There have been almost as many Les Paul models as there have blues solos played on them, but the 1959 Les Paul Standard occupies a special place in the hearts of LP fans.
Gibson, which knows a thing or two about the Les Paul, describes the 1959 incarnation as being 'considered by players and collectors alike to be the most desirable electric guitar ever created.' Ironically, however, it wasn't popular in its day and only a few hundred were made in 1959. In total, according to Gibson, around 2000 were made between 1958 and 1960.
A decade later, once Clapton, Page, Beck and others got their hands on one, the Les Paul became huge, meaning that the '59 version is both very rare and in great demand.
So what was it that made that particular vintage so special? As Gibson points out, 'Having gone from wraparound bridge to Tune-o-matic and stopbar tailpiece in 1956, from P-90s to PAF humbuckers in 1957, and from goldtop to sunburst in 1958, the ’59 Les Paul evolved only slightly further.' But it was that slight evolution, a change in the profile of the neck to make it less thick, and more comfortable in the hand that made the 1959 Les Paul Standard, in Gibson's own words 'the ultimate rendition of the ultimate guitar.'
In 2009, Gibson made a limited edition Custom Shop version of the '59 Standard, which had a two-piece maple top and non-chambered mahogany body. It's mahogany neck has a rosewood fretboard and 22 jumbo frets, with acrylic trapezoid position-marker inlays.
The Les Paul switched from P-90s to Humbuckers in 1957, so the 50th anniversay model has wo BustBuckers.
A limited edition model, the 50th anniversary 1959 Les Paul Standard is no longer made. But if you had been able to secure one in 2009, you've have needed the thick-end of $10,000. Despite the eye-watering price tag, however, it's a fraction of what you'd pay for a real 1959 Standard. The market for vintage guitars isn't what it was. But a real '59 Standard would still set you back upwards of $250,000.
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