Eric’s Birthday

Eric Clapton celebrated his 76th birthday today and I’m guessing he didn’t wear a mask.

I can overlook a lot of shit from my musical heroes, I’m looking at you drunken racist immigration rants back in the… whenever that was, but the anti mask shit you pulled recently… just fuck you, bro.

I still want to hear him play live again. Just one more time. That’s despite the anti mask shit. I mean really… fuck you, bro.

So instead of birthday wishes here’s a pic from 1966 with the legendary Marshall combo amp behind him, and the even more legendary, dare I say almost mythical, 1960 Les Paul Standard in front of him.

Assuming the Instagram link works, of course…

(The guy next to him is John McVie who about two years later became the Mac in Fleetwood Mac)

70’s

The temperature today hit 72 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s like… spring.

Of course the downside is when I took out the trash, stepped on the lawn, and sank into the swamp like mud field.

It’ll be so worth it once the effin’ snow is gone.

I’m exhausted, my eyes are so tired that they are making my head hurt. First thing I do once this Covid shit is over is get new glasses. Second is get my Les Paul fixed up like new. Okay, maybe not second.

Les Paul Mods: A Fantasy

If I were to mod my 1978 Les Paul Custom to make it act more like a late ’50’s Les Paul Standard, this is probably what I would do.

Brandonwould 1959 clones. The question would be do I get nickel pickup covers, which would be correct for a Les Paul Standard, or gold pickup covers, which would be correct for a Les Paul Custom. Gold is more appropriate for my guitar, but they are also super expensive.

For changing out the pots and the switches and the wiring (my ES-335 needs this more than my Les Paul does, but I’m fantasizing here so leave me alone) I would get a wiring harness. The question then becomes, do I get a 50’s wiring harness or do I get a 50’s wiring harness that includes the Peter Green out-of-phase mod? I think I’d do the Peter Green thing. If so, I’d probably go with Gunstreet Wiring Shop- Les Paul Standard – 50S Out Of Phase – Wiring Harness.

Obviously I am way too much of a wuss to even daydream about installing any of this stuff myself. If I do it, I’m getting an experienced tech to do it. That goes without saying.

On a similar topic, when I bought my Les Paul in 1990 it was 12 years old and it was seriously modded already. Both of the original pickups were gone, and it had a Bigsby vibrato. The pickups bothered me. The neck was a DiMarzio which sounded nice. The bridge was a Jackson that was crap, although it had a seriously high output that I liked. I removed the Bigsby within about 10 minutes of bringing the guitar home, but it was years before I did anything about the pickups. I had always thought about trying to bring the guitar back to stock, or at least as close as I could get them. In 2006 (I think) I had Larry replace both pickups with Gibson Classic ’57s. Again, the Neck was nice but the bridge wasn’t. A few years ago I had Guitar Center swap the bridge for a Gibson Dirty Fingers reissue. Again, a really high output.

Now, after doing some research I know that the correct pickups I would need to get back to 1978 stock would be TTops. I can get clones of those too, even with the gold covers. I think I might have a good chance of getting actual 70’s TTops on ebay rather than clones, but if I am going to do this I am going for some really sweet PAF clones. Screw period correct, I want 50’s everything. I wonder how much it would cost to get the body refinished and painted gold like a 1957 Goldtop Standard. I bet that would cost a small fortune. Then again, if I wanted to be Les Paul Custom accurate I would have to paint it black, not gold. Prior to 1958 standards were gold and customs were black. Black Les Pauls look awesome, but nothing beats the old Goldtops.

Suffice to say, if I ever hit the lottery for hundreds of millions of dollars, the first thing I’m buying is a 1957 Les Paul standard. The second thing I’m buying is a 1959 sunburst Les Paul Standard. A ’57 would be insanely expensive. A ’59 would cost me pretty much all of my lottery winnings. Totally worth it though.

ADDENDUM: I tried to write about the Peter Green “out of phase mod” and typo’d it to “out of phrase mod”. I am clearly mentally defective. I fixed it though.

Guitar Maintenance Day

My Les Paul had a maintenance day. I cleaned it up a smidge and put on new strings. I also plugged in the headphone amp I got for Christmas. It really does sound like a Vox AC30. It’s such a groovy little gadget.

Every time I look at either of my 40+ year old guitars I start to think of the work they need to do and I get scared. This guitar needs fret work, and I think one of the inlays might be coming out. Yikes!

