Gibson Les Paul Custom
|Les Paul Custom|
|Body||Mahogany or Mahogany/Maple|
|Fretboard||Ebony, rosewood, maple, Richlite|
|Bridge||Fixed, Tune O Matic, Tremolo|
|Pickup(s)||2 or 3 Humbuckers, Originally 2 P-90s|
|Ebony, Silver Burst, Wine Red, Alpine White, "the Natural" (maple top w/maple fingerboard)|
The Gibson Les Paul Custom is a higher end variation of the Gibson Les Paul guitar. It was developed in 1953 after Gibson had introduced the Les Paul model in 1952.
The Gibson Les Paul was introduced in 1952, and was originally made with a mahogany body and a 1" thick maple cap, mahogany neck with rosewood fret board and two P-90 pickups. The guitar was only available in a gold finish. In late 1953, a more luxurious version was introduced, most probably on specific request by Les Paul himself, as he wanted a more luxurious and classy looking guitar. He requested a black guitar as he wanted it to "look like a tuxedo". Nicknamed the Black Beauty, the guitar had a mahogany body and neck, ebony fret board, and mother of pearl block markers inlays in the fret board. The "Split Diamond" inlay on the headstock was taken from the carved archtop Super 400, which was the top of the Gibson line. The pickups were a P-90 in the bridge position and an Alnico V pickup, newly designed by Seth Lover, in the neck position. The frets are low and flat, as opposed to the usual medium jumbo frets found on other Les Paul customs, and the guitar soon was given the nickname "The Fretless Wonder". The 1954 Les Paul Custom also saw the introduction of Gibson's new bridge, the ABR-1.
In mid-1957, Gibson began to equip the Les Paul Custom with the new PAF (Patent Applied For) pickup designed by Seth Lover. Most Customs have three PAFs, though there are a small number that have the traditional two-pickup configuration. By 1958, Gibson had replaced the Kluson tuners with Grover Rotomatics. It is this configuration that remained until the guitar was discontinued in 1960, replaced by the new double cutaway body Les Paul model. There are a small number of 1961 Les Paul Customs that were made with the single cutaway body before the transition to the new, SG-style body was complete.
The Les Paul Custom remained a double cutaway model until 1963, when Les Paul's endorsement with Gibson ended, and the guitar was subsequently renamed the SG Custom.
In 1968, Gibson reintroduced the Les Paul Custom as a two pickup model. The headstock angle was changed from 17 degrees to 14, a wider headstock and a maple top (in lieu of the original 1953-1961 mahogany top construction). In 1969, Norlin had acquired Gibson, and the Les Paul Custom saw many changes between 1969 and 2004. The mahogany neck was replaced with a three-piece maple neck in 1975 (though some mahogany ones were still made)with this change lasting till around 1982, and the solid mahogany body was replaced with a "pancake" body in late 1969, where a small strip of maple resides between two thicker pieces of mahogany. This would last until 1977. In 1970, a "Made in USA" stamp was added to the back of the headstock, and a volute was added to help strengthen the headstock.
In 1974, Gibson released the 20th anniversary Les Paul Custom in a white, black, cherry sunburst and honey sunburst finish (at least these four colors were made) with "20th Anniversary" engraved on the 12th fret block inlay. By 1976, the new Nashville bridge begins to replace the ABR-1. In 1977, the pancake body was replaced by the traditional solid mahogany body, though the top was still maple, as was the neck. It was around this time that the current serial number system appears as well. During this period, Gibson also made a number of Customs with maple fingerboards, instead of the typical ebony. In 1981, the volute is phased out. In 1984, Gibson closed the Kalamazoo plant, and all production was moved to Nashville. In 1986, Norlin sold Gibson to a group of investors led by Henry Juszkiewicz.
The Les Paul Custom specs by the end of the 1980s:
- Smaller headstock
- Mahogany neck
- Mahogany body
- Ebony fingerboard
- Gold hardware
- 2 humbucking pickups
- Nashville bridge
Gibson has been using the 490R/498T pickups in the Custom since the 1990s, and these are still standard spec on the regular production model.
