I may have found a Norlin LP custom, does it seem legit?

InTheEvening

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Hi guys, I found a posting for a 1977 Les Paul Custom in red. It’s not local, but it’s a few hours driving distance, so I can pick up in person and lay me hands on it before buying but I’d only make the drive if it’s really worth it. The seller has multiple good reviews on Reverb and seems very professional.

Most important thing, listing says the frets are supposed to be in good working condition, no neck breaks, and it has T-tops. Asking price is $3800. I saw a Norlin era LP custom sell on Guitar Center used today for $3200, so I’m wondering if $3800 is too high?

Also, here’s some pics from the listing. Let me know if anything seems off or concerning. If it looks legit in the pics and the price is good, I’ll do the drive over to see it in person. But wanted to get some thoughts from the community here first.







 
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bblooz

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Looks legit to me as well. Price is a little high. Ask if he's flexible on price before you make the long journey to check it out. Have cash in hand to negotiate while you're there. Unfortunately, you'll be at a disadvantage to negotiate (once you've driven all that way to leave empty handed). Let us know how it works out.
 

decoy205

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It looks legit to me as well. I wouldn’t sweat the frets too much I’m sure that won’t be an issue. The price is high for pre COVID but sadly that seems to be the norm now. They most likely won’t go down as they are becoming more and more in the “vintage” category.

If you play it and really like it I wouldn’t let a couple of hundred bucks stop you. plus you won’t be paying online fees etc. by picking it up in person.
Maybe ask for some cavity shots and pics of under the pickups just to confirm originality before you make the trip.
 

InTheEvening

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Looks legit with nice play wear. Looks like a guitar someone take care of..I'd look at it.
Thanks, that’s reassuring to know.
That’s a beauty! One of my 3 Holy Grails
Gorgeous indeed, love the red Les Paul Customs.
Looks legit to me as well. Price is a little high. Ask if he's flexible on price before you make the long journey to check it out. Have cash in hand to negotiate while you're there. Unfortunately, you'll be at a disadvantage to negotiate (once you've driven all that way to leave empty handed). Let us know how it works out.
Thanks, will do. I’ll definitely ask and see if I can agree on a price before going. What would be a fair price to ask for?

It looks legit to me as well. I wouldn’t sweat the frets too much I’m sure that won’t be an issue. The price is high for pre COVID but sadly that seems to be the norm now. They most likely won’t go down as they are becoming more and more in the “vintage” category.

If you play it and really like it I wouldn’t let a couple of hundred bucks stop you. plus you won’t be paying online fees etc. by picking it up in person.
Maybe ask for some cavity shots and pics of under the pickups just to confirm originality before you make the trip.
Thanks, that’s good to know about the frets. I know with the guitars this old, many need some work.
And for sure, can always get a few hundred back in future but I may miss a gem of a guitar. I wish I could try it before doing the drive out.

Good thought on the cavity and pickup pics, i don’t think there’s anyway way to know it’s T-tops from just those pictures.
 

Gridlock

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Looks real to me.

I owned a ‘77 Les Paul Custom in Cherry Wine only with silver hardware. I bought it new as a teenager and kept it for almost 30 years. Mine was due for a fret job when I sold it about 10 years ago.

$3800 seems kind of high to me. I’d expect $3000 max. Remember, pancake body’s and multiple piece necks with the Norlin era guitars. Maybe one of the best sounding guitars that I’ve owned along with my three Custom Shop guitars.
 
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kakerlak

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Looks legit and is in nice, but not great condition. Looks like somebody treated it with love and care, kept it cheap, but played it a substantial amount. I think it's about $1k too high.

What's up with the partial and/or wildly off center serial number?
 

mudface

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Looks legit and is in nice, but not great condition. Looks like somebody treated it with love and care, kept it cheap, but played it a substantial amount. I think it's about $1k too high.

What's up with the partial and/or wildly off center serial number?
The serial is partially obscured..... the serial reads under close inspection as 72897535.... with this pressed in serial number format the use of pancake bodies was eliminated. The 1977 models with decal type serials had the pancake bodies till mid year.

This is absolutely a fine Custom... I also own a ‘77 and it’s a awesome player.... thin neck....and the T-tops can sing and roar..... the price is what it is in this climate today.... but I don’t see them getting cheaper.
 

InTheEvening

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Seller sent pics of the back of the pickups for me. They seem consistent with true T-tops from that era?




The seller has been really responsive, transparent and helpful so far. Really good sign.


Looks real to me.

I owned a ‘77 Les Paul Custom in Cherry Wine only with silver hardware. I bought it new as a teenager and kept it for almost 30 years. Mine was due for a fret job when I sold it about 10 years ago.

$3800 seems kind of high to me. I’d expect $3000 max. Remember, pancake body’s and multiple piece necks with the Norlin era guitars. Maybe one of the best sounding guitars that I’ve owned along with my three Custom Shop guitars.
Got it, I think I can talk them down to $3600. But will see if they’ll negotiate a bit more.

I’m deciding between this and a used G0 custom shop which I found for $3800 as well, but am trying to get it discounted from Guitar Center.

