Here’s an extract from an interview I did with Larry Carlton in 2015 during my research for The Gibson 335 Guitar Book. I could hardly have written a book about the Gibson semi-solids and not include Mister 335.


TB: I think you started out in the studios using a Les Paul, a Tele, and a 175, but I guess from there you started to look for one do-it-all guitar.

LC: It wasn’t as obvious to me at the time as now when I explain it, but yeah, one guitar that felt kind of like a jazz box, but didn’t have to sound like a jazz box. I was just more comfortable. And the 335, for me, seemed to be obviously the right choice. I could put it on the back pickup through a small amp and get a little buzz going with the tone; I could go front pickup and play cleaner … in my hands and with my spirit, the 335 seemed to be the appropriate choice.

TB: How did you happen upon that guitar?

LC: A friend of mine worked at a music store in Palos Verdes, California, and it was called — I remember, because it’s historic now, ha ha — it was called Mr B’s For Music. They had three different 335s hanging on the wall, and I didn’t plug them in, I just played them acoustically and chose the one that I ended up with. That was late 1969, first thing 1970.

My decision was a very practical one in the beginning, because I could cover many different sounds and things with that one guitar, of course. Other than that, I can tell you that of the three different 335 guitars that I had to choose from that evening, and then I chose this one, it ended up this guitar was very special, tone-wise.

After doing sessions for a couple of years, 70 to 71, obviously my guitar sound was becoming part of the LA recording scene, and many of the other guitarists wanted to buy a 335 so that they would have that sound in their arsenal. They would ask me to go with them to help them pick it out. And then with the guys, when I would go with them to choose or to at least look at a few different 335s, we didn’t plug them, we just listened to it acoustically.

TB: Who were those guys?

LC: The one that comes to mind is Dennis Budimir, my good buddy, and I helped him pick his, either that or I loaned him mine to take with him, something like that, some comparison.

TB: You’ve become Mister 335!

LC: That handle was given to me in Japan. During an interview there, somebody said well, you’ve become Mister 335. I didn’t give myself that name, ha ha. So that was very nice, but that’s where that came from.

TB: Then there’s Room 335, the studio. When did you name that … probably around the same time?

LC: It was before I received the nickname. When I built my studio, the reason I could build my studio was because the money I made in the session scene, with my 335, ha ha, is what allowed me to have the finances to go ahead and build the studio. So it was a tribute, really, to my guitar.

From Tony Bacon’s interview with Larry Carlton, November 9 2015