Looking for entry in to the 'Burst' club? This 1960 Custom / Burst is probably going to be your most cost effective option to this often elusive club... Read on -
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Here we have an amazing 1960 Gibson Les Paul with a fantastic story…
This guitar left the factory at Kalamazoo in a coat of black paint, sporting three pickups and the finery of a Les Paul Custom. As was the way, in the 1980s someone took it upon themselves to strip the finish which revealed the centre seamed, flamed maple top hidden underneath. It seems that at some stage in the build process, a Standard ‘Burst’ body was repurposed as a Custom (Customs are constructed without the maple cap atop the mahogany body) and routed for the additional pickup.
Once this fact was revealed it was refinished in amber sunburst to show off the top. Some time later the guitar was purchased by Yuki McClure of Player Grade Vintage and he set about converting it back to LP Burst standard format. Binding was removed from the body and replaced with maple and single ply binding on the front and mahogany on the back.
The fretboard (originally ebony) was removed and replaced with a Brazilian rosewood fretboard. A shim was also added underneath to make the neck a little chunkier. The middle pickup hole was filled in and a replacement piece of maple was inserted. The headstock facia was removed and replaced with that of a Standard and parts where sourced to bring it up to 1960 Les Paul Standard spec. As you can see from the photos, in a previous life, it has had a Bigsby fitted and a minor headstock crack repaired.
Following this extensive work a new and we must say, brilliantly done finish was applied to correct 1960 spec. A truly huge undertaking I’m sure you’ll agree. The results can be seen in all their glory here and in the pictures.
The first thing that strikes you about this guitar is the look. Yuuki has really captures the essence a 1960 Gibson sunburst finish, referred to as a ‘clown burst’ for its strong red colour, without the overly theatrical, overblown look that can make refinished or reissue les pauls look garish. The way the flame of the maple plays with the light is quite fantastic but again not too showy. Interestingly the finish hasn’t been reliced to much which gives it a closet classic feel.
You have to look quite closely to see the work thats been carried out. Wood grain has been painstakingly matched so as to blend in with the original. There is a little damage to the top but this is minimal.
The neck too looks excellent and has been finished well. Again as with the body there is the feel of a guitar that been well cared for as opposed to a new guitar and so has that slightly worn in feel. The rosewood fretboard looks the part and as with the body, you have to look quite closely to see where any modification have been made. The headstock is in great shape and is fitted with re-buttoned Kluson single line tuners.
Hardware and plastics are a mix of reproduction and original parts which are as follows -
‘50s nickel short seam stoptail with ‘50s long studs.
Aged nickel replica ABR bridge with ‘50s thumbwheels.
1956 cream P90s pickguard cut for humbuckers, with aged replica bracket.
‘70s M8 cream pickup rings.
Late ‘50s gold bell knobs.
Late ‘50s trussrod cover.
Late ‘50s Catalin switch tip.
‘50s input jack plate.
Aged reproduction R/T switch washer.
The screws, nuts, strap buttons etc are mostly vintage ‘50s.
Electronically the pickups are a circa 1963 factory zebra coil PAT No pickup with PAF spec purple enamel windings in the neck and a circa 1963 PAT No with PAF spec purple enamel windings and ‘50s long magnet, with reproduction PAF decal in the bridge. The harness is a 1960 Centralab harness with ‘50s PIO bumblebee capacitors.
The guitar comes with a hardshell case which is a 70’s type 1 chainsaw type.
The guitar is a good weight, certainly inline with Gibsons of the period. Acoustically it has a nice sustain and a pleasant tone. When plugged in things get interesting. Neck pickup is smooth without loosing definition. whilst the bridge pickup bites without taking your head off. All the controls work as they should and never seem to get in the way of the sound, letting you sculpt the tone to work with your amp. Its how a Les Paul should sound and really could make you dangerously attached to it.
This is a fairly famous guitar that has been talked about a fair bit on the Internet. Whatever you want to call it, there is no denying it started life in Kalamazoo in 1960 as a ‘Burst’ but for reasons only known to Gibson, it left the factory as a Custom and has now been meticulously restored to what it should have been from birth.
Finally, here are some thoughts from its current owner and the person who did all this amazing work -
__’There’s a very strong chance it’s the only 1960 Les Paul Standard that was ever ‘reassigned’ to be an LP Custom at the factory, although it would be a rudimentary task in terms of the factory production process.
In my mind, the restoration process it’s been through is on a par with a well flamed ‘60 Burst that was hot rodded in the ‘80s with say a Khaler trem, custom fretboard inlays, fancy body binding and a flashy refin, then systematically restored back to it’s period correct form, with the body routes plugged with flame matched maple, binding removed/replaced etc, and a vintage correct sunburst finish shot.
The neck, body and top are all factory 1960 Les Paul Standard, and to look at it you’d barely notice the work performed on first handling, and it’s undeniably ‘the real deal’ in terms of looks, feel and tone, and I think a unique opportunity for one to own one of only circa 1400 flame top Bursts produced- certainly my only opportunity!
As much as it’s been a life long dream/obsession to own a bona fide ‘58-‘60 Les Paul Std (and, although it’s hard to quite articulate, this does indeed feel compellingly different to the various conversions I’ve had..), it was as much the challenge of the restoration that was the thrill as owning and playing it daily, so I’m OK to pass it on and give someone else access to an otherwise prohibitively exclusive club.’__
For anyone interested we have links to a full and comprehensive pictorial build log on this guitar. Just email us for info.
If you’ve craved a burst but can’t find the mortgage paperwork then this might be the one for you. The looks, feel and sound. The trifecta of Paul….
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