Here’s one from the archives: a beautiful Gibson Les Paul Custom made in 1969! The story I have is that it was purchased new by a professional player in Jasper, Alabama. He played it a few years, replaced the tuners, bought other guitars, and eventually forgot about the Gibson Les Paul Custom. He had a niece at the time who wanted to learn to play the electric guitar. Instead of having the poor thing sit unplayed in the closet, he gave it away to his niece to learn to play on. What an amazing gift!
Her initial enthusiasm waned on the electric guitar. The ’69 Gibson Les Paul Custom was once again relegated to sitting in the closet. She held on to it until last year when it was time to put together some money for a down payment on a house. She searched for who buys vintage Gibson guitars in Birmingham, Alabama and came up with me and my website: Truevintageguitar.com!
Gibson’s Les Paul Custom model debuted in 1954, only two years after the initial gold finished Les Paul Model. The Custom was an upgrade from the Model (later called the Les Paul Standard) in both aesthetics and construction. While it didn’t initially have the Maple cap on the Mahogany body like the Model, it did have a revolutionary new bridge design that was a significant improvement in intonation over the trapeze bridge from 1952: the Double Combination bridge and tailpiece featuring the Tune-O-Matic bridge. Not only did it have a newly designed bridge, it also had a proprietary neck pickup that with fully adjustable pole magnets.
The single cutaway Gibson Les Paul Custom went through small changes until it was replaced with the SG body style in 1961. It was an entirely different guitar at that point. Gibson continued to make the Les Paul Custom with the SG body style until the Les Paul name was dropped from the model in late 1963.
Lester Polfuss’s life was in a bit of turmoil in 1963. He was in the middle of a divorce with his long time wife and musical partner Mary Ford. The single cutaway Les Paul models hadn’t been hugely commercially successful in the 1950s but something strange happened a few years after they were discontinued: blues players over in the UK started looking for the single cutaway Les Paul guitars. Their popularity spread to the United States from players like Eric Clapton. Used guitar shops started getting requests for them and pretty soon they were tough to find. Les and the folks at Gibson were alerted to this fact 1968 and they decided to partner again to reintroduce Les Paul guitars. This 1969 Gibson Les Paul Custom was one of those!
This reintroduction of the Gibson Les Paul Custom was a decent copy of what a Custom from 1959 would look like but with a couple of structural and style changes. One major difference was that the reintroduction in 1968 had only two humbucking pickups instead of three like the ’59. The middle pickup was rather unpopular with players since it stood in the way of the pick while playing!
I’m always looking to buy vintage Gibson Les Paul guitars but I especially enjoy the Les Paul Custom. Do you have a 1968, 1969, or 1970 that you would like to sell? You can reach out to me here on my sell Gibson guitar page to send pictures and information on your guitar. I’m looking forward to checking it out.