An icon of the 20th Century and a design classic, the Les Paul and in particular the standard produced between 1958 and 1960 has come to define the electric guitar in the eyes and ears of the general populace. Placed on a pedestal, these are the benchmark by which all are judged and found lacking. Here we have an example of the 1500…
Here is what its current owner has to say about serial number 0 1602
Having bought my first ‘Burst in April 1990, in October 1990 I returned to the US and attended the Arlington Guitar Show where I bought 0 1602.
The first sighting of 0 1602 referenced on the Les Paul Forum was at Guitar Trader in Red Bank, New Jersey in 1979 by ‘fadedsunburst59’.
I bought the guitar from Buck Sulcer of Guitar Network. Two German dealers had turned up at the show and had taken a booth with just one guitar – 0 1602. Over the course of the show they failed to sell the guitar and so did a deal with Buck Sulcer just before the show closed. Since I knew Buck from buying my first ‘Burst earlier in the year I talked to him about the guitar and agreed a deal on it.
The story about the guitar’s provenance was that it had been owned by Tony Hicks of The Hollies. With all due respect to Tony, that wasn’t a big factor for me. I was born and brought up in Manchester, England where The Hollies were from. Although I liked their music and the band were really big news in the mid ‘60s, especially locally, to me they were local lads made good and their music was more focused on vocal harmonies than guitar playing. Tony didn’t have the same sort of mystique for me as, say, Duane Allman hailing from the Deep South of the USA.
In Burst Believers III Tony commented that he bought his second ‘Burst from Guitar Trader in New Jersey which lines up with the other evidence. He also commented that he wasn’t that much of a ‘Burst enthusiast as the ‘Burst didn’t really suit the Hollies' music, which is perfectly understandable.
Here is a screengrab from a video of the Hollies playing Hollidaze (A Medley) on Top of the Pops in 1981 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQ9iPnvGKnc) which shows Tony playing the guitar:
This is quite the guitar. The faded top is to many the holy grail of finishes and this one has to be the dictionary definition. As a guitar produced in early 1960, the dye used was still very photoreactive, a problem rectified later in the year. The original colour can be seen under the pickguard. What is left behind is a wonderful hue that showcases the subtly flamed top. There are a few marks here and there but on the whole the top is in excellent shape.
Flip the guitar over and the back has retained the rich cherry, providing quite a contrast to the top. Again there are the odd mark and dink but nothing too substantial.
The slim profile neck too has retained its vivid cherry colouring, getting lighter as youd expect through use but with no sign of wear. As with the whole guitar, there is a deep gloss to the finish.
The dark rosewood fretboard shows some signs of use and there is plenty of life left in the original frets.
The headstock is well preserved, only the slightest of marks. The silk screening is still strong. The guitar is currently fitted with a set of reproduction tuners as the originals had suffered the fate so common to Kluson tuners of the period, the buttons having rotted. These are included in the case.
The plastics are in excellent shape. The jack plate has broken in the past, included with the guitar, and has been replaced with a reproduction. Elsewhere everything is as you’d expect with no real signs of wear or damage.
Electrically everything is correct. There is the odd sign of a solder joint being reheated, in particular the cover on the pickups though there seems to be no sign elsewhere. Interestingly, this one comes fitted from the factory with Ariston caps as opposed to Sprague Bumble Bees.
The guitar comes with a 50’s Lifton 5 latch hardshell case
So how does it sound? For those of you who reached for the smelling salts having seen the price tag, I’m afraid it is bad news. It sounds transcendental. For anyone who’s paid even a passing interest in rock and blues music post 1965, this guitar ticks all the right boxes. Flat out its raunchy and responsive with an almost infinite sustain that makes it feel like it's playing you. Dialed back,it cleans up beautifully whilst retaining a clarity that is such a hallmark of these instruments. Marry this with a slim neck that is joy to play and it's an unbeatable package.
A bucket list guitar if ever there was, this is a rare thing indeed. Classic from head to toe, this would crown any collection.
As ever with these instruments shipping would be by collection or hand delivery only.