Les Paul Guitars...
Les Paul Special
They Just Keep Coming!
1960 Les Paul Special
In 1955, Les Paul guitars gained a new stablemate - the Les Paul Special. The Les Paul Special was basically a slightly upscale version of the Les Paul Junior. The Special, initially a single cutaway design, featured two P-90 soapbar
single-coil pickups. In late 1958, the Special was released with the same double-cutaway body shape that the Junior and TV models received. This caused a big problem for the Special.
double-cutaway design on the 2-pickup Special caused the cavity for the neck pickup to overlap the neck-to-body joint. Unfortunately, this weakened the joint to the point that the neck was
easily broken even when treated gingerly. To eliminate the problem, Gibson moved the neck pickup farther down the body so that the neck-to-body joint was more solid and much stronger. The
Special was discontinued in 1960 but is still available today from Gibson's custom shop as a VOS(Vintage Original Series) model reissue.
Les Paul Standard:
Les Paul Standard
The Les Paul Gold Top received a revamping in 1958. The new model retained the PAF humbuckers, maple top, the tune-o-matic bridge with either a stopbar tailpiece or the Bigsby tremolo. The
major change was the replacement of the Gold Top finish with a Sunburst finish. Gibson called it the Les Paul Standard to distinguish it from the Gold Top. The original production run of the Les Paul Standard
lasted for two years, ending in 1960. This wasn't the end of the line for the Standard, though. As a side note, the original Standards are highly collectable with only 1700 being produced during
the original production run.
Due to high demand, Gibson revived the Standard in 1968. Production continues to this day with the higher end Standards sporting Gibson's Burstbucker humbuckers and the lower end models sporting the
Burstbucker Pro pickups. The Standard was revamped in 2008 with the body having chambers routed in it to reduce weight. In addition the Les Paul Standard now features a long neck tenon, an
asymmetrical neck profile to make for a comfortable neck, frets levelled by Plek machine, and locking Grover tuners with an improved ratio of 18:1.
Les Paul SG:
1961 Les Paul SG
1960 saw Gibson experiencing a sharp decline in sales. The decline was partially Gibson's fault due to their high prices but Fender's double-cutaway design, the Stratocaster, was very popular
and seriously ate into Gibson's market. In response, Gibson decided to redesign the Les Paul. In 1961 they introduced the revamped Les Paul. The new guitar was a double-cutaway design that was
much thinner and lighter than the Les Pauls before it. This move was a bittersweet one for Gibson. They had not consulted Les Paul on the new design. The first he knew of it was when they released
it. Les did not like the new design and insisted that his name be removed from guitar and parted ways with Gibson. Gibson had a surplus of "Les Paul" logos and truss rod covers and continued to
use the Les Paul name until 1963. At that point they renamed it the SG(Solid Body) and another Rock and Roll icon was born. Les Paul guitars had lost a stablemate but Gibson had gained a winner.