Gibson Les Paul Junior

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Gibson Les Paul Jr.
Gibson Les Paul Junior (1958).png
Gibson Les Paul Junior
Manufacturer Gibson
Period

1954–1961
(1961–1963 in SG shape)
1985–1992, 1995–1996
2001–2002, 2008–2012
2015–2016[1]


(for details, see #Timeline)
Construction
Body type Solid
Neck joint Set
Scale 24.75"
Woods
Body Mahogany
Neck Mahogany
Fretboard Rosewood, Ebony
Hardware
Bridge Wraparound
Pickup(s) 1 P-90, 2 P-90's, 1 humbucker, 1 H-90 (Billie Joe Armstrong signature model only)
Colors available
Sunburst, Ebony, TV Yellow, White, Red

The Gibson Les Paul Jr. is a solid-body electric guitar introduced in 1954 as an affordable, entry-level Les Paul. It was first released with a single-cutaway body style; models with a double-cutaway body style were later introduced in 1958. The Jr. continued through the first three years of the Les Paul/SG body redesign. It was discontinued in 1963, and was not re-released until 2001.[citation needed]

History[edit]

The goal for the Les Paul Jr. was to have a high-quality guitar that was still affordable. This was achieved by stripping the Gibson Les Paul down to the basics: no binding, no carved top, one pickup, one volume knob and one tone knob. The Junior was equipped with one P-90 "dog-ear" pickup at the bridge. It was originally released in sunburst, but Gibson also introduced the TV version (a kind of yellow, also known as TV Yellow) for professional musicians, who would be featured playing the guitar on television; the yellow would look white on black and white television, without the glare of an actual white finish.

In the 1960s and 1970s the Les Paul Jr. became very popular because of its simplicity and distinguishable tone when played through a high-gain amplifier. The P-90 pickup gave the guitar a distinct crunch that was desired by rock and blues players of the time, including Leslie West of Mountain, Luther Grosvenor (a.k.a. Ariel Bender) of Spooky Tooth and Mott the Hoople, Johnny Thunders of The New York Dolls and The Heartbreakers, and Glenn Frey of The Eagles. A Les Paul Junior also became John Lennon's main guitar during his post-Beatles years. It is also used by Billie Joe Armstrong from the band Green Day. Martin Barre of Jethro Tull recorded the entire Aqualung album with a 1957 Les Paul Junior, including the extended guitar solo of the title track.

Variations[edit]

Gibson '59 Les Paul TV
(reissued 1959 Junior DC in TV Yellow)

The Les Paul Junior was originally introduced in 1954 as a single-cutaway model, with its double-cutaway counterpart arriving to the market in early 1958.[2] Color schemes most commonly placed on Juniors were vintage sunburst, cherry red, and TV yellow. In 2012, two rare black models with tortoiseshell pickguard, from 1959 and 1960, were described in Vintage Guitar; the possibility was offered that black models were special-ordered for a specific store, or that the black finish was used to cover up blemishes in the wood.[3] In 1961, the body style of the Junior was shifted, and after conflict between Gibson and Les Paul, these models were later renamed the "SG Junior".

The Les Paul Junior is still offered today in several different variations. Gibson offers U.S.-made Les Paul Juniors which has been given modern touches including a more slim-tapered neck. These particular Juniors have been seen in several different incarnations since the mid-1980s in both single- and double-cutaway. (see #Timeline) The Gibson Custom shop has also offered a period-correct Junior over the years through both its Historic and VOS branches. These models feature the more notorious large neck or "baseball bat" neck as it is often referred to among players.

Gibson Custom Shop
John Lennon Les Paul Junior

Several artists have had Juniors produced in the Gibson product line including John Lennon, Mick Jones, Peter Frampton, and often included is the Bob Marley Les Paul Special. The Lennon model is unique for the single-coil, hexagon-shaped "Charlie Christian" pickup at the neck, a modification Lennon himself accepted when he had his actual Junior serviced in the 1970s, upon acquiring the guitar (the pickup name derives from the pickup installed on Christian's Gibson ES-150 guitar). Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong and Gibson have released two signature Les Paul Juniors, the first is in three custom colors including Vintage Sunburst, Classic White, and Ebony, and is based on the actual '54-'57 Juniors. It also has some modern features requested by Armstrong, which include a slim tapered neck, as well as a specially designed "H-90" pickup which is said to be hum-canceling and it is overwound to handle more distortion. Armstrong's second signature model is a double-cutaway in TV Yellow which also includes an "H-90" pickup. However, according to Armstrong's guitar tech, he does not use the H-90 in his guitars. He uses a Seymour Duncan Antiquity P-90 pickup.[4]

The Les Paul Special has a similar body shape, but is equipped with two P-90 pickups and Gibson's standard four-knob, three-way switch electronics.

