In 1949, BB King jumped into a building on fire to salvage his guitar. The fire originated from a fight between two men over a woman named Lucille. King would eventually baptise his instrument of choice, a Gibson ES-355, with the same name. The King of Blues has developed his unique playing style on guitars all nicknamed after a woman he never met.
The very first humbucker and probably the most sought after pickup of all time, the PAF was invented by Seth Lover, then Gibson employee, as an answer to the problematic hum caused by single coils. Famously the de-facto pickup on Les Paul standards of that era, the PAF was the secret weapon to crush Fender.
PAF stands for “Patent Applied For”, as seen on the decal. Story goes that no PAF pickup sounds the same, but they all roar. This is probably due to the fact they were randomly stuffed with Alnico II, III, IV or V magnets. Modified patented versions were produced after 1962, marking the official end of the “Patent Applied For” era. Since then, countless reissues, clones and copies have been produced.
Marc Bolan’s Les Paul was a FrankenPaul. It was built out of several LPs from different eras. Its whereabouts are unknown, but Gibson believed its last state to be a 50s Les Paul body with a 70s LP Custom neck. That’s on these specs that they built the Custom Shop Marc Bolan signature Les Paul. Of course, its a limited run of 100, on top of which another 350 VOS have been produced.
Gibson EB bass series was very popular, but getting old. They freshened up in 1973 with the release of two basses that would clash with the Gibson tradition: The Gibson Grabber and the Gibson Ripper.
Instead of the Mahogany body, the Ripper was built with Maple (and alder in 1975), woods usually found on a Fender Production line. The bass was kept at low cost by keeping it cosmetically basic. In 2009, Gibson released a limited edition reissue called the Gibson Ripper II.
The name Byrdland is a mashup of the names of Billy Bird and Hank Garland the two guitarists who participated in its design. They had requested a short scale archtop that would be less bulky than the traditional hollowbody, and this is basically what they got: A short-scale thinline L5CES.
P90s, PAF pickups, venetian or florentine cutaway, the Gibson Byrdland went through several phases, but was always seen as a remarkable and prized instrument. Some of Gibson’s finest. Hear it
This is officially the first model featuring a Charlie Christian pickup since the ES-150, on which the pickup made its original introduction in 1936. Although the ES-175CC was an instant success among jazz players looking for a vintage sound, only 479 units of the Kamalazoo crafted instrument were ever produced. Hear it jazz
As everyone knows, the SG was originally a double cutaway version of the Les Paul model. Les Paul didn’t care so much for the new style and his name eventually got dropped to be replaced by the SG label(as in Solid Guitar) in 1963. So the 1961-63 transition model, sometimes referred to as a SG Les Paul. It is technically not a SG yet, even though it looks, smells and taste like one.
The SG custom is the top of the SG line. Until 1969, the only finish available was white. Three humbuckers that drool 60s heavy rock. No less than four tailpieces variations can be found on the SG Custom: Bigsby (61-63), Sideways Vibrola (61-62), Short Vibrola (62-63), Maestro ‘lyre’ Vibrola. Hear Phil X get High on it
The ES-5 was first revealed at the 1949 NAMM convention as “the supreme electronic version of the famed Gibson L-5”. It was the first Gibson model to feature three pickups. That is also the first Gibson to feature volume knobs with a 0-10 graduation. The original price tag was $395, which was well below the price of a Super 400.
A four-way switch was eventually added in 1956 and the model was renamed “ES-5 Switchmaster”. A year later, the P-90s were replaced by the legendary PAF pickups. The Es-5 was reintroduced between 1995 and 2006 as a Custom Shop model.
There’s a lot of confusion over the Explorer model of the early eighties. The model went through a chaotic evolution process, changing construction as fast as names. Open any blue book, and you will find those guitars filed alternatively under E/2, CMT, Explorer 2 or The Explorer.
The original E/2 version has a beveled laminated body and, because of its Maple/Walnut pancake construction, turns out as a rather heavy guitar, nearing 12-13lbs. The E/2 CMT (as in Curly Maple Top), more classic in shape and construction, is lighter weight and amazingly good looking. Dirty, Dirty, Dirty Fingers…
Gibson went into its cellar, picked some of its finest vintages, came back to the lab to create a new that looks very much like old. The ES-137 has a thinner but similar body to the ES-175 and supposedly sounds like a Les Paul Classic.
Pushed out by the SG, the Les Paul Model which hadn’t said its last word came back for another round of production in 1968. Along with Standard and Custom, a new brat joined the family: The Les Paul Deluxe.
The brighter, snappier sound juiced out of its two “New York” mini-humbucker was favored by some well known guitarists, and was famed by Pete Townshed who played a few during his career with The Who.
Victim of the 70s Norlin era, the Deluxe model lived through many variations in construction. Early models even featured the heavy “pancake” body (layers of maple and mahogany)
What happens if you combine the shape of a ES-335 with the measurements of a Les Paul? You would get a vibrant, small sized hollow body known as the ES-339. Add some ebony, mother of pearl inlays, that killer Penhalm blue, and there you are… Gibson ES-359.