Gibson Les Paul Artisan Solid Body Electric Guitar (1977)

Gibson  Les Paul Artisan Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1977)
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Item # 11243
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Gibson Les Paul Artisan Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1977), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 72357135, walnut grain lacquer finish, mahogany body with maple cap, laminated maple neck with ebony fingerboard., molded black plastic hard shell case.

These days Gibson's 1970s Norlin era has a generally poor reputation, but there were some good ideas going around Kalamazoo at the time and some very nice instruments did come out of the period. The Les Paul line ruled the roost, so the Gibson team created several more artistic fancy models to show off their craftsmanship. This is one of the most attractive, the Les Paul Artisan. It was introduced in late 1976 as a limited edition, top of the line Les Paul but proved popular enough to stay in production up into 1982.

The Artisan reached back into Gibson history for some vintage banjo-era aesthetics: Granada-style hearts & flowers mother of pearl inlays in the fingerboard and headstock with the Gibson logo in pre-war pearl script style. Other than this it is basically a Les Paul Custom. The Artisan was initially issued with three pickups, but soon offered in two pickup format as well. The neck and the bridge pickups are Gibson Series VII humbuckers and the middle is a Gibson "Super Humbucking" pickup. Pickup selection is the traditional Custom scheme: Neck pickup only, middle and bridge pickups together or bridge pickup only. These pickups are quite powerful and great sounding both clean and cranked.

Many Artisans were issued with a TP-6 fine tuning tailpiece, but this one has the standard type. Other features include all gold hardware, Schaller-made Gibson tuners, multi-ply binding front, back and headstock, multi-ply pickguard, mahogany body with three-piece carved maple top, laminated maple three piece neck, bound ebony fingerboard and an engraved "Artisan" truss rod cover. The neck is shallower than on many 70s Les Pauls, approaching the 1960-era profile. At somewhat under 11 Lbs this is not the lightest of Les Pauls, but not overly weighty by late '70s standards.

Unlike lower end Les Pauls in 1977 Artisans were built at the original Kalamazoo factory right up until production stopped in 1982. 1469 were shipped in 1977, the model's biggest year. This is a beautiful looking, great sounding, fine playing guitar pretty near the top of the heap for a later 1970s Gibson.
Overall length is 39 3/8 in. (100 cm.), 13 in. (33 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 7/8 in. (4.8 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 5/8 in. (41 mm.)., 10.75 lbs.

Overall this is a nice relatively clean original guitar. The all-original finish shows some scuffs, dings and dents overall, with some fairly minor scratching mostly to the back and a couple of small feelable dinks in the back of the neck. The gold plating shows some wear especially on the middle pickup cover, which someone must have picked over for a while.

The hardware is all original except for added gold-plated locking strap buttons, the matching ends of which are attached to a substantial black leather strap that is included. The untouched electronics have pots dated to the 25th week of 1977. The original wide, low frets have been crowned down in the lower positions and show some subsequent wear bit playability is not affected. This is a moderately rare and particularly nice '70s Les Paul, in the original molded plastic 70's Gibson "Protector" case, casually know as the "Chainsaw" model. Excellent - Condition.