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A lightly figured Gibson Les Paul with all the look and flair that has mystified the pros since the '50s.
The Gibson Les Paul was created in 1952 as an alternative to hollow-bodied, arch-top jazz guitars, with better feedback resistance, more sustain, and more comfortable access to upper-register frets. Since then, the guitar has become not only an industry standard but a cultural icon as well. The sound, feel, and look of the Gibson Les Paul has been widely influential on modern music, influencing aspiring musicians, and seasoned professionals worldwide for well over half a century. Now the celebrated tone and magical classic design can be yours, with the 1958 Les Paul Lightly Figured Electric Guitar.
This guitar is true to the original instrument's features and characteristics, including Gibson's traditional "plain" maple top and solid, non-weight relieved mahogany body. The 24-3/4" scale length neck is made from one solid piece of mahogany, and attached to the body using a long neck tenon—one of the Les Paul's more distinguishing characteristics of the 1950s. The neck is topped by a 22-fret rosewood fingerboard. Of course, two of Gibson's legendary Burstbucker pickups deliver all the subtle variations of true, classic humbucker tone by using historically "unmatched" bobbin windings and Alnico II magnets.
Mahogany Back and Maple Top
There isn't anything more critical than the marriage of the Gibson Les Paul's mahogany back with a maple cap, as well as the regimen involved in selecting the right wood and the formula to dry it out. First, the wood is personally inspected and qualified by Gibson's team of skilled wood experts before it enters the Gibson factories. Inside the Gibson factories, humidity is maintained at 45 percent, and the temperature at 70 degrees. This ensures all woods are dried to a level of "equilibrium," where the moisture content does not change during the manufacturing process. This guarantees tight-fitting joints and no expansion, and controls the shrinkage and warping of the woods, in addition to reducing the weight. It also improves the woods' machinability and finishing properties, and adherence to glue. Consistent moisture content means that a Gibson guitar will respond evenly to temperature and humidity changes long after it leaves the factory.
BurstBucker 1 and 2 pickups
These pickups feature unpolished magnets and non-potted coils, like the original pickups that gave the Gibson Les Paul its legendary sound. The variations in pickup output and tone came from inconsistencies in winding the bobbins, a result of the lack of automatic shutoffs on Gibson's winding machines in the late 1950s. Seth Lover, who invented the humbucker, always said they wound the bobbins "until they were full," and original examples suggest that employees stopped the winding machines after the counter reached approximately 5000 turns. When the two coils in a pickup have a different number of turns, that variation puts a little "edge" or "bite" on the classic humbucker sound. That's the sound BurstBuckers replicate. Gibson then carries the replication process two steps farther, with unpolished Alnico II magnets and no wax-potting of the coils, just like the originals. The Burstbucker 1 (IM57A-NH) is slightly underwound, with medium "vintage" output, and works well in both bridge and neck positions. The Burstbucker 2 (IM57B-NH) is wound in the range of Gibson's '57 Classic, with slightly hotter "vintage" output than the BurstBucker 1, and works well in the bridge position with a BurstBucker 1 in the neck position.
'50s Rounded Neck Profile
No guitar neck profiles are more distinguishable than the neck profiles employed on the Gibson guitars of today. The more traditional '50s neck profile is the thicker, rounder profile, emulating the neck shapes of the iconic 1958 and 1959 Les Paul Standards. The neck is machined in Gibson's rough mill using wood shapers to make the initial cuts. But once the fingerboard gets glued on, the rest—including the final sanding—is done by hand. That means there are no two necks with the exact same dimensions. So while it still has the basic characteristics of its respective profile, each Les Paul neck will be slightly different, with a distinct but traditional feel.
22-Fret Rosewood Fingerboard
Both rosewood and ebony have always graced the fingerboards of the world's finest stringed instruments, including many of today's Gibson guitars. The fingerboard on this 1958 Gibson Les Paul is constructed from the highest-grade rosewood on the planet. The wood is personally inspected and qualified by Gibson's team of skilled wood experts before they enter the factories to be fitted onto the neck. The resilience of these dense and durable woods makes these fingerboards extremely balanced and stable, and gives each chord and note unparalleled clarity and bite. The 12-inch radius of the fingerboard provides smooth note bending capabilities and eliminates "dead" or "choked out" notes, common occurrences on fingerboards with lesser radiuses.
The Tune-O-Matic bridge was the brainchild of legendary Gibson president Ted McCarty in 1954. At the time, it was a true revelation in intonation, and set a standard for simplicity and functionality that has never been bettered. This pioneering piece of hardware provides a firm seating for the strings, allowing the player to adjust and fine-tune the intonation and string height in a matter of minutes. It also yields a great union between the strings and body, which results in excellent tone and sustain. It is combined with a separate "stopbar" tailpiece, essentially a modified version of the earlier wraparound bridge. To this day, the Tune-O-Matic remains the industry standard. It is the epitome of form and function in electric guitar bridge design, and is one of the most copied pieces of guitar hardware.
Kluson-style Tuning Keys
The headstock on the Gibson Custom 1958 Les Paul guitar is equipped with vintage Kluson-style tuners. These tuners offer world-class performance while retaining the classic look and feel of one of the most popular—and most copied—tuners in guitar history.
Applying a nitrocellulose finish to any Gibson guitar—including the Les Paul—is one of the most labor-intensive elements of the guitar-making process. A properly applied nitro finish requires extensive man hours, several evenly applied coats, and an exorbitant amount of drying time. But this fact has never swayed Gibson into changing this time-tested method, employed ever since the first guitar was swathed with lacquer back in 1894. Why? For starters, a nitro finish of the Gibson Custom Les Paul guitar dries to a much thinner coat than a polyurethane finish, which means there is less interference with the natural vibration of the electric guitar, allowing for a purer tone. A nitro finish is also a softer finish, which makes it easily repairable. You can touch up a scratch or ding on a nitro finish, but you can't do the same on a poly finish. In addition, a nitro finish is very porous in nature, and actually gets thinner over time. It does not "seal" wood in an airtight shell—as a poly finish does—and allows the wood to breathe and age properly.