Gibson Les Paul SG Custom Solid Body Electric Guitar (1961)

Gibson  Les Paul SG Custom Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1961)
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Item # 11265
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Gibson Les Paul SG Custom Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1961), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 18775, white lacquer finish, mahogany body and neck, ebony fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

This is a truly lovely example of one of our favorite 1960s Gibson creations, the first version of the new-for the 1960s Les Paul Custom. All the Les Paul models were revamped starting at the end of 1960 with the new sculpted thin body later renamed the SG. The top-of-the line Custom was second in line for this treatment after the Standard and the first ones shipped out in early 1961. This is a fairly early example, probably made around the middle of that year. It mounts an original set of the very first patent-number stickered humbucking pickups, which are internally the same as the post-1959 PAF's.

This guitar with its sleekly sculpted body and gleaming white finish marked a radical shift from the old single cutaway "Black Beauty" Les Paul. The seemingly endless neck is the typical "1960 style" wide but slim back-to-front with a rounded but flatter profile than 1950s Gibsons. The three humbucking pickups were retained, gold plated like the rest of the hardware. A new fitting was the elaborate side-to-side trem unit, a signature piece of Gibson over-engineering that looks beautiful but adds a decent amount of weight without being particularly useful. Some players actually like the subtle vibrato effect it produces, but over the decades most have simply folded the arm back and leave it alone.

The other features are Gibson's best, befitting this highest-grade solidbody. The headstock is fitted with the then-new "Patent Pending" Grover Rotomatic tuners, multi-bound and ornamented like a Super 400. The bound ebony fingerboard is inlaid with pearl blocks. The bridge is a gold-plated "no-wire" ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic and the knobs are gold-capped plastic. These earliest SG-style instruments have beautifully sculpted bodies and oddly enough a sturdier neck joint than many later examples. The multi ply pickguard is the early thick version, with the small "Les Paul Custom" plate between the fingerboard and neck pickup.

Les himself did not like these sculpted double-cutaway models ("you could injure your wrist on those sharp horns") but many other players loved them and these early Les Paul SG's have been considered a classic ever since. This was an expensive guitar, retailing at $365 (plus case) when new. While the two-pickup Standard is better known, this sleek and stunning three-pickup Custom is one of the standout Gibsons of the 1960s, a truly spectacular guitar in every way.
Overall length is 39 3/4 in. (101 cm.), 13 1/4 in. (33.6 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 1/4 in. (3.2 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.).

This guitar is in very fine condition overall, showing some minor finish wear but no major loss; just a few chips here and there. The gold plating shows typical wear from hand contact, mostly ion the pickup covers and trem housing. The neck and heel show no breaks or repairs of any kind, unlike many examples of this model. The original very low and flat "fretless wonder" frets have been replaced with narrow but taller and rounder wire, making the guitar far more playable to most than an unaltered example. The pickups are the three original patent # humbuckers with undisturbed solder joints in the control area; the cover on the neck pickup looks to have been off at some point while the others are appear undisturbed. The visible pot codes date to the 43rd week of 1960. there is a crack in the lead pickup ring. Bit function is not impaired.

This is a great playing and sounding instrument, with three very strong Patent Number pickups and a thicker sound in the middle position (bridge and middle pickups combined) than many. The frets are well done and the action is low and very fast. This model has been a favorite of many players over the years (including Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Mike Nesmith, to name two of the more left-of-field favorites) and is always a "wow"-producing instrument even on just opening the case! That case is the original yellow-lined pebble black hardshell in excellent condition, with a lovely period white leather strap that is a killer finishing touch to cement the vibe of this fabulous instrument. Overall Excellent - Condition.