Gibson Les Paul Junior Solid Body Electric Guitar (1956)

Gibson  Les Paul Junior Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1956)
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Item # 10329
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Gibson Les Paul Junior Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1956), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 6-9198, sunburst top, dark back and sides finish, mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, brown tolex hard shell case.

This is a clean and all-original third-year Gibson Les Paul Junior, one of the most elegantly simple electric guitars ever designed. It shows some minor wear but remains a superb unmolested example of this classic '50s Gibson solid body with a fairly lightweight mahogany body and one very lively P-90 pickup.

The top sports a vibrant yellow/brown sunburst finish showing virtually no fade; the remainder is finished in dark mahogany. The mahogany neck has a lovely feel, with a round but a slightly less chunky profile than some '50s Juniors. The pickup is still in the original just-by-the-bridge position, moved slightly forward soon after. Many players feel this is the better sounding configuration, other things being equal anyway.

As the name implies, the Les Paul Junior was the most basic of Gibson's 1950s signature line, with a single P-90 pickup at the bridge and simple bar bridge/tailpiece. This was an exercise in superbly effective minimalist design and the Junior's very lack of complexity worked perfectly then and now. Launched in mid-1954, the model was a success right out of the gate. Over 3100 sold in 1956, the original model's peak production year. This more than tripled the number of Les Paul Standards shipped, proving to Gibson's management that inexpensive solid body electric guitars were the wave of the future.

While designed as a student guitar, the Junior has become justly renowned as one of the crunchiest and most powerful of all straight rock guitars, with fantastic natural overdrive capabilities when paired with the right amp. The combination of the thick mahogany body and neck with the solidly dog-ear mounted P-90 and bar bridge maximizes tonal response. The pickup on this Junior is close under the strings resulting in a massive singing sound when the amp is cranked.

Since the late 1960's many players have come to prefer this model to all others for both heavy crunch rhythm and searing leads. From Leslie West to Mick Ralphs, Johnny Thunders to Paul Westerberg to Billie Joe Armstrong, Gibson's original 1950s Les Paul Junior has proven itself over and over to be the most basic of rock machines, as simple and effective as they come. This one is the nicer we have ever had, a 7.18 LB. gem of '50s Gibson greatness.
 
Overall length is 39 in. (99.1 cm.), 13 in. (33 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 11/16 in. (4.3 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

While not pristine, this Junior appears not too much used since the 1950's. The lacquer has some typical light checking, heaviest on the back. Overall there are minor dings, scratches and dents but for the most part it shines like Ike was still in the White House. The fairly bright yellow-brown sunburst on the top has not faded much at all, with a couple of small but deeper dings behind the bridge. The nickel tailpiece and studs are equally shiny with some small wear marks, while the plastic hardware shows some scuffing and tiny dinks.

The only thing not original on the instrument are the plastic buttons on the Clauson Deluxe tuners; the originals had completely crumbled away. Oh, and the strings of course! The original small frets have very little wear, the fingerboard looks practically untouched and playability is excellent. Unlike many '54-55 Stop tailpiece Gibson's the bridge is not leaning forward at all; the bushings and studs had recently been made longer to sit deeper into the body to solve this problem. This is plenty of leeway under the bridge to enable a very low action. Some afficionados would posit that this guitar's combination of the new longer studs with the old closer-set pickup represents the best possible combination of Junior features for sonic nirvana!

Be that as it may in any case this Junior is a heavenly good find! It plays and sounds exactly as one would wish, and is housed in a 1980's Gibson brown HSC, a bit battered but fully functional and much more protective then the original chipboard alligator job. For a 65 year old guitar this Junior is quite spry, still loaded with the bad attitude these honkers are known and loved for! Excellent Condition.