FAKE 1959 Gibson Les Paul guitars and the factory ledgers. A Wall Street Journal story 7-10-2020

voices

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Here is the exact quote from Tim Shaw from an email correspondence with him July 8 2008:

5. Did they just throw all that stuff away?

"It’s my understanding that Stan Rendell, who was the President of Gibson at the time, ordered the purge in about 1971. I don’t know his reasoning, and he’s not around to ask. I’m sure it would have been, quite literally, thrown in the trash."
 

Red Pharoah

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You are mistaken about what I have said. Never said Norlin owned Gibson in 1961.
 

vintageguitarz

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But.... it's showing Joe B.... ruins the credibility of the article.
AMEN to that, the biggest faker of talent ever ... copy-cat of everyone else's style and none of his own. Enormous ego to boot. And what the hell is it with Gibson and Mega Has-been "Slash" aka Saul Hudson?? I've had early teen student 10 times more inventive than this poser.
 

eric ernest

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"It’s my understanding that Stan Rendell, who was the President of Gibson at the time, ordered the purge in about 1971. I don’t know his reasoning, and he’s not around to ask. I’m sure it would have been, quite literally, thrown in the trash."
Every era in charge at Gibson has thrown away stuff that would make you cry...Kalamazoo, Nashville, and even Heritage.

True horror stories.
 

pjholland

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Think somebody already mentioned but why would someone steal a ledger from a company that-at the time was not exactly doing well? Gibson was lucky to survive as a business. None of this hype about Les Paul's came until years later so why steal what would have been a worthless ledger at the time? It's been lost, tossed, destroyed, etc.
 

PlainT0P83

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@Red Pharoah 1961 is when the records start again for solid bodies. It was that year that Gibson changed their serial number system (impressed numbers starting with 3 digits through 5 digits). As far as we know that record was never missing. Thanks for sharing the photocopy.

From what I am reading both the "Day Book" (the shipping ledger in question) is missing July 1, 1958 through all of 1960 (or possibly a little bit into '61) and the Serial List (numerical log for all solid bodies) are both missing.

The 3rd document for yearly shipping totals by model, those still exist. This is how we get an idea, just "AN IDEA* of how many were actually made. Here are the yearly totals for LP's shipped:

1958: 434 < includes Gold Tops shipped and later Standards. First burst registered in May, but not sure how many after
1959: 643 < most "accurate" number we can surmise for the burst
1960: 635 < majority were bursts, but they begin shipping new SG style concurrently towards the end of the year

Total: 1712 minus estimate # of GTs and SGs = anywhere from 1200-1400 'bursts produced (speculative)

I am sure the above information I just shared has also been featured in about 137,000,000 other threads on this forum.

As far as the documents themselves, well, Gibson still has ledgers going back to the '30s guys, possibly even before (that's the earliest I have seen in my research thus far). If they were throwing stuff out on purpose I don't think they would have just picked ONE ledger to throw out (although I do believe what Eric said above that tons of stuff was probably trashed deliberately and maybe that one book was in the WRONG spot that day). They have documents for everything else in 1958-1960, EXCEPT the inked on solid bodies. That's at least how I am reading into this.

My guitar nerd hypothesis: July 1st, 1958, somebody misplaced the ledger temporarily, so they started a new log (hence why the rest of the book is blank). Log eventually gets thrown away on accident (yes, on accident) OR they discontinue the ledger style altogether and went to just a numerical serial log on that day (which is what they have for 1961 on) and somehow the numerical log gets lost and THAT is actually what we are looking for (not a "Day Book") Just a theory...

Also, the Nashville factory didn't just pop up over night. Didn't it start in the mid-70s and they gradually moved parts of production one by one until the final move in 1984? (Someone please back me up on that). The "rumor mill" is that a lot of stuff started walking out the door over the course of several years as they were "clearing" the place out (in more ways than one).

50% chance it was thrown out
50% chance is was stolen deliberately by an old employee out of a mix of spite/sense of preservation (they were afraid that it would be thrown out).
50% chance it never existed

Covering my bases here and the percentages...This is all a waste of time, but I am having fun.
 

PlainT0P83

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Think somebody already mentioned but why would someone steal a ledger from a company that-at the time was not exactly doing well? Gibson was lucky to survive as a business. None of this hype about Les Paul's came until years later so why steal what would have been a worthless ledger at the time? It's been lost, tossed, destroyed, etc.
If a company is on shaky ground and everything is going to get tossed or liquidated anyway, what a better time to go ahead and just start taking things, right? Especially if it's just a little old dusty ledger. That's why I think there is a good chance it was stolen, because someone knew how important that book was and did not want to see it get tossed.

