What Is The 1959 Les Paul Sound?

Michael Matyas

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Jolly. Great. Just what we need, another one of those "Ha ha, there were fewer than 2000 of these guitars and I've got one and you don't!" videos. I'll grant that it is pretty, but it sounds thin on top to me, even in the neck position. I don't think there's $250,000 worth of tone there. Maybe we are really in love with the amplification they had in 1969.
 

goldtop0

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A real good top on that one.............sounds good too:cool2:
 

Tobaccoburst83

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I played a few Bursts from 1958 to 1960s, early Goldtops, nearly all the stuff most guys dream about. But I honestly say that not all guitars did sound great.

There's way too much Voodoo about Bursts and vintage gear imo. Of course many of them are well-played instruments but it doesn't have to be an old Burst. Sure, great story behind that guitar but you don't need a '59 to say you own one of the best Les Pauls ever made.

I'm tired of such videos. Never understood how important this vintage blah-blah is for the guitar world today.
 

THAWK819

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(Tongue planted firmly in cheek...) I think the '59 Les Paul sound is basically what one hears when plugging the McCarty 594 into the Yamaha THR30II on the "Boutique" amp setting, and for way less than a cool quarter mil.

Flame shields set to max.
 

Duane_the_tub

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I usually like Rhett's videos, but I thought this one missed the mark. He has this gorgeous Burst in his hands, plays it through some sort of setup that doesn't sound good at all, and never even answers the very question proposed in the title of the video. All that pontificating about old wood, pickups, players and nothing, really, about what the sound actually is.

It is a gorgeous top, though. I bet that guitar is priced just absurdly...
 

kakerlak

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I usually like Rhett's videos, but I thought this one missed the mark. He has this gorgeous Burst in his hands, plays it through some sort of setup that doesn't sound good at all, and never even answers the very question proposed in the title of the video. All that pontificating about old wood, pickups, players and nothing, really, about what the sound actually is.

It is a gorgeous top, though. I bet that guitar is priced just absurdly...
Sounds like a blanket draped over the front of the amp -- I don't like it. There are a lot of Les Pauls (from every era) that just sound that way, no matter what -- muffled, overly loud, muddy, etc. Seems almost rarer to come across the truly clear, singing ones like Bloomer's.
 

guitarbob123

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I think a larger problem with trying to get 'the burst sound' across is with the fact YouTube videos are going to compress the sound on the video and the recordings themselves are often not helpful either.

If you think of 'the burst sound' that drives everyone wild it came from the guitar, straight in to a cranked amp, into a mic, into the desk, onto tape (for simplicity's sake that description makes the point)

Now it seems everyone's desperate to show off their knowledge of all the extra crap they've installed on their Mac and it masks the guitar and the amp, even if the production is all very clever and 'professional'.

I'd imagine not all bursts were special, but not too many owners are going to push that suggestion to hard seeing as no-one wants to knock the value down and admit they've got a poor example. It's likely that at the end of the day you can get 90% of the way to 'the burst sound' with newer re-issues and that final 10% comes from the truly special examples and being in the room with them. As one of the other guys alluded to, I bet the right amp with a great Les Paul will get you closer to fulfilling the goal than a burst and the wrong amp.

But what do I know, I'm just the guitar player :laugh2:
 

rhys1157

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Sound aside I think it also has a fair bit to do with the feel of the instrument. I’ve only played one real burst so take that with a grain of salt too haha.
I also agree, judging such a specific tone of a YouTube video is almost pointless too
 

korus

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Sounds like a blanket draped over the front of the amp -- I don't like it. There are a lot of Les Pauls (from every era) that just sound that way, no matter what -- muffled, overly loud, muddy, etc. Seems almost rarer to come across the truly clear, singing ones like Bloomer's.
What you wrote explains why Burst tone was never reproduced.

You are mistaken. That is exactly the definition of the Burst tone. This is why SOME musicians want this tone. This tone is clear to them cause they hear treble better than average human does. You simply hear treble less and that is why you want more of treble than Burst tone has it. That is why you dislike Burst tone.

The fact that you and roughly 90-95% of all humans buying guitars think it is too muffled is the reason they do not make them like they used to - they have the looks but sound nothing like originals, All made since 1968 are too bright, harsh, metallic, too weak in bridge too muddy in neck, nothing like human voice, metallic sounding like pounding a trash can, exactly like some funny make believe toys when compared to this tone of originals. For those who hear treble like bats.

And here is some more of original Burst tone delivered in contrast by brilliant player. Surely, you will dislike this one also. Even if it sings like a proper human voice.

Industry can make 5% of replicas, or 3% or 1% with original tone for those who can hear it has enough treble. Sadly, industry does not know all the specs that define tone.

