137When it comes to Jazz boxes, Gibson have more than a solid reputation – with the likes of the L5, 335 and ES-175 which are all classics in the genre they are so highly regarded they are you could excuse Gibson for taking their foot of the gas with semi’s. This is especially true when you consider, under Gibson, that with Epiphone they pretty much have the high end part of the semi acoustic market sewn up.

So it’s somewhat appealing when you see tweaks to their stable and innovative models appearing – the ES-137 is one such instrument, with a body based on a ES-135 but with enough changes up it’s sleave to to be a model in it’s own right the ES-137 is somewhat of a hybrid – not a traditional Jazz box – but not an all out rock and roller either.

Gibson hail the ES-137 as the first Gibson guitar to utilize a mahogany center block. Now, center blocks are nothing new and have been used to improve sustain and reduce feedback for a while – but the 137 with its a mahogany block, and the resultant tone is enhanced (producing something that is a little more than faintly familiar to a Les Paul).

For the 137 Gibson have opted for a laminated curly maple body – while this may upset the purists out there who have a dislike for laminate it does it’s job well enough. The single cutaway design and weight of the instrument make for a pleasurable experience. The only downside is that the neck (maple) is a little on the wide side and while accommodating for those with largish hands – it won’t be for everyone.

Visually, the 137 is a handsome guitar and Gibson have gone to town to ensure that it’s aesthetically appealing, with the body being nicely bound, special inlay on the fretboard, a bound fingerboard – all nicely done and acting as a nice “polish” to the instrument.

All the usual Gisbon essentials are there, two tone, two volume controls, Tune-o-matic bridge with stop tailpiece – three way pickup selector – standard Gibson fare.

Pickups are a Gibson 490R in the neck and a 498T in the bridge. The 498T is one of Gibson’s higher output pickups, and has pronounced mid ranges and highs being one of Gibson’s hotter pickups – this makes an interesting choice and ensures that the 137 comes packed with enough versatility to ensure that it isn’t just an out and out Jazz box – with a bit of drive and the bridge pickup selected you get the nice thick Gibson tone – making it stray into rock or hard blues territory.

With a list of around $2,500 which is around the same as an entry level 335 this sits towards the lower end of Gibson’s hollowbody range (there is a Custom version of the 137 which costs a bit more)- there’s no doubt that the center block does it’s job and the versatility in the sound will please many. Jazzer’s may not be totally convinced there are cleaner Gibson tones out there- nevertheless for those wanting sonic versatility from a semi and a beautiful instrument to boot – the 137 fits the bill.

Gibson Guitars

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