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|Les Paul Custom|
|Scale||24.75 in (629 mm)|
|Body||Mahogany or Mahogany/Maple|
|Neck||Mahogany or Maple|
|Fretboard||Ebony, Maple, Richlite|
|Bridge||Fixed, Tune O Matic, Tremolo|
|Pickup(s)||2 or 3 Humbuckers, originally 2 P-90s|
|Ebony, Alpine White, Tobacco Sunburst, Wine Red, Cherry Sunburst, Silver Burst, Gold/Bronze Sunburst, Natural "the Natural" (maple top w/maple fingerboard) Natural with Ebony Fingerboard (maple top w/ebony fingerboard Sam Ash Special 1975)|
The Gibson Les Paul Custom is a higher end variation of the Gibson Les Paul guitar. It was developed in 1953 after Gibson had introduced the Les Paul model in 1952.
The Gibson Les Paul was introduced in 1952, and was originally made with a mahogany body and a 1" thick maple cap, mahogany neck with rosewood fret board and two P-90 pickups. The guitar was only available in a gold finish. In late 1953, a more luxurious version was introduced, most probably on specific request by Les Paul himself, as he wanted a more luxurious and classy looking guitar. He requested a black guitar as he wanted it to "look like a tuxedo". Nicknamed the Black Beauty, the guitar had a mahogany body and neck, ebony fret board, and mother of pearl block markers inlays in the fret board. The "Split Diamond" inlay on the headstock was taken from the carved archtop Super 400, which was the top of the Gibson line. The pickups were a P-90 in the bridge position and an Alnico V pickup, newly designed by Seth Lover, in the neck position. The frets are low and flat, as opposed to the usual medium jumbo frets found on other Les Paul customs, and the guitar soon was given the nickname "The Fretless Wonder". The 1954 Les Paul Custom also saw the introduction of Gibson's new bridge, the ABR-1. The new Custom also shipped with a different case from the Standard, using a black and gold case instead of the brown and pink case that was the top-of-the-line case for the Les Paul Standard models. This was to be the case until the Custom was replaced and discontinued (though a similar black case was used with the LP/SG Custom models).
In mid-1957, Gibson began to equip the Les Paul Custom with the new PAF (Patent Applied For) pickup designed by Seth Lover. Most Customs have three PAFs, though there are a small number that have the traditional two-pickup configuration. By 1958, Gibson had replaced the Kluson tuners with Grover Rotomatics. It is this configuration that remained until the guitar was discontinued in 1960, replaced by the new double cutaway body Les Paul model. There are a small number of 1961 Les Paul Customs that were made with the single cutaway body before the transition to the new, SG-style body was complete.
The Les Paul Custom remained a double cutaway model until 1963, when Les Paul's endorsement with Gibson ended, and the guitar was subsequently renamed the SG Custom.
In 1968, Gibson reintroduced the Les Paul Custom as a two pickup model. The headstock angle was changed from 17 degrees to 14, a wider headstock and a maple top (in lieu of the original 1953-1961 mahogany top construction). In 1969, Norlin had acquired Gibson, and the Les Paul Custom saw many changes between 1969 and 2004. The mahogany neck was replaced with a three-piece maple neck in 1975 (though some mahogany ones were still made)with this change lasting till around 1982, and the solid mahogany body was replaced with a "pancake" body in late 1969, where a small strip of maple resides between two thicker pieces of mahogany. This would last until 1977. In 1970, a "Made in USA" stamp was added to the back of the headstock, and a volute was added to help strengthen the headstock.
In 1974, Gibson released the 20th anniversary Les Paul Custom in a white, black, cherry sunburst and honey sunburst finish (at least these four colors were made) with "20th Anniversary" engraved on the 15th fret block inlay. By 1976, the new Nashville bridge begins to replace the ABR-1. In 1977, the pancake body was replaced by the traditional solid mahogany body, though the top was still maple, as was the neck. It was around this time that the current serial number system appears as well. In 1975 Gibson began making a number of Customs with maple fingerboards, instead of the typical ebony (this was discontinued by the early 1980s). From 1979 to 1982(83?) Gibson made a limited edition of 75 worldwide LP custom in the Silverburst colour with 2 "Tim shaw Burstbuckers".In 1981, the volute is phased out. In 1984, Gibson closed the Kalamazoo plant, and all production was moved to Nashville. In 1986, Norlin sold Gibson to a group of investors led by Henry Juszkiewicz.
