Attn: '72/73 54 bb custom reissue owners. 1972 1954 Les Paul Custom Reissues

Discussion in 'Historics & Reissues' started by oldschoolnew$$$, Apr 19, 2013.

  1. oldschoolnew$$$

    oldschoolnew$$$ Member

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    I had the pleasure of playing one of the baddest Les Pauls on the planet recently while doing some session work in Nashville. I played 2 original bb's, one a 54, the other an ultra rare '53 which was the most magical guitar I have ever played in my 20 years of playing. I was so gassing so hard. This thing was so awesome and the nexk was so unique, never played anything like it, it was a hard V, fast, medium thickness, and man did it fly. The other 54 played ok, but sounded weak, and was otherwise unremarkable.

    ......... I seriously considered buying the '53. They were asking 40k. (yep, 40k). There was some room, but I decided it wasn't gonna happen on that trip. So I got home, about a week ago, and was telling my guitar tech about it, ( he was convinced it didn't exist and swore up and down they weren't released until 54 at nam), but after some research i verified it. So he tells me about the 72's and 73's rebb's and to check em out.

    .........So i go online, and I find one. Because i was so gassed about the '53, i'm totally intreagued by it, considering its built with the long neck tenon, and its a one piece body and same pickup config. From all my research, I'm convinced its as close as I'm gonna get to the 40k '53.

    FF to this week, I buy the guitar. Its a 72LE, all orig minus a set of original tuners. easily replaced

    so where is this post going? I have heard the rumors, about the stock being original wood, necks, and maybe pickups . (alnico V), so I call my inside guy at gibson, and ask him about the chances of that being even remotely true. He tells me records suck, but it is possible, especially on the '72's as they only made 60 of em.

    alright, getting to point. I played a 53 a week ago for over 2 hours straight, and i studied this thing, we took it apart. I played the 54 as well, for about 15 minutes. When i get this fine axe in the mail tomorrow, I am going to pick it apart and give my comparison, thought you guys may like to chime in, share info or such. here is a link to a few rifffs with the original '53, I will post some footage later as i get my 72. [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gU9yAai7CeY]1953 Les Paul Custom Black Beauty. The Real Deal. The Original Fretless Wonder - YouTube[/ame]. :dude:

    I would also love to know what anybody paid for one recently, and any and all info you may have about your 72 / 73 54 bb reissue.

    finally, couple of thoughts on the original 53, and 54, before the 73 comes.
    1) it was alot heavier than it felt. I was amazed to find that it was 10.25 pounds. I have an 87 custom that is 11 pounds, and this thing is exponentially better balanced. I'm convinced its the tenon, I have a 59 dot with a long tenon, and is my belief that the physics of the neck going into the midde of the guitar distributes weight, shock, and mobility evenly. Bottom line, it has a better center of gravity

    2)The thing had the baddest neck of any guitar, period. Im convinced it was hand carved, and have never played a LP that had a deep v feel. and it was fast, recent refret had it dialed in to the "fretless wonder" small original frets, and it flew, as in the video, i could not slow down.

    3) best feature hands down of neck, and I wanna throw this out to 72 owners for their opinion. The binding was rounded, and it made all the difference in the world. Every les Paul I have ever played, has had a hard right angle on the ivory / plasitc binding on the side of neck. I thought it may have been a custom appt. or maybe worn from wear, but......the 54 had it too. Question: Do the 72 73 re's have that binding ? - we will soon see, this could be an interesting clue in the new old stock rumors.

    4)tone- p90 on the '53 was simply magic. cold steel full spectrum balls to the wall sustain, that almost seemed to open up the longer you held the note.

    the alnico V blew me away as well. Man, what have i been missing. no bs hiss, no string noise, just a bad ass rock a billy meets SRV on steroids tone with endless sustain, and warm. dude. seriously, i still want that f ing guitar bad.

