GUITAR OF THE MONTH: 1969 GIBSON LES PAUL DELUXE GOLDTOP
Sometimes a guitar comes through our door that just has it all – tone, looks, a great vibe, playability. This 1969 Goldtop is definitely one of those. Appealing to both players and collectors alike.
This guitar started out life like all Les Paul Deluxe’s with mini humbuckers but has at some point been routed out for full size humbuckers giving it the appearance of a Les Paul Standard. The Deluxe model was introduced by Gibson in late 1968 and continued until the mid-1980s before being re-introduced in 2005. The very first models were built with a one-piece mahogany body but replaced with the “pancake” body in 1969 consisting of two layers of mahogany separated by a thin layer of maple. In late 1969 the neck volute was introduced to reinforce the headstock.
Our Guitar of the Month has all the hallmarks of this brief period in the Deluxe’s first year of production between the “pancake” body being introduced and the addition of the neck volute. Another characteristic of 1969 Gibsons is the inlayed block Gibson headstock logo which did away with the dot over the “i”. The logo stencil was easily worn away with handling revealing the bare pearl block underneath.
This logo wear can be seen on Larry Carlton’s beloved 1969 ES-335 (pictured).
What do we know about this guitar?
It came to us from a long-time customer and local musician from his extensive collection. The most noticeable thing about this 1969 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe has to be the heavy but attractive ageing in the top. The lacquer is all original and cracked from decades of playing and handling. When the lacquer cracks the metallic gold element in the finish oxidises giving it that contrasting dark green colour.
The pickups that replaced the original mini-humbuckers are 1963 humbuckers and the pots, wiring and bridge were transplanted from a damaged 1963 Gibson ES-175. Other changes include replacement vintage Grover tuners, repair to the headstock wing, strap button, the removal of the pickguard, and a recent refret. The original case, battered but perfectly functional, is included. (See full spec for more details)
How does it play?
Some vintage instruments can feel delicate and worn out with crackly electronics and dead spots on the fretboard. This, however weathered it may look, has as much life in it as any brand new Les Paul. Of course, the refret plays a big part in this. The tone from the 1963 pickups is warm, full and dynamic like a Les Paul should be. We’ve set it up with a comfortable low action perfect for a wide range of styles – jazz, shred, blues, rock – it’s all there!
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