Les Paul Custom Twentieth Anniversary Guitars

1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom Twentieth Anniversary

Color: Alpine White over Black 'Tuxedo', Rating: 9.00, Sold (ID# 02340)
Call to Inquire: (818) 222-4113


An Exceptionally Rare 1974 'Tuxedo' Les Paul Custom


1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom Twentieth Anniversary


This exceptionally rare two-tone white top - black back, sides and neck a la 'Tuxedo' Les Paul Custom weighs 10.70 lbs. and has a three-piece mahogany/maple/mahogany "pancake" body with a maple top. Three-piece mahogany/maple neck with a fat nut width of just over 1 11/16 inches, a standard Gibson scale length of 24 3/4 inches and a wonderful medium-to-thick profile with a very small and unobtrusive volute by the headstock. Ebony fretboard with 22 original medium frets and inlaid pearl block position markers. The top of the guitar has seven-ply binding, the back of the guitar has five-ply binding, the headstock has five-ply binding, and the neck is single-bound. Headstock with inlaid pearl "Gibson" logo and pearl five-piece split-diamond inlay. Two-layer black over white plastic truss-rod cover with "Les Paul Custom" engraved in white and secured by two screws. Serial number "440395" impressed into the back of the headstock and "Made in U.S.A." below it. Individual "Gibson" (Schaller) closed-back tuners with bell-shaped metal buttons. Two original Gibson T-top humbucker 'T-bucker' pickups with outputs of 7.46k and 7.34k, the rectangular black label on the underside reading "Patent No / 2,737,842" is present on the bridge pickup - ithe label on the neck pickup has disintegrated as is often the case. The potentiometers are stamped "137 7452" (CTS, December 1974). Five-layer (black over white) plastic pickguard. Four controls (two volume, two tone) on lower treble bout plus three-way pickup selector switch on upper bass bout. Black plastic ribbed-sided conical-shaped "Witch Hat" knobs with white markings and metal tops. Gibson "Pat. No. 2,740,313" Tune-O-Matic retainer bridge with metal saddles and separate stud tailpiece. All hardware gold-plated. The 'Alpine White' finish on the top has aged to a lovely cream color. There is some age checking on the body and the back of the headstock. The small circular black plastic switch cover on the back of the body and the black plastic jack-plate both were cracked and have now been repaired. The gold pickup covers have been removed, otherwise the guitar is 100% original and in exceptionally fine (9.00) condition. Housed in the original Gibson black five-latch hardshell case with deep red plush lining (8.75).

"In late 1953, a more luxurious version was introduced, most probably on specific request by Les Paul himself, as he wanted a more luxurious and classy looking guitar. He requested a black guitar as he wanted it to "look like a tuxedo".

"It occurred to Gibson in 1974 that it was 20 years since the first Les Paul Custom had appeared, so they celebrated by issuing a Custom with a Twentieth Anniversary inlay at the 15th fret, in place of the normal blank position marker. This was the first Gibson Anniversary model. The only precursors in the electric guitar market were Gretsch's four Anniversary models of 1958, issued to celebrate the company's foundation 75 years earlier. The 20th Anniversary Les Paul Custom established a marketing trend, and a number of special anniversary-edition Les Paul models have appeared since." (Tony Bacon. 50 Years of the Gibson Les Paul. pp. 68 & 145).

"20th Anniversary Les Paul Customs were quite successful and laid the groundwork for future birthday celebration models." (Robb Lawrence. The Modern Era of the Les Paul Legacy 1968-2009. p. 66).

We have only ever heard of one other 1974 Les Paul Custom with the original Gibson factory 'Tuxedo' finish. In 1976 Gibson did produce a run of 'Tuxedo' Les Paul Customs - it is unclear how many were made - some say 25 - others say 60. Whatever the story our example is a late 1974 - made in Kalamazoo and was most likely the inspiration for the 1976 run. On another note, a white 1974 Les Paul Custom was the favorite guitar of Randy Rhoads, the late great guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne.

Randy Rhoads. "On 20 October 1972 Randy went to see David Bowie live at Santa Monica, and during the concert he was stunned with Mick Ronson’s white Les Paul. At that time he had a black SG, which he didn’t quite like, so he got rid of it. What’s unclear about this guitar is exact time of the purchase, and it’s origins. In an interview with Gibson, Randy’s brother Kelle said that Randy bought the guitar himself from a Guitar Center, and that it was slightly used. During an interview with Randy’s mother in 1982, she said that the guitar came from the owner of a rehearsal studio that the bend (Quiet Riot) was playing at. These two stories do not necessarily contradict each other; Randy might have seen the guitar at the Guitar Center, and talked about it with his bandmates. We couldn’t find out who exactly is the person who owned that studio, but for what it’s worth, he might have been a very good friend of Randy, and someone who strongly believed in Randy and his talent – so he bought the guitar for Randy.
Be it as it may, the guitar was probably purchased in late 1974, or the early 1975, and it quickly became Randy’s favorite instrument. He used it on practically all off the live gigs with the Quiet Riot, and for some stuff on “Blizzard of Ozz” with Ozzy Osbourne. It was completely stock, except for the tuners which were replaced with Schallers."


Check out our sister company

David Brass Rare Books.  1-818-222-4103.  Finest Copies.