    5) last note. I was amazed at the difference of the 53 and the orig 54. I was spoiled, I was totally not interested in the 54, no sustain, no bark. week. It rings true, and we all know, every guitar is different. if I woulda never played the 53, i prolly woulda loved the 54. (guitars and chicks are kinda like this). he he .

    Well thanks guys, I will keep you all posted as to the 72, I really hope i get luck and she sings like the '53, (My seller promises it does) Hit me up, Peace.

    oldschool.
    :slash:
     
  2. Pokerstar

    Pokerstar Senior Member

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    So - ? waiting, waiting, waiting....... What an amazing guitar! Lets see, $40k, I can sell the truck, most of my clothes, a few guitars, all the furniture except for a stool, and... and... still can't afford it. Darn it.

    Good luck with the '72!
     
  3. Mildperv

    Mildperv Senior Member

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    No, not a chance of it being left over wood, pups or anything else. Those rumors have been around for years. Gibson is a factory. Factories use every last resource they have. No reason to hang on to anything. Especially for a '72, if there was ANY chance old wood was still around, it would have been used on early '68s and there's no reason to believe those are either since Gibson had to literally FIND the old LP patterns and what-not to re-start production.

    Old wood rumors are usually brought up to hype a particular guitar for sale or start interest for a pump and dump.
     
  4. 7gtop

    7gtop Premium Member

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    :applause:


    welcome here

    > oldschooln$ <

    :wave:

    can't wait to read what you "find"
    upon arrival of the '72 :)
     
  5. 1981 LPC

    1981 LPC Senior Member

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    Love the enthusiastic write/up! You really should repost this in the Norlin Years section, that's where to most knowledgeable members on this era of Les Pauls dwell.

    Curious to hear more about the ´73 (and its clean sound, not so much that overdriven/distorted sound).
     
  6. oldschoolnew$$$

    oldschoolnew$$$ Member

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    Thanks for the warm welcome guys. Cant wait to get it.

    all things being equal, a hunk of '72 wood is already 41 years old and figured 50's wood would be a long shot.

    As for the build, I'll give y'all a good assesement.

    Rock and Roll.

    Jeff :dude:
     
  7. oldschoolnew$$$

    oldschoolnew$$$ Member

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    I found a great post from fellow member "michael", great info on the 72's.
    Thought i would throw it out there as i wait for the 72 to arrive.

    peace out yall

    1954 Les Paul Custom Black Beauty Reissue
    Back in 1952, when Gibson launched the Les Paul line of electric guitars, you could have any color you wanted, as long as it was Gold. Because the front of the guitar was the color of Gold, the guitar quickly earned the nickname of Goldtop, and that name has stuck to this day. According to early interviews with Les Paul, and as can also be verified on the Gibson website, Les wanted the line of guitars that carried his name to come in two colors. One was gold, because it he felt that gold symbolized all that was fine in life. The other color he requested was black, because as a performer, he felt that a musician’s hands and fingers would stick out more clearly against the black background of the guitar, at the time, Les Paul was at the height of his career, and no one had quicker fingers than that boy.


    In a previous review on the 1952 Goldtop and the 1954 Goldtop, I discussed some of the history of the development of the Les Paul Guitar, and as such it does not bear repeating here. Those interested in finding out more about the history of this guitar, can go to the Gibson website for information, or to the many websites dedicated to Les Paul himself, or to the guitars that bear his name. You may even wish to check out my reviews of the 1952 Goldtop Reissue or the 1954 Goldtop Reissue guitars, if you are so inclined. Now on to my review of the 1954 Les Paul Custom “Black Beauty” Reissue.


    This model of the Les Paul Custom had a very short run of only three years, from 1954 to 1957, but a faithful reproduction, of which I am writing about here, is still available as a reissue from Gibson. I must confess that I am very partial to this guitar. It was the first good electric guitar that I owned. I purchased an original 1956 model back in 1969 used for $100. It was in unplayable condition, and it took me 9 months of painstaking work to restore to its original glory. Alas, after falling in love with this guitar, it was stolen, but that is another story. I have never owned or played a guitar that was this magnificent again. However, the 1954 Gibson Les Paul Custom Reissue is remarkably true to the original, and if any one out there wishes to buy me one for a present to help me get over my grief, I would humbly accept such a gift.


