Les Paul Custom Guitars

2007 Gibson Les Paul Custom

Color: Black, Rating: 9.50, Sold (ID# 01399)
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Ricky Nelson's '68 Les Paul Custom - Re-Born.


2007 Gibson Les Paul Custom.


This dark and sultry guitar is a one-off, custom prototype for a Rick Nelson Signature Model, painstakingly recreating the Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty that Nelson played and is seen defiantly holding on the cover of his classic album, Garden Party. It's the guitar that, more than any other, put the rock in Country Rock, a genre that Rick Nelson spearheaded. This Gibson Custom Shop "Third Version" Les Paul Custom weighs just 9.30 lbs. (thats light for a '68 Custom) and has a nice, fat nut width of just over 1 11/16 inches, a wonderful super-fat neck profile, and a standard Gibson scale length of 24 3/4 inches. Solid mahogany body with maple top, one-piece mahogany neck, and ebony fretboard with 22 medium jumbo frets and inlaid pearl block position markers. The body of the guitar has seven-ply binding on the top and five-ply binding on the back, the headstock has five-ply binding, and the fretboard is single-bound. Headstock with inlaid pearl "Gibson" logo and pearl five-piece split-diamond inlay. Two-layer black on white plastic truss-rod cover with "Les Paul Custom" engraved in white. Individual Grover Rotomatic tuners with half-moon shaped metal buttons. Serial number "078348" stamped into the back of the headstock. Two WCR pickups custom wound to 1968 specification with very high outputs of 17.76k and 18.04k. Five-layer black over white plastic pickguard. Four controls (two volume, two tone) on lower treble bout plus three-way selector switch on upper bass bout. Black plastic bell-shaped control knobs with metal tops. Gibson Tune-O-Matic retainer bridge with metal saddles and separate stud tailpiece. All hardware gold-plated. Complete with the original Gibson Custom Certificate of Authenticity "68 Custom VOS / 078348". Original hang tags, cord, polishing cloth, warranty, truss-rod adjuster, and case key. Housed in the original five-latch Gibson Custom black shaped hardshell case with maroon plush lining  (9.25).

The Garden Party of the classic song refers to Nelson's ill-fated participation at a rock n' roll revival concert at Madison Square Garden in New York, 1972. Expecting lil' Ricky Nelson from the Ozzie and Harriet TV show that made him famous, concertgoers were shocked by his long-haired hippie appearance, more so by the music he played and the songs he sang. He was booed, and, dejected, returned home to Los Angeles to lick his wounds and compose the song whose last line has become an anthem of artistic expression:

"It's all right now- I've learned my lesson well- you can't please everyone so you've got to please yourself".

About his Garden Party Black Beauty, Rick Nelson's son, Gunnar, a respected, seasoned pro, told us:

"Unlike most black beauty Les Pauls, which are routinely used to cycle cosmetically blemished or overly heavy pieces of mahogany‚Ķ the wood for this guitar was hand selected and set aside for me by my friends at the Gibson Custom Shop due to it's excellent tonal quality and light weight, where it was cured for a full year before we started to build this guitar. "Mike McGuire put it all together for me, personally installed, dressed and plecked the appropriate frets - medium jumbos.   

"As soon as I took delivery of the guitar, I sent it to Scott Leedy of RS Guitarworks in Kentucky for refinishing and aging. RS immediately stripped the finish (Gibson currently puts in a 'plasticizer' in the final finish coat that absolutely KILLS the tone. RS put a brand new period correct nitro cellulose finish on the guitar. Then, using pictures I'd supplied them from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame display, they set about aging and relic'ing the guitar perfectly - the real way, with hot and cold tanks that simulate years of the guitar case going from a warm tour bus and being opened on frigid loading docks backstage .

"All of the nickel hardware has also been expertly aged. Note that this Custom's binding has been perfectly yellowed as if by years of cigarette smoke in smoky bars as on the original, and the top edge of the fingerboard and the back of the neck has been rolled in the appropriate first position to mimic years of playing love. Put it in your hands, and it feels like your best friend. I had RS install their proprietary wiring kit, as well, because the level of quality of their pots far surpasses current Gibson offerings, and sound much more like the original GP guitar.

"Finally, I had my friends at WCR pickups custom wind a set for the prototype to more closely match the original guitar's stock 1968  pickups. They did a fine job. I have, however, included the Gibson Burstbucker set that Mike McGuire originally installed in the guitar when it left the factory in case the future owner prefers that 1959 PAF Les Paul sound." (Gunnar Nelson, October 2011).

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