NOTE: These are not our guitars; just saving the images for history and showcasing what's out there.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


images via this auction

"Vintage 1968 Gibson Les Paul Std. - Unique Blue Sunburst
Vintage PAF - Long Tenon Neck - 'Heavenly Blue Sky'

* One piece mahogany body +
* One piece long tenon neck = awesome sustain
* Vintage pre-'63 PAF bridge PU = singing lead tone with clarity on the bottom end and sweet sustaining highs.
* Vintage Patent Sticker T-Top neck PU = warm and crunchy rhythm tone with excellent bite, bark and chime.
* Custom Blue Sunburst = a uniquely beautiful axe that's all business plugged in

In sum:
'59 Sunburst tone without the moon scraping price tag. Truly lives up to her name,

Before the Norlin corporate crowd began to sniff around the Gibson still-kickin' carcass, the Kalamazoo, Michigan plant boys decided to reintroduce the Les Paul which hadn't been made since 1960. While everybody and his brother wanted a '59 Sunburst with humbucking PAF's just like Clapton and Page played, the Gibson crew for reasons obscure decided to reissue a '56 style standard with single coil P-90's in Vegas Goldtop. The players were not amused.

The original owner, (the Mystery Rocker or just MR for short) got this Standard as a Goldtop (#5303XX) and promptly made a few very player and tone-friendly choices:

1. Wimpy single coil P-90's?!? BZZZNNTT! Wrong answer! MR found an orignal vintage pre-'63 Gibson Patent Applied For (PAF) pickup and put that in the bridge position. For the neck position he found a vintage Son-Of-PAF Gibson Patent Sticker T-Top and suddenly this guitar went from wimpy to crunchy wailin' guitar tone heaven.

2. While the PU's were being swapped, MR made a gutsy finish decision. Instead of ditching the loud Vegas gold for a classic sunburst refinish like all the Clapton and Page acolytes were getting, MR decided on a vibrant Heavenly Blue Sky Sunburst instead. It worked! Just look at the pictures! "Heavenly Blue Sky" was born. MR chose to leave off the pick guard to let the beautiful finish shine!

3. The stock Kluson Deluxe tuners were quaint but not player friendly for quick between song tune-ups after doing some nasty string bending. MR dropped in a lovely set of high torque, smooth as silk Schaller tuners. Even with these much heavier tuners, Sky still weighs in at a nice light 9lbs. 4oz on my hopefully accurate kitchen scale.(Note: averaged weight of a dozen '59 'Bursts I checked out on the LPF Vintage Les Paul Resgistry with the lighter Kluson's is 8lbs. 15oz.)

After MR said goodbye to Sky she showed up on the wall at Guitars Afire in Long Beach, CA in 1976. My fellow guitarist Zen took one look at that fabulous blue sunburst finish and asked to play her. One minute of flipping between the T-Top and the PAF tones as his fingers danced across the fretboard and Zen looked up at me with the biggest guitar-hungry grin I ever saw on him. Zen couldn't manage the $$ so he called in some favors and came back with two Strats and a '60 Strat body to trade and walked out the door with one fabulous Les Paul.

Zen's luthier at World of Strings, Long Beach, CA refretted Sky and refinished the back that had a major case of belt buckle bashing. The neck is still original finish.

The luthier inspected Sky and pointed out several field fixes. Two head cracks had been epoxied and were inline with the E string tuner screws so he chose to reinstall the E tuners sans/screw. He said to bring it back if it got worse. It's 30 years later and the cracks haven't grown one iota and the tuners stay perfectly in tune. He also pointed out that one pot was a hasty field replacement. The solders weren't pretty but she sounds great so the luthier chose to leave the electronics alone rather than tamper with the original Sprague Black Beauty Telecaps tone capacitors which still sound fantastic.

When Zen went off to college and our band ended, Sky sat in a case all lonely for a few years. Finally, Zen consented to sell me Sky and I've had her as my top studio axe ever since. I've made only three small modifications to her in the almost three decades I've had her. I dropped in a set of GraphTech graphite saddles to replace the awful "string breaker" saddles on the ABR-1 bridge. This stopped bridge string breaking and also improved tuning stability and slightly improved sustain. I replaced the missing pickup selector knob and I replaced the clear speed knobs when the old ones got brittle and disintegrated from age. Now that I've retired from studio work, it's time to give Sky up to another player to share her unique classic tones with a whole new generation of guitar fanatics. I love her and I'll be damned if I'm going to let her sit in her case till "someday" comes and I have more time to play her again. If you REALLY love vintage guitars, I'd be mighty obliged if you'd give her a good home.

Heavenly Blue Sky is definitely NOT some lifeless corporation designed re-creation designed to fool gullible young players into believing they own a "REAL" Les Paul. She's an electric lady designed in the '50's and born in the '60's; born and bred to sing and growl like a banshee. She proudly bears the cross checking of her advanced years and the nicks and dings of thousands of miles of shows and 40 years of playing. This is a REAL Les Paul built like Les intended for them to be built. SOLID!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Guitars Afire Long Beach Great Place and always had good deals on some rare nice instruments. I bought my Dean there one of the last hand mades from Dean. Killer Deal too.