Looks legit and is in nice, but not great condition. Looks like somebody treated it with love and care, kept it cheap, but played it a substantial amount. I think it's about $1k too high.

What's up with the partial and/or wildly off center serial number?
Yeah, it’s def been used well. They replaced the nut too. They said they’d lower to $3600 but maybe they’ll negotiate a bit more if I’m willing to drive over and pick it up.

I was wondering about that serial number, was having trouble reading it.

I'm thinking closer to that 3300 number you mentioned earlier
Grey, they said they’d do $3600 which isn’t too far off from that, especially since I won’t need to pay tax.

The serial is partially obscured..... the serial reads under close inspection as 72897535.... with this pressed in serial number format the use of pancake bodies was eliminated. The 1977 models with decal type serials had the pancake bodies till mid year.

This is absolutely a fine Custom... I also own a ‘77 and it’s a awesome player.... thin neck....and the T-tops can sing and roar..... the price is what it is in this climate today.... but I don’t see them getting cheaper.
That’s awesome, thin neck and pickups that roar is EXACTLY what I’m looking for.

Yeah, they’re willing to do $3600 but I don’t think they’ll go lower than that.
Do you think the value and price of these Norlin era guitars is just going to keep going up?

And I’ve been reading about T-tops. How do they compare to modern humbuckers like the 498T/490R or 61R/T for higher gain hard rock tones? I tried a G0 custom shop Les Paul with Burstbuckers but the pickups sounded weak and less robust to me. I want pickups that roar and have power to them.

If I get the G0 for cheap, I can use the money saved or upgrade the burstbuckers with some Dimarzio’s or 498/490 pickups.
 

decoy205

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Imo 3600 if fair in this market. I’ve been looking at Norlin customs for the past 5 months and it’s hard to find any in decent condition lower than 3500 these days.

The value on both guitars is in range that I don’t think that’s a factor. It’s going to come down to what you want from the guitar.
The GO will be more 50s spec. The Norlin will have real “vintage” mojo. Play the GO before you leave to have a good mental image of it. Then when you play the norlin you’ll see what you like better.
See how they resonate and how they sound. Don’t sweat set up issues. I’ve tried many good guitars with bad set ups. I knew they were good even they needed help. If the norlin is a dog you’ll know. I doubt it though with the play wear it has it’s probably a good player .
 

mudface

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Yeah,.. it’s a pretty good bet that Norlin era Gibsons will only appreciate in value... there are more players being associated with 70s Customs which has driven up the interest...of course I have been playing them since the 70s so I might be a bit bias.

Randy Rhodes used a bone stock ‘74 with T-tops,.... he didn’t sound too bad;)

Though it’s all about what works for you..... installing hotter pups is a reversible option....if you need to resell.

These can be heavy.... keep that in mind.
 

LPPILOT

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The thin neck would ruin it it for me , and if it weights more than 9.5 lbs , then my back is telling my arm , " dude" ! ..hang that bitch back on the rack . Other than those issues i. It looks awesome! And far as price ...the old trick ususally works .....get your money out ....where they can see it , offer 3000 .....people do NOT ever , ever , ever like to see cash WALK off when a sell is so close . I ve made many a car salesman cry dealing with me.
 

decoy205

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Good point about the weight! Mid to late 70s norlins are typically on the heavier side (above 10lbs). Modern custom shop reissues tend to be between 8-9.5lbs. It doesn’t necessarily impact the tone. I’ve played heavy guitars that sounds good but for me I prefer lps 10lbs or under.
 

kakerlak

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Good point about the weight! Mid to late 70s norlins are typically on the heavier side (above 10lbs). Modern custom shop reissues tend to be between 8-9.5lbs. It doesn’t necessarily impact the tone. I’ve played heavy guitars that sounds good but for me I prefer lps 10lbs or under.
You might ask for a weight on this from the seller. It could be under 10#, but there are lots of Norlin Customs well over that mark and you could easily be getting into a 12-13# guitar -- I've heard some anecdotal accounts of 15+
 

ARandall

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That’s awesome, thin neck and pickups that roar is EXACTLY what I’m looking for.

Yeah, they’re willing to do $3600 but I don’t think they’ll go lower than that.
Do you think the value and price of these Norlin era guitars is just going to keep going up?

And I’ve been reading about T-tops. How do they compare to modern humbuckers like the 498T/490R or 61R/T for higher gain hard rock tones? I tried a G0 custom shop Les Paul with Burstbuckers but the pickups sounded weak and less robust to me.
Just be aware that T-tops are a low output pickup......as in low even compared to a Burstbucker.
They will have their own flavour, but you will need to give them a good kick in the backside to make them roar. But they seem to have a fairly fairly cutting nature to them - so they tend to slice through a mix as opposed to a PAF style pickup which occupies a wider tonal range.

The 498 is Gibson's answer to the Dimarzio super D.....or indeed the Duncan Custom. Those two pickups were a direct response to T-tops, and people wanting a more powerful bridge pickup for the higher gain tones of the 70's into hard rock in the 90's
 

InTheEvening

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Got the weight! 10.25lb.

