Oasis and High Flying Birds fans will give you it straight: just because everybody all knew that Gibson and Epiphone signature electric guitars for Noel Gallagher were coming, doesn’t make it any less exciting when they arrive.
Where is best to start with the replicas of two of the most important guitars in Gallagher’s collection?
The 1960 Gibson ES-335 had been long been scheduled for release today. The Epiphone Riviera was coming for sure, having been none-so-subtly leaked across Gibson and Epiphone’s social media – as if guitar nerds would not notice it photobombing the ES-355 in the studio pic. C’mon!
Perhaps we should take them in rank order; the Riviera is the “Don’t Look Back in Anger” guitar, but the ES-335 has been his number one live guitar for yonks. That’s the logical starting point, and limited to 200 units worldwide, you’ll have to get in quick before it’s gone.
It looks phenomenal. Resplendent in Sixties Cherry with its Custom Shop tux on, the ES-335 has been aged in the Murphy Lab and, much like Gallagher’s original, is a collector’s piece. According to Gibson, Gallagher thought his ES-355 was “too nice” to play. But then again, it was too nice not to.
Its body comprises laminate plain maple on the top, back and sides, which is braced with red spruce and has a maple centerblock to nix feedback.
The five-ply binding to the body’s top and headstock, triple-ply on the back with a bound neck really ties the look together, pairing nicely with the MOP block inlays, bound tortoiseshell pickguard and aged gold hardware. Speaking of which, Gallagher’s ES-355 is outfitted with a Bigsby B7 vibrato, an ABR-1 bridge, and Grover kidney bean tuners.
Dimensions are familiar. It has a 12” radius ebony fingerboard. The scale length measures 24.75”. The ES-355 has a pair of unpotted Custombucker humbuckers in the neck and bridge positions, both with aged gold coverings. These are selected in customary style via three-way toggle switch (aged tip, naturally), with dual volume and dual tone controls joined by the gold-encircled Varitone switch.
Under the hood, the control circuit is all hand-wired, with Black Cat capacitors and 500K CTS since you asked. And this coming from the fancy pants room at Gibson HQ, the Noel Gallagher ES-355 ships in a brown hardshell case lined with pink fur, inside which you’ll find a signature Bear strap, a lyric sheet and COA.
Gallagher is impressed. “Fuck me, what a guitar!” he said in a statement. “I’ve actually sent my main one back to storage, something I haven’t done since the day I bought it… That’s how good it is!”
All this did not happen overnight. As Lee Bartram, EU head of marketing and cultural influence EMEA at Gibson Brands, notes, the ES-355 was a decade in the making.
“This is the guitar associated with Noel Gallagher since the late 1990’s, we have taken our time over the details, we have worked closely with the artist and we have produced not only a truly remarkable recreation of the original but also a beautiful instrument which can be appreciated by all,” he said. “Gibson Custom continue to push the boundaries of what can be done with new guitar production, this project is has been a labor of love for over 10 years and I’m extremely proud of what has been produced by amazing artisans in Nashville.”
That’ll be why it is $9,999 then. But if the Murphy Lab ES-355 is a little steep, here’s some good news – Gallagher’s Epiphone Riviera retails for more manageable $899, and looks the business in Dark Wine Red.
Also, not to contradict Bartram, but you could make a case for the Riviera as being the Noel Gallagher guitar, at least for Oasis super-fans; the Riviera was a ubiquitous choice for Gallagher back in the ‘90s, when Oasis were packing them in at Knebworth and turning up to rock out on David Letterman.
Like the original, this foregoes the mini-humbuckers in favor of full-sized humbuckers, with a pair of Epiphone Alnico Classic PROs occupying the neck and bridge positions. These are controlled by two volume, two tone controls, and selected via a three-way toggle switch.
Epiphone has gone all in on making these look as close to the original as possible, with the color all but matched to the original, with historically accurate Epiphone “E” branding on the white pickguard and white truss rod cover plate.
Like Epiphone’s other flagship artist models, Gallagher’s Riviera has a nickel LockTone Tune-O-Matic bridge and stop bar tailpiece. The label inside the soundhole is brown to heighten that vintage vibe.
As for the fundamentals, the Riviera has a five-ply maple body, with single-ply binding on top, back and fingerboard, a set neck with a SlimTaper C profile and volute, an Indian laurel fingerboard with Epiphone Premium die cast tuners with oval metal buttons. Gallagher’s signature can be found on the back of the headstock
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