The story of 1960 Gibson Les Paul 0 8145—a ’burst with a nameplate and, now, a reputation.
These days it’s difficult to imagine any vintage Gibson Les Paul being a tough sell, but there was a time when 1960 ’bursts were considered less desirable than the ’58s and ’59s of legend—even though Clapton played a ’60 cherry sunburst in his Bluesbreakers days. Such was the case in the mid 1990s, when the family of a local musician who was the original owner of one of these guitars walked into Rumble Seat Music’s original Ithaca, New York, store with this column’s featured instrument.
Les Paul 0 8145 is a typical 1960 ’burst in most ways. A vibrant cherry color is prominent in the finish—which is a result of a change in dyes Gibson made when owners complained of their new ’58 and ’59 model guitars fading in ultraviolet light—and the neck is thinner than the late-’50s models, similar to what you’d find on the SG-body-style guitars that debuted not long after this 6-string left Kalamazoo.
This close-up of the guitar’s body shows it in excellent condition, and the sound generated by its humbuckers is terrific.
The maple top is hardly the most figured, yet neither is it plain. But one thing certainly jumps out on this guitar: The original owner applied a name plate on the top for all the world to know it belonged to “Johnny B”! Perhaps for this reason, or perhaps because Rumble Seat was never short on amazing guitars on display to compete for attention, the guitar we named Johnny B. hung on the wall for close to eight months.
Eliot Michael, Rumble Seat’s owner, insisted that what Johnny B. lacked in flame was made up for in spades via its monstrous sound. The two original PAF humbuckers are incredible. It’s now common knowledge that many of the best sounding ’bursts do come from the later run in 1960, but it took some convincing for one of my friends and good customers to finally plug Johnny B. in to hear it for himself. Upon doing so, he immediately declared it “the best sounding guitar I’ve ever heard.” And Johnny B. left the shop for a new home.
The back of the guitar also shows TLC—as well as its classic mahogany wood grain.
As tends to happen, the guitar eventually found its way back to Rumble Seat Music, after we moved the store to Nashville, Tennessee. Another friend and customer agreed with that assessment of its sound. His name is Joe Bonamassa. Johnny B. went to live with Joe B., where it took on a new chapter of life on the road and in the studio for several years.
Joe wielded this truly exceptional-sounding guitar in many shows across the U.S. You may have seen it onstage. While some Les Pauls are known for their sweet sound, Johnny B. wants to rock. This is one of the most aggressive, raunchy, and downright rude-sounding Les Paul Standards out there, which seems appropriate for an instrument sharing a name with a Chuck Berry song. It doesn’t get much more rock ’n’ roll than that!
As I mentioned earlier, guitars we sell have a habit of finding their way back to our store, and so it goes with Johnny B.–now returned to our walls after some serious adventures. Typically, good condition 1960 Les Pauls carry tags in six figures, and this one is no exception at $278,000. That’s within the same current range for ’58s and ’59s, since players and collectors have gotten hip to the virtues of 1960 models. And although it was initially overlooked, Johnny B. has earned its place as one of the most recognizable ’bursts around.
New from Seymour Duncan, the ‘78 model, Green Magic and High Voltage humbucker model pickups.
The '78 Model
The Seymour Duncan ‘78 is loaded with an Alnico 2 magnet, wound to the exact same hot specs as that original P.A.F. rewind. The magnet and output combination lend themselves to a warm crunch with biting leads and overtone laden tapped runs. If you’re a tone-chasing player who wants the classic hard rockin’ rhythm crunch, articulate picked harmonics for your tapped solos and whammy bar acrobatics, the ’78 Model is what you need.
With these humbuckers you’ll get the classic neck and bridge tones as expected, but when you activate both Green Magics you’ll get the clarity and expressiveness generally associated with single coils. The Green Magic set recreates this magical out of phase sound by flipping the neck pickup’s magnet to reverse the phase when combined with the bridge pickup. They are also voiced for the classic era, warm and expressive with the perfect balance of clarity.
For any guitarist wanting to expand the versatility of their guitar and capture the authentic tones of blues rock’s golden era with a touch of the supernatural, get the Green Magic set.
The Seymour Duncan High Voltage pickups were designed for players that are looking for the perfect balance between hard rocking tone and crystal clear cleans. Powerful chords, low end legato riffage and generally expressive tight rhythms on one end and screaming, sustaining leads on the other.
The High Voltage humbuckers are a nod to the old school with the familiar Alnico 2 magnets, but they are wound for a bit more aggressive voicing that creates a noticeable sonic distance. The bridge pickup is degaussed in this calibrated set that delivers a very balanced tone.
Learn more about these pickups today from seymourduncan.com.