Why Gibson Did Not Get It Right in the Late 60s?

Discussion in 'Vintage Les Pauls' started by zakkrhoads, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. riffsmachine

    riffsmachine Senior Member

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    .....And nobody knew near nothing about "PAF" or that Clapton played a burst in his early recording....
     
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  2. goldtop0

    goldtop0 Senior Member

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    And then it came down to collectors/sellers etc supply versus demand........the guys I've talked with over the years started buying and trading Standards with curly maple tops in the '70s.
     
  3. Aus-Rotten

    Aus-Rotten Member

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    They got my 68 right ;)
     

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  4. LPPILOT

    LPPILOT Senior Member

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    The OP might want to go check out the Late Sixties Les Paul website . There is some documentation, blue prints , the 1968 GT was first scheduled to have humbuckers , then changed late in the game back to P90 . I think , the burst was seen still as aflop from the late 1950s and Gibson wanted to reintroduce the two models that had a history of selling better in the early fifties . I believe the LSLP website states Humbuckers could have been special ordered in a std GT .
     
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  5. dspelman

    dspelman Senior Member

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    Yes, it was, at least among guitar players.

    Look, the question of "why did Gibson have its head so far up its butt?" regarding the re-introduction of Les Pauls was on the lips of both dealers and Gibson Reps (for in those days there were such things), and there was no good answer. Dealers wanted guitars with the same larger frets that the bursts had, and they wanted the full-size humbuckers -- because that's what every Gibson customer wanted. Why they put out the P90 gold top is a mystery. The demand for humbuckers came at the same time that Gibson ran across a warehouse full of Epiphone minis, so Gibson just adapted them to the P90 guitars. But that wasn't what anyone wanted, either. When the Customs came out, they had the full-size humbuckers, but the frets were wrong (low, flat, "fretless wonders" were not what players were looking for.

    There still isn't any good answer for why Gibson was so stupid in those days, and those questions have really never been answered by anyone from Gibson.
     
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  6. LeonC

    LeonC Junior Member

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    A few more notes on that era from someone who lived through it.

    In the US, the reverence for Clapton and the "Beano" Mayall album was there...but nothing like in England. It was a much smaller fan base that grew very slowly over a period of 7 or 8 years! And while we guitarists were still very much sheep back then--who assumed that you need to play a _______________ in order to sound like so-and-so--we didn't understand that the Les Pauls of the late 50s / early 60s were notably, materially different from what Gibson was producing in the late 60s (other than the paint jobs...which was the only obvious difference). Most guitarists just weren't that sophisticated then. No one was and no one even came close to obsessing over gear to the with the breadth and depth of the last 30 years or so)...nobody knew jack about bumble bees or PAFs, for example. The information wasn't everywhere, the way it is now. Also, by the time Gibson re-introduced the Les Pauls...Clapton (by then, in Cream) had already moved on to other guitars...there are as many (if not more) photos of him using other guitars with Cream as there are with LPs...so a lot of people weren't that gah gah over Les Pauls yet.

    It took a while for Les Pauls to catch on in a big way. Led Zeppelin II wasn't out until late '69, Super Session wasn't out until mid/late '68. Jeff Beck's Truth wasn't out until '68...and really, when it came out, I didn't really know what gear he used on it...I don't recall any pictures...I don't recall him being associated with late 50s LPs the way Clapton was there. Those were the seminal "you gotta get a Les Paul" records, as I remember them. Of course you'd occasionally see a photo of Keith Richards with a LP...but as funny as it may sound, he wasn't really revered as a guitarist that much back then. Most players I knew didn't really think that much about what Keith was using, IIRC. Then after that, you had guys like Mick Box, Martin Barre, Frampton--they were kinda the new kids on the block and by the time their bands started to take off, that helped cement the status of the Les Paul.

    And of course, after people started to recognized how downhill Gibson went, starting with the early 70s, people started developing a reverence for Les Pauls from the 50s and older stuff in general. I don't really remember "old guitars and amps" really start to up popularity until the very late 60s.

    Anyway...those are one old guy's recollections.

    If you're interested here's a story about my first Les Paul.
     