 
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Michael Matyas

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These and similar videos are all the same to me--they raise my expectations and then there is the big letdown when I hear the guitar. Ian Bairnson is one of my favorite players, but I still don't care for the sound of that burst. The treble sounds too thin to me and the low end is flabby to my ear. You wanna hear great burst tone? Listen to Mike Bloomfield on the live album he made with blues singer Nick Gravenites. (I forget the title, and I no longer own the record.). Listen to Duane and Dickey on At Fillmore East. Listen to Dickey on Wipe the Windows, Check the Oil, Dollar Gas. (I know that Dickey was probably using a goldtop on those albums, but his tone was killer.) I think people loved these guitars because the low end was tight and the treble wasn't an ice pick through your eardrum. How much of this was the guitar and how much the amplification? People can debate this until pigs fly (and they probably will). Why don't people show the same reverence and worship for 1957-58 goldtops, which are more or less identical except for the color and figure of the maple tops? All of the senses, especially the lust of the eye, seem to be at work here. My guess is that as time goes on more and more of these pretty guitars will end up as investments in the vaults of wealthy collectors. There is no such thing as a time machine. I think the majority of us will accept this and get on with our lives.
 

pmonk

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I think a larger problem with trying to get 'the burst sound' across is with the fact YouTube videos are going to compress the sound on the video and the recordings themselves are often not helpful either.
This and we have no idea what microphone was used to record the audio portion of said video.

Nothing replicates the 1959 sound like a compressed audio recorded using a cheap microphone played through cheap speakers thru a garbage sound card
 

kakerlak

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These and similar videos are all the same to me--they raise my expectations and then there is the big letdown when I hear the guitar. Ian Bairnson is one of my favorite players, but I still don't care for the sound of that burst. The treble sounds too thin to me and the low end is flabby to my ear. You wanna hear great burst tone? Listen to Mike Bloomfield on the live album he made with blues singer Nick Gravenites. (I forget the title, and I no longer own the record.). Listen to Duane and Dickey on At Fillmore East. Listen to Dickey on Wipe the Windows, Check the Oil, Dollar Gas. (I know that Dickey was probably using a goldtop on those albums, but his tone was killer.) I think people loved these guitars because the low end was tight and the treble wasn't an ice pick through your eardrum. How much of this was the guitar and how much the amplification? People can debate this until pigs fly (and they probably will). Why don't people show the same reverence and worship for 1957-58 goldtops, which are more or less identical except for the color and figure of the maple tops? All of the senses, especially the lust of the eye, seem to be at work here. My guess is that as time goes on more and more of these pretty guitars will end up as investments in the vaults of wealthy collectors. There is no such thing as a time machine. I think the majority of us will accept this and get on with our lives.
Was it this album?

There's some really good stuff on there -- maybe the best Bloomfield outside of Electric Flag

I'll add Peter Green and Les Paul himself to the list. And I was never an Allman Bros fan, but the guitars sound good. Same with Zeppelin.

I probably shouldn't have been so derogatory in my earlier post. I'll freely admit that the sound of the video that started this thread is a common voice a lot of LPs have (old and new) and it's something a lot of players are seeking. And I don't really know how to put it into words exactly. It's not a matter of too bright/dark, but rather something to the attack that makes everything sound thuddy(?) for lack of a better word, even when it's coming through plenty bright. I think you can hear it some in the old seventies ZZ Top on songs where Billy tries to play soft, the guitar has a kind of a weird percussiveness to it that... it's just not pretty. And for the record, I like snappy Fenders, etc. (and I love ZZ, lol)

Speaking of Fenders, Twin Reverbs have the same kind of effect on me -- just something unpleasant inside my head, some sort of overtone, or something, that's not there with Supers and most other Fenders.

Any way, there are LPs out there (again, old and new) that sound super dynamic, very pretty and bell like. None of them are "low" output instruments; they'll drive a tube amp just fine, but there's a difference in clarity.
 

Michael Matyas

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Dear Kakerlak, no, that's not the album I had. That one was recorded live, and MB was on the cover playing a top-wrapped Sunburst. It sounded to me like he was playing through a cranked-up Twin or possibly Twins. But thanks, I'll put your album on my wish list.
 

Its Luke

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What you wrote explains why Burst tone was never reproduced.

You are mistaken. That is exactly the definition of the Burst tone. This is why SOME musicians want this tone. This tone is clear to them cause they hear treble better than average human does. You simply hear treble less and that is why you want more of treble than Burst tone has it. That is why you dislike Burst tone.

The fact that you and roughly 90-95% of all humans buying guitars think it is too muffled is the reason they do not make them like they used to - they have the looks but sound nothing like originals, All made since 1968 are too bright, harsh, metallic, too weak in bridge too muddy in neck, nothing like human voice, metallic sounding like pounding a trash can, exactly like some funny make believe toys when compared to this tone of originals. For those who hear treble like bats.

And here is some more of original Burst tone delivered in contrast by brilliant player. Surely, you will dislike this one also. Even if it sings like a proper human voice.

Industry can make 5% of replicas, or 3% or 1% with original tone for those who can hear it has enough treble. Sadly, industry does not know all the specs that define tone.

This video sounds incredible to me and you can see the connection between player and instrument.
 


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