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So whats this? Les Paul proto?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Bendyha, Dec 27, 2019.

  1. Bendyha

    Bendyha Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I saw this photo in a 60 year old book about jazz. John Lee Hooker in New York's Village Gate, no more information.
    Nice shot, but wait a sec...whats up with that guitar? Did a yahoogle search for JLH photos, and find him with a few accoustics, A nice Guild 1959 M-75 Arisocrat, His Famous Epiphone and several Gibson F hole guitars, and an early gold top Les Paul....but, it is not the same as this guitar that seems to be (from what one can see) a P-90 Gold top with a trapizoid tailpiece and wrap-around bridge....but the anomalies, only three knobs, and what appears to be a venetian cutaway, rather than the standard florentine cut away.
    There where some similar ones, as shown on the next photo, the second from the right has a venetian cutaway, and others have two or three knobs, but none are quite the same.
    Anyone know more about what might be going on here? Or better still, another shot of this guitar.
    upload_2019-12-27_16-43-15.png [​IMG]


    upload_2019-12-27_16-44-48.jpeg

    upload_2019-12-27_16-45-18.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2019
  2. milocj

    milocj Friend of Leo's

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    The first picture also appears to be a flat top instead of a carved top. I remember reading that Ted McCarty thought adding a carved top would take the new guitar up a notch in perceived value as well as being something that Fender didn't have the machinery to do. That sort of lends itself to this one being an early prototype.
     
  3. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    this is peripheral to the thread, but seems like a good place to bring this up. once I saw a catalog page (probably posted here on tdpri) of Epiphone guitars. the catalog was from the fifties. it highlighted the hollow body guitars, but there was a picture and small write up of a guitar that was shaped like a les paul. I don't think it was an arch top body, but looked like a slab of mahogany. when I saw that, it seemed odd that I've never seen a photograph or anything of that model guitar. seems like it would be something people would be interested in.
     
  4. Bendyha

    Bendyha Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I'm glad you thought it might be a flat top, thats what I think i'm seeing, but didn't want to mention to influence what others might see.
     
  5. AndyPanda

    AndyPanda Tele-Holic

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    I had been looking at this picture and thought the guitar Les is holding looks like a flat top, or is that an optical illusion?
    LesPaul.jpg
     
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  6. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    The top in the op pic could be flat, I'm not sure though.

    Could also have a pot removed, I can kind of see a hole for that, although I could be mistaken as well.

    The Les Paul in the post right above is curved, you can tell if you look above the neck pickup.
     
  7. bill in kc

    bill in kc TDPRI Member

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    Les Paul's own guitars were flat tops. He did not like the carved top.
     
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  8. artdecade

    artdecade Poster Extraordinaire

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    Really? Didn't know that.
     
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  9. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yup, he loved SGs.
     
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  10. artdecade

    artdecade Poster Extraordinaire

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  11. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Les Paul, 1965 interview:
    "I quit my relationship with Gibson and have signed with Epiphone. They are the nicest guitars to bear my name, flat top, bolt-on neck, only two knobs to mess with. Made in Korea out of quality Asian plywood. Plus you never see those guitars in the hands of that broad I just divorced."
    les-paul.jpg
     
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  12. artdecade

    artdecade Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm guessing you are just having a piss take, but I must not understand the joke. Epiphone has been owned by Gibson since 1958 - and until about 1970 they were also made in the US. Did you just make up that quote?
     
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  13. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Afflicted

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    I think both those guitars are arched, and the one @AndyPanda posted if you look closely you can see a bit of shadow in the waist where the top curves. The neck angle on these is very shallow so geometry of these earlier '52s is generally a bit weird, they look a bit off even in the flesh.

    As far as I know, there was a prototype to the Les Paul made in around 1950 or 51 that looks substantially different to the released Les Pauls, with dog ear P90s and a sharp Florentine cutaway more like a miniature ES175. There may have been more than one of those but only one is known to exist - even then, that guitar was unfortunately modded from its original state but has been restored since.

    After that there are a few guitars made that were pretty close to the early '52 design with different tailpieces and/or control configurations that probably slightly predate the production guitars - those are in the picture of Les and I suspect the JL Hooker guitar is one of those. Maybe Gibson made a bunch and gave them to reps and/or players they thought would use them before formal launching the model. The water is somewhat muddied by Les getting lots of free stuff and never leaving them in the state he got them, so establishing a timeline on Les's oddballs is a bit tricky.
     
  14. Danb541

    Danb541 Tele-Afflicted

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    Looks like an arch top to me too.
    I have to assume Les Paul probably played at the village gate as well. The picture could have been taken on a night they were both there. Perhaps JLH was pictured with a prototype that Les Paul had brought that night for players to try out.
    Total speculation I know.
    It does seem clear to me the guitar is some early variation. Thanks for sharing the picture.
     
  15. Dan German

    Dan German Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Yeah, “only two knobs to mess with”??? Have you seen Les’s Recording model?
     
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