ply (b/w/b) floating scratchplate
  • Original dual Tim Shaw ‘PAF’ humbucking pickups
  • Original 3‑way pickup selector switch, strap buttons and jack socket
  • Original top hat ‘reflector’ knobs
  • Original tune‑o‑matic bridge and stop bar tailpiece
  • Original brown Gibson hard shell case


The Gibson ES‑335 is the go-to guitar of choice for many rock, blues and jazz artists past and present, including, amongst many others, the likes of:

  • Chuck Berry
  • Larry Carlton
  • Eric Clapton
  • Sheryl Crow
  • The Edge (U2)
  • Matthew Followill (Kings Of Leon)
  • Robben Ford
  • Noel Gallagher (Oasis, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds)
  • Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) NB. Trini Lopez model
  • Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule)
  • Justin Hayward (The Moody Blues)
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Eric Johnson
  • B.B. King
  • Robby Krieger (The Doors)
  • Alvin Lee (Ten Years After)
  • Alex Lifeson (Rush)
  • Roy Orbison
  • Lee Ritenour
  • Otis Rush
  • John Scofield
  • Stevie Ray Vaughn

Detail Gallery:

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