|Classic Prototype #1, 1982||The Classic was borne out of a quest to fulfill a need.
Players always talk about how much they love Gibson ES335s but they sure would like to have a small one. In the early ’80’s, Michael decided to take it on and ‘realise’ their wishful thinking. “The Japanese brought out smaller copies of the ES335 and even Gibson tried to do it, but the proportions were never handled right when they started shrinking down the guitar. None of them looked right to me,” he said at the time.
The first Classic was built with a Korina body and neck, with a maple top and became the main squeeze of Randy Cobbwho played with James Taylor at the time. Michael’s second Classic was built with Honduras mahogany. Many combinations have followed these early prototypes and some examples can be seen in the Classic gallery.
“The Classic has great sustain,” Michael says, “which I attribute to the fitting of the parts. That counts more than having a neck through the body or using a lot of heavy maple – which doesn’t get it, as far as I am concerned. I mean, they sustain, but I don’t like the tone”.
There are fewer glue joints in a Michael Stevens Classic than an ES335 and this results in more structural integrity, which in turn means more sustain. “There are 20 or so pieces of wood in a 335 but I have only the top, back, neck and fingerboard. The Classic has tone chambers with a block down the middle but without all the laminations” he says.
Truly an ageless “Classic” design but with clever refinements.