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Gibson Custom CS356 Figured Top Electric Guitar with Bigsby

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Product 517864
Product Price $0.00
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The Gibson Custom Shop CS356 Electric Guitar has an elegant and comfortable 13-3/4" wide body (vs. 16" on a 335) providing the incomparable versatili...Click To Read More About This Product

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A scaled-down 335 with gorgeous appointments and a solid carved top.

The Gibson Custom Shop CS356 Electric Guitar has an elegant and comfortable 13-3/4" wide body (vs. 16" on a 335) providing the incomparable versatility of a genuine semi-hollow, complete with '57 classic humbuckers. The CS356 guitar has a gorgeous figured solid-maple top joined to a tonally carved mahogany back, sides, and center block for huge sound in a small package. Gibson's sumptuous appointments include big mother-of-pearl inlays on a buttery bound ebony fretboard, 7-ply top and back binding, multi-bound turtle pickguard, and brilliant gold hardware, including the classic Bigsby vibrato.

  • Figured solid maple top
  • Tonally carved mahogany back, centerblock, and sides
  • One-piece mahogany neck
  • Bound ebony fretboard
  • '57 Classic humbuckers
  • Independent volume and tone controls
  • 3-way pickup selector
  • 7-ply top and back binding
  • Gold hardware
  • Bigsby vibrato
  • 1960 slim taper neck profile
  • ABR-1 bridge
  • Pearl block fretboard inlays
  • Vintage tulip tuners
  • 13-3/4"W x 16"L x 1-11/16"D body
  • 24-3/4" scale
  • 1-11/16" nut width

When a 335 meets a Les Paul, magic happens. Get a little magic in your life today.


Review Snapshot

by PowerReviews
Gibson CustomCS356 Figured Top Electric Guitar with Bigsby

(based on 8 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

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  • 4 Stars



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  • 2 Stars



  • 1 Stars



Reviewed by 8 customers

Displaying reviews 1-8

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(1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


CS-356 quality issue

By Dissapointed Gibson Fan

from Bartlett, IL

Comments about Gibson Custom CS356 Figured Top Electric Guitar with Bigsby:

I purchased a CS-356 in June of 2008 and have found that the instrument will simply not stay tuned. If the Bigsby tailpiece is employed, even slightly, the G string and D strings immediately drop a full note in tuning. You hear a slight "popping" sound and the strings tuning drops by almost a full note. It appears that the bridge has considerable play front to back which is surprising and disapointing. I have found that using the guitar on stage is simply not an option as the guitar goes out of tune even with simple strumming of chords. I have owned Gibson guitars since the late 1950's and I believe this is the only Gibson that has been a dissapointment. Strings have been changed numerous times by myself and by a professional repair shop with the same results. I am frustrated and I am seriously considering selling or trading off this lemon. I expected the Custom Shop to provide a better product than this. Thank you for listening.

(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)


Couldn't be happier

By Ron-3zSuI

from Memphis, Tennessee

See all my reviews

Comments about Gibson Custom CS356 Figured Top Electric Guitar with Bigsby:

I owned one of these with a stop tail a few years back and sold it to a friend. I regretted ever having sold it, but I play a lot of stuff that requires a Bigsby and wound up instead with a Johnny A. signature model (with Bigsby, of course). That's been and still is a great guitar, but I missed the neck profile of the CS356. I recently snagged a great deal on a used CS356 (4 years old, red, & Bigsby equipped). After buying it, I read some negative reviews on this review forum and started having concerns. That night I strung it with 10s, treated the nut slots and bridge saddles with nut sauce, adjusted the pickup height, checked the relief and intonation (both good) and started playing. Of course it wouldn't stay in tune at first because the strings hadn't streched in. However, after about 20 or 30 minutes of playing agressively and using the Bigsby, the tuning problem vanished. I played for about 2 or 3 hours and packed it away, fully expecting it to be out of tune the next evening. When I got it out the next evening, it was still in tune which blew my mind, especially after reading some of these reviews. Since then, I've gently tuned it several times, but it hasn't gotten out of tune badly and I use a Bigsy all the time. I have to check my tuning after playing Stray Cats covers or other tunes requiring a Bigsby, but it only requires slight adjusting, like my other guitars - even those without a Bigsby. There's nothing unusual about having to re-tune. Using the neck pickup with the volume slightly rolled off and the treble almost completely rolled off, I get a nice thick jazz tone reminiscent of Herb Ellis or Wes Montgomery's famous fat tone. The bridge pickup and the center position are great for rock-a-billy and r&b. I've had it for a few weeks now and it has been very stable as far as tuning goes and unbeatable when it comes to tone, so I'm pretty much happy as a lark. It has a nice rich tone, comfortable low action, light weight, perfect size, no buzzing frets, and is absolutely gorgeous. I am able, by the way, to obtain a very close 335 sound by using the neck pickup with both volumes slightly rolled back, the neck more so than the bridge. The bridge pickup sounds very close to my Les Paul, so that's a plus because I don't have to bring both. I generally take this (or my Johnny A.) and my Telecaster. I'm 100 percent confident this was a good purchase. This axe has blown me away and I won't make the mistake of selling it like I did the other 356. My regards to those guys who had all the problems, but in my case it has been a problem free guitar. Feel free to e-mail me if you are seriously comtemplating getting one. Be aware, however, that I've got nothing negative to say about it.


CS356B My #1

By Geno

from New Milford, CT

About Me Professional Musician

Verified Reviewer


  • Fun To Play
  • Good Feel
  • Good Pick Up
  • Good Tone


  • Fret Buzz
  • Poor Quality Craftsmanship

Best Uses

  • Jamming
  • Practicing
  • Recording
  • Rock Concerts
  • Small Venues

Comments about Gibson Custom CS356 Figured Top Electric Guitar with Bigsby:

This guitar fits well and plays well. The size a just right. No arm up in the air trying to get your picking hand where it belongs like on the 335. The tone is amazing. The true test of a good electric guitar is to play it 1st without plugging it in. With this one the sustain and tone were amazing before you connected to the amp.

