Black/Dark-green 1961 Gibson Les Paul SG Standard

Uncle Butch

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Does anyone else have a 1961 SG Standard that is this color?? It looks black, but under enough natural light (or high-quality photography like the image below) it is actually green! I can't really find any information about this color online. From what I can tell, the majority of these came in red, and any other colors are very rare.

My great-uncle bought this new circa 1961 and played it for a number of years before it ended up in a garage for a few decades. He died years ago, before I came into possession of it, so I never had the chance to ask him about it. I'm also curious what the original sticker price was...

I'm taking it to Antiques Roadshow tomorrow (my wife was lucky enough to win tickets), so hopefully they'll be able to give me some information about it. I'd like to know it's value as well, though I have absolutely zero plans to ever sell it.

I need to take some better photos of it, but here are a few that I have...

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Kris Ford

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The green is from the lacquer clearcoat turning color..it is indeed black. 1961 Les Paul SG..if factory black, could be worth some serious money! New in '61, they wree like $275-299ish..BUT...those are recent tuners...



Best of luck with the show..but you might wanna contact someone like George Gruhn..
 

Uncle Butch

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5 of the 6 tuner knobs crumbled in my hand when I first got the guitar and tried to turn them. I still have the original machines, but you're right - the tuners in the photo are NOT original.
 

chasenblues

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Couldn't that case,If original be worth some coin itself?
 

Uncle Butch

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It's definitely the original case, and yes, I've heard they can be worth a pretty penny by themselves.
 

Dolebludger

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I personally shopped for a 61 SG Standard in 1961. Bought one new in November 61. It has a 62 serial number, probably because it was made and bought in late 61. Before buying, I went through all the sales literature. In summary all 61 and 62s of this model had the red cherry finish. All of the SG custom with three pups were creamy white. No other colors were offered. I'm not saying that somebody couldn't have somehow ordered a blackish one. But it is more probable that yours has been refinished. Way back then, I talked to the store manager about ordering one with a TP and ABR, as I have always hated that trem, and was told no special orders.

I still have mine, and it is a real case queen. About nine years ago the tuner keys withered and started turning to dust in my fingers. I had to replace them with identical and reliced tuners. I doubt there are any 61 or 62 guitars of this model with original tuners that work. About 50 years and the tuner keys rot, no matter how well one takes care of the guitar. It is almost impossible to find one of these guitars with original frets, if it has been owned by any kind of player.

But it is my opinion that your guitar has been refinished, with 99.99% certainty.
 
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Kevin James

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Factory black examples of early Les Paul SG's do exist and have been documented, however they are extremely rare. I would normally be one of the first to call this out as most likely being a refin, however this specific example I will not be so quick to judge as there are a few things I see that peak my interest.

The few examples of factory black I have seen (pictures only) all had white pickguards and neck plates like a custom, but this could pre-date those. It appears this could be one of the earliest 61's based on the following features that were only present on the first LP SG's out the door in 1960 and the very earliest 1961's:

1. Ink stamped serial number in 1950's format with first digit representing the year, 1 being for 1961. This alone is extremely rare as the serial number format was changed very early on in 1961, but there are a very small amount of documented 61's with this serial format.

2. Pick guard is slightly longer in 1960 and very early 61, almost touching the switch ring and with a sharper point at the bottom. This one has it, again pointing to a very early 61.

3. Brown case. While it is certainly possible this case is not original to the guitar it is an absolute fact that the earliest version of the SG case was brown with pink lining like a burst case.

4. Greening of the lacquer, indicating a very old finish. This could be faked pretty easily though and is not a clear indication of anything by itself.

Now, all of that said that still does not guarantee this is original, it could very well be the work of someone who really knows their S**T trying to pass it off as something it's not. I would still want a little more information.

1. I'd want to see a neck heel picture to see if it has the correct heel shape for the era this looks to be from.

2. I'd want to see pictures of the inside of the control cavity to see if there is any indication the solder joints have been tampered with or if there are any traces of cherry red.

