Gibson, ES-335, 1963 - Rich Robinson (The Black Crowes)


Serial Number: 
Cherry Red
The Story Behind

Introduced in 1958, the ES-335 was an attempt to find a middle ground: a warmer tone than a solid body produced with almost as little feedback. Though semi-hollow-bodies like the ES-335 are essentially a compromise of earlier designs, they are for this reason extremely flexible, as evidenced by the ES-335's popularity in a wide range of music, including blues, jazz, and rock and its siblings have delivered some of the most famous blues and rock riffs in guitar history, from "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry to "The Thrill is Gone" by B.B. King.

The legendary Ted McCarty, President of Gibson during the era, felt the ES-335 was right behind the Les Paul solid-body as his most important body design.

"I came up with the idea of putting a solid block of maple in an acoustic model... it would get some of the same tone as a regular solid-body, plus the instrument's hollow wings would vibrate and we'd get a combination of an electric solid-body and a hollow-body guitar." –Ted McCarty in an interview with Gil Hembree for Gibson Guitars, Ted McCarty's Golden Era.

The first major update came in mid 1962, with the most visible change being the markers on neck: early models had dots (hence "dot neck"), later models had blocks

This guitar was owned by Rich Robinson. His comment about this guitar:

"I've always liked the way 335s feel and the sounds I can get out of them. The first record I used them on was The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion in '92. I used my '63 all over that and pretty much every record since. It's a guitar that's been with me forever. I mean, the more guitars I've collected over the years, I always still went to that one. That's where I am."


On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the Northeast coast of the United States. Among the millions affected by the storm was The Black Crowes, whose storage warehouse was seriously damaged by flooding from the hurricane’s storm surge, when it hit NYC.

In mid-November of 2012, RS Guitarworks was contacted by Doug Redler, Rich Robinson’s tech, inquiring about rescuing some seriously flood-damaged guitars. Among the damaged gear were Rich’s 1969 Gibson Les Paul goldtop, and his all-original 1963 Gibson ES-335. The Black Crowes lost a large amount of gear to flood damage, and both of these guitars were feared casualties of the storm surge and flooding. The water damage to the guitars was extensive, along with a large amount of black mold that had worked its way into the guitars and underneath the fragile, vintage nitrocellulose finish.

After Hurricane Sandy had hit, and the subsequent damage was done, Doug Redler set about to get Rich’s guitars repaired and restored. He first tried the Gibson Custom Shop, and like before, said they couldn’t do the repairs, but referred Doug and Rich to RS Guitarworks. Doug called RS with the hopes that Rich’s instruments could be saved.

Rich’s wish was that they could be restored to the point of looking like nothing had ever happened to the guitars. RS was able to not only save them, recreating their cosmetic ageing, but also improve the instruments’ stability and playability through careful attention to detail and reconstruction.

In 2014 a limited signature run of 500 guitars has been produced by Gibson to pay tribute to this guitar.

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