In 2013 I was the lucky owner of three Gibson Chris Cornell signature guitars. Two Olive Drabs and the black one. I sold the black one and till this day I regret it. I sold it cheap, When Chris Cornell passed away prices went up and nowadays these guitars are much sought after. I love these guitars and I love the Lollar pickups!
Last year Gibson announced to reissue a limited run of 250 guitars and since then I have been watching out for this rerun. Finally, last week, I could get my hands on a new ES-335 Cornell! Kudos to Omega Music (Mons), Belgiums second largest music store, great service and excellent coffee! As soon as I heard they had one in store I was on my way. In the past they sold me two guitars from the 2013 run and since then I visit them on a regular basis. I prefer the local brick-and-mortar store above the German box-movers. Try before you buy and support your local business!
The Gibson ES-335 has everything to be a horrible guitar: a crazy neck angle and a Bigsby. Everything to guarantee an out of tune guitar. But the ES-335 also has some kind of magic. It just feels great, looks great and plugged into a valve amplifier it roars at you when you hit that open E chord. The magic is in the pickups! The Lollartron pickups sound like a bell and yet they have the right amount of power to cover every style. The Cornell ES-335 is my “go-to” guitar. My main instrument since 2013 and now I have some spares. Oh lucky me!
Is there a difference between the 2013 and the 2019?
There is no difference in sound between the 2013 and 2019. Gibson now uses MTC-Plus controls to tame the pickups. I still have to figure out what these controls are but to my ear it sounds pretty identical to the “old” ES-335. The guitars look and sound identical there are just a few minor differences between the first limited run and the second limited run of 250 guitars each.
In 2013 I bought the black ES for €2200,- and the olive drab ES for €2500,-. At that time you could get them at the bargain booth in any music store. Guitar players are very conservative people. They don’t like it when something new is introduced. Only when a renowned artist starts using something new the sales will follow. Design and looks are of major importance in the guitar business. If it is not sunburst, ebony or any traditional color it might be risky business. In 2013 I could get a good deal on those matte finish guitars. It changed when Chris Cornell passed away and the prices on the second hand market rocketed. The new 2019 model is about €1000,- more expensive. I also was informed Gibson will donate part of the proceeds to the Chris Cornell Foundation.
The peghead inlay has changed from the traditional “frog” to the Chris Cornell logo or signature. A quarter sawn mahogany C-shaped neck remained. The fretboard is dark rosewood with pearloid dot inlays. The 2013 guitar I own has a much darker rosewood compared to the reissue, In fact the rosewood on the new guitars is more grained and not so “dark” at all. The 2019 hardcase comes without the “shroud”, the cloth to cover your guitar. I wish Gibson would bring it back. It adds something “sacred” to the instrument.
Most noticeable difference is the neck heel. The 2019 version has a smaller neck heel joint compared to the first run. It doesn’t bother me and it doesn’t seem to affect the tone. Is it something in the manufacturing process? I have no idea. Both the new version and the original one have the same neck heel only the 2013 guitar has a slightly larger neck joint.
For you gearheads out there I shot a short video with the Cornell guitars. Enjoy and leave a comment. Keep Rockin’!