By the early 70s Bursts had already achieved mythical status. In 1973, Steve Soest was finally lured into selling a mint '59 burst he found when a buyer kept upping their offer until they finally hit $1500 and he thought it would be too stupid not to sell. (He had no intention to sell it. $1500 in 1973 for a guitar was beyond ridiculous at the time and he couldn't turn it down). Even if Gibson crashed, these guitars had cemented themselves history.

This missing ledger represents all of the guitars that have literally kept Gibson in business to this day.

Hell, if Gibson DID crash, we'd probably see a South Korean "Les Paul Standard" officially licensed guitar like you're seeing with the Danelectro or D'Angelico names today.
 

CB91710

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Every era in charge at Gibson has thrown away stuff that would make you cry...Kalamazoo, Nashville, and even Heritage.

True horror stories.
It's really no surprise... and not unique to this industry.
It's rather more of the norm.
Legal requirements for record keeping go back a specific number of years. Prior to the advent of digital storage, that required (valuable) real estate, and documents referencing where "XYZ" is stored.
Old records are purged by companies every day.
Even digitally... my agency has a 2-year email retention policy. Every email over 2 years old is automatically purged.
In 1961, 1971, and even 1981, these were just "old guitars"... and to wit, the LP being one that was discontinued for (as of 1971) the majority of Gibson's history.
Nobody ever anticipated that these would become highly sought after collectors' items worth more than a house.
 

delawaregold

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Keith Richards playing a Les Paul in 1964 on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Eric Clapton playing a Les Paul in 1966 With the Blues Breakers.
Mike Bloomfield playing a Les Paul with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.
Peter Green, Jeff Beck, Paul Kossoff.
By 1968, the guitar was in such demand, Gibson went back into production.
The Ledger could have been looked upon as a reference book as far back
as this.
 

eric ernest

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Old records are purged by companies every day.

In 1961, 1971, and even 1981, these were just "old guitars"... and to wit, the LP being one that was discontinued for (as of 1971) the majority of Gibson's history.
I'm not referring to "record keeping," I'm referring to parts, equipment, artwork, guitars, pretty much any and everything.

Just old guitars? People were scouring the countryside trying to find them back then...
 

MiniB

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If this ledger still exists, it really is like the Rosetta Stone of guitar collecting. Its impact would be enormous. What would Gibson do if it found out that some of its CC's were based on fakes? Would prior buyers of them be due a refund of some sort?
 

pjholland

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So somebody stole it because it was so valuable (and apparently this person was prescient enough to know that it would be worth a fortune one day) and then sold it to someone else for a huge amount of dough. And it still hasn't surfaced all these years? I'm pretty sure it was sold to Elvis so we just need to find him.
 

voices

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It seems Tim Shaw was wrong in his ASSUMPTION. lol.
You know what...i didnt come to this thread to argue with anyone.

I am only trying to add to this fascinating conversation by contributing what i've learned over my years of research. I think Tim would know more than anyone since he WORKED THERE but maybe he really knows nothing about the inner workings of Gibson in the 1970s and 80s?

The books in question are from 59 NOT 61 so i have no idea why you insist on bringing up 61.

Please forgive me for being wrong.

enjoy the rest of this thread.
 

Red Pharoah

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Voices, my apologies if I have upset you in any way. I am not here to argue with anyone! I was just making a point that I bought a SG/LP around the year 2000 and Gibson still had the 1961 serial number book and provided me a photocopy of that one page. Just saying, that book was still there at that time. I think that was a valid point in this thread. I am sure Tim Shaw knows a lot about the inner workings at Gibson.
 

Mark_the_Knife

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Let's say a retired worker from Kalamazoo decide to take the ledger out of the plant, and he stored it in his attic or basement. Years later, he dies, and his widow is housecleaning. She has no idea of the value of this document, and tosses it in the garbage. Same thing happened to my Superman comic books, except the woman who got rid of my prized possessions was my mom. Moral of the story- hide your stuff in a guitar case. Less likely to be shoved in a garbage container or incinerator due to size.

Question for Eric: Has there ever been a fake burst which had an authentic looking chew mark?
 


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