First released by the Gibson Guitar Corporation in 1958 and in continuous production ever since, the ES335 is the first widely produced semi hollow body guitar. The ES designation stood for “Electric Spanish” with the ES150 being the first of the series introduced in 1935.
One issue with hollow bodied amplified guitars was the problem of feedback. Gibson started producing solid body electric guitars in 1952 starting with the Les Paul model. While solid body guitars had great sustain and solved the feedback problem, some guitarists felt that they lacked the warmer tones of an acoustic guitar. The ES335 was Gibson’s effort to combine the sustain and lower feedback of solid body guitars with the warmth of a hollow body guitar. It was an instant success, combining traditional archtop styling with modern, solidbody construction. Gibson solved the feedback problem by making the ES a semi-hollow body. A solid block of wood runs through the center of the guitar with a hollow wing on either side.
When first introduced, the ES335 sold for $267. According to the 2012 Vintage Guitar Magazine Price Guide, a 1958, ES335 in excellent condition and without a Bigsby tremolo sells on the vintage market in the $56,000 to $69,000 price range.
Read more about the history of Gibson guitars here.