The Les Paul Custom was launched in 1954 as the black beauty. This was an ebony finished (as the name would suggest) guitar with contrasting gold hardware, a black single-coil P-90 (same as the Les Paul Standard) in the neck position, and a distinctive pickup in the bridge position, referred to as the Alnico V - named after the magnet within. In 1957 this pickup configuration was changed to three humbuckers (check out the LP Custom or 'Fretless Wonder' in the 1958 catalogue), until 1961, when the range was redesigned as todays SGs.
Shipping figures for the first issue Les Paul custom
In 1968 Gibson decided to reissue two Les Paul models, and the Custom was made available in its original ebony finish, and again dubbed the fretless wonder. It was available from mid 1968 at a price of $545 , with the Les Paul Standard at $395. The brochure (right) describes the two models (click for a closer look at this brochure)
Gibson is proud to announce its newly reborn affiliation with the man who has come to be known to millions of music lovers the world over as "Mr. Guitar"...
The Custom was not an exact replica, as it had two humbuckers, (originally it had two single coils OR three humbuckers). The 1968 LP bodies and necks Les Pauls were one-piece mahogany (with maple top). Some time in 1969, the bodies were changed to three-piece mahogany/maple/mahogany, with a three-piece mahogany neck.
Gibson Les Paul Custom - Daddy of 'em All
1969 advert for the two re-released Les Paul models, the Custom and the Standard
Les Paul may not have invented amplified music, but he perfected it almost single-handed. He started a revolution in
fretted instruments and pickup design which is still going on. And the guitars he designed with Gibson have yet to be surpassed. The demand for them just won't quit. And the pressure
to make more has never let up. Okay, you win. We are pleased to announce that more of the original Les Paul Gibsons are available. Line forms at your Gibson dealer's.
Gibson Les Paul Custom - Les Paul Says: It's Gibson
A most important part of our recording equipment This interesting mid-fifties advert shows Les Paul at work recording guitar with his wife Mary Ford looking on. The advert shows the original gold-topped Les Paul Model, but also the newer black-finished Les Paul Custom.
Cherry Sunburst was first listed in price lists as an option in mid 1971 - have a look (and listen to sound clips) to a 1973 Cherry Sunburst LP Custom. According to shipping figures, Cherry was also available at this time (though never mentioned in any gibson price lists or catalogues). Tobacco was available from 1972 (Again never listed). In this period, two humbuckers was the norm, but three pickup models were available as a special order option (along with a short scale model).
Sales were strong throughout the early 1970s, despite the deep US recession of 1973, and 1975 saw a further two finish options; white and wine red, with tobacco sunburst and natural being added in 1976. Sales did dip somewhat in 1976 and 1977, but remained in the thousands.
Shipping figures for the second issue les Paul custom
From 1976, three humbuckers were no longer a special order option; but the standard configuration. Two pickup customs were available with nickel plated hardware, which obviously made them a cheaper guitar than the gold plated models. This model was also available in silverburst finish
|Early 1980s promo picture of the three-pickup Les Paul Custom, in ebony, and natural finish. Note the gold hardware throughout.|
1978 was a fantastic year for the Les Paul Custom. Sales exceeded 10000 units (the previous highest year was 1973 with 8300). As well as the two and three pickup customs, the 1978 Gibson catalogue also shows a 2 pickup version with a maple fingerboard. Still with gold hardware, it was available in ebony and natural finishes.
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