There are those times in life when you just have to take a moment to admire something you'll most probably see only once in a lifetime. Just last week we had such an occasion when this stunning Gibson Les Paul Standard from 1960 arrived in its period correct hardshell case. You might have already seen her in New Arrivals #23, on Facebook or even in our shop, but now it is time to officially put her up for sale.
This is an instrument with an interesting story, part of which we are still trying to track down as I'm writing this. Through a few previous owners we've now gathered that this guitar was once part of the collection of Hollywood Actor Steven Seagal. Where he got it from we have yet to find out.
The history of this Burst inevitably starts somewhere early in 1960 in the Gibson factory, Kalamazoo. Now, as most of you readers will probably know, both 1959 and 1960 are the most sought-after years when it comes to Les Pauls. At the time though, the Les Paul Standard model was far from succesful. They produced about 1,600 of them from 1958 through 1960 but sales were still down and in 1960 the company discontinued the model, and introduced a different solid-body style in 1961. The low production numbers in combination with the fact that in the 60s and 70s players like Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Peter Green popularized them are amongst the reasons these guitars are considered to be the Holiest of Holy Grails.
This particular guitar is what some call a "transition size" 1960 Flametop. The transition neck, as it is known, is not as large as a 58 or 59, but just a bit smaller, and typical 1960s. The pot codes on all four Centralab pots which read; #134936. Let me break that down for you: "134" is the code for Centralab (137 would have been CTS) and "934" dates the pots to the 34th week of 1959. The tuners are single line, single ring specimens which fits in with the rest of the story.
The finish is quite another matter. The nice faded Burst finish might look genuine, but it was actually relatively recently applied by Historic Makeovers in Lake Mary, FL. But even longer ago, probably somewhere in the 1970s, it was refinished badly and then later professionally refinished again as a restoration. Luckily the stripping and sanding of the guitar was actually done quite well, very little wood was removed and the contours are all in great shape as can be seen in the pictures. As she is now the beautiful deeply flamed maple top can be admired in all its glory, it is actually one of the most spectacular tops we've seen on a Les Paul to date. And is likely simply one of the nicest tops out there. Of course, we would have liked to see an all original finish but that would also have at least doubled the price of this guitar, in some ways this can be regarded as quite a steal as ridiculous as that might sound.
A dilemma Historic Makeovers had to overcome during the restoration process was the matter of the missing serial number which was gauged out and filled in with bondo during its first refinish. Making up a new "genuine" 1960s serial number might have been confusing (there could have been an actual instrument with that serial number) and giving it an obvious "Fake" serial number could also have been the way to go. Eventually it was decided that this Les Paul was to receive a "donor" serial number from a genuine vintage Gibson Melody Maker from 1960. If you look closely at the serial number on the headstock, you can see that a small piece of perfectly matching mahogany was inlaid where the original serial number was gauged out. After applying the donor serial number and refinishing/aging the guitar it is very hard to tell that all this work was done, a perfect solution if you ask us. This entire story and pictures of the process can be found here. Despite all the evidence, I still feel it is important to note, for all the skeptics, that the originality and fact that this is indeed an original early 1960s Les Paul Standard has been confirmed by all the experts who have seen and held her. The only things not original on this guitar are the finish, the nut, the newer frets and the pickguard which is actually a cut P90 guard.
Lastly we of course cannot skip over one of the most important parts of this guitar, the original Patent Applied For (PAF) humbucking pickups. First used on lapsteels and electric guitars in 1957, these humbucking pickups invented by Seth Lover bear the almost mythical black sticker with gold lettering stating "Patent Applied For". The PAFs in this Les Paul have never been tampered with, the pickup covers have never been removed. This is great for the originality, but it also means we cannot find out if these PAFs are actually Black/Black or the coveted Black/White or Zebra versions. The other parts of the electronics are all original including the two Sprague caps, but they were removed during restoration and re-soldered. Now let me tell you, these pickups sound beastly. There is truth to the legends told about the sound these original PAFs, and those telling you otherwise have probably never played through real ones!
I could go on talking about this guitar all day, but I think it is best to let the pictures do the talking. We might even dedicate an episode of our "The Vault" series to this guitar if she doesn't sell before we get around to doing that. If you have any questions regarding this instrument please do not hesitate to contact us, we'd be happy to tell you all you want to know! Pictures of the details (pots, underside of the pickups etc.) can also be had at request. We are selling this guitar in consignment.
Les Paul Standard
Faded Burst (Refinish, Aged by Historic Makeovers)
Figured Maple (10-top)
Creme top bindings, replacements pickguard (cut P90 Guard)
Transition C-shaped early 60s neck
Pearl trapezoid position markers, bound fingerboard
42.6 mm - 1 11/16"
628 mm - 24 3/4"
ABR-1 no wire
Original PAF Humbuckers (Bridge: 7.9K, Neck: 7.93K)
Kluson single ring, single line
2x Volume, 2x tone, 3-way switch
Pot Codes: 134934
Period Correct hardshell case