3. The serial font looks to be right to me, and I have seen that "double stamp " look on other dark finished Gibson's with ink stamped serial number in white or yellow, but I will state clearly that I am not in any way an expert on 50's style serial fonts and I would want that serial number checked by someone with more expertise to verify the font is correct. THIS IS THE MOST CRUCIAL PIECE OF INFO FOR THIS GUITAR IMO.

If those three items check out, I would have this guitar inspected in hand by an expert. Someone like George Gruhn, Walter Carter or Elliot from Rumble Seat Music.

At the end of the day, the neck heel (if correct, I still need to see a picture), the pickguard and the case all indicate a very early 61, which supports that the serial number stamp could be original. If the serial number stamp is original the finish under it would have to be original as well. There still could have been finish work done to the guitar, but the finish directly under the serial stamp would have to be original which would at the very least indicate that this was not cherry red when it left the factory.

If the serial font does not check out though... then that indicates it's more than likely a refin.
 
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Oranjeaap

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Something looks funky, but I can't see what's causing it. Im far from being an expert on the matter so don't attach too much value to my remarks. If anywhere, here on the forum you'll find the answers you're looking for. It could be a very rare guitar and the knowledge required is so specialized, I can hardly imagine a random guy on a roadshow can proper validate and/or value it.
ps: It's not green. The final 'clear coat' turns yellow and even orange (amber) after a while. On black guitars this can make it look green under certain light.
 

Kris Ford

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Now, all of that said that still does not guarantee this is original, it could very well be the work of someone who really knows their S**T trying to pass it off as something it's not. I would still want a little more information.
OR..well intended resto that was just released back in the wild..(with no paperwork)

I'd be asking Kim at HM if is at all familiar...
 

Oranjeaap

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Anyone can shoot black base laquer, add some tint to the final clearcoats and add the serial# stamp. Hell, the stamps are sold here on the member classifieds. If it's a refin and asking around who might have sprayed it, that would be a needle in a haystack no?
 

Kevin James

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Anyone can shoot black base laquer, add some tint to the final clearcoats and add the serial# stamp. Hell, the stamps are sold here on the member classifieds. If it's a refin and asking around who might have sprayed it, that would be a needle in a haystack no?
To be clear, I'm not saying with any certainty the finish is original. I'm saying the serial number if original points to the earliest of the 61's and there are other features on this guitar that also support it as a very early 61. And IF (and it's a HUGE if) the serial number stamping is original then there is more of a case for the finish being original, and at that point the guitar should be brought to an experienced professional for an in hand inspection. Photo's alone will not provide definitive proof. It is simply a matter of whether there is enough evidence to justify the time/effort/expense of having an in hand inspection done.
 

Oranjeaap

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No you're absolutely right. I'm not knowledable enough to validate such a guitar as a genuine 61, and I might not even be able to tell if it's a refin if I were to hold it in my hands. Obviously I hope for Uncle Butch the guitar is what he says it is. I'm gonna stay out of the debate about what it is and isn't because I don't posses the knowledge. But what I do know is that is easier to make it look like an yellowed black finish than most people seem to think, same goes for the serial number.

I hope Uncle Butch comes back to this thread so we can get to know more about this (potentially :D ) awsome guitar.
 

Kris Ford

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Any updates?
Oh..as for Antiques Road Show..
On a side note, I stopped watching Antiques Road Show after their "expert" told a guy his Les Paul was a '52. because none of the '52s had bound fretboards & the '54s had humbuckers - and it was worth more because it was still together with the Fender Princeton Reverb it was originally sold as a pair with.............
 

pinefd

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@Kevin James, the serial number looks legit to me. I'm no expert on the other nuances of this model, but that's one area that I am quite familiar with.


Frank
 

58burst

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Nice! A buddy of mine had an early SGLP custom that was original black, back in the early 70's. I see no indication that this is not genuine.
 

Uncle Butch

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The guitar appraiser at Antiques Roadshow said something like $8 to $10,000 value for insurance purposes, mostly because of damage to the headstock that I need to have repaired. I was disappointed he wasn't as excited to see such a cool guitar. Obviously, I didn't get filmed for television.
 




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