There are a few differences between classic Gibson designs and current Heritage guitars, including different headstock, cutaways and pickguard shapes. But what generally distinguishes Heritage guitars from Gibsons is that they proudly display the exceptionally fancy figured wood that they are constructed of in all its glory, covered only by a modest stain finish and clear top coats. Some models even feature pickguards crafted out of wood. The H-535 semi-hollow thinline electric is one such model, featuring a glorious, highly figured maple body and matching pickguard finished with a rich-looking antique stain similar to the kind found on violins. In fact, with its f-holes, tiger-stripe curly maple and slightly arched top and back, this guitar looks like it's related more to a Stradivarius than a Stratocaster. Like the Gibson semi-hollow thinline double cutaways on which its design is based, the Heritage H-535 comes with single-ply body and neck binding, a stop tailpiece, dual humbucking pickups with individual tone and volume controls, a three-way pickup selector switch and a 22-fret neck with dot inlays and a rosewood fingerboard. Major differences include large, meaty frets and an adjustable bridge featuring roller saddles instead of the usual wedge-shaped inserts.
Even before it's plugged in, the H-535 sounds bold and authoritative. Here, the solid chunk of wood in the middle of the body doesn't deaden the guitar's acoustic response, as it does on many other semi-hollow guitars. Strumming chords produces a honking, boxy tone that only gets better when amplified. The variety of tones that this guitar generates when plugged in is surprisingly vast, aided by sensitive tone controls that let you make the sound as smooth or sharp as you like. Jazz players will love the fat, mellow lows provided by the neck pickup, whereas blues guitarists will dig the bite and growl of the bridge pickup. Engaging both humbuckers produces a sparkling, bell-like tone that's ideal for rockabilly, Atkins-style fingerpicking or Chuck Berry imitations. This guitar possesses a fatness, warmth and sustain similar to a large hollowbody, but without any worries about feedback or excessive mud.
The Heritage H-535 is a guitar that you'll appreciate as much for its sound as its craftsmanship. The good folks at Heritage have borrowed all the right elements from the past and come up with a timeless classic that should be regarded with the same esteem as the original model on which it was based.