I’ve compared the Gibson ES-330 to Epiphone Casino previously. I sold my Casino and regret it. But recently there have been new models to complicate your choice if you want a fully hollow thinline guitar with P90 pickups.
First, Epiphone now has an American-made Casino model which as of this writing sells for about $2700. That’s nearly four times more expensive than an overseas Casino which you can still purchase for under $700.
As I pointed out in my previous post regarding ES-330s and Casinos, Gibson has had a marketing problem with the 330s because few famous guitarists played that model. Grant Green played as ES-330, at least in the following photo, but he played other guitars as well. On the other hand, the Casino is still famous because the Beatles played them (George, John, and Paul).Embed from Getty Images
Above, Grant Green with ES-330.
Gary Clark, Jr., a blues guitarist whose playing I like, is another musician who has played Epiphone Casinos regularly.Embed from Getty Images
Above, Gary Clark, Jr. playing an Epiphone Casino.
Well, Gibson finally found someone important to blues guitar who played a Gibson ES-330. Slim Harpo will always be associated in my mind with the blues classic, I’m a King Bee.Embed from Getty Images
Above, Slim Harpo with his ES-330.
Gibson has come out with a Slim Harpo “Lovell” edition of the 330. James “Slim Harpo” Moore was married to Lovell Moore who was both his manager and co-wrote some of his songs. The going price for the Slim Harp “Lovell” 330 is only $300 more than the USA Casino.
There is an alternative to the ES-330/Casino thinline, fully hollow, P90 guitars. It is the D’Angelico Excel 59 Hollowbody electric. It has Seymour-Duncan P90s. It is also a thinline but instead of a double-cutaway, it is a single cut giving a more jazz box vibe to the guitar. At just under $2000, it is less expensive than the Slim Harpo or USA Casino models but more expensive than the overseas import version of the Casino.
A fully hollow guitar may not be for you. Feedback is a problem at loud volumes. P90 single-coil pickups might not be your thing either. Eliminating single coil hum is the reason humbuckers were invented. But if you love the clear tones of single coils or the aggressive output of P90s when adjusted just so, then one of these guitars might be ideal. They are also much lighter than guitars with a center block.
So which would you choose? A $700 imported Casino, a $2000 D’Angleico single cut, a $2700 Epiphone USA Casino, or a $3000 Gibson Slim Harpo “Lovell” ES-330? If I had the money, I’d spend the extra $300 for the Slim Harpo model over the American Casino. But, truly, I don’t know. The D’Angelico looks great and the imported Casino is a bargain.