    The 1954 Les Paul Custom Reissue, like its original predecessor the original 1954 version, is made of solid mahogany. There are no “weight relief” holes drilled into the body of this guitar like there are on newer Les Paul models. Newer Les Pauls have up to 9 weight relief holes drilled into strategic parts of the body to reduce the weight, and they also use a lighter weight mahogany. Apparently the folks at Gibson turned into “weight watchers,” as they became conscious of the public’s complaints that the early original Les Paul’s were just too heavy to play long night gigs. Personally, I never found this to be the case, and I love the balance and weight (all 9 pounds and 12 ounces of it) of the 1954 Custom Reissue. For those who prefer a lighter guitar, such as a Gibson SG or a Fender Stratocaster, be warned, the 1954 Reissue is one heavy guitar, and the whole body is made of carved Mahogany. The Les Paul 1954 Custom does not have a maple top like most other Les Paul’s do, and so it sounds different from its brothers. Part of this difference in sound can be attributed to the wood that is used in building this guitar, as well as to the type of pickups that were used. I shall focus first on the wood, and address the pickups later on in the review.


    Typically most Les Paul models have a Mahogany body with a Maple top and a Rosewood fretboard. The use of a Maple top adds a different coloration to the sound of a guitar than does using Mahogany alone. Maple is a very hard wood that produces a sharp bite and a long sustain. Mahogany is a very stable and consistent wood, and it also produces a sharp bite, but it is also is known for its enhancement of the midrange and bass frequencies. It can produce a singingly sweet sustain, and a rich round fullness. Jazz players loved this guitar. The fretboard of the 1954 Les Paul Custom is made of solid Ebony, as compared to the traditional Rosewood fret board found on most Les Paul’s. Ebony is a very finely grained, and very hard dense wood, and this adds extra snap, definition, and crispness to the sound.


    While I am on the topic of the woods used in making the 1954 Les Paul Custom Reissue, it think it is also important to discuss the finish of the guitar. The color is a rich deep midnight black ebony that is absolutely gorgeous, especially when highlighted by the gold hardware and binding. The guitar is encased in a nitrocellulose lacquer, just like the originals were. Lacquer lets the guitar “breath” and does not stiffen or dampen the resonant qualities of the wood the way some other finishing products do. A number of “signature” series guitars from other major brands also have been turning to guitars made with nitrocellulose lacquer for these very same reasons, as opposed to the polyurethane finishes on their other mass produced nonsignature series of guitars.


    The 1954 Les Paul Custom Reissue has pearl block inlayed position markers on the neck, and they look just like the originals, both in shape and color. There is a distinctive and attractive split diamond mother of pearl inlay on the headstock as well, which adds to the subtle elegance of this guitar. A single ply white binding adorns the neck. The neck has 22 frets and an Ebony fret board over a solid Mahogany neck, and there is even binding on the headstock. To add to the elegance, there is also multi-ply white/black binding on the sides of the front and back of the body of the guitar, as well as gold hardware that puts the icing on the cake.