The frets were not properly seated and the saddles on the bridge were stripped and locked. I had to send it back to Gibson to have the bridge replaced and the frets properly seated. Both volume pots ended up with major flat spots and had to be replaced. They are using sub-standard electronics for these guitars.

The issue that was mentioned earlier about staying in tune is true with most bigsby and tremelo systems. You need to use a nut lube. I use Big Bend Nut Sauce. I also replaced the saddles with Graph-Tech saddles. That corrected the issue of it staying in tune. If you really want to addressed it get a roller bridge.

The bridge was not drilled properly. It is too close the to neck and making it so you cannot properly adjust the intonation on the 6th and 3rd strings. I have it close, but will need to have the holes re-drilled later and I will get a roller bridge at that time. The ABR1 bridge did not have enough throw on the saddles and I replaced it with a Nashville in order to be able to get my intonation close.

The neck is beautiful and the pickups sound fantastic. The sustain is amazing. I have beeen getting nothing but wonderful comments about the sound and tone of this guitar.

For the price I should not have to replace all of what I did and have all of the work done on it. Especially since it was from the Custom Shop.

So be careful when you invest this much. But well worth it in the end when all is corrected.

I have many guitars, but this one is my #1 and is a part of me.

Geno Minasi


Wonderful Piece

By Patrick-KGLfr

from Atlantic Beach, Fla.

See all my reviews

Comments about Gibson Custom CS356 Figured Top Electric Guitar with Bigsby:

I have read other reviews about the guitar not staying in tune, and have had this problem, but it is not a significant one. Almost ANY Bigsby will drop in tune, especially if it is played with force. Nut sauce or other lubes will fix it.Overall, the guitar is truly a great one, capable of almost ANY tone imaginable. Nice SPANKY bridge pickup tones, very warm jazzy neck tones. My fave is the middle, and just varying the volumes and tones slightly. There is a myriad of tones at this position.I have owned a ga-jillion guitars, and I will HANG ON to this one.


Great instrument, with a couple of disappointments

By Bungalow Bill

from Atlanta, GA

Comments about Gibson Custom CS356 Figured Top Electric Guitar with Bigsby:

I am pleased overall with this guitar, though there are some initial challenges with it, especially as received from Gibson. I have the CS356 with the Bigsby tremolo. The guitar was basically unplayable on delivery. The bridge had so much play in it that it would simply not stay in tune, whether the tremolo was used or not. I could not get through a song with out significant retuning required. I had to perform a couple of upgrades: 1.) Installed a rolling bridge 2.) Upgraded the tuners. 3.) Installed a bone nut for better sustain with improved spacing (top and bottom strings too close to the edge and rolled off the neck very easily). Once completed, the tuning problem was largely corrected, though expect to have to tune more frequently than a strat, tele, etc. This is my first Bigsby tremolo, so this may be inherent with this device.I have now been able to enjoy the instrument as I have used it more (though for the price, I was hoping to have love at first site!!!). The detail and appointments have a lot of eye appeal, the tone is killer for everything from Rock-abilly Chet Atkins type, to a little harder Brian Setzer, to bluesy B.B. King, to clean jazz, to Tom Petty jangle, to light crunch, to heavier rock sounds . . . extremely versatile. The smaller size doesn't compromise the tonal quality, and the instrument is very light. Sustain is incredible (bone nut helps here). Overall, I am very pleased with the instrument at this point, though Gibson should ABSOLUTELY not release this guitar at this price from their custom shop without the above mentioned upgrades, especially the rolling bridge for the Bigsby. I have owned the guitar for about 6 months and have not noticed any issues with bleeding of the finish or the gold plating wearing off, though I am perhaps less particular about this than others.


Mixed Review

By Billy-oz8qD

from Oklahoma City

Comments about Gibson Custom CS356 Figured Top Electric Guitar with Bigsby:

Workmanship & materials are beautiful. But there are functionality issues. The guitar is hard to set up, the intonation (being in tune in the open position and out of tune when fretted) is a problem. Keeping it in tune is also tough. A professional set-up should fix most of that; but the frets are so tall, if you bear down too hard they?ll bend the note sharp just like a vibrato. Fingering requires perfect pressure ? enough, but not too much. It would be better off with shorter frets. The worst thing is that the fragile finishes. The gold plating is so soft and thin it gets tiny surface scratches immediately and will wear off quickly no matter how carefully the instrument is handled. Finally, the worst thing is the see-through red finish fades and bleeds color onto the white binding which looks awful. The only difference between this and some cheaper models is decoration. When used, this axe looses its looks fast. If you can find the natural finish get it. Gibson knows about the problem. They now ship it with a little strip of paper saying that the bleeding color should not considered a defect. On what planet is that not defective?



By JoeG7flat5

from Chicago

Comments about Gibson Custom CS356 Figured Top Electric Guitar with Bigsby:

The CS 356 is one of the most versitile guitars available. It can sound jazzy, as well as blues, rock & country. It has a great 1960's style neck. Gibson put alot of quality into this instrument. I own two of them one with a Bigsby and the other without.



By Anonymous

from Undisclosed

Comments about Gibson Custom CS356 Figured Top Electric Guitar with Bigsby:

This is by far the best semi-hollow guitar I've ever purchased. The quality is excellent. I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE the tone! I also own a Rickenbacker and a Fender, but this surpasses everything. The higher priced guitars don't match this baby!

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