In 2004, Gibson moved construction of the Les Paul Custom to its Nashville Custom Shop. The specs remained similar, with the only immediate changes being a TKL-made Custom Shop case (black with a crushed red interior) and a Certificate of Authenticity, as well as a Gibson Custom decal on the back of the headstock. The serial number system for the Custom also changed from the 8 digit USA numbering system to the Custom Shop numbering system, which reads as CS YNNNN (Y = last number of the year of manufacture, N = guitar's place in sequential production for the year).
In 2012, Gibson replaced the ebony fingerboard on the production Custom with a phenolic resin composite material called Richlite.
Currently, Gibson makes a number of Les Paul Custom models that are distinctly separate models from the standard production Custom, including:
- 1954 Les Paul Custom Reissue
- 1957 Les Paul Custom Reissue (both two and three pickup models)
- 1961 Les Paul/SG Custom
- Les Paul Custom Rosewood Maduro
- Zakk Wylde Les Paul Custom (numerous models available)
- Les Paul Custom Lite (Limited Edition)
Gibson has also made a number of other Customs, including:
- 1968 Les Paul Custom Reissue
- Randy Rhoads Les Paul Custom
- 60th Anniversary Les Paul Custom
- Mick Jones Les Paul Custom
- Jimmy Page Les Paul Custom
Today, the Les Paul Custom is made with a maple-capped mahogany body rather than the solid mahogany body of the 1954 model. It is available in silverburst, ebony, alpine white, wine red and cherry sunburst. The Custom model differs from the Les Paul Standard in many ways. The cosmetic differences include gold hardware (though silverburst Customs have chrome hardware); block inlays on the fretboard rather than the "crown" inlays of the Standard (with an inlay at the 1st fret, whereas the Standard has none); a "split-diamond" pearl inlay on the headstock; and multi-ply binding around the body, neck and headstock. The construction differences are a physically larger headstock; an ebony, maple or richlite fretboard, all of which tend to sound "snappier" than the rosewood fingerboard found on the Les Paul Standard, lower frets with more squared off tops that give the instrument the nickname the "fretless wonder" and larger round "speed" style knobs (though other knob types can be seen depending on the year). Gibson also does limited color runs, such as Pelham Blue, Frost Blue, Kerry Green, transparent colors, metallic colors and sunbursts that are not typically offered on a normal Custom. The hardware for these models can be either gold or chrome, depending on the color/specs. The 1968 Les Paul Custom Reissue model is only produced in limited runs but has always come with an ebony fretboard and is distinct from modern Les Paul Customs due to it having a non-weight relieved body.
Notable Les Paul Custom players
- Les Paul, inventor of the Les Paul guitar and guitarist of Les Paul Trio etc
- Robbie Krieger, guitarist for The Doors
- Izzy Stradlin, rhythm and lead guitarist for original Guns N' Roses
- Mick Mars, guitarist for Mötley Crüe
- Steve Marriott, rock artist, guitarist and vocalist of The Small Faces and Humble Pie
- Robert Fripp, solo artist and guitarist of King Crimson
- Jim Hall, jazz guitarist
- Johnny Marr, guitarist for The Smiths
- Mick Ronson, solo artist and guitarist of David Bowie and The Spiders From Mars.
