Gibson Les Paul/SG Standard Solid Body Electric Guitar (1961)

Gibson  Les Paul/SG Standard Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1961)
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Item # 12287
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Gibson Les Paul/SG Standard Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1961), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 20366, cherry lacquer finish, mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

This is a very fine example of a mid-1961 SG/Les Paul Standard, one of Gibson's all-time classic solidbodies. The cherry lacquer finish on its exquisitely sculpted double-cutaway body has faded to a muted reddish hue, but there are NONE of the common cracks or repairs these are all to prone to. In the early 1960s this novel, radical-looking design was unprecedented, offering more unencumbered neck than anyone had ever seen! It is amazing in retrospect that this wicked looking guitar was the product of Gibson's middle-aged conservative design team, long pre-dating even the dream of heavy metal music. "Take that, Fender" they must have been thinking!

This style "Standard" replaced the original 1950s single-cutaway Les Paul just at the end of 1960, a bold statement of guitar modernism from Kalamazoo company. While the original single-cutaway Les Pauls roared back to favor later in the 1960s, this slim and supple SG has also now been played for generations. Les Paul himself was not a fan of this design ("a guy could injure himself on those sharp horns") and his name was eventually removed from the model in 1963.

This first year LP/SG has the first-generation features including two very hot original PAF humbucking pickups. The original pots are topped with new-for-1961-style "capped" back-painted plastic knobs with "tone" and "volume" markings. The hardware is all nickel plated including the original style no-wire Tune-O-Matic bridge mated to the then -new elaborate Gibson side-to-side vibrato tailpiece. This last proved somewhat troublesome in service, and many have since been removed. This one is fully intact albeit with some plating wear and actually works well, at least as well as they ever did!

The bound rosewood fingerboard has trapezoidal pearloid inlay and larger frets typical of the period. The headstock has double-ring Kluson deluxe tuners and Gibson's classic "crown" inlay on the face. The "Les Paul" markings are engraved into the truss rod cover. The neck is quite slim back-to-front "1960 style" but with a nicely rounded feel. The early-style slightly rounded neck heel is the best of several designs Gibson tried, neatly faired into the body and less prone to distress than most.

For connoisseurs, 1961 was a great year for the entire SG series, but particularly the Standard. Despite perhaps being a bit lightly built for the abuses of the road, these early Les Paul-marked SGs with sculpted mahogany bodies and PAFs have an aesthetic and sonic character unlike any others. While fairly popular when new they really came into their own in the late 1960s with the advent of high volume amplification (Marshall, especially) unleashed the screaming beast within!

1662 of these elegantly badass guitars were shipped in 1961, at a list price $290 plus $47.50 case. Many have been far more heavily used (and abused!) than this one. The SG Standard in general was and remains a very popular guitar, with good reason. It had a particular heyday in the late '60s and early '70s, a fixture in many heavy and Psychedelic bands -- anyone who has seen live footage of Cream in 1967-8 knows what these ultra light and responsive SG/Les Pauls are capable of! This is simply one of the classic rock guitars of that or any era, and actually a more versatile instrument than many think.
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 is fine playing first-year Les Paul Standard, showing fairly minor signs of use but generally well-preserved and structurally excellent for this model. The finish is completely original with no touchup or overspray, showing a fairly even fade over most of the instrument. The color has gone to a light reddish-brown hue, with the back of the neck turned the lightest, as is typical. There is some light checking and small dings, scratches and scuffs overall but no major loss. The back of the neck has a few small dinks and some heavier checking that feels like sweat wear, feelable behind the first fret on the bass side.

The heel joint is the major trouble spot on early SGs, often having been either partially or wholly broken. This one shows no damage or repair; this particular early faired-in style heel is the strongest of the pre-1966 designs. The headstock is also completely free of the common cracks. There are some finish checks around the jack but no cracking into the wood.

All hardware on the guitar is original, inside and out. The PAF pickups have never had the covers lifted and all solder joints appear untouched, with the nickel plated covers cleaner than many. There is one dink into the cover of the bridge unit on the treble side. The "Patent Applied for" decals are intact on the bases. The side-to-side trem unit is intact and functional, with plating wear on the forward piece and most heavily on the cover.

The original frets have some wear in the lower positions but not enough to cause any issues and playability is excellent. The buttons appear original on the double-ring Kluson tuners; the G and B string buttons have shrunken up a bit but are still fully functional. This is a real screamer of an early Standard, with a full dose of the raunchy, singing tone these are known for when cranked. The original yellow-lined black case is fully intact as well with some minor wear but fully solid with some old Gibson string envelopes in the pocket. Overall Excellent - Condition.