Robbo-izing an 87 Les Paul Custom and fixing a 33yr old problem

mhr900ss

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Hi folks: One of my favourite guitar pictures is on the Thin Lizzy Live and Dangerous album sleeve; Brian Robertson standing with his hands on his hips with his black Les Paul Custom hanging low. The guitar had been modded with cream rings and poker chip, gold knobs and the pup covers were missing. I decide do shake up my 87 (bought new) a bit and Robbo it but without removing the pup covers, at least for now. 33 years ago, the guy at the Gibson factory was having a bad day and misaligned my bridge pup ring holes making the pup out of alignment very slightly. When everything was black, it was not as noticeable (I saw it all the time) but when I put the cream rings on yesterday, I could not live with it any more. Only the two knob side holes were out of alignment; the plastic ring had deformed just enough to fit. It only took about 30 minutes to plug the bad holes, square everything up, drill two new holes and correct the alignment. An odd observation is that the new, cream pickguard from StewMac fits with a 3mm gap ahead of the bridge pup ring yet my original black pickguard is an exact fit. I compared both guards with my 88 ES335 and confirmed that the Custom pups are slightly further apart than the ES335; the OEM black guard will not fit my ES335. I had always assumed relative pup arrangement to be similar for Les Pauls and ES-335s. This got me wondering; are all Les Pauls pups arranged the same? Are custom pups slightly further apart than other Les Pauls?. Whatever the case be warned that a StewMac Les Paul pickguard may fit with a 3mm gap at the bridge pup on a LPC.

robbo 87 lpc.jpg


here's the oem guard placed on top of the new StewMac one, showing the extra pup-to-pup length of the oem guard:

oem vs stewmac guards.jpg


Robbo:

robbo.jpg
 
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Saiko

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Wow, that's a cool guitar. Nice job!
 

mhr900ss

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Just did a little homework and found that there are many pickguard/pup spacing issues with our LPs.
 

JMP

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What an awesome looking guitar!
 

jbash

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Awesome. Brian is one of my top 3 biggest influences. I bought my first les Paul, a black custom, because of him- Unfortunately mine was a beautiful dog and I sold it not long after. Later of course I learned most of L&D (the album, not the live video show,) was actually recorded in 77 and he was using his Deluxe at the time. Only a few tracks from the live video in 78 were also on the album.

I wore out my L&D album BITD learning every Robbo bit (and half of Scott's too).

Some day I'm going to pick up another and do just what you did.
 

Saiko

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My Norlin ('84) has the same deal with the pickguard not quite lining up as cleanly as modern Les Pauls. Nothing too bad and you don't really notice it unless you look for it. Strange, it doesn't bother me one bit, but it would drive me nuts if I purchase a new Les Paul like that.
 

mhr900ss

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I was lucky with my Les Paul Custom. No Internet back in 87 and I'd only ever played two real Gibson LPs so researching was rough. Mine was one of the last fitted with Tim Shaw pups and is a very solid guitar with a great neck and a good overall "feel". A very long time ago I used Picato or Rotosound 0.007"s then moved up to 0.008"-0.038" for about 20 years then up again to 0.009" -0.042". I set the neck almost flat and adjust the bridge height to just-not-buzzing. It's worked for me for 33 years. I love the thing.
 

laterider

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Man, that is a beauty! I have an ebony standard and love the black and creme!

I completely get wanting the perfection on fit, I think it looks great now but if the gap does drive you nuts you can always go to WD music. You can send them a tracing (of that black one for example) and they will custom cut one for you. I actually went to them years ago for a custom creme pickguard for an ebony les paul studio as the stock creme one I bought had a gap or didn't fit right for some reason. They did great and gave me exactly what I wanted. On the tracing I made sure I gave them information on bevel and counter sunk holes but I'd guess they know to do that as its an LP. That Studio is long gone and replaced by my ebony standard or I'd send you a picture example of their work.
 

Mats A

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Awesome. Brian is one of my top 3 biggest influences. I bought my first les Paul, a black custom, because of him- Unfortunately mine was a beautiful dog and I sold it not long after. Later of course I learned most of L&D (the album, not the live video show,) was actually recorded in 77 and he was using his Deluxe at the time. Only a few tracks from the live video in 78 were also on the album.

I wore out my L&D album BITD learning every Robbo bit (and half of Scott's too).

Some day I'm going to pick up another and do just what you did.
LAD is recorded in 1976, 1977 and 1978 and the only song wich is the same as on the LAD Video is Are You Ready. Only 6 songs was recorded in 1976 Rosalie, Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed, Suicide, Sha La La, Baby Drives Me Crazy and The Rocker. On these he used the Deluxe with mini Humbuckers. The rest except for Are You Ready is recorded in 1977 with The Custom. All except Southbound (wich was recorded in Toronto on a soundcheck) was recorded at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia. There are pics from there where you can see he played the Custom.
 

gball

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Looks amazing. And you are running into some common problems as far as fit, but I wouldn't personally attempt to change anything, it seems pretty perfect as is.

Are you going to take the pickup covers off as well?
 

efstop

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Only Les Paul related, but my used ebony ES-235 has a pick guard and they didn't come with one, and there is no such part available. So it might be a guard for a Custom. Fits perfectly.
 

AJK1

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I saw Steve Marriot play this very Custom in 1983, I was standing about 10 feet from him, and the look and the sound was jaw dropping
I’m also a huge fan of Robbo and The L&D album, and love the iconic image of him and his Custom on the cover
Me and all my guitar playing mates at the time wanted to look and be just like him
 
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