    The neck on the 1954 Les Paul Custom Reissue is an early 1950’s style, which some people refer to as a “baseball bat” neck because of its thickness. Personally, I love the neck on this guitar because it gives you something to grab onto, and provides proper leverage for those slow soulfully mean blues oriented string bends, and it is just wide enough for precision finger placement when playing lightning fast jazz riffs. The original 1954 Custom was also nicknamed the “Fretless Wonder” by some. That is because the wire used in making the frets was broad and flat, and this permitted the action of the guitar to be lower than on other guitars made at the time. When used in combination with the firm Ebony fretboard, the guitar was so easy to play, that people likened it to a fretless instrument, and thus the guitar earned the nickname “Fretless Wonder.” A problem with this design was that because the frets were so low to the fret board it was more difficult for some players to bend the strings for blues riffs, and blues players preferred the Les Paul Goldtop, and later the Les Paul Standard for that reason. Gibson has thankfully made the frets on the 1954 Reissue version a bit higher and they are medium sized, and this has made the 1954 Reissue suitable to any style of playing. The tuning pegs are kidney bean style tuners, and as mentioned above, the color of the hardware is gold. The bridge is an ABR-1 bridge, and the tailpiece is a stopbar. The contrast of the white, black, and gold color combinations are reminiscent of a “sharp dressed man” in a Tuxedo.


    There are a few differences between the 1954 Goldtop Reissue and the 1954 Les Paul Custom Reissue which reflect the evolution of the Les Paul guitar as a musical instrument, and which improved the guitar both cosmetically and functionally. The 1954 Goldtop had a one-piece wrap-a-round bridge/tailpiece, and the strings wrap over the bridge/tailpiece. The design of the bridge/tailpiece on the 1954 Goldtop has similar attributes to the bridge on a good acoustic guitar. The biggest drawback with this tailpiece is that one cannot adjust the intonation of the strings with the same precision that one can with a modern tune-o-matic bridge. In an effort to improve the playability and functionality of the Les Paul line, the 1954 Custom was the first guitar to be fitted with the newly designed tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece. This bridge, sometimes referred to as the ABR-1, was an instant success, and from then on, became the standard bridge found on the newer versions of the Goldtop, Les Paul Standard, and of course the Custom.


    As to the sound, there is simply no other Les Paul that sounds like this one, and it is a wondrous instrument to hear. This guitar comes with one single coil P-90 pickup in the bridge position, as well as the then newly designed 480 Alnico 5 single coil pickup in the neck position. Both of these pickups of course preceded the introduction of the humbucking pickups in 1957. The sound of the P-90 in the bridge position can produce a wide variety of sounds, and enable the player to reproduce classic blues, rock, jazz, country, and just about anything in between. However, one of the things that sets this guitar apart from all other Les Paul’s is the 480 Alnico 5 pickup (sometimes incorrectly referred to as a P-90 Alnico 5 pickup).


    Unlike the typical screw pole pieces in the P-90, the 480 has large rectangular pole pieces, which are both unique in shape and distinctive in sound. Most pickups made during this era had a long magnet with screw like pole pieces deriving their magnetic properties from proximity to the core magnet. The thing that sets the 480 apart from other pickups of this era was that the pole pieces themselves were actually individual magnets, and thus the 480 had six individual Alnico pole piece magnets. This pickup was designed by the legendary Seth Lover, who is best known as the inventor of the Humbucking pickup, which later revolutionized the sound of the Gibson guitar line. The 480 Alnico pickup found on the 1954 Gibson Les Paul Custom is nothing short of amazing. When it is cranked up to 10, it is more loud and powerful than a typical P-90, and produces a sound that can vary from warm creamy sound to a stingingly sweet bite. When the volume is turned down a bit, the 480 Alnico 5 produces a warm jazzy sound that just cannot be believed unless you hear it. Mr. Les Paul himself was noted to prefer the middle position on the toggle switch, thus engaging both pickups, and adjusting them to get the best of both worlds.