I’m also thinking of maybe changing the pick ups again. Maybe get a couple of boutique PAF clones and a 50’s style wiring harness and try to make my 70’s Les Paul feel a little more like a 50’s Les Paul. Maybe that could be my 50th birthday present to myself? Assuming we are post-Covid, of course.

Just a little fantasy.

Number One

I finished the lead guitars on the third set of re-recordings tonight. I used my Les Paul. My number one proved why it’s my number one. Every dumb idea that popped into my tiny little brain came out through the guitar. It felt really good. That doesn’t happen often but it’s nice when it does.

Junior

I’ve been playing a Gibson Les Paul Custom since 1990.

Before that I played a Gibson Les Paul Deluxe (before it was stolen and my heart was crushed).

I’ve never said this before…
I’ve never thought this before…
I never dreamed this before but…
but…

I think I want a Gibson Les Paul Junior.

Partly because a vintage Junior is cheaper than a vintage Standard and my chances of actually owning something from the 1950’s is a lot higher.. but even just in terms of the current models…

I think I want a Gibson Les Paul Junior.

More Serial Number Fun

After all the fun I had with the serial number on my Strat yesterday, I figured I’d try Googling about serial numbers on Gibson Les Pauls.  I learned a couple of things, but most of what I found I already knew.

It was just a few years prior to my guitar’s creation that Gibson switched to the eight digit serial number format.  I knew that the first digit and the fifth digit combine to form the year.  That’s how I figured out my guitar was from 1978.  I also knew that the other six digits represented the rest of the date and the production count for that day.  I didn’t quite know how though.

The pattern is this: YDDDYRRR

YY is year
DDD is the day of the year
RRR is the counter.

From that, with a little Googling to figure out what day the date counter corresponded to, I learned that my guitar was made on September 18, 1978.

So what does the counter mean?  It turns out that three digit counter is actually two counters in one.  Numbers between 1 and 499 are for guitars made in the old Kalamazoo, MI factory while numbers from 500 to 999 are for guitars made in Nashville, TN.  The actual number represents the number that was stamped that day.  So a guitar stamped with 123 was the 123rd guitar to have it’s serial number stamped on that day in Kalamazoo, where the number 623 would be the 123rd guitar to have it’s serial number stamped on that day in Nashville.

My guitar was made in Nashville.  I never knew that.  It doesn’t matter even the tiniest bit, but somehow that little fact made this whole pursuit worthwhile.

The only other outstanding question for me is, what kind of pickups did it have when it left the factory?  I bought the guitar in 1990 and neither of the pickups were stock.  In 2006 (I think), in an attempt to make the guitar sound more like a stock Les Paul, I had Larry install a set of Gibson Classic ’57’s.  Gibson was marketing those pickups as being close to the original PAF pickups that were first added to Les Pauls in 1957.  (PAF stands for Patent Applied For, and they were Gibson’s first humbuckers.  Prior to that Les Pauls had single coil P90 pickups).  It turned out that I didn’t really like the sound of the Classic ’57 in the bridge position and a few years ago I had a tech at Guitar Center swap it out for a Gibson Dirty Fingers.  I was familiar with those because they came stock in my ES-335 Pro and I love them.

But that doesn’t answer the question… what did my Les Paul originally come with?  I Googled that too and was pretty surprised to find that there is almost no definitive information online.  I did find a couple of forum posts though that said a 1978 Les Paul Custom would have come with what Gibson called “Original Humbuckers” which unfortunately is a name that they’ve used for a few different models of pickups.  To the general public though, the pickups in my guitar would have been known as T-Tops.

I don’t know anything about them except that some people like them and some people don’t, and lots of people were swapping them out for non-Gibson models anyway.  The two pickups in the guitar when I bought it were perfect examples of that.

So now I have to dig into T-Tops and see if I can score some on ebay.  Insert maniacal laughter here.

 

Bibliography:

Incentive

I’ve been thinking about it.  Sometimes Americans are able to do the right thing.  Other times, not so much.  Maybe if we bribe America they will not be stupid regarding this whole COVID-19 mess.

How about when it’s all over we all get a Les Paul.  What do you say?  Everyone gets a shiny new Les Paul.  Some people have a weird thing about Gibson, so they can get a boutique copy that’s really sweet.  Most of us though will get a perfect sounding, beautifully built 50’s spec Les Paul Standard.  Of course, because this was my idea I’ll get an actual 1959 Les Paul Standard.  A nice burst with a really good flame top that’s all faded to gold the way the good ones all did.

I think that’s a good plan.