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Old 16th August 2019
Originally Posted by becks bolero View Post
I don't think '59 Les Paul's are anything special

the people who built them, were factory workers on an assembly line. Not "luthiers". There was no Stradivarius level mythical balony involved. In fact, the Les Paul wasn't even a high end model: the big bodied Jazz guitars were where the workmanship happened. A Les Paul is a chunk of wood, with a neck glued on, in comparison. I think it was even assembled in a separate building, because it was so basic
You are wrong. While it's true that they were built on an assembly line that line was a far cry from the mechanized, dehumanized robotic manufacturing of today in which guitars are treated like commodities like smart pohones of gaming consoles, not musical instruments.

While it might be technically correct to say those craftsmen were not, for the most part, luthiers in that most of the workers did not do an entire build from scratch, each worker was a specialist in his own operation and did the work essentially by hand, using both basic hand tools and hand controlled power tools. Woods were selected and oriented by eye and by ear, not fed onto a CNC assembly line by a robot. In essence, every guitar produced by Gibson was the equivalent of one of today's "Custom Shop" instruments, if not better.

Wood is a natural organic material, it's not homogeneous like plastic or metal - the physical orientation of each piece matters. Each piece has its own unique resonance, even pieces cut from the same log. Having a human evaluate each piece as it's cut is something that no machine can duplicate. A machine can't detect a "dead" piece of wood by tapping and listening and reject it if it's not right. A human can.

I think the reason they are so valued is

1. Eric Clapton started a landslide with his "bluesbreakers" recording, and every other guitarist wanted to know the secret recipe. Well, back then, the Les Paul was out of production, so became a desireable instrument

Mike Bloomfield
Peter Green
Joe Walsh
Jimmy Page
Bloomfield preceded Clapton, at least in the USA.

They're valued because they're great instruments, better than anything Gibson is building today with the possible exception of a few uber-expensive custom shop builds.

I got to play one of those ultra limited edition Jimmy Page Customs. Compared to any of the '50s Customs I've played it really wasn't anything special.

and all the others who followed, created the cult status for these things. truth is, it was a somewhat rare instrument in the '60's
It was, in fact, somewhat rare in the '60s. The electric guitar market, in particular the solid body market, didn't explode until about 1966, at which point construction increased to the point where the supply of quality wood was unable to keep up with the demand.

it almost parallels the Roland 808 as a failed product, that was reinvented by some creative musicians
No way in hell. The Gibson Les Paul was a great instrument. The TR808 was, and is, a repurposed toy, built with the same production technology employed for toys. It's like comparing a Yugo to a Ferrari.

but then the mythology took hold, and collectors started going bananas, driving up the price & desirability: "oh, the '59 Les Paul is the holy grail of guitars!"
It was the Japanese collectors in the '70s who came over with wads of cash and systematically cleaned out every vintage solid body Gibson and '50s Fender they could find at prices no (or very few) musicians could afford and no shop owner could resist that blew the top off the market. They ruined it for everybody.

I call bull****
You can call whatever you want, it's your right. You're still wrong.

lots of great guitars being built today, that are as good or better than a '59 Les Paul
Show me ONE!