    For the technically minded, there are 12 different types of Alnico magnets (Alnico 1 through 12), and Alnico 2 and Alnico 5 are the most commonly used in making guitar pickups, although Alnico 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8 have also been used at times. Each different Alnico Magnet has different magnetic properties, and each one has different sound characteristics. Alnico is a composite material that is made of a combination of Aluminum, Nickel, Cobalt, and Iron. Different types of Alnico magnets are used in different types of pickups, and each produces different sounds qualities. The original 1954 Les Paul Custom introduced the Alnico 5 pickup to the Les Paul, and these specially designed single coil pickups are also found on the 1954 Reissue. The Alnico 5 pickup employs a higher strength magnet with a very directional (Isotropic) pattern, and is noted for its distinctive tone. The pickups on this guitar produce a very classic and distinctive sound, and according to Gibson, every effort was made to be sure that these pickups were wound to the same specifications that were used in the 1950’s. For those of you out there who want to have a sound that is like no other, you must consider the 1954 Les Paul Custom because the 480 Alnico 5 pickup sounds like no other, and the combination of the P-90 and 480 is distinctively unique. The 480 Alnico 5 is a very rarely seen pickup, and was only used on Gibson’s top of the line jazz guitars and the Les Paul Custom, and they were only used for three years, beginning in 1954. Starting in 1957, when the Humbucking pickup was introduced, the production of the 480 was sadly discontinued.


    The external controls are the same much what you would find on any modern Les Paul, namely two volume controls and two tone controls, one for each pickup. As with the 1952 and 1954 Goldtop Reissues, these controls are attached to “Bumblebee Capacitors.” I have discussed these in a previous review, and as such I do not want to take up the reader’s time by discussing them again here. For those interested in the specifics of the “Bumblebee Capacitors,” you may wish to read my review of the 1952 Goldtop Reissue.


    The bottom line for me is this. This is my favorite Les Paul Guitar. It has amazing tonal variation, excellent control over intonation, and a sound like no other Les Paul ever made. This guitar was never as popular as other guitars in the Les Paul line of guitars, and its tonal qualities are not as well known because of this. For a musician who wants a distinctive sound, there is no other Les Paul that sounds like this one. For the collector, this is a must own guitar, and since so few of the originals were made, it may be the only way for a person to own a guitar that is this close to the original sound and feel of a 1954 Les Paul Custom Black Beauty Guitar. It is sure to keep its value, and may itself be a collector’s item some day. With that being said, I need to get back to my practicing.
     
  8. Midnight Blues

    Midnight Blues Premium Member

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    :wave: and welcome to the MLPF Jeff!

    I've owned my '72 for about 40 years. I'd say that the binding is slightly rounded, but I'm not sure if that's a function of design, or years of playing? In any case, out of the four LPs I own, it's my favorite neck/fretboard.

    Congrats and HNGD on your '72. :jam: Looking forward to your review!


    :cheers:
     
  9. oldschoolnew$$$

    oldschoolnew$$$ Member

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    Got the guitar, its incredible, been doing alot of research on this binding as well, and it has been extremely interesting. Will post my review as soon as possible.

    What was the serial numbers of your "72's? I have done some research on recent sales of these and found 4 numbers (will post soon). Trying to piece together the run #'s to see in what succession they were produced, as there were only 60. ( maybe we can see who has the earliest ? )

    In regards to the binding, I have verified that it is the EXACT same material used on super old gibbys, as well as the original '53 54 55 56's. Not saying same lot, but have verified for sure EXACT same material, ...........more to come
     
  10. oldschoolnew$$$

    oldschoolnew$$$ Member

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    RAG7890 likes this.
  11. JimmyAce2006

    JimmyAce2006 V.I.P. Member

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    The 72/73 model does not have a long neck tenon. It has a transitional tenon.....
     
  12. Chicapah

    Chicapah Junior Member

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    Interesting thread. Bought my '72 BB Custom reissue new and have used it extensively live (till 2000) and I continue to use it in studio sessions. Wonderful guitar that I adore but about 15 years ago the treble pickup started to lose volume so I've used it less and less frequently. I hesitate to replace that pickup because I don't want to ruin the guitar's authenticity. I did replace the bridge and the motor heads a long time ago out of necessity but I was able to get duplicate parts. The serial number is LE757480.
     
  13. RAG7890

    RAG7890 Premium Member

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    Send the PU to James at ReWind for a look see & maybe a Magnet recharge.

    Easy fix I think.

    Good luck.

    :cheers2:
     
    Chicapah likes this.

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