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Old October 6th, 2010, 01:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Best Year For A Vintage Les Paul

Excluding the '59 Les Paul which is like the most coveted and valuable guitar around. In your opinion what is the best year for a vintage Les Paul. I've heard '71 and '76 but I'd really like to get you guys opinion.

I know that all guitars a different but there must be some consensus that a certain year that Gibson got the closest to perfection and I'd like to know what you guys think...

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Old October 6th, 2010, 03:38 PM   #2 (permalink)
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What do you want it for?

1.) Are you going to play it on gigs?

2.) Are you a "collector" who wants to lock it away?

If the answer is #1, then get an R7, R9 or an R0; depending on your tastes.

If the answer is #2, then get a real '59 or a '60 LP.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 03:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by dkbemb10 View Post
Excluding the '59 Les Paul which is like the most coveted and valuable guitar around. In your opinion what is the best year for a vintage Les Paul. I've heard '71 and '76 but I'd really like to get you guys opinion.

I know that all guitars a different but there must be some consensus that a certain year that Gibson got the closest to perfection and I'd like to know what you guys think...
Well, if you're talking vintage, the 57 GT, 58, or 60 Les Paul will play every bit as well and sound as great as a 59. 59 is just the year that so many rock stars gravitated to in the late 60s. They are all double bucker maple topped with mahogany body and neck. Next would be the Black Customs from 57-60 (some report a few 61 single cutaway Les Paul Customs were made). Then the earlier 50s Custom with the staple Alnico pup and P90. Then the 53-56 standards with P90s. Then the 68, then 69. After that, I think that the modern Henry J era guitars, even the standards, are just as good if not better.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 04:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Old October 6th, 2010, 04:14 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Any year is a good year to buy a vintage Les Paul.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 04:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Any year is a good year to buy a vintage Les Paul.
+1 With some exceptions, Gibsons have maintained good quality throughout the years. With some bootek pickups, just about any Gibson nowadays will give a vintage a run for the money. Just takes some time to find the one that speaks to you.
As far as collectability, the '70-'86 Norlins have a bad name, but as I said, there are lemons and diamonds in every year. With Gibsons, you have to put your hands on and play each one to determine its value.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 04:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Any year is a good year to buy a vintage Les Paul.
I respectfully disagree. The best year to buy a '59 Gold Top, for example, was 1960...
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Old October 6th, 2010, 05:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Is this a rhetorical question, or is the OP ready to spend $$$ in the 5 to 6 figure range? Just asking...by the way, my vote is for the '57 Gold Top.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 05:05 PM   #9 (permalink)
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'54 Gold Top.

I mean. Look at it....
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Old October 6th, 2010, 07:08 PM   #10 (permalink)
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No I'm not spending the money... It's just the owner of the guitar store I always go to says that he "got a '71 les paul because that was the year that gibson got everything right". So I just wanted to see if you guys agreed or not. I've played two 1971 les pauls and I can't really see why my shop owner thought they were hands down the best les pauls ever made.

Personally the best Les Paul I ever played was a '76, infact that was probably the best guitar I ever played period.

So yeah, sorry, I should have stated from the beginning that I just wanted an opinion and wasn't actually buying one.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 07:36 PM   #11 (permalink)
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As a long-time Les Paul guy, I have to say that I think the owner of the shop is totally FOS saying that 1971 was "the year that Gibson got everything right." Maybe there were some great Les Pauls made in 1971, but I totally disagree with his blanket statement. Each guitar is an individual and has to be evaluated on its own merits. There are great ones and tone turds from every year and every manufacturer.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 07:45 PM   #12 (permalink)
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That owner probably just had a 71 Les Paul when he was young, gigging regularly, getting laid, and having a ball, and now he associates those experiences with the guitar.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 08:08 PM   #13 (permalink)
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The owner is completely wrong. I once owned a '71 Les Paul Custom and the workmanship on it was absolutely terrible--sloppy binding, bridge placed so poorly that it wouldn't intonate and had to be relocated, frets that were literally sharp-edged, three piece neck, "pancake" body, lousy tuners. I was young and didn't know any better at the time, but got the guitar at a good price and was able to mod it into a good player.

While it's true that you can find good and bad guitars of any year, and I'm sure there are plenty of nice '71 Gibsons, in general by the time the '60s were over, Gibson's quality control had taken a turn for the worse. By the late '70s, it was a joke--I worked in a Sam Ash during that time and saw some literally really ugly stuff like Les Paul Customs with terribly mismatched tops, maple-neck Les Pauls (ugh!), "The Paul," the RD Series, the Marauder, the Sonex guitars and other stomach-turners. Things started to turn around in the early '80s.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 08:10 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Well, I don't like LPs unless someone else is playing them. But being such an open minded person I've always picked up the ones that are priced for regular human beings, just to make sure they're really as awful as I remembered. The last one was a '74, a second, a Deluxe, and routed for full size pups. Beautifully worn looking, plays too easy like they all seem to, and actually sounds really good unplugged. Then I plugged it in. Took it home in its original case. I can now say with absolute certainty that the best vintage LP (other than a 59 or 60) is mine. Way better than a '71 for sure.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 08:17 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I think the owner of the shop is totally FOS saying that 1971 was "the year that Gibson got everything right." Maybe there were some great Les Pauls made in 1971, but I totally disagree with his blanket statement.
I agree. Your shop owner's not making an awful lot of sense.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 08:33 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I worked in a shop in the '70s. Les Pauls were very poorly made at that time. I had to dress frets on almost every one of them. The routing of the pick-up cavity was so poor they put plastic rings around the pickups. We call them F up rings. It's not unlike the American car business. The poor quality of Fender and Gibson in the '70s opened the door for the Japanese.

As far as the opening question about the best year other than '59. Here are some differences the '50s humbucker era:

'57 Goldtop-one of my favorites. Last '50s production year of the goldtop.
'58 Burst-big neck/small frets
'59 Burst-big neck/big frets
'60 Burst-thin neck/big frets

I have an old goldtop with PAFs. It's hard to beat!
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Old October 6th, 2010, 08:48 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I had a '71 Deluxe that made everybody want it.
Once my luthier called because he had an amazing guitar player (a guy named Nick Moroch, who played with Lenny White, I think) who wanted it soooooo bad.
I kept it, but had to sell it a few years ago to pay bills :(
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Old October 6th, 2010, 08:49 PM   #18 (permalink)
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By the late '70s, it was a joke--I worked in a Sam Ash during that time and saw some literally really ugly stuff like Les Paul Customs with terribly mismatched tops, maple-neck Les Pauls (ugh!), "The Paul," the RD Series, the Marauder, the Sonex guitars and other stomach-turners. Things started to turn around in the early '80s.
You're right, some of the LP Customs of that era are plain ugly. I have also seen some awful mismatched (3 piece!!) tops on them.

And the RD, Marauder, Sonex, etc--fuggheddaboutit!
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Old October 6th, 2010, 09:05 PM   #19 (permalink)
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For overall quality in workmanship and materials, you'd have to say the 50's. You just have to pick your flavor - GT, Flame, P90 or HB.

Next I would say the current offerings from the CS - I have a '05 RO that I love.

As for '71 being the year that Gibson finally got it together - was he trying to sell you a '71 LP?

I had a '72 Custom that wasn't bad but I didn't keep it either. It was nowhere as nice as my RO though.
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Old October 6th, 2010, 09:28 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I've heard 2003 was good year. (I know its not vintage)
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