  7. GuitarMechanic

    GuitarMechanic Senior Member

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    But everyone knows it's impossible to play/sound good on a Norlin ;)
    [​IMG]
     
  8. LeonC

    LeonC Junior Member

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    Lots of good points. My guess is that like many other businesses, Gibson was simply not very sophisticated with respect to understanding its market. They probably devoted very little resources to "market research"--very few companies of Gibson's size devoted serious resources to market research back then. Look how long it took Fender and Ampeg to catch on to the idea that there was a huge market for rock music and rock guitarists wanted amps that were loud and produced certain types of natural over-driven tube distortion.

    So they were probably getting whatever information they heard from the dealers. What did their dealers know about the market? Well...presumably, they knew that kids wanted the kind of instruments that their heroes were seen playing. How much of that info made it to Gibson and how much of it had any sort of an impact on product development decisions? I don't think we'll ever really know; but based on the empirical evidence, I think the only answer you can come up with is "not much."

    It looks much more like the product managers (if they were even sophisticated enough to have product managers), were taking orders from the mfg side and/or accountants or were basing decisions on guesses, personal preferences or some other bad, anecdotal info and weren't paying much attention to the market and the degree to which the older LPs were starting to be sought by up and coming players.

    Also...I forgot to mention the impact of the Allman Bros on the market for Les Pauls. In my little corner of the universe, they had a huge impact. It took until Idlewild South hit the airwaves for them to really pick up steam...and when they did, that started to really cement the Les Paul--and specifically, late 50s Les Pauls--as highly desirable gear. By the time Live at the Filmore came out...the secret was most definitely out.
     
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  9. LeonC

    LeonC Junior Member

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    Of course you can...but when did you hear anyone say, "I'm really chasing that Al DiMeola tone." I don't recall ever hearing that, lol. Not that he didn't have a great sound...he did. But what really set him apart was his astounding technique! That's what enthusiasts really wanted--to be able to play like DiMeola.
     
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  10. GuitarMechanic

    GuitarMechanic Senior Member

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    I was just joking around
     
  11. zakkrhoads

    zakkrhoads Member

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    Thank you for sharing it! :applause:
     
  12. zakkrhoads

    zakkrhoads Member

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    That album was released in 1971... so just I can get the time frame: by the very early 70s people already knew what they were ignoring 3 years earlier? I thought from your first post that things took a little bit longer (maybe mid 70s).
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2017
  13. zakkrhoads

    zakkrhoads Member

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    Good post! Thanks for the contribution! :cheers:
     
  14. Kris Ford

    Kris Ford Senior Member

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    They would have been the stock Alnicos..ceramic Strat pickups came later. :D
     
  15. LeonC

    LeonC Junior Member

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    Yeah, sorry for creating some confusion. When I mentioned "7 or 8 years" I was thinking in terms of how long it took for the Beano album to be recognized as the masterpiece of tone that it was in the use. It didn't take that long for LPs popularity to catch on. In my recollection, but the recognition and reverence of "the old ones" did take a while to pick up steam.

    Those numbers, "7 or 8 years", are probably a bit long when I think on it a bit more. That record came out in mid-66 right? I'd say, most rock/blues guitarists in the US were pretty well aware of it by '70 or so...though it may not yet have truly achieved the legendary status and reverence that it eventually developed. That took several years longer and seems to have only grown in importance as time has marched on. I think most of us now look back to that record as the very first indicator that there was something special about the old 50s/early 60s LPs. The evidence stacks up with Super Session, Peter Green's (and Danny Kirwin's) work in Fleetwood Mac, and the Allman Bros' work in the early 70s really cemented it. By then, if you found an old sunburst, it would probably cost you close to 2 grand...and that was just waaay more than most people were able or willing to spend. Of course, we had no idea how crazy it was going to get, lol.
     
  16. eric ernest

    eric ernest V.I.P. Member

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    Um, that guitar is a 50's Les Paul....not a Norlin. :laugh2:


     
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  17. RayTorvalds

    RayTorvalds Senior Member

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    I'm glad they got that sorted now as opposed to back then.

    Thank you all for sharing stories from back in the day. Great read, this thread :cheers2:
     
  18. zakkrhoads

    zakkrhoads Member

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    Thank you so much for clarifying it! :cheers2:
    I'm seeing Eric Ernest browsing around...maybe he can share some cool stories too! :fingersx:
     
  19. riffsmachine

    riffsmachine Senior Member

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    Beano? it’s internet retrospective hype.

    From the priest of the hype…..
     
  20. 69 Goldtop

    69 Goldtop Senior Member

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    Got it right . But needs humbuckers.
    [​IMG]
     
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