Ace Frehley and Gibson created a unique model of this guitar: The Gibson Les Paul Jr. Lighter. It is a variation of a Les Paul Jr. with a DiMarzio Superdistortion pickup added by Ace. It contained light bulbs incorporated into sequences that turned on as a marquee, but at first there were so many lamps that gave off so much energy and heat which affected Ace, that they decided to reduce them. They installed 20 cells for rechargeable batteries "C", circuits and new lamps.

Leslie West has been quoted as saying he was offered a Les Paul Junior signature model at one time but turned the idea down, because he did not want a signature guitar based on an already-existing instrument, even though the Les Paul Junior was his signature instrument during his heyday in Mountain.

In 2015, Gibson announced the re-release of the Gibson Les Paul Junior into their 2015 USA range.[5] They decided to release a newer version of the Gibson Les Paul Junior in 2018 with vintage specifications including a '50 neck profile.[6]

Epiphone Les Paul Junior[edit]

Epiphone, a major guitar company purchased by Gibson in 1957, sells lower-cost Juniors which feature a bolt-on neck configuration as well as being outfitted with a single humbucking pickup rather than the traditional P-90. Epiphone has released limited edition models including the Collegiate Edition and the Epiphone Limited Edition '57 Les Paul Jr. Reissue with P-100, which features a set neck, all-solid mahogany construction, and a P-100 humbucker. Epiphone Japan has also released Juniors (with the Gibson headstock) including the LPJ-70 and the Ltd edition Lacquer Series Jr (both in vintage sunburst and cherry). These Juniors were pretty much dead-on regarding the original 1954 Gibson specifications but they were manufactured for the Japanese market only and not for export.

Epiphone Invader[edit]

Epiphone manufactured the Invader as part of a starter pack which was marketed mostly in mainland Europe. In essence, the Invader is an identical guitar to the Epiphone Junior, with a single generic humbucker and single volume and tone pots. Invaders were manufactured by the Samick organisation in Indonesia but have now been discontinued in light of the success and production of the Junior.

Invaders are strictly budget-end instruments and do tend to suffer from the not-unusual weakness of occasionally having poor tuning stability, but these instruments can still be regarded as very useful and playable instruments. They are light, versatile, and comfortable.

As with the Junior, the Invader is the Epiphone version of the Gibson Junior and can also be seen as having links with the Gibson Melody Maker.

Robot Guitar[edit]

Gibson recently released their series of limited edition Robot Guitars. Their first was a Les Paul Standard. They later released Les Paul Studio, SG Standard, SG Special and Les Paul Junior robot guitars. These guitars had a distinct feature which made it possible for the guitar to tune itself, using its own pickups and a master control knob.

Models[edit]

List of "Junior" models (original and reissue).[1] For "Junior Special" models, Epiphone models, and Robot Guitar models, see Gibson Les Paul Special and #Variations, respectively.

Single cutaway[edit]

  • 1954–1958:  Les Paul Junior (Single Cutaway)
  • 1956–1958:  Les Paul Junior 3/4 (Single Cutaway)
  • 1954–1958:  Les Paul TV (Single Cutaway)
reissues
  • 1986–1992:  Les Paul Junior (Single Cutaway Reissue)
  • 2001–2002:  Les Paul Junior (LPJ-)
variations
  • 2008–2012:  Les Paul Junior Faded (LPJ)
  • 2011–2012:  Les Paul Junior 2011 (Model LPJ)
  • 2015:    Les Paul Junior 2015 (LPJR15)
  • 2018:    Les Paul Junior 2018
  • 2018:    Les Paul Junior 2018 Billie Joe Armstrong Signature (Humbucker loaded)

Double cutaway[edit]

  • 1958–1961:  Les Paul Junior (Double Cutaway)
  • 1958–1959:  Les Paul TV (Double Cutaway)
  • (1961–1963:  Les Paul Junior (SG-style))
reissues
  • 1987–1989, 1995–1996:
            Les Paul Junior (Double Cutaway Reissue)
variations
  • 1990–1992:  Les Paul Junior Hall of Fame Series (Double Cutaway Reissue, with P-100 humbuckers)

Timeline[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "GIBSON Les Paul: Junior/TV Series", Blue Book of Electric Guitar Value, Blue Book Publications, Inc, retrieved 30 March 2016
  2. ^ "Les Paul Junior Single Cutaway". Zuitar.com. Retrieved 2008-08-16.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Meeker, Ward (February 2012). "Beauties in Black: The Emergence of Two Rare Gibson Les Paul Juniors". Vintage Guitar. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  4. ^ "Interview with Billie Joe Armstrong; re Signature Les Paul Junior", Gibson USA & Green Day present, Gibson Guitar Corporation, 2006, archived from the original on 21 July 2008
  5. ^ Les Paul Junior 2015, Gibson Guitar Corporation, 2015
  6. ^ Les Paul Junior 2018, Gibson Guitar Corporation, 2018

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]