Also, from the pictures of the backs of the pickups, is there a way to know for sure they're T-tops? The pickups are covered, so I can't see the T molded in the plastic. But I have the pictures of the back of the pickups.

Imo 3600 if fair in this market. I’ve been looking at Norlin customs for the past 5 months and it’s hard to find any in decent condition lower than 3500 these days.

The value on both guitars is in range that I don’t think that’s a factor. It’s going to come down to what you want from the guitar.
The GO will be more 50s spec. The Norlin will have real “vintage” mojo. Play the GO before you leave to have a good mental image of it. Then when you play the norlin you’ll see what you like better.
See how they resonate and how they sound. Don’t sweat set up issues. I’ve tried many good guitars with bad set ups. I knew they were good even they needed help. If the norlin is a dog you’ll know. I doubt it though with the play wear it has it’s probably a good player .
Got it, I definitely won't let the price be a factor then.

Good thought on playing the G0 before going to try the Norlin. The G0 is much lighter and I know I like the neck. I may even bring it with me and play them side by side.
And true about the play wear! It's nice to see it was played and loved. I got an old 80's Kramer like that, and it's one of my best playing guitars.

Yeah,.. it’s a pretty good bet that Norlin era Gibsons will only appreciate in value... there are more players being associated with 70s Customs which has driven up the interest...of course I have been playing them since the 70s so I might be a bit bias.

Randy Rhodes used a bone stock ‘74 with T-tops,.... he didn’t sound too bad;)

Though it’s all about what works for you..... installing hotter pups is a reversible option....if you need to resell.

These can be heavy.... keep that in mind.
Haha not gonna like Randy Rhodes was probably a big reason for why I initially looked into Norlin era customs.
If they value is going up, I better buy now then before the price goes up even more.

And I definitely will consider the weight. The one I'm looking at is 10.25lb, heavy but not too bad for a Norlin era I suppose.
The thin neck would ruin it it for me , and if it weights more than 9.5 lbs , then my back is telling my arm , " dude" ! ..hang that bitch back on the rack . Other than those issues i. It looks awesome! And far as price ...the old trick ususally works .....get your money out ....where they can see it , offer 3000 .....people do NOT ever , ever , ever like to see cash WALK off when a sell is so close . I ve made many a car salesman cry dealing with me.
Lol will keep that trick in mind!
This one is certainly heavy, it's 10.25lb. Luckily, I don't gig out anymore, especially with the pandemic. So most of my playing is recording or practicing at home sitting.

Good point about the weight! Mid to late 70s norlins are typically on the heavier side (above 10lbs). Modern custom shop reissues tend to be between 8-9.5lbs. It doesn’t necessarily impact the tone. I’ve played heavy guitars that sounds good but for me I prefer lps 10lbs or under.
Glad it doesn't affect the tone. This one is just a hair above 10lb's, it's 10.25lb.

You might ask for a weight on this from the seller. It could be under 10#, but there are lots of Norlin Customs well over that mark and you could easily be getting into a 12-13# guitar -- I've heard some anecdotal accounts of 15+
Yikes! Luckily this one isn't that crazy heavy, it's 10.25lb from the listing. Heavy, but not bad for a Norlin era LP I suppose.

Just be aware that T-tops are a low output pickup......as in low even compared to a Burstbucker.
They will have their own flavour, but you will need to give them a good kick in the backside to make them roar. But they seem to have a fairly fairly cutting nature to them - so they tend to slice through a mix as opposed to a PAF style pickup which occupies a wider tonal range.

The 498 is Gibson's answer to the Dimarzio super D.....or indeed the Duncan Custom. Those two pickups were a direct response to T-tops, and people wanting a more powerful bridge pickup for the higher gain tones of the 70's into hard rock in the 90's
That's interesting, I've read that they can be pretty low output. I was always perplexed by this, as so many hard rockers got fantastic heavy tones with them. But like you said, they probably need a good kick and respond really well once they get that.

The G0 has "custombuckers" which I assume are PAF replicas?
 

ARandall

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Anything in the vintage reissue guitars are PAF replicas.....or as far as Gibson goes in that direction anyway. (save for the 68 RI.....that has a T-top type pickup)

It would be interesting to know what hard rockers you are referring to - with reference to the 'fantastic heavy tones'. It might help as some might advise you as to what sort of rig they were playing.
 

mudface

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The pics you posted.
ECA315DB-B408-4E62-B6B8-508A0DB0B74E.jpeg


DF7EEA40-45F1-4424-95FF-8E4E5954EBB9.jpeg


Is typical of a T-Top base plate... most are ink stamped with a date. I can’t see one on either pup. Doesn’t mean that they’re not there. Still some are not ink stamped. The patent stamp is good sign... greenish bobbin screws are correct.

Having a single set of pole screw holes also narrows it down.... Later 490 series have two sets of holes. The only probable model are Shaws, which is not a bad switch. This guitar predates Shaws,.. doesn’t mean a swap didn’t occur. Without the covers off its hard to discern T-Tops from Shaws.
 


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