Gibson 1958 Les Paul Figuredtop Historic Custom Shop (R8) Reviews 5

Years ago, in 1970, Peter Green and Nigel Watson were hanging around my house near Detroit. In the series of jam sessions we had at that time Peter was using the legendary 59 Les Paul he later gave to Gary Moore; which, as everyone knows sounded amazing (no petals here, just straight tube tone). For the last 20-25 years I have mostly played Strats, and I felt it was time for a change. Also lately I've been jamming alot with Jim McCarty (Mitch Ryder, Buddy Miles, Cactus, Seger, Rockets, etc.), and he has almost always used a Les Paul since the early 70's. So I thought about the old days with Peter, and thought "Why not?" I went around to the local stores and could not find "the One". Then I went to Guitar Center, they had about 20 or so Les Pauls to pick from. I began sorting, eliminating the heavy ones, and then tapping on wood to find the most resonant one. And so, to make a long story short, I bought the '58 Butterscotch Figuredtop for $2,900 with case.

First of all, the wood, it is a beautiful example of a flametop. But I wasn't so concerned about looks - only tone and playability. So when I say "the wood" I really mean it's resonant reedy tone. It's fairly light, but not too light (9lbs, 2 oz.), and no hidden weight relief holes. It has a big fat basball bat neck that because it fills my hand - prevents fatigue. Also, I don't care what anybody says, a little skinny neck cannot give you a big fat note. Speaking of a "big fat note", if a solidbody guitar truly has it - it will have it unplugged. Also you should notice a pronounced resonance of the headstock when you hold it lightly in your hand and strum the guitar open.

There were a few imperfections in the finish - but so what... It is a tone machine not a supermodel. But really, for this price you would expect more. It had little skinny frets, so I had Mike Koontz put in 5100 jumbos. Purely a matter of taste, but if you bend strings and use vibrato like I do it is the way to go. For the jumbo frets are really like "bearings" that smooth the feel of the bend and give you a bigger note; also, it enables you to get a good hold on the string. Also keeping the action high further helps you get a get a good hold on the string, and gives you a bigger bell-like note. (Hendrix, B.B. King, SRV etc. all have the strings setup with high action. Need I say more?)

It has a beautiful bookmatched butterscotch figured maple top, One-piece mahogany back (very important), One-piece mahogany neck with long tenon (very, very important), holly veneer on headstock, Single-ply cream binding on top and neck (nice touch), Nickel hardware, ABR-1 tunematic bridge with lightweight aluminum stopbar tailpiece (I replaced them with a Tonepros lock-down tunematic, and an aluminum lock-down stopbar to further help sustain - amazing!), '57 Classic humbuckers,Two volume controls, two tone controls, 3-way selector switch, 22-fret rosewood finger board with trapezoid inlays, vintage style kluson tuners (too cheesy, I replaced them with Grovers).

After the above mentioned modifications I have just what I wanted - a monster tone-machine... What more can I say...

John Barnwell rated this unit 5 on 2004-11-29.

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