First of all, I've been a pro working guitarist for 49 years. Second, I've been a certified guitar technician for the past 40 years. I've owned or played or worked on about every style & brand of guitar & bass ever made. From Pre-war Martins to '59 Bursts to '54 Strats & '52 Tele's. BTW: if you want to play all the historic and cool guitars without the expense of owning them, study up & practice to become a HIGH QUALITY PROFESSIONAL guitar tech. Those instruments will flock to your bench :)
This review covers the guitar as I received it 'right out of the box'.
Before I begin, let me make a general statement to all the newbies and inexperienced guitar mechanics out there. NO guitar will come out of the box adjusted to your liking. I constantly wrestle with brand new $9K+ Custom Shop Les Pauls just to get them playable. Just as you need to move seats and adjust mirrors in a new car, guitars need to be setup to your personal taste. All reviews that summarily condemn an instrument because it arrived needing adjustment aren't worth the bandwidth it took to post them.
With that being said, I've repaired several GIBSON ES-339's that needed an unreasonable amount of setup (re-cut (replace) the nut, level, recrown & polish the frets, refinish Gibson's abysmal sticky necks. Gibson's quality is simply down the tubes.
This 339 came out of the box needing a fret polish, a truss rod adjustment, new strings [that's a given] and THAT'S ALL. UNBELIEVABLE.
The sound of it's pickups are subjective but they're better sounding that older Epi PUPs. They've stepped up their game. How do they sound? Everyone has different expectations and 'target sounds' so I won't comment on that. It's like asking someone if they like Chocolate or Vanilla ice cream. There is no wrong answer. They're either 'for you' or 'not for you'.
For the price I paid for the guitar and case, it was a steal of a deal. The finish work (especially around the f holes..mine were near perfect]) is superior to a Gibson instrument. Yes, it's poly vs. lacquer, but we're not talking a future collectible or an heirloom instrument I found zero finish flaws. Frets are satisfactorily level, well seated & finished. Even the nut was cut perfectly!!! Whoever set this guitar up was having a GREAT day on the bench. And let me tell you, when it comes to setups, I'm a real nit picker about the quality of work and playability.
The stock hardware is very acceptable. As a guitar tech, I always upgrade ALL the hardware to components of different metallurgical composition (my secret recipe) to get the most acoustic response out of the instrument. My 339 will get a Gotoh bridge, a Kluson ZINC stop-bar tailpiece, Nickle plated Brass tailpiece studs, a bone nut and Grover 18:1 Sta-Tite tuners (w/conversion bushings). PUPs will be upgraded to Lollar Low Wind Imperials and the pots to USA made CTS's and pup selector switch upgraded to a USA made Switchcraft, as will the output jack. Strap-locks? Of course as they should be mandatory equip on ALL guitars.
So, all I was expecting for the ridiculously low price was a 'good' platform instrument to upgrade.
What I GOT was a quality instrument that wouldn't be unfairly priced at twice it's street price. It was gigable right out of the box.
I usually play my instruments for 4-6 months with only minimal required adjustments so they can 'settle in' before I begin my upgrades. This one will be a joy during that time as, other than my PERSONALLY DESIRED mod's, it needs nothing.
And, buy the case. It's a quality case and has a vintage vibe look to it.
But most of all, it will provide superb transport protection and that's what a case is TRULY about....not looks.
For new Sweetwater customers...you're in good hands. These folks KNOW how to pack a guitar for survivable shipping. BIG TIME KUDOS to the cats in the Shipping Dept. And my Sales Tech, Aaron? Thank you sir. You're a true professional :)