- Zakk Wylde, former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist and founder of Black Label Society
- Slash, solo artist and guitarist for Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver
- Adrian Smith, guitarist and backing vocals for Iron Maiden
- Buzz Osborne, guitarist and lead singer for Melvins
- Randy Rhoads, guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot
- Mick Jones, guitarist for The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite
- Steve Jones, guitarist for The Sex Pistols
- Jimmy Page, guitarist for Led Zeppelin
- Dave Davies, guitarist for The Kinks
- Vicki Peterson, vocalist and lead guitarist for The Bangles
- John Norum, guitarist for Europe
- Ace Frehley, former guitarist for KISS and solo artist
- Keith Richards, guitarist for The Rolling Stones
- Paul Banks, guitarist and lead singer for Interpol
- John Fogerty, guitarist and vocalist for Creedence Clearwater Revival
- Daniel Johns, guitarist and vocalist for Silverchair
- Peter Frampton, solo artist
- Matt Heafy, guitarist and vocalist for Trivium
- James Dean Bradfield, guitarist and vocalist for Manic Street Preachers
- Paul Crook, guitarist and vocalist for Meat Loaf, Sebastian Bach and Anthrax
- Adam Jones, guitarist for Tool.
- Bill Kelliher, guitarist for Mastodon.
- Huey Morgan, guitarist and vocalist for the Fun Lovin' Criminals.
- Kirk Hammett, guitarist for Metallica
- Alex Turner, guitarist and vocalist for Arctic Monkeys and The Last Shadow Puppets
- Chris Shiflett, guitarist for The Foo Fighters and The Dead Peasants
- Jerry Cantrell, guitarist for Alice in Chains
- Justin Hawkins and Dan Hawkins, guitarists for The Darkness
- John Frusciante, former guitarist for Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Tom Kaulitz, guitarist for Tokio Hotel
- Steve Gaines, guitarist for Lynyrd Skynyrd from 1976-1977
- James Iha, guitarist for the Smashing Pumpkins from 1988 to 2000
- Björn Gelotte, lead guitarist for In Flames
- The Edge, guitarist for U2
- Steve Clark, guitarist for Def Leppard
- Paul Landers, rhythm guitarist for Rammstein
- John Sykes, guitarist and songwriter for Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake
- Danny Kirwan, former guitarist for Fleetwood Mac
- Mike Ness, guitarist and vocalist for Social Distortion
- Roy Coston, guitarist for DC Strut, 4 Large Men & Coston
- Frank Zappa, guitarist and songwriter
- Neil Westfall, guitarist for A Day to Remember
- Kevin Skaff, guitarist and vocalist for A Day to Remember
As of 2009, it comes in various finishes and variations. It comes in Ebony (with gold hardware, chrome hardware and chrome-plated pickguard on a limited edition, and with aged white binding, gold hardware, and uncovered pickups another limited edition), Alpine White (with gold hardware), Silverburst (with chrome hardware), Prophecy EX (with EMG pickups, transparent black finish with a quilted maple top, and black hardware), Prophecy GX (Gibson Dirty Finger pickups, transparent red finish with a quilted maple top, and gold hardware), and the Zakk Wylde signature (antique ivory with bulls eye graphic and gold hardware, Camo finish with a bulls eye graphic, maple fingerboard and gold hardware, and orange with a buzzsaw graphic and chrome hardware, EMG pickups).
- Duchossoir, A. R. (1998-07-01) . "Chapter Six: The Expansion of the Electric Line, 1953-1955". Gibson Electrics: The Classic Years : An Illustrated History from the Mid-'30s to the Mid-'60s. Milwaukee, WI USA: Hal Leonard. p. 52. ISBN 0-7935-9210-0. Retrieved 2012-12-23. "Equally, the electronics combined Seth Lover's Alnico pickup in the neck position with a regular P-90 in the bridge for tonal versatility."
- Bishop, Ian Courtney (1990) . "Chapter 1: The Les Paul Series". The Gibson Guitar: From 1950, Volume 1. Bold Strummer Guitar Series. The Bold Strummer. p. 5. ISBN 0-933224-46-X. Retrieved 2012-12-22. "The Les Paul Custom... was equipped with a single coil black covered Les Paul Special pickup in the treble position and a very distinctive Alnico pickup with six oblong pole pieces in the bass position."
- Guitar world presents one hundred greatest guitarists of all time from the pages of Guitar world magazine
- "Epiphone Les Paul Custom". Epiphone.com. Retrieved 23 February 2012.