The Les Paul Custom specs by the end of the 1980s:
Gibson has been using the 490R/498T pickups in the Custom since the 1990s, and these are still standard spec on the Custom model.
The Gibson guitars in from 2000-2003 were specially made on the requirements of the client on what kind of wood on the fret board,types of wood for neck and body, type of hardware and some models were also rounded of deeply on the request for specific number of coil turns in the pickups as well. Type of logo designs and hard cases were also manufactured on the request of the customer. These special custom series came up with specific serial numbers which were encrypted with Custom's CS and small, more compact serial number CS XXXXX
The first two numbers represent on which number this specific model was built, next two represent the year they were made in and the last numeric value represents the month of formation
In 2004, Gibson moved construction of the Les Paul Custom to its Nashville Custom Shop. The specs remained similar, with the only immediate changes being a TKL-made Custom Shop case (black with a crushed red interior) and a Certificate of Authenticity, as well as a Gibson Custom decal on the back of the headstock. The serial number system for the Custom also changed from the 8 digit USA numbering system to the Custom Shop numbering system, which reads as CS YNNNN (Y = last number of the year of manufacture, N = guitar's place in sequential production for the year).
In 2012, Gibson replaced the ebony fingerboard on the production Custom with a solid paper-phenolic resin composite material.
While the Custom is currently only available in ebony, it is often offered in Alpine White, Wine Red, Cherry Sunburst and Silverburst as well. The Custom model differs from the Les Paul Standard in many ways. The cosmetic differences include gold hardware (though silverburst Customs have chrome hardware); block inlays on the fretboard rather than the trapezoid inlays of the Standard (with an inlay at the 1st fret, whereas the Standard has none); a "split-diamond" pearl inlay on the headstock; and multi-ply binding around the body and headstock (the neck retains single-ply binding). The construction differences are a physically larger headstock; an ebony, maple or richlite fretboard, both of which tend to sound "snappier" (acoustically) than the rosewood fingerboard found on the Les Paul Standard; lower frets with more squared off tops (though lower than the frets on a Standard, today's production Custom does not have "Fretless Wonder" frets) and larger round "speed" style knobs (though other knob types can be seen depending on the year and model). Gibson also does limited color runs, such as Pelham Blue, Frost Blue, Kerry Green, transparent colors, metallic colors and sunbursts that are not typically offered on a normal Custom. The hardware for these models can be either gold or chrome, depending on the color/specs. Starting in 2011, Gibson began to reintroduce maple fingerboards to the Custom, offering limited runs in the traditional colors, as well as transparent colors with figured tops.
In 2013, Gibson did a limited run of 1957 reissue Customs (both 2 and 3 pickup models) with ebony fingerboards. These were the first Customs since 2011 to feature ebony fingerboards, and came with white handling gloves, a 20th anniversary toggle switch control cover, a special COA and a Gibson Custom case. In 2012, Gibson reintroduced the original brown and pink "California girl" case for its Custom Shop models, largely replacing the black and red case that had been in use for almost a decade.
The current Les Paul Custom specs are:
Additionally, Gibson makes a number of signature Les Paul Custom models that are distinctly separate models from the standard production Custom, including:
Gibson has also made a number of other Custom models, including:
Gibson discontinued many models with ebony fingerboards as factory spec after the August 2011 federal raid due to concerns regarding the legality of ebony that the company had purchased. The 2013 Les Paul Custom that commemorates the Custom Shop's 20th anniversary is the first and only Custom to feature an ebony fingerboard since late 2011.
Equally, the electronics combined Seth Lover's Alnico pickup in the neck position with a regular P-90 in the bridge for tonal versatility.
The Les Paul Custom... was equipped with a single coil black covered Les Paul Special pickup in the treble position and a very distinctive Alnico pickup with six oblong pole pieces in the bass position.