The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Gibson ES 330 L

Today, we are featuring another beautiful guitar from the Gibson Custom Shop; The ES 330L. While not part of Gibson’s standard production line, a few reissues seem to trickle out of Memphis every couple of years, and we simply can’t get our hands on enough of them. In fact, we have had several of these instruments through our shop over the past year, and every single one has sold before we get the chance to post it online! A couple of months ago, we received an ES 330 L with a beautiful cherry finish. Determined to post a review of the guitar before someone bought it, I unpacked the guitar, sat down, and got straight to work.

At a glance, most players assume they are looking at a variant of a 335, but the similarities end the moment you pick the guitar up. The first thing I noticed was how light weight the guitar is. This drew my attention to one of the ES 330 L’s key features: its fully hollow. No center block or compartmentalization. This became even more apparent as soon as I strummed a chord. I could feel the resonance moving through the entire guitar.

Playing through an amp, I was amazed at how lively and responsive the guitar sounds, even at low volume. The sustain was warm and full, with the creamy lower midrange you expect from a Gibson thinline. Playing some rhythm lines, I was also impressed by a uniquely percussive character unlike anything I have heard from a thinline before. The lack of a center block means you don’t get the same aggressive edge to the attack transient as a 335. Instead, the ES 330 L has a choppy thump to the upper bass frequencies, not unlike what you might get from an L7 style archtop.

After a few minutes, I realized I was no longer analyzing the guitar, I was simply having fun playing it! Before I knew it, I had completely lost track of time. I forced myself to unplug the guitar, go upstairs, and get to work on putting this feature together. The next day, I went to take one last look at the guitar before posting the review online. It was already gone, having sold minutes after I put it down!

Not ready to give up, I got on the phone, called our Gibson representative and begged and pleaded for one last ES 330L. The answer I got was “No promises, but I’ll see what I can do.”. Fingers crossed, I played a 2 month round of ‘the waiting game’. Now, just in time for the holidays, I can stop holding my breath. My adamant-bordering-on-pathetic pleas did not go unnoticed. I am currently holding in my hands s stunning ES 330 L with a Vintage Sunburst finish. I’ve learned from my mistakes. This time, I’m not putting the guitar down until this review is online. It might be the last one we see for a while!


* 1 11/16″ wide bone nut
* bound rosewood fingerboard with block markers
* one piece tropical mahogany neck
* neck joins body at 19th fret
* Gibson Deluxe vintage style tuners with tulip buttons
* fully hollow double cutaway thinline body
* tunematic / trapeze tailpiece assembly
* Gibson P-90 pickups with dog-ear covers
* reflector-top knobs
* 16″ lower bout dimension
* 1 3/4″ deep sides
* gloss nitrocellulose finish
* deluxe Gibson hardshell case

The Twelfth Fret

Guitarists’ Pro Shop
2132 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, Ontario  M4C 1J9
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