Les Paul vs ES-335 - Solid or hollow?

The Les Paul is known for its versatility and played by guitarists of all styles.

But for those of a more traditional rock, blues, funk or jazz persuasion, and who won't be cranking the gain/distortion so much, the ES-335 is worth considering.

Many guitarists avoid hollow bodies because they believe they're only good for jazz or clean playing. But over the decades the ES-335 has proven its cross-genre capabilities.

Note: We can only ever approximate these comparisons as there are many different models spanning over five decades of production. However, there are some key, "timeless" features that define both guitars which we'll look at further down the page.

Gibson Les Paul Standard vs ES-335

Let's first look at the benchmark Gibson Les Paul Standard and ES-335 (2015 models) side-by-side before moving on to the lower priced offerings.

Model Les Paul Standard Gibson ES-335
Rating 89
(over $1000)
88
(over $1000)
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Model Les Paul Standard ES-335
Manufacturer
Website
gibson.com gibson.com
Weight 8.2 lbs 8.5 lbs
Tuners G-FORCE
40:1
Grover Rotomatic
18:1
Neck Mahogany
Slim Taper (Asymmetrical)
Mahogany
Slim Taper
Scale Length 24.75" 24.75"
Nut Material Brass Bone
Nut Width 1.795" 1.675"
Fingerboard Rosewood Rosewood
Fingerboard Radius Compound 10"-16"
12"
Frets 22 22
Inlays Mother of Pearl Trapezoid
Pearloid Block
Body Mahogany, Maple Top
Solid
Maple
Semi-hollow
Pickups Burstbucker x2
Coil Splitting
Burstbucker x2
Bridge Tune-o-matic, Titanium saddles TonePros AVR-2
Hardware Zamack, Chrome Plated Alloy, Nickel Plated
Les Paul Standard ES-335
Comparison
Model Les Paul Standard Gibson ES-335
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Gibson Les Paul Studio vs ES-335 Studio

On to the Studio models, which strip away the cosmetic bling and more specialist parts of the Standards yet retain the tone and playability expected from a Gibson USA instrument... at half the price.

Model Les Paul Studio ES-335 Studio
Rating 90
(over $1000)
84
(over $1000)
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Model Les Paul Studio ES-335 Studio
Manufacturer
Website
gibson.com gibson.com
Weight 8.2 lbs 8.5 lbs
Tuners G-FORCE
40:1
Grover Rotomatic
14:1
Neck Mahogany
Slim Taper
Maple
Traditional C
Scale Length 24.75" 24.75"
Nut Material Brass Corian
Nut Width 1.795" 1.675"
Fingerboard Rosewood Torrified Maple
Fingerboard Radius 12"
12"
Frets 22 22
Inlays Mother of Pearl
Trapezoid
Pearloid Dot
Body Mahogany, Maple Top
Solid
Maple
Semi-hollow
Pickups 57 Classic (neck)
57 Plus (bridge)
Push/Pull Coil Tap
'57 Classic
Super '57 Classic
Bridge Tune-o-matic
TonePros AVR-2
Hardware Zamak, Nickel Plated Alloy, Nickel Plated
Les Paul Studio ES-335 Studio
Model Les Paul Studio ES-335 Studio
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Epiphone Les Paul Standard vs Dot 335

At the budget end we have Epiphone's best selling Les Paul and ES-335 equivalents.

Model Epiphone Les Paul Standard Epiphone Dot
Rating 88
(over $1000)
89
($300-$500)
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Model Epiphone Les Paul Standard Epiphone Dot
Manufacturer
Website
epiphone.com epiphone.com
Weight 8.5 lbs 8.2 lbs
Tuners Grover
Grover
Neck Mahogany
Slim Taper
Mahogany
Slim Taper
Scale Length 24.75" 24.75"
Nut Material Plastic Plastic
Nut Width 1.68" 1.68"
Fingerboard Rosewood Rosewood
Fingerboard Radius 12"
12"
Frets 22
Medium Jumbo
22
Medium Jumbo
Inlays Pearloid Trapezoid
Pearloid Dot
Body Mahogany
Solid
Laminated Maple
Semi-hollow
Pickups Alnico Classic Humbuckers Alnico Classic Humbuckers
Bridge Locking Tune-o-matic Stopbar Locking Tune-o-matic Stopbar
Hardware Chrome Nickel
Epiphone Les Paul Standard Epiphone Dot


Model Epiphone Les Paul Standard Epiphone Dot
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Key Differences Between the Les Paul & ES-335

Solid vs Semi-Hollow Body

ES-335 f-holeA look through one of the 335's f-holes

Let's start with the obvious. The 335's semi-hollow body offers a balance between solid body arch tops (such as the Les Paul) and the full hollow "jazz boxes" such as the ES-175.

The difference is that semi-hollows have a solid block running through the center of the body.

The advantages of a semi-hollow over a full hollow is that they can handle gain/distortion with less feedback while retaining those warm and chunky box tones.

However, semi-hollow players who are playing loud and dirty do have to learn to control the inevitable feedback using their amp and guitar settings.

The solid body Les Paul players won't have this problem to nearly the same degree, but they also don't get that distinctively depthy tonal character for which hollow bodies are loved.

Look & Feel

Les Paul and ES-335 bodiesDifference in body size

The f-hole design does add a degree of elegance to the 335, and on semi-hollows they are mostly ornamental due to the solid core dominating the timbre.

With a larger body, many players find the 335 more comfortable to sit with than most electric guitars, as it fits snugly between lap and chest.

The weight difference between the modern Les Paul and 335 is also minimal, so you shouldn't have any more problems bouncing around on stage with a 335 as you would an LP.

There are minor differences in neck, fretboard and nut profiles (see the Gibson comparisons). For example, the nut is slightly narrower on the Gibson 335's and the Standard Les Paul has a compound radius fretboard, meaning more consistent, smoother fingering up the neck.

However, in general, they're both cut from the same Gibson spec with the now standard C profile necks.

Sound

Many words have been used to describe the hollow body sound - warm, rich, full, boxy, chunky, juicy, even... squishy.

There's more of a natural resonance to the 335 that can't be covered by effects. The Les Paul, on the other hand, is more of a blank canvas in terms of layering effects and distortion.

It could be said that the Les Paul has a simpler, flatter tone, still known for its warm depth, but lacking that subtle, secondary, almost percussive layer provided by the ES-335's hollow chamber.

The decision on your part is whether you'll want the option of modern, high-gain capabilities the Les Paul can handle. Clean, there may be no contest, but for harder rock and metal, the ES-335 simply can't match the gutsy yet smooth drive of the LP.

There's also feedback to think about, especially for loud rehearsals and stage shows.

But if you're looking for those more complex, deeply resonant tones for an overall more traditional rock, blues or jazz based sound, the 335 will be a good place to start.

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