The Gibson ES-335 has been played by greats including Eric Clapton, B.B. King and Larry Carlton – here’s why guitarists can’t get enough of the iconic semi-hollow

Gibson ES-335 electric guitar
(Image credit: Future)

During Ted McCarty’s tenure as president of Gibson from 1950 through 1966, the company developed some of the greatest and most enduring electric guitar designs of all time. 

In fact, literally every electric model Gibson offers today was designed by McCarty and his team during this golden era, including the Explorer, Firebird, Flying V, Les Paul and SG. These are all timeless models, but McCarty’s semi-hollowbody design for the ES-335 and its numerous variants may be his greatest achievement of all time.

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.