04 Aug Gibson 1968/1958 Les Paul Standard, “The Husk” Conversion by Dick Knight, 1973
Let me begin by showing you a few shots of this guitar. Few have seen it yet (click on the images to see them at full resolution).
This specific guitar has an incredible history (with stories…). It was “born” in 1968 (early 1968) as a first reissue of the Gibson Les Paul Standard model, that had been produced in the 1950s from 1952 to 1960 (and production had ceased because of very low sales!).
During the mid to late 1960s though, a few upcoming guitar players (in the likes of Mike Bloomfield and Eric Clapton) were being seen playing late 1950s Les Paul Standard “Bursts” (sunburst colors with “flamed” maple tops). Due to the amazing sound of these, musicians started liking Les Pauls like never before and Gibson was “forced” to re-introduce the Les Paul model (that had been substituted in favor of the SG design from 1960 to 1968).
The first late 1960s Les Paul Standards (reissues) though, had little in common with their 1950s ancestors in terms of looks and features.
They were in fact Gold Tops (a finish with which the Les Paul had been introduced in 1952 up until circa 1957-1958) and featured P90s pickups (please see here for a detailed history of the Les Paul Standard – add link).
Basically, this guitar had the following look and features:
Since late 1950s “bursts” were scarce at the time (only circa 2000 had been produced in the late ’50s) and everyone wanted one, some players decided to “convert” these into “Burst” Les Paul Standards.
Below, a picture of a real 1959 Les Paul Standard “Burst” owned by Les Paul Expert (and friend) Joe Ganzler:
It is nice to note some rough similarities between the two. The “Lemonburst” color that is seen on both is a direct consequence of time passing by these instruments. Sun light causes the original red paint to “fade” in such manner. Basically, all of late 1950s Les Paul Standards tend to fade in a similar – but different for each guitar – way.
Joe Ganzler was the one to rescue the “Husk” and some time later, sell it to me.
The Husk is probably one of the very first guitars to have been converted into such design.
Professional Guitar Player – insert name here – the actual owner of this guitar back then – contacted famous luthier (Dick Knight) to have it converted.
Quite few details in the construction and looks were in fact different. Gibson had already gone through some internal production changes since the 1950s and several construction techniques were probably already lost (or were too expensive to reapply even at the time).
So Mr. Dick Knight began his work on this guitar, probably resetting the neck at a more proper late 1950s angle, changed the positioning of the stop bar and bridge, routed the body for humbucker pickups in lieu of the P90s and… added a thin layer of veneer “figured” wood top over the existing maple top of the guitar.
It seems in fact that one of the desireable aspects of the looks of Burst Les Paul Standard is the “flame figure” that their top sports (some of them). Among collectors and players nowadays, the characteristic flame of a particular Les Paul is one of the key elements to its value.
This guitar since then has seen a number of different owners and was sold in recent years as a real 1958 Les Paul Standard for a price over USD 500.000 (yes, you read it right: $500.000, if fact $561.000! Read here: Al Parish Auction).
It is unclear if the seller was aware of committing a fraud or was unsure of the real dating (and story) of the guitar.
Also, another factor in the latter price figure was due to another “mistake”: the guitar was in fact thought to have been owned by Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, as the following picture (shot about the time of the sale) stated:
UPDATE: for the ones “curious” to hear this one, I’ve shot a video from which I have edited this audio from. Video will be soon fully featured here, but in the meanwhile, you might be wanting to hear what it sounds like.
Note of the author for the more ‘particular’ reader: these articles on SoloDallas’ gear are not intended to be egotistical, neither am I intending to show off. They are for passion, documentation/information and sharing pleasure with those who have a similar interest. Thanks for your trust and understanding, SD